Archive for August, 2010

Salsa Dip

I had five minutes last Saturday in between mowing the church lawn and trotting on down to the neighborhood block party, and I needed Sunday evening munchies for 15 or so of Tim’s family who came in for the weekend to honor his grandfather.

Five minutes, a husband, and a kitchen knife.

Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

I raided the fridge and set Tim to chopping raw veggies: carrots, celery, and green peppers.  I was already planning to take leftover barbecue and potato salad.  What else, what else?  We’d thought chips and salsa (our signature side that we not only served at our wedding, but which Tim eats for lunch), but I wanted a dip with a little more gumption.

Here’s what we came up with:

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
shredded cheese
Spread cream cheese in a 9×9 pan (or other preferred serving dish).  Top with a layer of salsa, then top the salsa with a layer of shredded cheese (I used cheddar).  Serve at room temperature with corn chips or heat in microwave until cheese melts.

Pretty basic, huh?  Pretty no big deal.  But it was a HUGE hit.  Who knew what you could do with less than $5 in less than 5 minutes?

I think it would also taste good with some refried or black beans and cilantro.  Not that it needed anything, just saying.


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Not legalism, just a to-do list


MUST ORDER microscopes for class in less than two weeks.

MUST return library books (they were due yesterday).

MUST pay bills.

MUST write thank you notes.

Must return some emails.

Must finish applesauce.


Must grocery shop.

Must order new blinds.

MUST call Sarah.

Must clean the bathroom.

MUST. PRAY (prayer list very long right now).

Must do laundry.

Must plan dinner.

MUST GET more sleep.

MUST drink more water.

Must check into warranty on new carpet.

MUST PURCHASE a fly swatter.

Must cut Tim’s hair.

Must finish unpacking Pop’s books.



One wall closer to Home

A picture from a former parish of Pop’s


A plant of his late wife’s late sister’s that he’s been keeping alive for years


A sturdy bookcase accompanied by boxes of books on nature, history and theology


The promising beginnings of a den we’re sure hoping Pop will be willing to share with us!  🙂

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C.S. Lewis would be proud

A Narnian ship is sailing through our den.

I am not even kidding.

I’m writing this so Tim will know where to come looking for me if he comes home to an empty house: Honey, if the doors are locked and my clothes are piled in a heap on the floor, please don’t waste time checking the bedroom.      

Told you I wouldn’t be there.

I’ll send a postcard from Narnia as soon as I can.

I’ll probably be home in a couple hundred years.

Think of the money we’ll make on the sequel we’ll publish.  You could so retire early.

I think we’ll call it: The Last Battle Isn’t Over ‘Til It’s Over.

Battle?  Did I just say battle?


Timmmmmmmmmmmm, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllppppppppppppppppp meee!


*A Note To The Reader: Please tell the bank not to foreclose our house.  We’ll be back in a few hundred years.

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I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.

Bright and early Saturday morning, I’m standing at the sink mixing homemade yogurt and fresh wild plum juice-that-was-supposed-to-be-jam into a syrup to pour over sizzling hot french toast.

Through the window, I see Tim in the yard on his back under the trailer, trying to get some sort of flicker out of the right turn signal.  He fails, despite repeated confirmation that the wiring is, indeed, correct.  Must be a light bulb problem.  We discuss over breakfast, and decide that not only is the plum-yogurt syrup excellent, but we can manage a trip across town made up of almost exclusively left turns. 

We are late getting out the door and have to bypass three yard sales.  This almost does me in.

We arrive at church without incident, although we stop several times on the way to monitor the condition of our trailer, which seems to have contracted a severe case of the shivers despite the balmy weather.  Tim has remembered the church key, for which we are both exceedingly grateful, and he lets himself in.  I follow.  He knows things about this church that never cease to amaze me, like how to unlock the shed and where they hide the communion wine.  We open up the shed, but we steer clear of the wine.

The grass is very long.  I request the smaller mower and Tim complies.  It is almost identical to the mower we used to cut our field growing up.  I am not scared of it.  He backs it out of the shed for me, because I still cannot remember how it starts.  I jump on and begin my first pass through the jungle.  Tim pulls out of the shed atop the new fangled, zero turn mowing demon, and I pray for his life.  We divide the lawn in half, and we mow for 72 minutes.  I try not to hit any frogs.  I try to keep the cut grass blowing onto what I have already mowed, but even still my poor mower suffers with constipation all morning.  The day is hot.  The trailer stopped shivering almost as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.  I am glad it warmed up.  I am glad I don’t run out of gas.

Tim and I finish at the same time.  We park the mowers in front of the shed.  Tim starts the leaf blower for me, and I begin to blow off the sidewalks while he weed whacks the edges.  The yard looks nice.  I have not used a blower before, and I have fun blowing grass and dirt and gravel and Tim’s face.  I am thankful he chooses not to weedwhack mine.

Just as we lock up the shed, Amy arrives with music and we troop inside.  I listen to them practice and sing along to myself.  I tell myself to play our piano more.  I miss it.  I think someday I will learn the organ.  Tim’s phone rings, and I answer for him.  Surprise!  It is our window man, and he wants to schedule a delivery this afternoon.  I tell him we will be home between two and three.  He says he will be there to drop them off then.  I thank him.  He thanks me.  I tell Tim.  We are excited.

Our trailer contracts the shakes again, but we easily make it from church to Pop’s.  He has lunch waiting for us, along with several out of town guests who generally go by the terms Aunt or Uncle.  It is good to see them.  More will come later.  I have one piece of supreme pizza  and one of pepperoni.   We load a bookshelf, eight boxes of books, a picture, a plant, and a yard swing into our trailer.  It barely fits.  We adjust things excitedly.  We discuss our route home.  We take the interstate.   The swing shakes apart.  We pull over to the shoulder and tie it together with a plastic bag.  It holds.  We drive slowly all the way home.  We unload right away, and we are panting with the effort. 

We cook and clean and watch the clock.  Our window man comes at 4, just when we are supposed to be arriving at our neighborhood block party.  I walk down with my potato salad and leave it with a nice woman, explaining that we will return if we can later in the evening.  The window man brings his son, and they unload all the windows into our garage.  Surprise!  They have time to install a few.  We want them to start on Pop’s room.  They do, and Tim helps.  I keep myself busy cleaning, taking pictures, watering Pop’s plant, hanging his picture above the fireplace, painting some trim, and fussing at a pork shoulder roast that keeps peeking out of the crockpot.  The windows install quickly, and instead of one room, they do five.  The window man laughs like a mountaineer.  I love listening to it echo through the house.  My Tim’s sense of humor makes him laugh often.  They talk about work projects, politics, and church.  I listen when I can. 

He leaves a little after seven, and we run down to the block party.  It is wrapping up.  We stand awkwardly by the food, and a few people come up to meet us.  We enjoy talking to them, but we don’t stay long.  We hope next year we can go earlier.  We eat some leftovers, sweep the floors, vacuum our new carpet, put the trim I’ve just painted up in the den, admire our windows, wash up the dishes, dust the guest bedroom, shower, and crash into bed very late.

I am up early to check on the pork shoulder roast, and it falls off the bone.  I am pleased.  I pull it apart and concoct my own barbecue sauce with ketchup, worcestershire sauce, water, and apple cider vinegar.  We bring it to church, and it is a hit.  We have communion after lunch in our second service, and I am nervous and excited because it has been so long.  I sing a simple arrangement of “There Is A Redeemer” in a trio for the morning service.  We stay and talk with some new friends.  We think we may try to get together this week.  It is hard to live so far apart. 

We leave and go to Pop’s house.  More Uncles and Aunts and cousins are there.  Tim’s parents arrive just after we do.  We eat food we have brought: leftover barbecue and potato salad, chip dip, raw veggies, homemade applesauce.  Someone makes tea.  We talk.  We leave early for the special service honoring Pop’s 60 years of pastoral ministry.  We arrive at the church we were married in (our own was too small), and many people recognize us.  It is so nice to feel welcomed.  I tell Tim this later.  Pop relates many things about his ministry, all of which he’d told me before, but never in such a context.  I feel appreciation and respect for him, and I think what a privilege it will be for us to have him in our home.  I am thankful for this service and the people here to honor him.  He is showered with value and love.  He needs both right now.  We fellowship over watermelon after the service, and I meet new people and catch up with others I already know.  Pop is going strong, and I know God is sustaining him.  We are the last to leave, and Tim’s parents follow us home.  It takes just ten minutes to get there, and I am surprised and thankful for Pop’s sake that we are so close.

The house is hot when we arrive.  The air conditioning does not cool it down right away.  We show off what we’ve accomplished since Dad and Mom’s last visit, and they approve.  We unload and unpack and talk.   Just before bed, Tim checks his messages and finds one from his credit card company confirming a purchase.  He calls them back right away, because he has not used the card in weeks.  He puts a hold on the account, but can’t get many details about the extent of the fraud.  They promise to have someone call back in the morning.  We are glad he found the message sooner rather than later.  The house feels a little cooler.  We are exhausted and dreading the start of another busy week.  Tim prays, and we sleep well but short. 

For breakfast I serve quiche, granola, and fruit salad.  I am out of yogurt, so we use milk.  Mom makes coffee.  The kitchen smells good.  Tim stays to talk awhile.  I am glad he can.  I pack his lunch with leftovers from the weekend.  He leaves for work, and Dad and Mom leave for Pop’s.  They will visit with him awhile, then go to lunch at Olive Garden for their anniversary, then go home.  We will see them again in two weekends.    

I sit on the couch and run the coming day through my mind and think I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.


If this is a dream, don’t wake me up

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Not the Hilton with a way better view

Setting up camp is a harmless term for mass frayed nerves chaos.  But thanks to the vast camping experience housed in our parents, we survived it without too much lasting trauma.  


Step 1: Build a fire.  (Actually, Tim and Phil built the fire.  Got to give credit where credit is due.) 


Step 2: Get dinner on.  (Mom made some delicious hobo packets with teryaki chicken, garden veggies, and cheese.  Then she stuck ’em in the fire.  Then we set up the rest of camp while they cooked.  Then we ate ’em gone.) 


Step 3: Build a shelter.  (Rain is every camper’s worst enemy except for bears.  Dad used a tarp and four trees to construct a kitchen, which could double in a pinch as a big umbrella.) 


Step 4: Pick a tent site.  Or four.  (Stop squinting, since this is just a picture, and notice the nice, flat, soft grassy area behind this stump.  Perfect.) 

Step 5: Put up the tent.  Or four.  (This is rarely a one man job, particularly if your tent could hold its own at a circus.) 

Step 6: Add a tarp in case of rain.  (I am happy to announce that it only rained once, and that was overnight.  Thankfully, almost everything stayed dry.) 

Step 7: Add an air mattress.  (Everyone got a queen except Laura and Phil.  They had to share this double.  Definitely required some squishing.  I’m sure they hated every minute of it.) 

Step 8: Unpack everything else.  (You know you’re part of the family when you get a McDonald’s cup with your name on it.) 

Step 9: Eat.  Enjoy the campfire.  Feed the campfire.  Sing around the campfire.  Take a walk.  Eat some more. 

Dad and Mom


Tim and me


Laura and Phil


Ben and Maria




Step 10: Enjoy the stay.

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