Friday, October 24, 2014

Curry Honey Chicken

A long time ago, in a far away place, (though not so far that I couldn't run there now), I had a baby boy. Freckles. And a friend brought me dinner.

And it was this...

And it was good.

I've since gotten her recipe, and shared it on some She Plans Dinner menus. Today I am sharing it with you.

So, it's chicken. It's healthy. It's gluten-free. It's easy. It's adventurous enough for those who like variety and standard enough for those who like classic and familiar.

I like how the flavors of butter and honey and curry meld. So good. I used sweet curry, which isn't spicy at all.

I served mine with rice and applesauce and green beans (for color). The rice is great for the juices that accumulate. 

Curry Honey Chicken
6-8 chicken thighs
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp curry powder

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Wash and skin the chicken thighs. Place in a 9x13” pan.
-Melt the butter. Whisk in the honey, mustard, and curry powder. Pour over the chicken.
-Bake at 375 degrees for 60-75 minutes, until the juices run clear.

That's it.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Getting Out the Door

#Allume and #Charleston version

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel this compulsion to completely clean their house before they leave on vacation? Before they even pack to leave on vacation? It's something about coming home to a clean house...

And while they are cleaning, sort thorough drawers and piles that have been accumulating forever because there is obviously no time like the present to deal with the piles?

All the while, supervising school and making phenomenal dinners?


So, I am writing this post in the midst of house cleaning, and before packing. When you read this post I should be well on my way to SC.

Blogging conference or bust!

Followed by: Charleston vacation or bust!

I've thought through my outfits. Which was a feat. Packing my signature business casual look for the conference. Embracing my vacation look the next week. Packing for summer not fall. Temps will be in the 70s both weeks. Sighing sighs of bliss and contentment and anticipation. 

So, I am packing a dress or two. My brand new dark rinse jeans. Nice shirts. T-shirts. All my running gear. Seriously, if I didn't run, I could pack in a weekend case to go just about anywhere.

I have a stack of books thousands of pages deep. Diana Galbadon's newest. Clive Cussler's newest. Rick Riordan's newest. An old book, written way back in the early 1900s-Miss Buncle's Book. It sounded fun. A curious cross between Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Auntie Maime.

My nails are painted. Which is almost as compulsive a trip thing as cleaning before vacation.

Did I mention that the fam is going with me? Yes. We are all packing up, part and parcel. Actually, I'm packing us all up. Bathing suits and shorts and hoodies and jeans. (That moment of truth, when I discover that for some reason child number __ has been living in two pairs of underwear for the past 6 months. Since the last trip.)

I'm packing some food staples and games. Itineraries and sunscreen and technology.

I've bought a new cord for my laptop. (Fiasco of the day...I practically had to beg the Apple technicians on bended knee to please just sell me a cord. I don't care about serial numbers or possible {definitely lapsed} warranties. Quit wasting my precious time! I have people to pack and blog posts to write and house to clean!)

I learned from last year and bought a backpack to carry through the conference. Which will work great for vacation too. Something to hold my wallet and business cards, makeup and iPad. Something not roughly the size of Texas that whacks everyone and their neighbor as I crowd surf.

I am looking forward to hanging with old friends and meeting new friends. Laughing, and maybe even crying, as we catch up on where we are at. Late nights and early mornings, fueled by coffee and chocolate. I'm am so excited.

Last year I was a newbie at Allume. I went with excitement and trepidation. I had no idea what the conference was going to be like. What the people were going to be like.

I came away full. Life long friendships set their roots last year. She Plans Dinner became a niggling. I learned from godly men and women. It was awesome.

I have no idea what this year holds. But I am excited. Oh so excited. I am in a totally different place this year than last year. I look forward to seeing what God has for me at the conference.

And then I look forward to time with my family exploring Charleston.

I'm not sure how much I will be posting next week, what with being on vacation and all. But, we will see what I come up with.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Art Prize Part Two

I know Art Prize has been done for a week and a half, but I still wanted to share these photos. For my own enjoyment and future reference. I'm mean-who does scrapbooking anymore? It's all on the blogs.

So, the grand prize winner was a box thing with scroll work that had a light bulb in it. It had to do with something Islamic. It was pretty, but I didn't make it in to see it again-thus no picture.

I feel that we covered a lot of ground at Art Prize this year, in between our 5 trips. We saw lots of good art, and lot of meh art. It's all taste. 

There were more 2D entries than any previous year. Paintings, drawings, photographs, mosaics and murals. It was fun to see the variety of mediums and techniques. I'm definitely inspired again. To make sure my kids get some art in their education.

Without further ado...
4000 paper origami cranes. The different groups represent the seasons.

tiny cranes. 

the Blue Bridge on a fall day at Art Prize

random, modern, cool

Freckles chilling out between exhibits

the girls drinking Starbuck's caramel apple cider

one of the top 3-D entries. Molded glass. Scene from Lake Michigan.

the kids like touching that says it is OKAY TO TOUCH.

a rather realistic painting

a top entry in the time lapse category. music, quotes and scripture. Light out of darkness.

an set of pencil drawings of soldiers.

3D winner. whimsical.

I love watching the turtles every summer at the outdoor concerts we attend. These reminded me of them.

This sculpture's message-you can reach your goals. It may be hard, but just keep climbing.

this one is called heart. A mom and a daughter. Love it.

this is a chalk drawing. Incredible!

a kiragami eagle

reminded me of ancient Greek or Roman art

eagle and the cat

carved from one piece of wood.

I really liked this painting. It is something I'd hang in my home.

cranes from the earlier exhibit. I'm just too lazy to fool with moving it.

a marble octopus. I love the colors in the marble.

this is an ink drawing. Kids and pasta. I'd also display this one.

moving in its own weight. rather like kinetic balls or something.

no commentary. just interesting. variety.
Another year, another dollar...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Go Ahead: Question God

(please don't call fire and brimstone down on my head for blasphemy...)

Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your hearts before Him: God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:8)

I've been thinking about this idea as I have been studying Moses in BSF. I am always amazed as I read Exodus 3-6. Moses has a lot of questions. Some of them seem rather ridiculous. Personally, I'd categorize a whole lot of them as stupid questions.

But, God didn't.

God patiently answered Moses's questions. Because all Moses did was verbalize what was on his heart. The majority of the questions reveal a lack of wisdom, not a lack of faith.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

God already knows our questions. He already know our hearts. He knows the things that we aren't even willing to acknowledge to ourselves. God knows everything about everything. Everything.

So, when we pour out our hearts to God we are being vulnerable. We are being honest-with ourselves. We are making a conscious choice to depend on God and not ourselves.

God, our Refuge.

Interestingly enough, God answers question after question, challenge after challenge, from Moses in chapters 3-4, until the very last one. Which was basically a plea.

Just send someone else. Please.

This was the tipping point. This is where God got angry. Why? It wasn't because there were too many questions and God was tired of answering them.

Moses's questions had become a stall tactic. He moved from the perspective of faith, obedience and needed wisdom to stalling in unwillingness to obey and in lack of faith.

Stall tactics are not cool.

I think of Meres. She is put into bed every night. She has had a drink, went potty, brushed her teeth, had a story, been prayed over, and is all tucked in. But, she doesn't want to sleep. She doesn't want to be obedient. So, she stalls. She needs a drink. She has to go potty. She wants a book. Then she needs re-tucked in.

She is stalling.

God welcomes all of our questions and ugliness that comes out of a desire to obey. God doesn't appreciate our stall tactics.

A prime Biblical example of this idea is found in Luke 1. Mary and Zacharias. They both are visited by an angel. They both ask very similar questions...How shall I know this? I'm old. and How will this be since I am a virgin? 

They are both viable challenges. They are both legitimate questions.

Mary's was asked in faith. (Luke 1:28)  Zacharias' was asked in unbelief. (Luke 1:20)

God knows what is really behind our questions.

So, ask your questions. God knows them anyway. But, as you are asking, let God work in your heart. Allow Him to weed out and expose any unbelief. Ask your questions from a position of faith and obedience.

Lord, help my unbelief.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Recipe: 6 Ingredient Panna Cotta

It was my birthday this week. And it was a good birthday. My bff gave me a gorgeous white bowl for food photography (and for food serving, of course=)). My (favorite) sil brought me a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting piled high with chocolate shavings. She knows my love language-chocolate.

The kids were good-on my birthday. Which is always a bonus. The older I get and the older my kids get, the more I empathize with my mom's annually stated wish. All she wanted for her birthday was good kids.

I got to go shopping this week. Because birthdays bring awesome coupons! World Market. Ulta. Panera bread. Kohls. Goodwill. Ironically enough, I spent the same amount at both Kohls and Goodwill. Except at Kohls I left with 4 shirts. At Goodwill I scored a pair of shoes, 7 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of dress slack, 2 dresses, and 4 shirts. That's some savvy shopping right there.

I also finally figured out what I am wearing to my blogging conference next week. And on vacation the following week. If the forecast remains the same. I am pretty proud of how light I am envisioning my suitcase. I guess we will see if it actually ends up that light.

I made 17 quarts of applesauce this week, and I am supposed to be making another 9 quarts today. I wanted to get the apples done that I bought earlier this month. And get them done before my vacation. But, 26 quarts is hardly enough for this family, so I will be buying and processing another 2-3 bushels when we get home.

I also made a lot of new recipes this week. Because it is dual homework for She Plans Dinner. I need to make sure these recipes I am sending out are actually good. And, I need to take pictures of all this food so everyone knows what the end product is supposed to look like. 

One of the new recipes was this Panna Cotta. I had Panna Cotta at the retreat I spoke at last month and I was pretty impressed. Which is actually surprising because I am not the biggest fan of pudding type desserts. I like substance.

But, this rule has been bent for flan and now for Panna Cotta. 

Panna Cotta is an Italian custard that is not baked because it has no eggs. It is fairly fail-proof, using only 6 ingredients. A main one being unflavored gelatin, which is going to make the stuff set, come hell or high water.

So, you have heavy cream, sugar, milk, unflavored gelatin and vanilla. Pretty simple flavors. Top it with a ganache garnished with mint leaves and raspberries, and you have a stunning dessert that was no sweat!

Panna Cotta
1/3 cup skim milk
1 (.25 oz) package of unflavored gelatin
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

-In a small bowl, mix the milk and gelatin. Set aside.
-In a saucepan, brin the heavy cream and sugar to a boil, watching carefully and stirring occasionally so it doesn't boil over. Add the gelatin mix, and cook an additional minute. Remove from heat.
-Stir in the vanilla.
-Place the saucepan in a bowl of ice to lower the temperature quickly. Stir every 3-5 minutes, until at room temperature. (about 10-15 minutes)
-Pour into 4 or 8 ounce ramekins. You should get 4-6 panna cottas depending on how much you put into each container. (you can make them as big or small as you want) Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
-To make a ganache, heat the heavy cream and chocolate chips until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Spoon carefully onto the panna cotta and return to the refrigerator.
-If desired, garnish with raspberries or strawberries and mint leaves.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Getting Rid of (Positive) Labels

I recently heard someone say, "they only liked me because I ______." While the truth was actually the opposite, the person had reason to feel that way. They had been labeled. Niched.

We all know the devastating effects of negative labeling. Fat, ugly, dumb, short...These words can shape an impressionable soul-forever.

But, we rarely consider the negative effects of positive labeling. Because even though positives focus on positives and strengths, they often only focus on one or two facets of our personalities or skill set. Thus labels can end up being stifling and limiting. What if you want to try out new horizons? Raise the bar? Branch out into other areas of service?

You've been boxed, and niched, and nicely labeled.

Please just stick with what you are good at.

Athletic. Book worm. Pretty. Skinny. Independent. Strong. Good with kids. Decorator. Artistic. A good cook. Organized. Musical. High energy. Smart. Fashionista.

Labels can discourage growth. Labels can cause us to settle. Labels keep us from discovering something that we might actually like or be good at. Labels give information, but not the whole picture.

Positive labels can even blind us to the needs in the person we are labeling.

Maybe the always put together mom desperately needs a day out without her kids. Maybe she is struggling to get it all done and to not be held hostage to her own expectations. Maybe the artistic woman needs a friend. Maybe the fashionista wants to be known for her heart and not her style.

Positive labels emphasize the gifts of God, but forget the calling of God. (the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable...) Labels make the assumption that God would never call us to something that we can't handle or that we aren't gifted in.

But God calls us to do all sorts of things so we can be stretched, molded and turned into Christ's image. God calls us to ministries where we have no skill so the power is obviously all of God and none of us.

So, how can we speak life into people and encourage their strengths without labeling, while giving room for growth and new experiences and cultivation? How can we encourage each other to stretch our wings and fly?

We can: Listen more than speak. Listen for understanding and not to give advice or be heard ourselves. Listen to hear what the person is saying and not saying. We can: Allow room for both successes and failures.

What's the worst that could happen from trying?

What's the best that could happen from trying?

Are you guilty of labeling someone-either negatively or positively? How can you breathe life into their dreams and life this week?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

36 Lessons for 36 Years

I'm getting older. Hopefully I'm getting wiser.

In honor of the 36th anniversary of my entrance to this terrestrial sphere...36 Lessons I've learned. (in no particular order of importance)

1. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

2. Anything done well takes effort. And sometimes sweat, blood, tears, and pain. But, it's worth it. (see #1)

3. There can be too much dark in chocolate. As attests the 95% cacao bar in my fridge. (it's been there for months)

4. 75% cacao is about the perfect ratio of light to dark.

5. It is possible to acquire a taste for other wines besides the "girly" wine Moscato. A monthly wine membership is a helpful vehicle towards that end.

6. Life dreams emerge, change and grow or fade as time passes.

7. Poetry is worth reading.

8. Clip-in bicycle shoes are both a blessing and a curse.

9. Laugh out Loud. It's good for the soul.

10. There's no place like home.

11. Home is where your people are.

12. Loving someone well requires self-knowledge and them-knowledge.

13. Running in a torrential downpour is a blast!

14. Parenting preteens is awkward.

15. Learning Spanish makes my brain hurt. Moy bien?

16. Drinking wine makes my skin flush. Cheeks. D├ęcolletage. You can always tell when I've been nipping the cooking sherry.

17. Friendship pops up in unexpected places.

18. It is better to give than to receive. Less disappointment.

19. Technology is grand, but there's nothing like a thick spiral bound notebook and ink pen for dreams and plans and goals and lists and schedules.

20. A good camera makes all the difference.

21. A good lens makes that much more of a difference.

22. Sometimes meat can taste good with fruit. Hello, Chicken Mole!

23. If there is a beautiful pair of tall boots at the second hand store that look like they have never been worn-there might be a reason for that. Take it from the person who couldn't get her great buy completely on (or off) without assistance...

24. There is nothing (nothing!) funnier than I Love Lucy reruns. Good, clean humor.

25. You can't go wrong with a little black dress-or 5.

26. No matter how much I might want that peasant blouse to look nice on me-it never will.

27. Freshly grated parmesan is a far superior product to the powdery stuff sold in the aisle by the pasta. It is worth the splurge. Every time.

28. Dust if you must-and only if you must.

29. Sometimes a book is not worth finishing. It's okay to not finish it.

30. Always cook with an apron on.

31. You can teach a dog new tricks. (see # 15)

32. I don't like to be surprised.

33. Don't ever buy a brand new car.

34. Intangibles are far more valuable in the long run than the tangibles. Invest time and money and effort in them.

35. Pick your battles.

36. Learn from the past. Live in the present. Have boundless hope for the future.

Happy October 15!