Friday, February 17, 2012

The BEST soup ever. Seriously

My sweet little girl is sick with the flu...  a high fever, chills and the aches. 

As a "natural" girl (aka Hippie) I am giving her lemon/ginger/garlic tea, spraying her pulse points with fever spray, and giving her lots of TLC. 

As I am sure you do, any time my kids are sick, I pull out the arsenal of soups and other sick foods.  So tonight, I thought I would share with you our family's favorite chicken soup.... 

We learned about this recipe from my sisters church in Amarillo Texas, Trinity Fellowship. Along with a great resource of sermons, they put out a magazine called "Connect".  Included in this edition was a recipe for "Chicken Tortilla Soup".  Oh my word.  It's so yummy....


2 TBS Olive Oil
3 Pre roasted chicken breasts (Chopped) ***  See note on how I do my chicken...
Salt & Pepper
1 TBS ground coriander
1 Lg onion (quartered & thinly sliced)
1 Lg red bell pepper (quartered & thinly sliced)
1 jalapeno (seeded & thinly sliced)
1 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes (Be sure to get fire roasted - they add SO much flavor)
1 QT low sodium chicken broth
1 Bag white corn tortilla chips
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Optional toppers
1 avocado (diced)
1 lime (juiced)
4 scallions (chopped)
handful of fresh cilantro leaves (coarsely chopped)

Heat a large stock pot with olive oil over med-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and jalapenos; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add chicken and coriander. Add tomatoes and chicken stock; heat through (I let mine simmer on low for about 25 min).  While soup is cooling, toss the avocado with lime juice. Lightly crush some tortilla chips and divide among 4 bowls.  You need a couple handfuls per bowl. Top the chips with a little cheese. Top the chips with ladles of soup. Garnish soup with cheese, avocado, scallions and cilantro.  Add an extra squeeze of lime juice or a dollop of sour cream if desired.


And here is the recipe for the roasted chicken.  It is so easy and flavorful that I normally make extra of this chicken and store in fridge to be used in an assortment of meals.

Lemon Marinade Roast Chicken

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbs dijon Mustard
1 cup olive oil
4 chicken breasts

whisk together lemon, mustard, oil, salt and pepper.  Place the chicken breasts in a shallow paking dish in a single layer.  pour 3/4 of the marinade over chicken (reserve other portion for storage later) If you have time, allow chicken to marinate for 1-2 hours (I never have time... so I skip this step).  Pre-heat oven to 375. Roast chicken for 30-40 minutes or until done. 

Let me know if you try it! 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dreams, life and other musings

So, I swear my blog does a time warp. 

I sign on, write a post and about 30 years later I sign on and write again. 

Yes, hello, I am now living in a retirement community in Arizona, with blue tinted hair, wearing a visor, velour running suit and driving a golf cart as my main transportation to my bridge and rummy games. 

Nah...  Life just happens sometimes and blogging doesn't. 

For this reason, I am forcing myself to sit down and write before another 30 years passes and my velour running suit has been traded for an open backed hospital gown, a motorized wheelchair, and one of those emergency push button necklaces a'la "I've fallen and I can't get up" style...

I digress.

Where was I?  Ah, yes, I was forcing myself to sit down and write.  Right? (Write?)


It's been an amazing few months.  So many wonderful changes happening in our life. 

Oh.  Wait.  I think I now know why I think of blogging as a daunting task.  If you only write once every 30 years then you have to write an auto-biography. It hurts my brain to find the content to fill 3,003,597 pages to catch everyone up on the current time in my life. 

Consider this the Readers Digest Version of the past 30 years.  (Do you remember your mom reading those?  If I confess to reading them now, does that mean I am like my mother? Lawl...  Help us)

Write. Right. 

Back to the current view of our life. 

Are there things in your life that you've always wanted to pursue?  Dreams that you've had hidden in your heart since you were a wee thing?  Talents that have been gifted to you that you'd like to explore? Have you pursued, dreamt and explored all the options in your life?

Have you?

We took the plunge a year ago and stepped out of our comfort zone - we stopped working for a church.

In the 10 years we've been married, we have always worked for a church/church school, etc in some capacity.  Working for a church was wrapped up in our identity and in our feeble minds tied us to our salvation. After coming to terms with the fact that we may have been pursuing something that wasn't quite our niche, we stepped down from our positions and began living life - just plain old ordinary non ministerial life.

We were lost for a while, high in faith, but lost in action.  What did we do?  How did we serve God in a non "ministry" capacity now? Who were we outside of the church or a church position?  What did God have for us now?

My husband took a job working a field he has always loved with hopes that he would soon advance, and I adjusted to life being plain old me - no titles (not that I ever really had one anyways).  We began searching our hearts and opening areas of thought that we had shut closed or just plain forgotten about.

We adjusted to life not feeling obligated to go to this event, or stay and volunteer at such and such, and, sometimes, we slept in and watched service online, or when our kids were sick didn't make them go and sleep on a back pew while we took care of business.

As the time went by, my husband has found his niche and talent in his job.  He is passionately pursuing and walking through doors that open for him in his line of work.  He is happy.  He is moving forward. He is growing.


I wasn't.

After much despair of not knowing what God wanted from me, I began a season of my life where I felt idle. Like I needed to be doing something. SOMETHING!  But what? Where? Who?  When? I raged at God.  I would fold clothes, feeling completely inadequate and small, and yell at Him through my ceiling. "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME???" I pleaded with Him in the dark of night, while my husband slept soundly, fulfilled from the path he knew God placed him on. Tears would drip onto my pillow as I mouthed into the darkness, "Who am I? Who am I?" I'd listen to and support my man as he told me excitedly about his day. I would watch my husband go happily to work, and when I shut the front door, would fight resentment that I was left alone and still didn't know who I was outside of the four walls of my domestic domain.

Life finally caught me.  It came on me in the form of my 30th birthday. I woke up one morning feeling like I couldn't breath... Suffocating.  Gasping. Reaching.  Searching.

I gave up.

I asked for help.

I met with a wonderful mentor in my life, talked with a dear friend, and my husband and I met with our Pastor.  I left all the facades of perfection in the car, and for small moments, opened my weak and broken heart and let them see me. A bag of bones, a mind of insecurity and a life of fear.

It saved my life.

Actually, it saved my sanity.

Just being honest about where I was poked a hole in the dark night that threatened to overtake me.  I kept walking towards that pinprick of light and determined to keep jabbing and smashing at the darkness till the light would illuminate more and more of my life. God started to work on me. I stopped trying to be hyper spiritual about things.  I began to accept things as they were, not offering or trying to dive into any lengthy explanation of mumbo jumbo. Life just was.  And it was what I was making it. Or, rather, what I was NOT making it.

One day, the beginning of this year, God moved.  Unexpectedly and suddenly.  And here I stand today. In a better place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally than I have been in a long time.  I'm real. Flesh and bone, smiles and frowns, love and hurts, and it feels good.  I feel present.  I'm aware of my surroundings and I like it.  And, best of all,  I can see a path that God is guiding my feet to, opening doors that He has set in motion for me.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know God has placed in each of us dreams, desires and passions that only we can fulfill.  We are each called to use our talents to change our spherical world. Are you using yours?

 If I, of all people, am given an opportunity to pursue something I love, than nothing should stop you from pursuing your place as well.  If I can do it - you can.

What's holding you back? 

Month of Love

Its February...  The Month of Love... Well, every month should be one filled with love. But for some reason, there is an emphasis on the month of February... Maybe to give us something to look forward to after Christmas and the slew of holiday parties.

This February, my husband and I decided to show extra demonstrative love to our kids.  Our thought process was this: Our 9 year old son needs to learn how to "romance" and our 8 year old daughter needs to learn what "romance" looks like.

My husband has always struggled in the romantic arena, and actually, when we got married, I was told not to expect roses on Valentines Day. I've had to push hard and drop hints even harder, but the Hubs is so much better and has surprised me many times.

So, needless to say, this month of love will benefit ALL of us.

Here are some of our ideas (and some that we've picked up through others doing a similar thing with their children).

We didn't want to spend a ton of money, but wanted to really invest and put some "love" memories in their love banks.  In every note that we write our children, we tried to make each note personal and uplifting, offering words that would bless our children, not only for the moment, but for a lifetime to come.

1. Grab a book of special interest to your child/spouse and write a personal inscription on the front page.
2. Give a box of conversation hearts with the note, "I love our heart to heart conversations, they mean the world to me..."
3.Give a chocolate heart with a note, "Your smile melts my heart" or "You've captured my heart".
4.Give a packet of trail mix/nuts with a note that says "Your parents are NUTS about you"
5. Blow up a packet of balloons with a smidge of confetti and personal note inside.  Have your child stand holding a push pin and pop each "love bomb" as you gently toss them their way.  (Our kids loved this so much, they want to do it every day.  They loved being showered with confetti and scrambling to read their special note out loud.) If you don't mind the mess, leave the confetti on the floor in their rooms for a day or two.  Every time they walk in and see the confetti, they will have a smile on their face.
6. Tape a quarter to a note that says: "My life is richer because you're in it..."
7. Give gift vouchers that are itemized, we used the 5 love languages book to inspire ours. For example:  Redeem your gift of Quality Time by doing _________ together. (Let your child write in the entry)
8. Give your child a written clue that will lead her/him on a scavenger hunt to find a small box filled with things you love about them. We called it our "Treasure Hunt - because you're the greatest treasure we've been given".
9. Give a "Get out of Chores FREE" card.  This card may be redeemed once in the month of February. (use the extra time to spend doing something your child likes to do...)
10. Put a packet of "Pop rocks" in their lunch box (gasp! I know! Sugar!!! In their lunch?? They loved it!) with a note taped to it saying, "You're a ROCK star just because you're YOU!"
 11. Write a special note on the bathroom mirror in lipstick or dry erase marker for them to see when they get up.
12. Purchase a little kid friendly seed kit (they normally have these pre-assembled at your local home depot) with a note that says, "My love for you grows and grows..."

I'm still coming up with more ideas, if you have any, please feel free to share in the comments section! I'd love to add them. =)

What's been amazing is, we are on day 7 and I've been so surprised at the love my kids have freely offered back.  I've had notes slipped into my purse from my son, left on my pillow from my daughter, and love notes written on a surprise cup of Starbucks from my husband.  Our family is definitely feeling the love... Hope yours does too.

Happy LOVE month!