Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Way Delicious Wednesdays: Carrot-Banana Smoothie and Homemade Granola

Are you still reading after I said "carrot-banana smoothie"? Don't be freaked out. It's SO good. I would get one whenever I'd go to Juice it Up, and when I realized the only ingredients were plain yogurt, banana, and carrot juice, I thought I'd try to make one at home. It turned out delicious and I find myself whipping up this easy drink quite often now. Do not be put off by the carrot juice. You don't taste it - honest. And what better way to get a serving of vegetables!

Carrot-Banana Smoothie

1 large frozen banana, chunked
3/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup fresh carrot juice
handful of crushed ice

So that's it - just throw it all in the blender and whip it up.

TIP: As soon as bananas get too ripe around here, I put them in a ziploc bag and freeze them. If you thaw for about 5 minutes on the counter, you can easily remove the peel.

Now, the next recipe is one I make on a weekly basis. I think Rich and I have been eating granola for every weekday breakfast since summer began. We're addicted! I get a lot of requests for this recipe, and my friend LaTonya Taylor keeps reminding me to post it for her. So here you go, sister!

Homemade Granola

3 cups oats
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, and shredded coconut.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, stir together the remaining ingredients (except vanilla) until the coconut oil is melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour warm liquid mixture over the dry oat mixture. Stir well to combine. Divide mixture into two jelly roll (rimmed) type baking pans. Spread out as thinly as possible. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Cool completely and then pour into an airtight container. You can add dried fruit if you like.

NOTE: You can get the coconut oil and the shredded coconut at Whole Foods. The oil is called "organic extra virgin" coconut oil. It is pricey but oh-so-delicious and very healthy for you. I actually get mine in bulk from Vitamin Shoppe, since I use it for practically all my baking. I even slather some all over my face when cooking (seriously- great for dry skin). You can substitute extra light olive oil instead, but I have to warn you - it won't taste as good.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Whatever: Now it's a "Kitty" Upper Respiratory Infection

OK, so it just keeps getting more ridiculous. After getting over his so-called "anxiety attack," Fi-Fi developed a sniffly nose and began sneezing up a storm. When he sneezes it sounds like a person, it is so loud. And you can just hear the snot flying out of his nose. You do not want to be remotely close to this cat when he sneezes.

So, I waited about 3 days, then I started to get concerned so I checked the internet and found out that with his symptoms he could have an infection. So, I took him in to the vet today. Sure enough, he had a 103.5 fever, and was diagnosed with an "upper respiratory infection." Now, I get the pleasure of giving him antihistimine pills and liquid Amoxiccillin twice a day for 10 SOLID DAYS. Ugh. I'm not even going to mention how much this cost.

Incidentally, if you're curious as to how a cat would catch such an infection, let me inform you. Why, my research tells me that the usual cause is germs that they pick up after a visit to the vet's office. Nice.

Or, shall I say, whatever.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Whatever: "Kitty" Anxiety Attack

He looks relaxed, but behind those sultry eyes is a very dysfunctional being.

Fiyero, known as Fi-Fi or Confit, our somewhat large Maine Coon cat, went in to the vet Wednesday afternoon for some routine vaccinations. Later that evening after returning from dinner out, we noticed something was very wrong with him. He was breathing very shallow and quick, his back was experiencing spasms, he was licking his paws profusely, and was extremely irritated. He would lay down in one spot for 30 seconds and then meow and move to a new position, as if he couldn't get comfortable. He wouldn't let anyone come near him and was even hissing. I immediately thought of our dog, Olive, who had a bad reaction to a rabies shot once, and thought that this must be the case. We gave Olive a benadryl hidden in a chunk of cheese and she was good as new, but how do you administer a benadryl to a freaked out cat? I really didn't want to drive a half hour to the after-hours pet hospital at 10:30 pm, so, we just let him be. When I checked him in the middle of the night, he seemed slightly better. In the morning I decided to call the vet and have a look-see.

The vet said it was highly unlikely that he was having a reaction to the vaccines, since these were all boosters of vaccines he had already had with no reaction. After thoroughly checking Fi-Fi out, he concluded that he basically had an anxiety attack from going to the vet. I tried hard not to laugh as he seriously described his condition. An anxiety attack. OK, so I spent $30 to find out that my cat has anxiety. What do you do with that?


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Well, so much for my “Way back Wednesdays.” The last few times I tried to scan in some old pictures they came out as little as a postage stamp. I can’t tell you how many times I am doing something on the computer when I realize I need major help. Too many to number!

So, let’s switch to “Way delicious Wednesdays.” I’m way better at food than I am at computers anyways.

So today’s offering is a copy cat recipe for one of my current obsessions: Starbucks Blueberry-Oat Bars. Have you ever had one of these babies? If you haven’t, well -I’m just so sorry. What a sad life you lead.

But now you can make them at home! I whipped up a batch today, and they are pretty close to Four-Bucks, uh hum, I mean, Starbucks version. If you keep frozen blueberries around like I do, then you can probably make these right now. So drop everything and do'll be so glad you did.

I ate this right after Emma took the photo. Then I licked the plate.

Almost Starbucks Blueberry-Oat Bars

1 ¾ cups old fashioned oats
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped nuts (I used pecans; walnuts would be nice too)
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup butter, melted

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup sugar
3 T. water
2 T. cornstarch
2 t. lemon juice

Combine well first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Press remainder onto bottom of 7 x 11 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine blueberries, sugar, and 2 T. of the water in a medium saucepot over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until the mixture starts to boil. Boil 1 minute. Combine remaining 1 T. water with cornstarch and lemon juice in a small custard cup. Stir into blueberry mixture and continue cooking and stirring until mixture thickens.

Spoon blueberry mixture evenly over warm crust. Top evenly with remaining dry mixture, pressing down slightly. Bake an additional 15-18 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Now, drive to Starbucks for the latte you’ll need to go with this! :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Please pray for the Sandersons

Kyle and baby Suzie

Our friends, Kyle and Stephanie Sanderson, recently found out that their little baby girl was having difficulties in utero, so Stephanie was given an emergency c-section last Friday. She was only 28 weeks pregnant, and little Suzie weighed only 1 lb. 14 oz. Above she is pictured with her daddy, Kyle, who would make anybody look small, so it is truly hard to realize how tiny she is. If you click over to their blog you can see another picture of Kyle's hand next to the baby and get an idea of how teeny-tiny she is.

She is currently at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena in the NICU. In addition to being a preemie, she also has some other complications that are very serious. The Sandersons love the Lord and are strong in Him, but please pray that God would pour out His grace and mercy upon them in a special way during this difficult time. This is their first baby, and a very tough road is still ahead of them. I know that Kyle and Steph want to glorify God throughout this all, and that is a great encouragement to those around them as well as a testimony to all those they come into contact with. We love you Kyle, Steph, and Suzie, and we trust our Sovereign God along with you, that His perfect will is accomplished in little Suzie's life. We know God will use your all of your lives to glorify Himself!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Drew!

My boy is 17 today! Does this picture give you an idea to his personality?
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Love you BUD!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I love teenagers!

I love teenagers! Last Sunday evening, Rich and I headed up the cooking of 1500 hot dogs for our church's evening carnival, with the help of 20 high schoolers. What a joy they were! They were all so polite to us and absolutely loved helping out. They were singing praise songs together as they worked very hard rolling endless hot dogs into wrappers. What a joy to see. I love our church and am especially thankful for the high school department!

And of course, most of all I love my own teenagers and their friends. Not a day goes by that I don't praise and thank God for Drew and Emma and the friends that God has graciously given them. Their friends are the absolute best! I couldn't ask for better kids for my kids to be influenced by. I am thrilled that their best friends are essentially my best friends' kids. How neat that they would actually choose and prefer those people to be their buds. It blesses my socks off!

This summer has been great just doing stuff with my kids. Yes, it makes it hard to get the laundry, cleaning, and cooking done, but oh well. Being with my kids is the most important thing I can do with my time. I love taking them places, sharing in their experiences, and having their friends in our home. I love who they are, and what they are becoming. I praise God for I know that the things I see in them are a result of His work in their hearts. These are precious times, and they won't last forever, so I know I must relish them.

Thanks for letting me gush a little!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blog Peer Pressure

Blog peer pressure - it's a very real thing. You know what I mean. When you haven't blogged in awhile (because you're too busy) it comes on. You start to imagine all your friends out there visiting your blog and thinking to themselves (in disappointment), "Nothing new...again." It's painful. It's humiliating. I can't handle it any longer!

But, the truth is, life has been a whirlwind. So, I thought I'd redeem myself by summarizing the last 6 weeks.

May 28- June 1 Camping in Yosemite
Hiked to Nevada Falls, in preparation for hiking Half Dome next year. I say this with fear and trepidation. Campsite fees: $80. Gas bill to get there: $300. Ouch. Great food and fellowship in one of the most gorgeous places on earth!

June 8-11 Camping in San Clemente
Had a tire blowout with the trailer on the way down, resulting in $4000 damage to the trailer -flying shrapnel hit side of trailer. Yes, we have insurance. Todd Brooks lost his swim shorts bodysurfing. Todd Brooks lost his wedding ring bodysurfing. It was overcast the whole time but the sun came out just as we were packing up to go. Trailer has been at Mike Thompson R.V. shop since then for repairs. Got new Rainbow sandals at the outlet there. The Bagel Shack rocks!

June 13-15 Resolved Conference in Palm Springs
Great perk of being the wife and kids of an Elder at Grace: free Resolved with reserved front row seating- Nice. Temp in Palm Springs: 115 degrees. Awesome teaching on heaven (John Mac, Randy Alcorn, C.J. Mahaney, Rick Holland) and music by the Resolved band, now known as Enfield. What a privilege!

June 28-July 1 Juniors Camp in Angeles Forest
Nine 6th graders for 3 days. Felt like the mother of nine-tuplets. Killed hundreds of mosquitos in the cabin and ate lots of hydrogenated food. Sleep total for 3 days: 10 hours. (Had to make an exception to my no caffeine consumption habit with daily bottled Starbucks frapps.) Praising the Lord for the opportunity for our whole family to go and serve. A joy to watch our kids love serving. Tom Patton did a great job teaching and we pray hearts were changed!

July 3-6 Camping in Big Bear
Borrowed DeShong's toy hauler which provided incredible lake views! Pontoon boat, jet ski, lots of fishing and 4th of July fireworks show. Very relaxing - caught up on my sleep. Peach cobbler on the barbecue - Yum-O.

Well, it was all great, but pretty near sent me over the edge.

So, now we're home for a bit and I'm loving it. For awhile there, it was a pattern of Trader Joe's, pack, travel, unpack, laundry, Trader Joe's again... yesterday when I was at the checkout the checker guy at the next checkstand looked at me funny and then asked "Weren't you just here a few days ago buying another big load?" "Yes." was my embarrassed response. Him: "That food's all gone?" Me: "Yep." Him: "Wow."

To add to the chaos, we've also been in the midst of construction here for a few weeks as well. The back wall of our house (dining room/family room wall that faces the backyard) was quite a mess, to say the least. To be honest, that side of our house was literally ready to collapse if we didn't do something about it. We had to have the entire wall torn out and propped up so Roy Chacon's crew could rebuild it. We got all new windows and doors as well. We found out that our big floor to ceiling windows were not even tempered glass. Not good around a pool - I am surprised that they haven't shattered by being slammed into with basketballs and other pool items or small children running around the pool when they shouldn't be. We also found out that we had live termites when they tore out all the wood. That's not yummy. Very thankful that we could get this done. We are hibernating in half the house while they work.

I've been so busy and I've really missed cooking. I seriously cannot think of the last meal I made! All my fruit trees are ripe - tons of plums, peaches and apples that I long to make into pies and cobblers. And, unfortunately, no time for the usual making of jam. Tomorrow though, we are having some of Rich's colleagues over for dinner so I am going to make my favorite - Vanilla Peach Pie. I'm doing my standard summer menu for a group:

BBQ Ribs and Chicken with my yummy table mop sauce
Corn on the cob with basil-butter
Caesar Salad
Pasta Caprese Salad (pasta, fresh mozz., fresh basil, diced cherry tomatoes, vinaigrette)
Fruit Salad
Bread Sticks (TJ's)

It's a great menu because I can get some of the items out of the way the day before. Today I made the Caesar dressing, boiled the pasta for the salad, and made the barbecue sauce.

I have to say that I really do make some fine ribs. Costco sells great baby backs and I season them with a little s & p and wrap them in foil packets (cut the ribs into sections first) on cookie sheets. I bake them at 250 degrees for 2 1/2 hours, then I grill them, basting them with my barbecue mop sauce. They turn out so tender and yummy. My sauce is easy: 3/4 c. ketchup, 1 c. bottled hickory barbecue sauce, 1/3 c. orange juice, 2 T. soy sauce, and cayenne powder to your liking. Simmer for awhile- best made the day before. It's my favorite. Tip on the chicken too: Brown it on the grill, then cook in the oven to doneness. That way you don't get chicken jerky on the outside, raw inside. And, you aren't barbecuing as your guests are walking in (dangerous - that is when you burn food.)

So, there, hopefully I've redeemed myself. Happy Summer everyone!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tag I'm It

Recently my friend my friend Julie tagged me to reveal six unremarkable quirks about myself, so here goes:

1. I get very fearful if I don’t have a lip balm on me 24/7. And it has to be Carmex brand mint or cherry flavor (I accept no substitutes). Ditto with Neutrogena Hand Cream.

2. I am always experiencing a food obsession of some sort. Currently, it is Trader Joe’s frozen mocha pops. I must have one every day or something bad will probably happen to me.

3. I don't do caffeine. (exception: what is in my Trader Joe’s mocha pop, of course!) When people find this out, they are like "Why NOT??" so I figured this qualified as a quirk.

4. While I am a health nut, I am also a candy freak. My house overflows with dishes of all kinds. Some of my favorites: Hot Tamales, Rolo, Almond Joy, 100,000 grand, Butterfinger, Peanut Butter M& M’s, and anything sour and chewy.

5. Aspartame totally freaks me out. I will not even chew gum if it has it in it. I am very vocal about it too. It should totally be banned.

6. I secretly desire to stop coloring my hair and go gray. I admire young women who can do it. I'm not quite ready yet though...

Now, I get to tag six fellow bloggers- I pick Suzanne, Emma, Nancy, Myra, Savannah, and Beckie. (It was a stretch for me to find 6 fellow bloggers!) Tell me your quirks!

Here are the rules:

* Link the person who tagged you
* Mention the rules in your blog.
* Tell about six unremarkable quirks of yours.
* Tag six bloggers by linking them. (They shall be "it")

Have fun!