Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer salads

Here are a couple of my newest creations in the salad department. They are perfect for summer lunches or dinners.


Berries & Greens Salad

4 main dish servings

16 cups mixed salad greens
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I use the rotisserie chicken from Costco)
2 cups mixed fresh berries (strawberries- sliced, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
2 avocados, diced
½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped,


6 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. Dijon mustard
3 T. orange juice or cider vinegar
1 T. sugar or honey
fresh pepper

Whisk all ingredients together, adjust to taste if necessary with more oil or vinegar.

Distribute salad greens onto 4 dinner-size plates. Top in the following order: chicken, berries, avocado, and nuts. Drizzle dressing over and serve.

Note: Citrus segments (grapefruit or orange) work well in place of the berries.

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

Serves 4-6 as side dish


1 eggplant
2 zucchini
2 red or orange bell peppers
½ large red onion
6 T. olive oil
½ lb. orzo pasta or any kind of pasta
1 4 oz. package crumbled feta cheese or diced fresh mozzarella cheese
handful of kalamata olives, optional

Whisk together:
½ c. olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove fresh garlic, if desired

Prepare vegetables for grilling: cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/2" slices, cut each zucchini lengthwise into 1/3" slices, cut each bell pepper into quarters (discarding seeds and center), and slice red onion into ½” thick slices. Season 6 T. olive oil with a little salt, pepper or lemon pepper, and dried herbs (I use herbes de Provence). Brush vegetables all over with the olive oil mixture, and grill on high until you see some nice grill marks (turn veggies frequently). Chop veggies into dice (Can be done a few days in advance).

Cook pasta al dente. Drain and cool a bit, then toss with veggies, feta cheese, and vinaigrette. Top with olives. Cover and chill several hours. When serving, taste and add a splash more vinegar or oil if it is too dry.

You can easily double this recipe, or add other ingredients to salad if desired: fresh herbs, cubed roasted chicken breast, chopped artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, or whatever you like!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Maria Chapman's Memorial Service

I wanted to share an exerpt from an email we received from Rick and Kari Dempsey after they returned from the memorial service for little Maria Chapman last Saturday:

Thanks for all your prayers for the Chapman family. They certainly have felt the love of God over the past few days from all those who have lifted them up in prayer during this unimaginably difficult time.Kari and I are flying back to LA as I write after an amazing two days in Nashville. This was life changing. The name of the Lord was exalted in ways that we could never retell. We are in awe at His grace, compassion and mercy. Little Maria's life, although short, has already moved mightily in peoples lives to bring Him glory.

Last night the entire family stood in the church as a long line of friends and acquaintances greeted them, hugged them, cried with them and loved on them. The Chapman family and Steven's ministry has obviously impacted so many. They stood there for more than 4 hours before one of the pastors finally stopped it and had hundreds still remaining in line just sit down and then Steven apologetically, but so graciously addressed the entire group.

At the funeral, both Michael W. Smith and Matt Redman helped lead everyone in worship. Matt led us in a song we often sing that he wrote, "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord." It was amazing to watch the Chapman family sing with loud voices as they hugged one another, "He gives and takes away. He gives and takes away. My heart will choose to say, 'Lord, blessed be your name.'" This song will never be the same to me personally.

We worshipped and sang for 30-minutes. And then the Chapman's celebrated Maria by sharing stories and talking about her for almost an hour and a half, praising God for her life and acknowledging that she was safe in the arms of Jesus. All the while pictures of Maria flashed on two big screens behind the stage - her little white casket at the foot of the stage. She was buried in the "flower girl" dress she was going to wear in Emily's upcoming wedding.

Jeff Moore sang Steven's song "With Hope" which Steven wrote for a family years ago, going through the same type of tragedy. All of Maria's little friends came forward and placed a flower at the foot of the casket while Jeff sang.

The Chapmans are unwaivering in their love for Christ and doing well. Their entire family was a display of faith in practice at the most difficult time of their lives. No one in the family wore shoes, because the veil had been lifted for Maria. They were on "Holy Ground" and God's presence was felt.

Caleb (19) said in his prayer, "while we've always been excited about Heaven, it seems so much more real now...and gets us that much more excited to be there ourselves someday. So we'll live life on Earth as if each day counts until we get there.". He also said that although they are "confused" they've never been so sure about Christ and His saving grace. Caleb likened this to one of those abstract pictures that when you're up close, you can't see what it is, but as you step back, you start to see what the artist wants you to see. He said, "And this is a big picture, so we may have to stand waaayyy back."... but we will see what the Artist has designed and what the picture is.He has his dad's wisdom - well beyond his years.

Emily Chapman (22) just got engaged and said that after the proposal, Maria was the only one who asked, "What did you say?". Maria asked it multiple times. (Of course Emily said "yes" to her future husband). But Emily addressed the 3000+ crowd and turned Maria's question back to everyone listening in regards to their answer to Christ's proposal to each of us,. "What did you say?". Powerful under these circumstances. The good news of the Gospel was presented four times throughout the ceremony by the family.

Steven was a rock and just gave all the glory to God. The model of a humble, Godly man. I'm so proud to call him a friend. His humility and appreciation for everyone there, which was a testament to his character and his sincere faith and love for his God and His son, Jesus Christ. As he hugged and cried with Kari and I, he just kept reminding us that "Heaven is real."

Steven shared that after the accident, in the hospital, he held Maria's lifeless body and cried out to God. He cried out, asking to somehow see some kind of sign that she was going to be okay...to see that she was going to be safe. When they got home that night, they found the last picture Maria drew on that Wednesday afternoon on her little art table (she loved to draw!). It was a flower and a butterfly and folded in half like a card. When Steven opened the card up, she had written one word on the inside - a word he didn't even know she knew how to spell. It was "See." A simple answer to his cry to 'see' that she was safe.

Please keep praying for them. They are worn out, sad and yet rejoicing in the Lord.

All in all God was glorified. Praise Him for His sovereign ways.

Rick (and Kari)

Friday, May 23, 2008

"We can grieve with hope"

The Chapman Family - Maria is sitting on Steven's lap

These are the words of a Steven Curtis Chapman song that have been resonating in my mind since I got the heartbreaking news Wednesday evening that his youngest daughter, Maria, had been accidentally struck and killed by the family vehicle her teenage brother was backing out of the driveway at their home. Maria had just turned 5 and was the Chapman’s third adopted daughter from China. Steven and his wife Mary Beth had already adopted two orphan girls and thought they were done until Steven met Maria on one of his many trips to an orphanage in China. There was a mutual admiration and special bond that formed between him and this little girl and soon the Chapmans were convinced that Maria was meant to be part of their family and brought her into their loving fold. These lyrics “we can grieve with hope” refer to the way that Christians view death of one of God’s children. In 1 Thess.4:13 Paul tells us not to be uninformed in the matter of those who have died, and exhorts us not to “grieve as those who have no hope.” As Christians, we have the distinct hope of knowing that those who have died in Christ are in heaven and that we will see them again someday. In Maria’s case, the bible also makes it very clear that little children have a special provision to go to heaven, should they die too young to have been put their trust in Christ. So we do grieve, for this is indeed heartbreaking, but we can grieve with hope. Praise God.

As I read the headlines yesterday, “tragic accident” was often reporters’ phrase of choice. Yes, it was an accident in the sense that it was obviously not intentional or desired to happen, but that is merely the way we as human beings think. We wish with all our hearts that this had not happened! But, this is not the mind of God. There are no accidents in His economy. Not one. Everything that happens was perfectly planned by Him before the foundation of the earth and is for our good and His glory. The word tragic carries an implication that something was a mistake. Again, God doesn’t make mistakes so we must train our minds to view matters the way God does when these types of situations present themselves.

“It’s time for letting go of all of our ‘if onlys’, cause we don’t have a time machine. And even if we did, would we even want to use it – would we really want to go change everything?”

These lyrics come from a recent song of Steven’s, and is certainly applicable here as well. If only Maria hadn’t been where she was. If only her brother had seen her when he backed out the car. If only she were still in China... If only, if only, if only...then this wouldn't have happened. The reality is, God wanted Maria's life to end on May 21, 2008, and planned the circumstances in which it was to happen. Her being in the driveway was actually a divine appointment. That was the means He used to bring her into His loving, heavenly arms. We should rejoice that God’s perfect will was done and we must agree with all our hearts that God, and He alone, is the only one wise and worthy enough to plan the events of our lives.

Well, we of course we know all this, but oh, how my heart aches for the Chapmans right now. We had the opportunity to meet Steven, Mary Beth, Caleb and Will Franklin in New York last month. They are very special people. Having lost Brady, I can certainly know to some extent how they are feeling right now – but also having to deal with their teenage son and all he must be going through is going to be difficult. He is just a teenager – but I pray that God would grant this boy the spiritual maturity and firmness in his faith beyond his years to be able to deal with this. There would obviously be a huge sense of guilt and personal responsibility added to him in addition to the already deep grief and sadness over the loss of his little sister. I pray for Steven and Mary Beth that God would grant them great wisdom in helping their son understand God’s sovereignty and purpose. May they love their son deeply, lead him rightly, and may he know the type of peace, love, and forgiveness that only comes from knowing Christ.

Steven’s music has been a great benediction in my life, and I now pray that all the many lyrics he has composed from God’s word will come back to his own heart and minister directly to him. I believe that God has prepared him for this and I am actually excited to see the way God is going to use this in his life and music. He is obviously in a position where the world is watching him go through this, and there is great potential, I believe, for God to strengthen the worldwide church through this, as well as bring many to salvation through Steven’s testimony of God’s grace and love in the midst of such deep suffering. May the brief but special little life of Maria Sue Chapman be used to bring great glory to God. Though I know she has undoubtedly already made a huge mark on the Chapmans in the short time they had her, I think still much of the impact of her life lies yet to be fulfilled in them, as well as in all of us.

For more, you can visit http://www.stevencurtischapman.com/

From Steven's song, Much of You:

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Happy Anniversary Suzanne & Dave!!

I said I'd be doing "Way back Wednesdays" so I think this qualifies. Today is Suzanne and Dave's anniversary - they've been married 13 years and boy, has the Lord blessed them since their wedding day on May 21, 1995. I can't begin to tell you!

Here are some photos from their wedding day that I found. Doesn't my sister look so pretty?
She wore our mother's wedding dress! I would have loved to have worn it as well, but, well um, I'm not quite a size "0"...

Much love to you both!! Have a great celebration, even though you will be at AWANA!!

Karen & Suzanne getting ready

Even 2 year-old Emma got her hair curled!

The beautiful bride

Suzanne and Mom

Sandy Cameron & I were the maid and matron of honor

Dinner at the Chart House

Hot air balloon ride

Up, Up, and Away!

A great day for a great guy

For Rich’s birthday I wanted to plan a very special day for him that included many of his favorite things. After consulting with him, I planned what I hope "made all your wildest dreams come true." (Pedro, Napoleon Dynamite)

First thing in the morning, we awoke to the kitchen majorly decked out in decorations, courtesy of Emma. There were colorful construction paper chains, balloons and signs and it looked awesome! Rich and I quickly downed a little granola and then took off for the first thing on his agenda -an early morning hike.

Festive decorations

We like to park near the 210 freeway exit at La Tuna Canyon, and hike the mountain trail there. It is about an hour to hike to the top and your reward is beautiful, unobstructed views of Glendale and Pasadena on one side and Burbank on the other. In addition to the wonderful views, it is a very nice trail, with a lot of beautiful landscape to enjoy as you hike. It takes about an additional 1 ½ hours to descend the trail. That’s harder than the climb up in some ways, as you use muscles you don’t regularly use, and it’s a little hard on your back to continually go downhill. After about 2 ½ hours to complete the hike, my body was pretty tired, but I did feel exhilarated. Hiking with Rich really means a lot to him, as it is one of his favorite activities. He let me know that it was a great gift to him. Good start to the day!

Self portrait on the trail

Rich with some of the beautiful wildflowers

Panoramic view of Burbank

We returned home, showered, grabbed the kids and headed out to one of Rich’s all time favorite restaurants, Barney’s LTD in Old Towne Pasadena. Barney’s is actually a pub but if you go during the daytime you don’t get that bar-like atmosphere or bar-type clientelle. They have a huge menu but as far as I’m concerned there are two choices: the fish and chips or the clubhouse sandwich. Rich and I have both been going to Barney’s for over 25 years (long before Old Towne Pasadena was the chic shopping spot that now is) and those are the only two items we have ever ordered. Rich always goes for the Fish and Chips, while I struggled to decide but finally went with the Clubhouse. It’s good to split the Clubhouse with someone (though I had no takers this time as everyone ordered the fish and chips) because it’s huge! It is a triple-decker with ham, turkey, and bacon served on thick grilled Texas toast. I know it sounds kind of boring, but the ham and turkey are really high quality and the combination of them with the crispy bacon and shredded lettuce, mayo, and crispy/greasy toast is a total winner. They also have amazing potato salad and fries at Barney’s too.

Happy (and full) birthday boy with the kids at Barney's

Well, after putting back all those calories we burned off hiking (oh well, it was worth it), we headed over to Burbank to catch Prince Caspian. It was a pretty amazing movie, though I thought it had a certain element of cheesy-ness (if that is a word). We all enjoyed it.

So, now that Rich had been treated to a hike, lunch, and a movie, it was now time for la piece de resistance – his mother’s spaghetti sauce. Fortunately, I possess this secret family recipe, so I whipped up a big batch a couple days ahead of time, along with what Rich requested for his birthday dessert – Red Velvet Cupcakes. I don’t know why, but for some time Rich has been asking me to make a Red Velvet cake. So I found this recipe online, and it was pretty good. I think I would prefer a buttercream frosting to this one which contained cream cheese, but Rich loved it. The recipe called for an ENTIRE bottle of red food coloring (the big glass one!). Ewww, that just can’t be good for you (but then again, the goal of your birthday dessert isn’t to be good for you anyhow).

"love in a bowl"

Red Velvet cupcake

What a great day, and a great guy we were celebrating!
Next birthday coming up....Emma!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Celebrating 21 years...

If you've been following the blog recently, you know we've had some celebrations going on around here! On Friday, we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary (glad you liked the 80's wedding pic), and then on Saturday, we celebrated Rich's birthday. Rich took the day off work Friday and we took off sans children for a little day getaway. (Saturday, we let the kids in on the fun.) Here are a few photos from Friday and I'll cover Saturday later.

We started this sunny and warm day with breakfast out at Marston's in Pasadena

Had a cute little table on the porch...

I dined on corn flake-encrusted french toast and bacon...

...while Rich had this great omelette and killer potatoes

After breakfast, we headed over to The Americana in Glendale. It just opened last week, and is like the Grove in L.A. (same developer). It takes up 4 city blocks and has been quite some time in the making. It's quite the place- I recommend a visit!

Great dancing water feature at the 2-acre "park"

Aerial view from parking structure

Open air "Concierge" area includes a pianist and marble floors

One of the many places to eat here- a 50's diner (Glendale is the "jewel city")

They even have a trolley that comes down these tracks

The place has a great retro feel!

Browsing some of the shops...

Bare Escentuals -one of my favorites! Had to stop in and get a little something for Emma.

This crystal chandelier is suspended over the street!

After a fun stroll around there, we grabbed a refreshing iced tea at Coffee Bean and headed over to Pasadena for our 2:00 tour of The Gamble House. The Gamble House is an historical landmark, and is the 100 year-old former summer home of the Gamble family (Proctor & Gamble). The house is a stunning example of the Arts and Crafts style and was designed by Greene & Greene. The house has been lovingly restored and preserved and includes much of the original furnishings. The tour included a docent leading us through the home room by room and explaining the history behind the home, furnishings, and Arts and Crafts era. The house is absolutely beautiful and I found the tour to be extremely fascinating! We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but here are a few shots of the exterior. There are interior pictures on the website - if you are interested just click the Gamble House link above.

The home used to be on 10 acres, but now it's about 2. The Rose Bowl is behind the house a few miles away.

Beautiful front doors - all the woodwork on the house was exquisite

The pond out back

Even the brickwork was a work of art!

We weren't quite sure what we would do for dinner, but Rich suggested we head down to Malibu for some seafood. The weather was scorching hot so it sounded like a great idea. We had a scenic(and traffic free) drive over Las Virgines Road. We called for reservations at Gladstone's and were able to get right in. Gladstone's is a fixture on PCH, known for its fresh fish and casual beach atmosphere. After enjoying some delicious seafood, we sat on the beach for about an hour, just enjoying the perfect weather.

Gladstone's - right on Will Rogers beach

The decor hasn't been changed in years, but it's great

Did I mention that my husband was class comedian in high school?
This was his idea - to frame a bird sitting outside our table's window with his hands.

Just enjoying the beautiful beach

Still having fun after all these years!

As we traveled home, we decided to take a leisurely drive down Ventura Boulevard, rather than take the 101. As we were driving, I remembered a place we went to once or twice, called Cafe 50's, and asked Rich if he remembered going there many years ago (before kids). He did, and actually remembered its location. We drove down Van Nuys Blvd. to see if it was still there and sure enough it was. Rich asked if I wanted to get a chocolate shake and so we topped off our evening with a cool and refreshing dessert. As we left, we asked the guy how long the restaurant had been there. He answered, "21 years," which was precisely how many years we had been married to that day.

50's diners were all the rage around the time we got married

Bright and colorful candy

Chocolate shakes for two...


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Rich!

School days picture....NICE haircut!!

Well, the reason for such embarrassment is that today, May 17th, is Rich's 47th birthday! In honor of him, here are 47 fun facts that make him distinctly “Rich” (and absolutely adorable):

1. He drinks Trader Joe’s organic hot cocoa every morning

2. He loves to get new shoes (and tell us about them repeatedly)

3. He is really into maps

4. He thinks Napoleon Dynamite is a pretty funny movie

5. He enjoys picking oranges and making fresh squeezed juice

6. He loves the outdoors - hiking, biking, taking walks, the beach & mountains

7. Our cats and dogs adore him (and bother him as well)

8. He puts butter on things most people wouldn’t (like tortilla chips)

9. His all time favorite meal is his mom’s spaghetti sauce (and he stirs butter into that as well)

10. He dreams of being able to play the fiddle someday, and his dream "retirement' job would be playing it in Disneyland's "Billy Hill and the Hillbillies" show!

11. His idea of a “casual”outfit is chinos and a pressed collared shirt (we always tease him about being too 'dressed up')

12. He loves to curl up in his leather chair with a good book – he just finished reading John Adams and Epicenter

13. He loves to curl up in his leather chair and just take a nap!

14. He loves to drink Arnold Palmers or just iced tea with tons of lemon

15. He enjoys “chick flicks” like Anne of Green Gables and Jane Austin movies, but he can’t tolerate game shows at all

16. He likes to eat gross retro candy – like Abba Zabba, Look, Big Hunk, and Boston baked beans (gag)

17. He is always engaged in some lengthy home improvement project and somehow knows how to do pretty much anything

18. He has owned (and would like to one day again own) a '66 VW bug

19. He loves Reyn Spooner shirts, and Hawaii

20. He recently bought jeans at OSH Home Improvement Center (geek!)

21. He is intrigued by anything that has to do with engineering or construction (things “technical”)

22. His favorite TV shows are Hogan’s Heroes & Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

23. He likes eclectic ties and gets away with wearing them

24. He was voted "Class Comedian" in high school (wonder why)

25. He saves his “I voted” stickers after each election

26. He dreams of having a BIG garage and workshop someday

27. He loves bluegrass gospel music (but the rest of us really don’t…)

28. He has an extensive baseball cap collection (because he always forgets to bring a hat to places and has to buy one)

29. He cheers for both USC and UCLA

30. He is addicted to homemade granola

31. He wishes I would cut my hair really short (sorry, can’t do it)

32. He knows how to make mean mashed potatoes

33. He loves popcorn and always gets it at the movies and Disneyland

34. He is a fan of The Phantom of the Opera

35. He hates coffee

36. He loves nuts and eats cashews and almonds daily

37. He would never wear cologne

38. He likes Mont Blanc pens and Waterford crystal

39. He still has a windsurfer in our garage

40. He is very methodical about everything (engineer) and is impossible to play a board game with (takes forever to make a move)

41. He would watch way more sports on TV if he had the time

42. He hiked Half Dome in Yosemite past age 40!

43. He adores Kettle "Buffalo Bleu" potato chips

44. He totally digs power tools and could roam around Home Depot for hours

45. He reads the newspaper comics every day

46. His still likes the band Boston

47. He favorite phrase is “let the magic happen” (in other words, he likes to surprise us and not let us in on his schemes.)

Well, as you might have gathered, we do like poke fun at Rich quite a bit around here…but he has a great sense of humor and takes it all in stride…so I hope he enjoys this tribute. We really do adore you dear, and are so blessed to have you. You are a great example to us in the way that you live your life… and besides that you make our lives so much fun!


*If anyone wants to add another one of these to my list, feel free to use the comments area...
have fun!

21 years ago today...

May 16, 1987

....my best dream ever came true!

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Way back When" Wednesdays

I have a blogging friend who often posts "Wordless Wednesdays" - just a photo and nothing more. I have recently been rummaging through old photo albums and have found some really precious shots of my kids when they were little. So, I think for awhile I'll adopt "Way back When" Wednesdays. Enjoy!

My little beach bums!

My big teenagers!

How did this happen??