Monthly Archives: October 2007

10-20-30 Meme

I got tagged by my Uncle Steve at Careful Thought for a 10-20-30 meme.  He said it has been floating around for a while, but I’d never seen it.

So, what was I doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago?

  • 10 years ago:  I had a four month old baby, my firstborn, Ethan.  We were just figuring out that the job I had was not going to work.  It was supposed to be just working from home, which was important because we only had one car.  Well, it turned out that I had to go in to the office one day a week, then two, then my boss was asking for three.  Also, it was supposed to be 10-15 hours a week, but it was more like 20-25+.  Actually, I hadn’t wanted to work at all;  Martin wanted me to.  But, I found the job, in submission to my hubby.  After a couple months of it just being a fiasco, Martin said, “That’s IT!  This is awful!  You’re never working again!!!”  I don’t know if I wanted him to take it that far, but it worked out so just-right:  Martin coming to the conclusion for himself that me working a job (other than raising our children) wasn’t right for our family.  Never again has it been a point of contention:  We’re both happy to have me at home, not working. 
  • 20 years ago:  It was Fall of my freshman year in high school, by far the most hellish of my high school experience.  For academic reasons, my parents had me change schools to a private school that was… upper-middle-class.  I was low class.  Low, low.  We had no money, and I cannot fathom how my parents could have afforded to send we sibs to private school, but they did.  So, here I was, with absolutely no money with which to be even remotely fashionable, and I had braces.  And, I was a brainiac who didn’t realize it wasn’t “acceptable” to do things like raise my hand in class to ask questions of the dorky science teacher (who was actually a very good science teacher).  I was such the outcast.  On top of that, I had a nerdy older brother (whom I love so very, very dearly now, and I’m embarrassed that I was embarrassed of him, back then).  Then, the sort-of saving grace was that the most popular girl in class took a shine to me, which was fantastic, because that meant I had one friend.  However, it caused all the other girls to hate me more, because they wanted to hang around with Aimee, but there was no way they were going to hang around with Aimee when she was with me.  So, they’d send me anonymous hate notes.  Ugh.   
  • 30 years ago:  I was four years old.  I do remember being four.  I was in Miss Polly’s preschool class, but I entered the schoolyear late — they were already up to the letter “P” and I didn’t even know the alphabet!  I didn’t think it was a big deal, but the little girl next to me laughed because I didn’t know the alphabet song.  Turns out that little girl was named Joellene, and we stayed friends past graduation from high school.

Golly.  Whom to tag?  How ’bout Mom Loves Being at Home, the lovely Mrs. Nicklebee, and Joy (the newest addition to my blogroll, who is another homeschooling mom with a worship pastor husband — how could I not add her??)          

Odd coincidence

So… this whole year, I’ve been glutting myself with Dorothy L. Sayers books, reading them chronologically, which I’ve written about way too much, most likely, for most readers.  Sadly, though, I recently came to the end of her Lord Peter Wimsey series.  Or, rather, I thought I had.  Against hope, I perused a list of her books, thinking that perhaps, I’d missed one.  Joyously, I found out that I had somehow skipped The Nine Tailors.  However, when I checked at the library, all copies were out.  So, I placed myself on a waitlist for the book.

In the meantime, my Mom and Stepdad came over for one of their weekly visits.  In hand, my Mom had a book she thought I’d enjoy:  The Case Has Altered by Martha Grimes.  As I was not reading any other fiction, I went ahead and started it.  Not that I found it to be a bad book, per se, but it wasn’t quite my cuppa tea.  I did read the whole thing, though.  Happily, as I was finishing it, The Nine Tailors became available, and I started that just yesterday.

What’s so odd is this:  The two books are set in nearly identical locations.  The Case Has Altered is set in the tiny villages of the marsh and fenlands of Lincolnshire, and The Nine Tailors in the tiny villages of the marsh and fenlands of East Anglia, possibly Norfolk, which is directly adjacent to Lincolnshire.  Sayers invented the exact village and church in which much of her story takes place, but it is believed that it was modeled after the “Cathedral of the Marshes,” St. Clement of the village Terrington St. Clement.  That church is only roughly 12 miles from the village of Algarkirk, in which Grimes sets The Case Has Altered

What’s up with that?  When’s the last time you read two books by unrelated authors, and coincidentally found out that they were each set only miles from the other?? 

Ultimate Tacos Recipe

There’s a lot you can do with tacos.  It’s one of those meals, too, where you can be on a gluten-free, casein-free diet and not feel like you’re missing out on anything.  Or, this is a meal you could serve to guests and not have them feel like you’re on some sort of weird, restrictive diet. 

This recipe seems complicated, but truly, it’s not.  Most of the prep work can be done while food is cooking, so you can fit in a lot of work in a reasonable amount of time.

If you have never softened corn tortillas with hot oil, now is the time to try it!!  It makes the tortillas chewy, strong and pliable;  they won’t fall apart like corn tortillas straight from the bag.

Note:  If you don’t have Mexican oregano, you’re better off not using oregano at all.  It imparts a very unique Southwest taste.  I find mine in the bagged spice section of the Mexican foods area of my local grocery store, for about 89 cents.   

Ultimate Tacos 

Total prep and cook time:  45 minutes
Serves 6-8

Combine together, and crush in a mortar & pestle (if you have one) 

  • 1 tsp. salt, kosher is preferable
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (or 1/2 tsp. ground)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground red chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper (or more, to taste)

Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over one side of  

  • 2 lbs. boneless meat (beef, pork or chicken)

Drizzle seasoned meat with 

  • about 2 tsp olive oil, then use a pastry brush (or your fingers) to spread the oil and seasoning evenly over the meat.

Then, turn the meat over and do the same (spice mix + olive oil) on the reverse.  Grill the meat over medium-low heat until just done.  (Time will vary greatly depending on what kind of meat you use, and how thickly cut the meat is.)  When done, remove to plate, cover, and set aside.  After a bit of cooling time, later (like while the veggies are cooking), slice the meat very thinly, place back on covered plate.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the corn tortillas:

  • 20 thin corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil (I use rice bran, since it has a high smoke point)

On the stovetop, heat oil in small skillet over medium-high heat.  With metal tongs, dip the tortillas in, one at a time, frying for literally only 3-4 seconds, turning quickly if necessary to coat both sides with oil.  Remove to paper towels to drain.  Set aside.  (I set a dinner plate up with 4-5 paper towels, folded over to make a thick “mat.”  I then cook the tortillas, laying each completed tortilla in its own corner.  After I’ve cooked four, I dab the tops with an extra paper towel to remove excess oil, then stack them on a small plate which has also been lined with a paper towel.  Then I repeat with an additional four tortillas, and continue the process until they are all cooked.)

In a larger skillet, heat 2 tsp oil (you can use the leftover frying oil) over medium heat.  Into the oil, place

  • 1/2 – 1 onion, roughly chopped

Cover the skillet and cook until the onion softens and becomes somewhat translucent, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.  After onion is soft, add

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 – 8 oz fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced

Cover again, and, stirring occasionally, cook until mushrooms and garlic are soft.  The mixture should start to turn brown as the onions carmellize.  If it has not browned after the mushrooms are cooked through, remove the lid and turn up the heat, cooking and stirring until the edges of the onions and mushrooms are tinged with a rich, golden brown.  Then, add

  • 1/2 – 1 red bell pepper, sliced

Cook only another 30 seconds or so, until the red bell pepper only slightly softens.  (If you have not yet sliced your meat, remove the skillet of veggies from the heat and slice your grilled meat now!)  Now, add the thinly sliced grilled meat to the skillet containing all your veggies.  Stir over medium to medium-high heat until the meat is heated through, and the meat with its seasonings and your carmellized veggies are all nicely combined.

Bring the sizzling skillet to the table, and serve with the softened corn tortillas.  With your tongs, place some of the meat & veggies in the center of a tortilla, fold it in half, and enjoy!

Additional garnishes may be used as desired.  Personally, I don’t use any garnish other than salsa on these tacos.  But, of course, you’re welcome to use shredded lettuce or cabbage, slivered green onion, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, or the kitchen sink.  😉

I serve these with beans and/or Spanish rice, and perhaps a green salad.  Our favorite beans right now:  Mix one 15 oz can of refried beans with 15 oz can of whole, drained pinto beans.  Heat in microwave about 3 minutes, or until hot.  Simple!

It’s official: I think.

Aargh.  I hate it when I get tagged, and I think, “Oooh, I’ll jump right on that!” then two weeks, or two months later, I still haven’t done anything with it.

This one is a mite embarrassing.  It’s the “Thinking Blogger Award.”  Does that mean that the tagger (the always-pleasant and crafty Southern Girl at Heart) thinks I think?  Or that I make her think?  I’m not sure.  Whichever, she bestowed it upon me two weeks ago.  Thank you, dear Kiva, both for the award, and for your patience for my response.

As I mentioned to her, though, it seems like all the posts that I pour my heart and brain into get soundly ignored, while all my silly ones get readers and comments forever.  Ah, well.  Keeps me humble.  That is, until I get an award.  😀

I will tag/award those bloggers who compel me to think.  They are those with whom I don’t always agree, but whose blogs I enjoy, learn from, and appreciate.  These bloggers manage to be on the edge without being imflammatory.  Usually. 

  • my Uncle Steve, at Careful Thought.  He writes on Christianity, politics, the military and science.
  • Tammy at Just Enough, a thoughtful homeschooler, whose reasonable attitude and solid prose makes her blog regular reading.
  • Michael, the (un)relaxed dad, a Briton whose insightful take on parenting, his humor, and taste in music makes him interesting and a good read.
  • Daja, of the Gombojav Tribe.  Her unabashed exuberance for her motherhood, her wifehood, her Christianity, her history, her purpose, all of it, really makes me pause and remind myself not to be so apologetic about who I am. 

One more reason why I hope we can continue homeschooling THROUGH high school

With my oldest in 5th grade, I frequently get asked if I will — or rather, it’s assumed that I will — stop homeschooling once my kids are in high school.  Up until the middle of last year, I was uncertain myself.  But at that time, my thoughts started to shift.  I really enjoy homeschooling.  Frankly, it’s the one thing that I think I do really well at, in the multitude of areas that need my attention.  My kids have really flourished in a home-learning environment.  I used to say, “Well, I hope to homeschool as long as it’s effective for our family.”  That’s still true, but I’m seeing more and more that the longer we homeschool, the more effective it is, and the better my kids do in every area of their lives.  The Bible does caution against making “definite” plans for the future, and I don’t know what our coming years hold.  However, I do most certainly hope that we can continue homeschooling, even through high school. 

We mainly homeschool with Sonlight;  as a whole, I’m very satisfied with the curriculum, and with the goals of the company.  Their current tagline is:  “The way you wish you’d been taught.  Guaranteed.”  Now, I have a basic problem with emphatic.  sentence.  fragments.  even.  in.  companies’.  slogans., but that aside, golly, isn’t that the truth for me?  That’s such a major reason of why I’m homeschooling.

Today, I received an e-mail update for a new high school economics course they’re offering.  Reading up on it, it just one of those instances that had me breathing a prayer, “Dear God, please let us get far enough to get to do a course like this.”

~sigh~

Gee.  Lots of things making me sigh today.  Now, ~sigh~, back to prepping for dinner.   

Why we don’t celebrate Halloween

~sigh~

It’s that time of year again, where I feel like a total oddball mother for not letting my kids be immersed in all the ghoulishness and celebration of All that is Evil known as Halloween.  My husband is even “worse” than I am;  he has the kids turn their heads when we pass houses that are decorated for the season.

I was going to do a whole writeup on this, but then was alerted (by Daja at Gombojav Tribe) to a post from Milehimama on the very topic.  It’s a good post, and I heartily echo 99% of it (the other one percent being that Milehimama is Catholic, and instead, celebrates the following day, All Saints’ Day, which we don’t do).

In short, the day — really, it’s turned into the whole month — is a celebration of everything that I am mothering against!  Fear, gluttony, selfishness, blackmail, evil, the grotesque… It’s all wrapped up in candy, and sold as a fun holiday for children!!  Ugh.  I don’t want to be the starchy mom with her finger wagging, quoting Bible verses, but I can’t help but recall, over and over and over,

  7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Please do read.

Movie Alert

This is just a note to alert you, especially the parents, to a movie that’s coming out in December, starring Nicole Kidman, called The Golden Compass.  In short, it’s based on a book by noted athiest author Philip Pullman.  The movie is derived from the first book in Pullman’s “kids” trilogy called His Dark Materials

Pullman has publically stated that he wants to remove the idea of God from the minds of kids.  In an interview, he admitted, “My books are about killing God.”

From what I’ve read, the movie is “dumbed down,” and is tamer than the books, so is likely to not be as potentially harmful as the books themselves.  But, as is often the case in situations like this, seeing the movie can also lead the kids to the books, which are very seriously anti-God and anti-religion.

For more info, please read the Snopes article here:  http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

Blog patterns & useless stats

Looking at my calendar of posts, a pattern emerges.  Lately, I almost never blog on Sunday, Wednesday, or Saturday.  Sundays, I fast from the computer.  I don’t even turn it on.  Wednesdays, Ethan has baseball practice in the afternoons, and the time that I would normally spend blogging is spent doing the other stuff that needs to be done around the house during a shortened day.  Saturdays, I hardly ever blog, either.  Since my hubby is gone 11-12 hours a day with commute and work, and since he also has a part-time job as the worship pastor at our church, our family time, which comes pretty much only on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, is short.  Also, Ethan always has a game on Saturday.

In other blog patterns, for ununderstandable reasons, I had my highest traffic ever a couple of days ago, 331 visitors.  I think that’s due to seasonal baking coming upon us.  The blog post that continues to get the most hits is the Big Batch GFCF Christmas/Sugar Cookie Recipe.  As of today, it’s gotten 7,515 total hits, out of 57,976 visitors, accounting for a whopping 13% of all blog visitors.  Cutting Teeth out of Order is in 2nd place, with 8.5% of total traffic.  GF Snack, Breakfast & Lunch Ideas has gotten 4%.  Amo, Amas, Amat, pt. 2 (Your First Latin Lesson!) also has gotten 4%. 

It used to bug me that I was a utilitarian blogger… that most of my visitors weren’t here looking for profound wisdom 🙄 ;  just an answer to their questions.  But, I’ve changed my mind.  I find myself very pleased to be of any help to anyone out there.  It’s humbling, it’s faceless, it shows little concern for me as a person… but, at least it’s easing some minds and providing a service of sorts. 

Peek’oo beans

My 18 month old daughter, Audrey, loves beans.  Black, pinto, kidney, great northern, whichever, she likes them.  Refried, in chili, as a side dish, however, she likes them. 

Green beans, though, not so much.  Wax beans, either.  Not canned, not fresh, not frozen, no matter how I prepare them, she won’t eat them.

Last night, at dinner, in an attempt to persuade her to eat her green beans, I decided to show her that they are really “her” kind of beans, only cloaked.  I gently opened a green bean, showing her the tiny seeds inside.  She eyed them with suspicion, then dexterously plucked the beans from their case and ate them approvingly.  We did a few more like that, but she still wouldn’t eat the whole thing.  Sighing, I returned to my dinner.

Then, I hear a little voice, in an asking tone, “Peek’oo bean!  Peek’oo bean!”

Holy cow.  “Peek’oo” is her contraction for “peek-a-boo.”  You know, the universal baby game where something hides from view, and then, upon revelation, “Peek-a-boo!” is cried.

Audrey had christened green beans — their inner beans, that is, the seeds — as “peek’oo” beans.

I thought that was hilarious, and quite clever and endearing.  Somewhat annoying, too, as she got more and more demanding for my husband and I to shuck those green beans in favor of the “real” beans hidden inside.

But I got her to eat those green beans, finally.  Sort of.

GFCF Snack, Breakfast, and Lunch Ideas

A post I wrote a year ago for gluten-free snack, breakfast and lunch ideas continues to receive a lot of hits.  Since I wrote that, though, we have also had to eliminate casein from the diets of two of my four children.  Casein is the protein in milk.  Being casein-free is a lot more difficult than being lactose-free.  Casein is the protein, lactose is the sugar.  You can remove the sugar from milk, but you can’t remove the protein.

So, I thought I’d update my old list to make it gluten-free and casein-free.  This list is also peanut-free, and mostly nut-free.

Read the rest of this entry

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