Friday, February 29, 2008

Highlights of my Week

In no particular order:

~Meeting with Jessica Yuda at Coffee Bean for several hours on Tuesday. Jessica is a young gal and new Christian I met at a church event this past fall. We have much in common (backgrounds) and she is someone who I really care about. I am praying the Lord will give us more opportunities together. She was recently baptized and is excited about growing in Christ.

~Making my first frozen yogurt! It was so easy. I just mixed plain nonfat Greek style yogurt with some organic sugar and vanilla and used my trusty little Cuisinart Ice Cream maker. It was really good, and I was glad to discover a nice healthy dessert I can make in a flash. Frozen yogurt has been my latest obsession, so I am glad I can make it at home. I'm still working with the recipe...look for it in upcoming blogs!

~My hubby coming home. He was gone on business two days this week. I always miss him so much! I thank the Lord that after (almost) 21 years together, my heart still leaps when I see him.

~The warm weather! This week it was high 70s - what a treat! I have enjoyed spending time tending my garden and admiring all the spring flowers. I have lots of pansies, violas and ranoculus. It also felt so good to lay in the sun on my bedroom patio lounge chair. Emma has been working on her tan...I'm ready for spring!

~Getting ready for the Shepherds' Conference! There is much to do. We are housing 4 men, as well as helping out at the conference almost full time next week. I have a freezer full of baked goods, and wardrobes are ready (you can only wear black, navy, tan or white for a uniform look amongst the volunteers.) We look forward to having 26 people for dinner Tuesday, as many friends are coming into town for this great event. Since the kids are old enough to serve now, we all will be working at the conference in some capacity. What a blessing!

~Reading the the Dodson's blog. And using a lot of Kleenex! Tracy has been posting, in segments, the story of her first child Jessy's adoption. It is amazing, and so are Robert and Tracy and the unique way they care so deeply for and have ministered to their children's birth moms. The Dodsons adopted two kids, then Tracy got pregnant and had one, then they adopted two more. I once heard Tracy say with a big smile, that she has "five kids with five different birth moms!" I think their family is both adorable and admirable.

~Dinner with The Callaways. Andrew and Kim are a very sweet and ministry-minded couple that we serve with in Juniors. Andrew is in seminary and Kim works at the church. They invited us for dinner last night at their adorable apartment, and it was a great time of getting to know them better and enjoy Kim's good cooking! It is encouraging to see great young couples like this, committed firmly to the Lord and each other.

~In general, just reflecting on the goodness of the Lord in our family's lives. There are so many blessings He gives us, and it is a joy to serve Him in all I do.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The BEST Pizza in L.A.

I really really love Pizza. Good pizza, that is. When we went to New York a couple of years ago, I think I came to appreciate this humble little pie a lot more. Pizza has a history in New York. The coal ovens they bake them in are 100 years old, the recipe hasn't changed and the same family still makes it, you know? People are loyal to it. Even native New Yorkers will wait in line hours for it. They defend their favorite pizza with a vengeance. And they have every right to - boy is it good. Back here in L.A. I had never found a pizza that I could call a favorite. Until now. And boy am I HAPPY! It is as if a lifelong quest has finally been realized (I know, it's really touching.)

A few weeks ago, Rich and I went to Dino's Pizza in Burbank. Located on the corner of Hollywood Way and Burbank Blvd. is a nondescript landmark I had just driven by many times and vowed I would try someday. It shares its parking lot (and sign) with Midas Tires. Which probably qualifies it as an official dive. If you ask me, it's all part of its charm. But, when you get out of your car and the amazing smell hits you, you don't care where you are. You just know you are in for some mighty fine pizza. I immediately liked the unpretentious style of the place. You walk in, order at the counter, then go to the "dining room" (a random addition that looks like it used to be part of the outside). They give you some yummy fresh popcorn (free) to nibble on - topped with butter, parmesan cheese and herbs. And the prices at Dino's are unbelievable. Their extra large pizza is $11.99, and their small antipasto salad (not so small - easily serves 3-4) is only $3.50. Where else could you eat out for that cheap? Taco Bell would be more. And it's not even food.

Caution: Supersizing this photo may cause drooling.
Dino's pizza can be best described as authentic. Honest. A good light and chewy crust (you can taste the olive oil) with quality toppings. I mean, I like California Pizza Kitchen-type pizza, but let's be honest - that's foo-foo pizza. Thai Chicken and cilantro are not bonafide pizza toppings, OK? I want great Italian sausage, a tasty sauce and flavorful mozzarella cheese. Dino's is the real deal. It was the kind of experience that after my first bite, I immediately began planning when I could come back to Dino's again. (thankfully Rich took me back last Friday.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Classic TV and my broken heart

The kids and I are fans of classic/vintage TV shows and we've gone through our phases. Every day while we eat our lunch we sit in the family room laughing together over some old TV show. Before DVR, we used to watch I Love Lucy because it came on at 12:00 noon every day, suiting our lunchtime break well. We probably watched every episode at least once. Then, when the world of DVR opened up to us, we began recording some new favorites: Little House on the Prairie, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Let's Make A Deal, etc. We are currently enjoying a run with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Hogan's Heroes.
I have a problem though.

When you come to love a show and get to know the characters in it, etc. you begin to feel like you know the people and that the characters are who they really are. I mean, I really wanted Ricky to love Lucy. When they divorced in real life, I could not fathom that they would ever do such a thing. It just about ruined the show for me. Poor little Ricky!

And what could be cuter than the Brady Bunch? Especially those earlier episodes before the whole dating scene came in... But we all know what happened to Robert Reed. Most of the Brady kids are divorced or a mess. Florence Henderson is deep into hypnotherapy. And she seemed so sensible!

Then there's the Cosby show. Claire, the Mom, was played by Felicia Rashad. In the show, she is sophisticated, smart, and savvy. It bummed me out that in real life, she was married/divorced three times, and one of her husbands was the lead singer of the Village People! (she divorced him because of his drug abuse). That is just weird. It just doesn't jive, you know?

But, I thought Ozzie and Harriet - they're safe I'm sure. As I remembered, it was just the most wholesome show ever. Well, I shouldn't be surprised. In real life, Harriet was actually a lifelong chain smoker who eventually died of emphysema. David was married twice; Ricky was married twice (first wife he was "obligated" which Ozzie tried to hide from the media) and engaged to the third when he died in a small plane crash. The plane caught on fire because someone on board was freebasing cocaine, and Ricky had traces of it in his body when they did an autopsy. Poor Ozzie got cancer soon after the show ended and battled it until an early death at age 69. It's all so sad.

I don't know why I get so disappointed. I mean, I know these are just typical people in the world doing the things typical people in the world do (plus, I wouldn't say they were great examples on the shows, just a lot better than they really were!). But, I have to say, Classic TV is sure a whole lot better than the current shows. I can honestly say that I have never watched one episode of today' prime time popular TV shows. I wouldn't dare! I guess I just better stick with the best that there is - good old classic shows!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Food of Love sweet is my hubby (scroll down to see the Valentine post he surprised me with this morning). Just for the record, my husband is much more patient by virtue than I am! LUVYA, honey.

Happy Valentine's Day - and here is the way the Harasicks started their day with some food of love.

This is my all time favorite pancake recipe. I got it from Ina Garten but modified it a bit. You can add any fruit you like. Just pour the batter onto the griddle, then sprinkle on chopped apples, sliced bananas, or blueberries. I even like to sprinkle on a few chopped walnuts and/or mini chocolate chips when I use the bananas. The cinnamon-sugar that is sprinkled on top of the fruit causes some caramelization...YUM!

makes 8 large pancakes

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. grated lemon or orange rind
Fruit of choice: finely chopped apples, sliced bananas, blueberries

In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl add all wet ingredients (except fruit). Add wet to dry, and mix just until combined. Pour batter onto griddle. Top with fruit. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar. Turn when bottom side is browned and cook until second side is done.

Form into heart shapes for Valentine's Day!

Love is Patient

Well last year I posted a love blog to Karen on Valentines Day. (Check it out in the 2007 February archive.) It was some fun and cute poetry along with some gentle kidding, but it did have a promise of sorts from me to her. I asked for some more time in finishing "THE PORCH". THE PORCH has become many things: the symbol of unfinished business, a monument to what could be, a testiment of me not quite getting to the end of a project. But most of all it shows the patience my wife has for me. I could use many exuses for not finishing, and some legitimate things have gotten in the way. However, it has been nearly three years since I started on it.

So today I want to express my love for Karen for her patience towards me. Love can show itself in many ways as 1 Corintians 13 tells us and my wife typifys them all. But Patience is first on the list and her patience for me is on my heart.

THE PORCH will get done, and we actually did sit on it and enjoyed the suns rays (coming through the unfinished roof studs) this past Sunday, but it will always remind me of my wife's complete understanding of me and continued love for me.

I have I told you lately that I love you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yummy Find

Choose from tons of fun toppings...mmm

Yesterday, Emma and I found a new food obsession -CeFiore Frozen Yogurt . We were at the Santa Anita Mall mid afternoon and ready for a snack, so we popped in for a try. This yogurt is an all-natural Italian product and boy is it delicious. On top of that, it is non-fat and low calorie - 25 calories an ounce. What a wonderful, guilt free treat. It tasted totally premium (didn't melt), it was hard to believe that it wasn't fattening and junky (like most frozen yogurt/soft serve). Emma tried the pomegranite and chocolate side by side, while I tried original (lemon tart)and pomegranite. We didn't realize this, but you also get one free fresh fruit or other kind of topping included in the price ($3 for a 5 oz). And...I just realized that there is a CeFiore in La Crescenta on Foothill, right in my regular shopping/errands path, so you can bet I'll be making it part of my regular diet!!

By the way, the Westfield Santa Anita Mall is by far the best mall I've ever been to! When we must hit the mall we usually go to the Burbank or Glendale malls (though neither has everything we're looking for) but from now on, I'm going to make the 5-10 minute extra drive and go to a much better place. This mall is gorgeous inside, with glass panelled ceilings that bring in tons of natural light. It had all of our favorite stores (NY& Co., Old Navy, GAP, American Eagle, PacSun, Hollister, Ann Taylor and more)and a huge, amazing food park. I also noticed various food places scattered about - Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, Auntie Anne's pretzels, and my weakness, Cinnabon. To top that, there is a giant beautiful and colorful carousel, a new movie theater (AMC with IMAX), a Sport Chalet, Williams-Sonoma, Macy's, as well as several good restaurants like Johnny Rocket's, California Pizza Kitchen, Wood Ranch, and Cheesecake Factory. There is even a non-related project being built (opens in 2009) adjacent to the mall by Rick Caruso - the designer/contractor of The Grove. It is a large, open air shopping plaza like The Grove with upscale shops and restaurants. This addition will surely make the Santa Anita Mall an even better shopping destination! To get there, I take the 210 freeway east, exit Baldwin and turn right. It is just a couple of minutes past Pasadena.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What in the world...

As we were out in about in a nearby neighborhood today, I spotted the following oddoties. First this:

As if the demand and love for tofu is so great that a whole village of it is needed! If this were the last restaurant left on earth, I still think I'd pass.

And then, this at the restaurant we ate lunch at:

So is there some new "trim" model of wheelchair out there that I've never seen? (Actually, upon closer inspection, this turned out to be a janitor's closet. The bathroom was next to it. BAD placement of sign.)
Weird stuff.
Then yesterday, my cat Fiyero, who thinks he deserves free reign of the house including all tables and countertops, sat in a bowl of bacon grease. I don't think he exactly meant to sit in it, but did so when trying to perch himself in the windowsill over the kitchen sink. He was too dumb to even notice this happen to himself and proceeded to Emma's room where he sat on the carpet - bacon-greasy fluffy tail and all. Once we discovered what had happened, we promptly threw him in the kitchen sink for a bath. (Just so you know, bacon grease and water don't exactly mix.) I then proceeded to clean carpets and mop the kitchen. Too bad I didn't think to snap a photo - he looked hilarious wet and freaked out!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A surprise for Kait!

Emma pulled off a BIG SURPRISE last Thursday for her best friend, Kaitlyn. Kait thought she was invited to go out to breakfast and go shopping for her birthday with her Mom, Emma and I. Instead, Emma had arranged for a group of her 7 dearest friends to surprise her with a day at Disneyland! The girls all arrived here early at 8:00 am and hid in the trailer outside. When Kait arrived, I told her that Emma was in the trailer (putting some "stuff" inside for their sleepover). When Kait opened the trailer door she heard a resounding "SURPRISE!!!!" It was absolutely adorable - she was simply shocked. After lots of hugs, we all piled into the Brooks' van (that Diane graciously let us borrow for the day -it seats 11). After a fun filled day at the Happiest Place on Earth, we ran through In-n-Out Burger for: 1 grilled cheese with grilled onions, lettuce and tomato, 1 hamburger with pickles and no onion, 2 cheeseburgers with no onion, 1 plain cheeseburger, 1 hamburger with no tomato or onion, 1 cheeseburger with grilled onions and no tomato, and 1 plain grilled cheese, 6 orders of fries, 7 waters and a diet coke. Funny! I have to hand it to the good folks at In-n-Out - they got the order exactly right! But wait - the evening wasn't over yet! The girls all sang Happy Birthday over Angel Face cake (actually Angel Food Cake but Kait named it that when she was little) with fresh berries and whipped cream. Then came presents. Then came a movie and sleepover in the trailer. In the morning, after breakfast it was time to return all the girls and Diane's van. A fun and memorable time was had by all! More pics are on Emma's blog.

I tell you, this has to be one of the biggest perks of being home schooled! But I'm sure it was hard after all that fun to hit the books again on Friday!


and after!!