Spaghetti Soup

Ever have leftover spaghetti sauce and don't feel like eating spaghetti for the umteenth time? I will often make my mom's spaghetti sauce recipe (I think it's the best ;o), but it makes a lot. That is a good thing cause I can freeze it and have it later. But I recently found a recipe that lets me use it for something other than with pasta. Believe it or not it's a soup! I tried it last night and it was really good. Don't let the length of the recipe scare you. It's actually really easy.

Five-Bean Soup with Spaghetti Sauce and Potatoes

* 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 3 celery stalks, diced
* 2 carrots, diced
* 1 medium potato, diced
* 1/4 cup barley
* 4 cups water
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 15-ounce can pinto beans
* 1 15-ounce can black beans
* 1 15-ounce can kidney beans
* 1 15-ounce can navy beans
* 1 15-ounce can adzuki beans (Can't find adzuki beans?
Substitute any other bean variety that strikes your fancy.)
* 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
* 2 cups spaghetti sauce (or more, to taste)
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 teaspoon dried basil

Heat oil and sauté garlic and onion until onion is translucent.
Add celery, carrots, potato, barley, seasonings and water.

Simmer 30 minutes.

Add beans, corn, and spaghetti sauce. Simmer 10-20 minutes, then serve.

It's even better the next day!


No more crying...

when cutting onions, that is. Probably most people already know this, but if you're anything like me, maybe this little trick will save you a few future tears. My friend, Laura, showed me that when you need to cut up a onion, cut it in half and stick it in the freezer for a few brief minutes. It freezes the juices just enough so that it doesn't make you cry. It really works!



This is why I love being a mom

Right before naptime, I told Mckenna to go potty. As she was in the bathroom, I was trying to get some of the clean laundry put away. She was in there just chatting away. Then I notice that she is singing...I don't recognize the song, but I start to recognize the words. Ephesians 6:1 is one of her memory verses that we have been reviewing in the morning with her others. She had made up this cute little song and was singing this over and over:

"Jesus, help me to...obey your parents in the Lord, for thi-i-i-s i-i-i-is r-i-i-ight!"

It was so cute and we started to sing in together until I tucked her in for her nap.

I love being a mom!


Open the windows!

We're so enjoying this gorgeous weather. It's time to break open the windows! My girlies are loving it. Selah has been standing up for so long just looking outside, enjoying listening to the birdies, and watching everyone go by...

I took this one as Dave was leaving, before I actually opened the window. Mckenna loves her little sister.

Mckenna enjoying her morning juice!


A trip to the farm

Yesterday, right after church, we went to visit a local farm up in Middletown called South Mountain Creamery. What a great place! We have gotten milk from them on and off, which we love. Mckenna has been asking to go to the farm, but I'm not even sure she knew what that was until yesterday. You are allowed to walk around and see how they do everything. I think it's one of the only or the only farm left in Maryland that does everything from grow the crops for their animals to processing the milk and selling it. They take such great care of their animals and they are allowed tons of space to walk around in lots of green grass.

Upon arriving, we met a kitty that was so cute and affectionate. She was a momma with kittens somewhere, but was awful small herself. We loved petting her and she decided then to follow us all over as we explored the farm. She purred and purred and was very happy. Selah just loved her!

We visited the calf barn and saw all the baby calves. They were so cute and friendly and they let us pet them.

They loved to lick our hands with their long tongues.

Outside the calf barn were these beautiful roosters...well actually, they might have been hens cause I think they were laying on their nests. There was even one inside the barn with the calves.

The creamery makes their own ice cream there and we got some while waiting until milking time. It was yummy! It was also Selah's first taste of sugar ;o)

While were sitting there, we met the owner, Karen Sowers, who brought up some ground beef for us to buy. She was very sweet and shared with us how she and her husband started out and got to where they are today.

Someone loved their ice cream!

Before we left, we watched the cows being milked. By the time we left, everyone was pretty tired and ready for naps! We had a great time and hopefully will get to go back for another visit. They have a festival in the beginning of May and also in the fall. They do beef and pork bar-b-que and it sounds yummy and fun. Here is a link to their website, if you are interested in making a visit to the farm. Here are some photos of the big cows getting milked. Dave and I were amazed at how big they's not like we see cows everyday and coming from the calf barn, these things seemed like giants!


The glorious light and momentary challenges that shape my heart

I decided to post an email that I quickly wrote to Dave this morning, asking for prayer. I looked back on it and laughed as I pondered my morning that I know every mom can relate to. I love my job of being a mom, but I am aware that my heart is challenged more than ever these days. I realized, with gratefulness, that each of my days are perfectly planned out and designed to shape my heart and make me realize how desperately I need the Lord.

To Dave, around 10am:

"we'll be running to to store as soon as selah wakes up. please pray for me today....already feel very stretched in a hundred directions and was impatient w/ mckenna at one point this morning. it was a mixed blessing that cara cancelled cause i needed to look at menus, food we have, plan for next week, meals for having people over, food for when we go away, get to the grocery store, selah was screaming for so long and wouldn't sleep, mckenna was needy, the house a disaster and i'm still wearing what i woke up in...

oops better run there is selah crying again ;o(

i am incredibly blessed to be a mom of 2 little girls..may the Lord keep that in mind today! he has been soo good to me!"

Indeed, I am a blessed woman! May my heart daily be filled with gratefulness.


Little princesses

Yesterday, around 4pm Mckenna was very bored. We had done her activity books, read a book, she had watched her video for the day and I now needed to start thinking about dinner. But she kept asking me for something to do. So, we called her friend Ann Stockton to see if she could come play. They played SO WELL together and Mckenna loved having her over. They both love Cinderella and princesses, as you can tell from the picture. So, they got all dressed up and danced to music and then colored in a princess coloring book. They were so cute!


Happy Spring!

Yes, spring arrived today....well, actually yesterday at 8pm. But, to my dismay, today is the "official" first day of spring. I say that because of a little humbling mishap that happened to me yesterday ;o) I heard that Rita's Ice (a little walk-up shop that sells Italian ices and other treats) was giving away FREE italian ice on the first day of spring. So, excited me emailed some friends and Esther and Kelly graciously packed up all their kids to come along. We first went to a park and tried to get our kids to eat lunch as they played in the cold...yes, it was a bit chilly to be outside at a park. We didn't last long and then tried to find this little Rita's Ice shop. After driving around a little while we finally found it. Wondering why it was so empty, we ran up to get our free Italian Ices only to be informed that we had the wrong's TODAY, not yesterday. Yes, I felt terrible, but Esther saved the day and had all the kids over to her house for ice cream.

Oh well! We never made it out again today, but I hear Rita's Ice is quite the place for summer treats. In fact I have a friend who used to travel an hour or so to go, before they opened up a shop near by in Germantown. Click here to visit their website and to find out if one is near you. We'll look forward to trying again sometime soon!


Spicy Oatmeal Cookies

Some friends, Angela and Derrick Pau, came over last week and brought these cookies. They were so yummy I asked Angela for the recipe and thought I would share it.

Spicy Oatmeal Cookies

Cookie Mix:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup swirled milk choc. & caramel chips
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Add'l ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened (but not melted)
1 egg
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In mixing bowl, beat butter, egg and vanilla. Combine with cookie mix and mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 min. Cool on wire rack.



Wash one another's feet

Good reminder for me this morning to be continually pursuing humility:

"If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you." John 13:14-15

Jesus calls me to wash the feet of those around me. What does that mean for me? I think often it is the postition of my heart. It is the humble heart that is wiling to lay down position, preferences, and desires in order to serve. It is not thinking too highly of myself or thinking I deserve anything, which would hinder service to others. It's the proud heart that would never seek to or be willing to wash another's feet. Far too often, this is the state of my heart. For me, in order to obey my Lord, I simply must pursue humility, as a wife and mom, two of my highest priorities. And it's in the simple things that I wash the feet of my husband and children; joyfully cleaning up the dishes so Dave can rest or play with the girls, even though it's been a hard day for me. It's letting Dave play golf, even though I'd rather have him here to help or so that I can get a break. It's sitting down with Mckenna to read to her, when I would rather "get something done" that has been on my list for a few days. It's all those times when I can choose to lay down my life for my family and those around me, not expecting anything in return and remembering that it is ultimately my Savior I am serving. I like what Henry Matthew says of these verses:

"We must learn of our Master to be lowly in heart, and walk with all lowliness; we must think meanly of ourselves and respectfully of our brethren, and deem nothing below us but sin; we must say of that which seems mean, but has a tendency to the glory of God and our brethren's good, as David (2 Sam. vi. 22), If this be to be vile, I will be yet more vile. Christ had often taught his disciples humility, and they had forgotten the lesson; but now he teaches them in such a way as surely they could never forget... A condescension to be serviceable. To wash one another's feet is to stoop to the meanest offices of love, for the real good and benefit one of another, as blessed Paul, who, though free from all, made himself servant of all; and the blessed Jesus, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. We must not grudge to take care and pains, and to spend time, and to diminish ourselves for the good of those to whom we are not under any particular obligations, even of our inferiors, and such as are not in a capacity of making us any requital."


According to Mckenna II

I was giving the girls a bath today, and as I took Mckenna out I noticed a red mark on her cheek. I asked her, "what's on your cheek? Do you have boo-boo?" She responded, "no mom, it's not a boo-boo. It's just peanuts, mom... just peanuts!" I laughed so hard.


Crazy Weather

Last week we had some crazy weather. Wednesday it reached 80 degrees and then on Friday it sleeted and snowed. But up until Friday we were out almost every day, taking advantage of the beautiful weather. Needless to say that not all my cleaning got done in the house, but we had lots of fun!!! On Wednesday, Michelle DeCarlo and I headed to Black Hills park to play. I was watching Lauren Lee that morning so we brought her along...she's such a cutie.

Little Lauren


Selah loved the swings!


More pictures from TN

The girls enjoyed their very own table during was usually a little battle of "she's pushing it!" "No, she's pushing it. " ;o)
The Coopers had a dream back yard and a great deck. On our last day there, it was almost 70 degrees and the kids played outside.

Here is a family shot at that great park we visited one day.


Hard at work

Even though we were on "vacation" the guys did take a day or two to attend to business. Craig took Dave to his office and they both were able to get caught up on some things. Laura and I were (and are) so grateful for how hard our hubbies work so we can do what we for and serve them and our children. Here they are at the Cooper's kitchen table working hard before we left to have fun that evening.


A few favorite shots

Here are some random shots from our time in TN. I love these! Laura took some sweet pics with their digital SLR. I'm hoping I can get a few and will be sure to post them if I do.

Karis holding our little Selah Welah. The rest below were all taken at a huge park that we went to one day. The kids had a blast!


Finally a post!

It's been way too long since I've posted...first we couldn't find the camera and then I couldn't find the time. Anyway, here are some shots from our time in TN. I'll try to post a couple for the next few days. Great memories...
Here is the Cooper Family: Craig, Laura, Karis and Joshua
Karis playing dress-up
This is little Joshua...with Mr. Castro's shoes.


Where's the camera???

Well, we got back almost a week ago from our trip to TN, but have not been able to find our camera, which holds tons of memories from our trip. We're still looking and I will post some of those pics as soon as we find it.

We had a WONDERFUL time while there with the Coopers. It was refreshing and fun! We can't wait to do it again in the future. Tennessee is a wonderful state and we liked the slower pace, the open space (there is so much land!), all the lakes and beautiful views. Our dear friends, the Coopers, hosted us for almost a week and we had loads of fun, laughing hard, staying up late, and recounting memories of years past. Thanks, Craig and Laura, for being such incredible friends! We're so grateful for you both and learned so much from watching you two.


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