Friday, April 29, 2016

fav weeknight recipes...

Its been quite some time since I have shared any recipes.  Since I am working full-time outside the home now, dinner time needs to be quick and easy. My dogs are tired by the time I walk in the door and my hubby is usually about an hour behind me. I like to have everything ready to go on the table about 20 minutes after he gets home. 

A home cooked meal served nice and hot in a timely manner. It's how my hubby feels loved. Me? I am a jewelry, flowers kind of girl. Jerry? Dinner on the table and an uncluttered living room. I am telling you friends, the small things make a BIG difference in a marriage. It's helped us through some very serious ups and downs in our almost 28 years of married life, especially when our Courtney was still alive. 

I thought I would share some family favorites that are pretty quick and very tasty. I make these all the time and never once have they failed me. 


First up we have the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs. I really love this recipe from Ina Garten. I make it at least twice a month it's not the quickest but it is the tastiest. 



Next we have a little Tex Mex love. These Green Chicken Enchiladas are quick and so very yummy. You can double or triple this recipe very easily as well if you need to feed a crowd. 

Staying with the Tex Mex vibe and bringing in my favorite kitchen appliance, the crock pot. Every busy woman's friend in the kitchen. This recipe for Taco Soup is from Paula Deen and I have made adjustments over the years. It's always a winner, whether served during football season or in the middle of summer. 


Switching back to pasta and adding in an Asian flair, we have this Sweet and Tangy Rice Noodle Salad. Oh.my.word.y'all. This cold noodle dish happens at least once a week here once the weather has warmed up. It's quick, easy and if you don't have time to slice and chop all the veggies, the supermarket salad bar is your friend. Just plain awesome. 

Another Asian dish is Miss Ivy's Noodles, using of all things, ramen noodles, which are cheap and found anywhere. One of Jonathan's ALL-time favs, no matter what the season. 


On the healthy side of life is this awesome Mighty Grain Salad. You can take out the beans and grain and add in salmon or chicken. So versatile and so yummy no matter what you choose to do. Just make it.  


Last I have a classic recipe for Panzanella. It pairs well with grilled chicken, steak or salmon. It's a summer time fav and usually made on the weekend as we grill. 


I'll share more in the coming weeks. I may even blog a new recipe or three. What are you cooking these days? Share in the comments. Also, if your looking for a specific type of recipe let me know and I'll get cooking.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

a little look back at Easter...before it's all over...{p,h,f,r}

In the Catholic Church Easter Season lasts 50 days. We are currently in the sixth week of Easter and quickly approaching Ascension Sunday. 

Since this is my first Easter as the Director of Liturgy for my local parish, I thought I would share a few photos from the Triduum as well as a few photos from the fabulous Easter dinner my BFF Christine put together and invited my family and I to join in the festivities.

One of my responsibilities is to "decorate" the sanctuary in a way that enhances worship and does not distract. I never want to take away in any way from the beauty and majesty of the Mass. After all the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and should remain the central focus of our attention.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

First up we have a little collage of our parish center. We drape our sacred statues for the last two weeks of Lent and leave everything draped until Easter Vigil Mass following the instruction in the Roman Missal (draping is optional but if you do drape, you keep everything up until Easter Vigil). 


Then we have a few photos of Our Lady of Sorrows statue that is in our vestibule, the flower wreaths that were on the altar, and the beginnings of the Altar of Repose from Holy Thursday. I chose a palette of whites and creams and a hit of purple matched with lush greenery for the altar and then mixed in pinks and blues for the rest of the church.  

We used both potted plants and arrangements to make it special. After all Easter is the highest solemnity in the church and I wanted to do it justice. The liturgy team spent weeks working on every little detail to make sure that when the Triduum arrived, each liturgy would go smoothly. Praise God it did.

I learned a thing or two over the course of the Triduum that I have noted to make next year's planning and execution a little bit easier. Details my friends. It's all about the details. Including lining everything up just so. You wouldn't want Father's vestments to catch on a flower arrangement as he is incensing the altar now would we?


In the end, I learned that teamwork is the only way to make those very challenging days survivable. I learned that if your prayer life isn't in sync, nothing is. I also learned that sleep is your best friend and when that is lacking, coffee rules!!

The best lesson though, if your husband offers to vacuum the altar, you say "yes"...and then take a picture as proof. 

 
Here is a photo taken right before Easter Vigil just before I turned on all the lights (which is why there is no Paschal Candle yet)...

 
My BFF Christine, who happens to be a Deacon's wife, asked my family to join hers for Easter dinner this year. When I told her it would be too much, she laughed and said "Sweetie you are not going to be in any shape to bake a ham, so please let me feed you." 


When your BFF wants to feed you and your ham obsessed family, let her. It really was just what my family needed after some seriously intense days. Ham, carrots, homemade rolls, stuffed loin of lamb, horseradish mashed potatoes, garlicky green beans and four insanely awesome desserts made up the menu. 


It was the company though that made the evening such a pleasure. Our friendship is fifteen years old now and I cherish it, I nurture it and I relish our time together as families and as individuals. As I get older I understand that true friendship is a gift from the Creator and one to be nurtured and cared for. 


I am so very thankful for Christine (and for Sharon and for Maria). Outside my wonderful husband and my mother, these women pray for me and lift me up when I fall. They surround me with encouragement and love. 

So there you have it. Easter 2016. 

   

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ma significant otter goes shopping...




Greetings Blog Fans and Significant Otters,

Yes, it is me again…the liturgy minion and significant otter to my lamby-pie, with some new advice for all those otters out there…married and in a relationship.

Today, I wanted to pass on 30 years of sage wisdom about that most dreaded of male activities…No, not taking out the trash, assassinating large hairy spiders, or even investigating that strange smell in your infants or toddlers pants because “it’s your turn and I’m busy.”

No I speak of that dreaded activity…clothes shopping…NO not for your sweetie pie…I know what my role is in that activity…carry the bags, nod approvingly when she brings things for you to “approve of”, which is just really girl speak for…”you really have no taste, so I know the one you really like is not the one I’m actually going to get.”
 

If you recall this picture from my Instaminion feed, you will recall that I am an EXPERT at being a clothes rack when shopping with my sweetie. However, this becomes an entirely different story when shopping for clothes for me. 



 Good otter friends, it should be easy to explain to our beloved companions that men shop for only three reasons: 1) So they are not cold and naked 2) they are hungry 3) there is a power tool sale at Home Depot OR in some cases, like mine, there are new books to be perused at the local Barnes and Noble. That’s about it…men do not shop to “socialize”…that’s what big screens and football is for. We don’t go shopping to have lunch with our friends…that’s what sports bars are for.

In fact, this one diagram, which you have probably seen before, pretty much sums up how I and most of the heterosexual males of the species shop.



But of course, this never works with my sweetie…clothes shopping must be done, therefore it becomes a reason to browse the entire length of Tysons Corner Mall, our local mall that is only slightly smaller than the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier I spent 30 long months on. The shopping experience seems almost that long.

SO, ladies, just some advice when shopping with your man:
Ensure any shopping expedition includes coffee and food. My lamby-pie always bribes me with a Vente Red-Eye bold and McDonald’s biscuits and by the time I have emerged from my dual carb-caffeine high, we are pulling into our mall parking space and I am trapped. Yea, I’m kinda dumb like that, I will go on almost any errand for a Bacon/Egg/Cheese biscuit

Things you will NEVER hear men say when clothes shopping, and if you do, you should be worried:


“Do these jeans make my butt look big?” 


“These shoes make my legs look fabulous, I’m getting them in every color”


“Honey, should I get this shirt with the horizontal or vertical stripes? Will the horizontal stripes make me look puffy?”


Remember that men are basically color challenged. See Chart below:





Therefore, when we say we need a green shirt, we mean green…not flora, honeydew, or lime. AND never, ever, try and get us to wear pink shorts. That is just….not….right….our friends will mercilessly mock us…unless it’s Wednesday, because:


 
Yea, I went there..

Finally, remember that men don’t have a lot of angst about a buying decision. We only shop for clothes when our baby says “NO, you may not wear camouflage on our date night.” Or “You’re not actually going to wear that tie with that shirt, are you?”


 
So our decision making process is very direct.

Finally ladies, be aware that men shopping is like that gallon of milk in your fridge…it has an expiration date..in my case usually about 3 hours before I get hangry, grumpy, and ready to just wear the damn pink shorts if I can go to Five Guys.

Which, of course, was probably my lamby-pie’s plan all along.

But, hey, I look pretty darn good in pink….on Wednesdays.

the Otter

Monday, April 25, 2016

john (courtney) and peter (mary) - who saw the truth first?


Recently, I had the privilege of attending a local meet up of Blessed is She gals who are going through our very first Bible Study together, On the Way to Pentecost written by my sweet friend Colleen C. Mitchell.

Miss Colleen, her hubby and five sons are missionaries serving Mama's and babies in Costa Rica. She is a woman of fierce faith and incredible tenacity who has overcome much in the last decade. She listens to the Holy Spirit and actually follows his lead. 

I mean I listen but follow?? Not so much, at least not without a lot of waffling and whining which kind of takes away from the strong fierce image I would like to portray to the world. Miss Colleen, she don't waffle. She and the Holy Spirit are the best of friends and it shows in her written work. 

As my friends and I were walking through the study, we read a few passages from John, Chapter 21. Peter goes fishing with a few of his disciples. After being out all night, they come up with nothing. Jesus is on the shore, having made a fire,waiting for them. His disciples do not recognize him at first. He asks Peter if he caught anything and when Peter answers no, he instructs him to throw the net over and try again. They complied and had a hard time pulling up the net because it was so heavy from all the fish. 

That's when John realizes it's the Lord on shore and calls out. Peter jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. 

As that passage began to sink in, my hearing failed and all I heard was a rushing in my ears, like a waterfall. In that moment I thought Courtney saw and loved like John and I deny and struggle like Peter. 

Boom! 

<mind blown> 

I am Peter, tripping over myself, sputtering and swimming to get to the Lord. Courtney had nothing standing between her and the Lord unlike my sea of sin that ebbs and flows. Because of that extremely close relationship, she was able to suffer with grace. She was able to laugh after seizures and endure great pain and not give up the fight. When God called her home, it was the Feast of St. John the Beloved. Of course. She went home on the feast of the Lord beloved disciple. St John was the only one not to be martyred. Jesus had special plans for him from the beginning.


He had special plans for my Courtney too. I wanted her to stay, and we always left room for a miracle, but God knows best.

I have shared before about the gift my daughter was to Jerry and I. How she spoke to us in Lourdes, France and how she changed us, by showing us how to love without reservation or restraint.  

I am always amazed at how the Lord chooses to speak to me. How he allows my daughter death to be a source of inspiration, not pain. How he allowed the dignity of Courtney's personhood to shine through my love for her, even though she is no longer physically with us. 

I smiled feeling a peace and a calm about where my life is at this moment. My Courtney is right by my side, every single day. She makes sure I know that she is happy and loved, that she lacks for nothing. My sweet daughter continues to bring sunshine to my day and I am so grateful to the Lord above for the gift of being her mother. 

How did I get so damn lucky? 




Friday, April 15, 2016

blessed is she - full union and healing...

 Hey Y'all - 


Check out my very first devotion over at Blessed is She today. We are talking the mercy and healing that God provides in the the Eucharist. I would love for you to come on over and comment...



“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

The first time I heard this Gospel, all I could think of was Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula. Since I struggled with the “eat my flesh, drink my blood” thing, I couldn’t get beyond the literal interpretation. Ninth grade Mary was totally grossed out. Luckily, I grew up. Now, when I hear it with adult ears, I understand Saint John is encouraging us to enter into a robust relationship with the Lord by receiving Him in the Eucharist.

Read more here...



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

catching up with what i wore...




You gotta love this quote from Audrey Hepburn, one of my favorite style icons. Such a beautiful truth my friends. 

I am now on Day Six of this fabulous flu adventure and I actually felt better this morning. I got up and showered, put in a load of laundry, took all my meds and didn't pass out in the process. Please Lord let this be the beginning of being over this horrid sickness. Pretty please???

Since I had some brain power this morning and I can't make the washing machine go any faster I though i would check in and maybe do a little catching up here in my little corner of cyber space. It's been almost three months since I have have done a What I Wore post. 

THREE MONTHS!!!

Holy floral pattern! This is not acceptable my friends. So sorry. I really do need to find a better way to take daily outfit shots. I don't have a full length mirror in my house and taking photos at my work place would not be kosher, so I need to figure that out. 

cardigan sweater from Land's End, shoes JCrew (2012), jeans Lands End (2014), lace crocheted tank top from Dress Barn (a gift), and rope pearls from Charming Charlie.         
 Anyway, since the sun is shining, spring is springing and before you know it we will be talking walking shorts vs cropped pants and how best to make a summer pedicure last, let's crank through some of my late winter outfits shall we? 

The above casual number I wore to work one Friday in February when the weather was warm and I thought Spring had come early. I have since found out that the weather in NoVa can lie. It snowed the next day. Seriously, like six inches. But I enjoyed the folded jeans and cardigan sweater while I could. 

Next up is my favorite Navy blue wool coat, by Jessica Simpson that I have had for at least two years. This particular Sunday I paired it with my burgundy shawl sweater and black cotton dress from Land's End along with fishnet stockings. I know I stretched myself that day. Not a typical combo for me. But I think it worked. 

 
Last up we have a selection of outfits form the last few weeks, both casual and dressy. From left to right we have dress from Eloqui, tights and my boots again, in the middle we have skinny jeans from Talbots and a cotton jersey flowered tunic top from Lands End. In the final photo to the right is one of my "funeral" outfits. A Black and white empire waist dress from Dress Barn and a grey cardigan from Lands End. You can see I wear that rope of pearls from Charming Charlie's quite often. Classic pieces work with many different styles my friends, casual or dressy.


Well, that's all I have for now. I am looking forward to the return of warmer weather. It feels like winter has taken it's toll on me and the thought of more sunshine and a return to front porch sitting and sweet tea sipping is just what this gal needs. 

I have been pursuing the catalogs for the new spring lines and am happy to see so much color and pattern play in various lines. Always exciting to see the paths where the fashion gurus wish us to travel. 

Until next time, 

Monday, April 4, 2016

ma significant otter discusses "the change"...it's not about the weather y'all...



So, my friends, it has been a long time since I have guest posted. So many things going on around Chez Lenaburg, including my first Easter as the liturgy minion-totting, lifting, moving, and vacuuming for the Glory of God.

But now that I have shared with my beloved the awesome flu that I caught after Easter, I think it’s a good time to hijack my sweetie's blog and have a little safety lecture for those Significant Otters married to a woman of a “certain age.” You know what I mean and who you are, those Otters that have been blessed with long and happy marriages who suddenly wake up one morning next to a sweaty crazy person who only wants to eat chocolate and sit in front of a fan all day.

When women enter into this season, they experience hormonal changes that I can only assume are similar to puberty, except now they are mature women, which means they understand what’s going on and can deal with the situation rationally, like an adult.

Yea, no, not so much….the best comparison I can come up with is….wait for it….Jurassic Park. Yes, I am going there, so stick with me. Remember in the movie when the geeky science dude said that all the dinosaurs in the park were female? To control the population? Yea, I think they were female to make the chase scenes more realistic and the dinosaur chomping more scary…BEWARE MEN, THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU.

 
Here’s an example of how this works. One night, 2 years ago, my beloved was in the kitchen getting Courtney’s dinner together. Now this was one of those excellent days where Courtney’s spirit (attitude) were on full display and my sweet ‘ums was pretty much on her very last nerve. I could see the steam rising. Well, my son, let’s call him knucklehead, picked this particular moment to exercise his free will and vocabulary when Mom asked him to take out the trash.

Needless to say, things started getting out of control:
“MOM, why are you being so irrational, it’s just trash?”

“Son take out the @#$# trash, I brought you into this world and I’ll take you out!”

Now my son, the super-genius, continued with the “MOM, WHY ARE YOU BEING SO IRRATIONAL?” line of reasoning, so I decided to try and salvage the situation.

I confidently strode into the kitchen, took one look at the situation and said, “Son, your mother is having a hot flash, take the trash out and go to your room, it’s for your own safety.”

I got a look somewhere between confusion and annoyance and he said, “Dad why does she have to be so irrational, I was going to take the trash out in a minute,” which, of course in Jonathan-speak means anytime between ½ hour and the following morning. So I just wisely said..”Son, it’s like Jurassic Park and your mom is a T-Rex right now. I suggest you make no sudden movements..if you don’t move she can’t see you…just back away slowly and take the trash out.”

At this point, my dear bride was alternatively eyeing the knives on top of the fridge and her rolling pin on the counter, deciding which weapon would get her a better plea bargain.

My son started to open his mouth again, and I said, “Son, if you don’t leave now, I can’t save you.” And then I walked slowly out of the room, pulling him behind me in small steps that didn’t attract too much attention.


NOW, the best part of all this, of course, was that Courtney was sitting just inside the kitchen and was giggling the entire time.  OH, yes, my friends, let no one tell you this girl was unaware of her surroundings. She knew her big brother was IN TROUBLE and this was the most hysterical thing ever.

Now the microwave dinged, and I, being oh so wise, said, “Why don’t you go sit down honey and I will feed Court and put her to bed?”

She walked by my with a look…”T-rex, huh?” I smiled and said, “Yes, and it’s not just because of your short stumpy arms.” OK, maybe I’m not THAT freakin’ smart, more smart-ass…but I could tell the worst of the hot flash was over. 


I continued “Yes, I will explain to our son that when sweat starts running down your back in the house it’s best to just back away slowly and hand over the chocolate, am I right?”

That also got me a look, BUT, because I am a very wise husband, I had some Ghirardelli Chocolate which I offered up as tribute.



So, gentlemen, fellow significant otters, always remember that when your wife reaches that certain stage in life, do what they say, make no sudden movements, keep plenty of chocolate on hand, and always remember, that your bride will probably have a pretty good change of a temporary insanity defense if you push her buttons too much…or I as like to tell our son:

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