Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall's arrival

I heard it from a non-native yesterday, "This weather is just great!" I agree, as it is now in the lower 60s at night here in Phoenix. I also couldn't help buying these flowers at Costco last night to make a truly fall statement for our Family Meeting tonight at church. I am in charge of our snacks. Tonight we are doing cookies and milk (thanks to friend's help and the Dairy Council) I'll keep you posted to see if everyone else loves the mini milks as much as I do. My affinity for them is probably due to the fact that I never had them at school when I was little :)

Sunday, September 23, 2007


As you have previously read, I actually made some beef. This time we didn't burn the steak either. I actually enjoyed it too. But I have a confession to make. I didn't just "pick it up" at the grocery store. Travis has the Nam's to thank for the extra steak leftovers. Ashley is without a functional kitchen still (only two more days!!) so they came over to do some cooking on Friday night, bringing with them their entourage as well as goodies. My fridge is stuffed! I've spent the weekend trying to cram other things into it (it coincided with my food co-op weekend).
We feasted on steak and, according to Chuck, something he couldn't resist: crab legs. So today my goal is to take the remaining crabmeat and make something delicious with leftovers. Since it isn't Maryland crabmeat, and more of the Alaskan sort, I can't make I will foray into the unknown again.
One of our highlights has been getting to know the Nam's children. Friday night, it was so fun to watch Mattie light up when she tells a story. She is small and typically quiet;but when she has a story to tell, she is incredibly animated. Must be all that sugar and sweetness coming out :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

According to Travis...

"Is this lettuce?"
"No dear, it's watercress"

Spicy Steak Salad adapted from Oprah's website, serves 2

1 2" thick steak, marinated in the following:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tb lime juice
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp grated lime zest
1 tsp kosher salt
1 shallot, minced

1 bunch watercress
2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup grated daikon radish

1 large hot pepper, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp canola oil

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp Sriracha (red chili and garlic paste)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

First, heat the oil in a saucepan to medium-high heat. Dust the pepper strips in the flour; tap the excess off. Fry the pepper strips in the oil until toasted brown. Let dry on a paper towel.

Grill steak over medium high heat, about 6 minutes per side, to medium-rare. Pour marinate over steak. Let rest for 5 minutes. Cut steak into slices.

Toss steak, steak juices/remaining marinade, and greens to coat. Garnish with fried hot pepper strips.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Every day is special

My Tante Bobbie called me tonight. We chatted for a beautiful hour on the phone, sharing news and stories from our lives. What would you have to say when you are 91? She tells me how she just took her whole family on a cruise in Alaska this summer alongside news of her eight pots outside that she waters every day. She tells me how she drives to the nursing home nearby, taking other elderly residents, who are younger than her, on outings. She picks them up, takes them out, all while driving on the freeway.

Bobbie was one of my Oma's best friends, and her cousin. She still lives in Arcadia, the place my Oma settled in after she immigrated. She still attends the same church the family went to back in the 1940s. Bobbie used to host a tea after church. This was the tea that my grandparents first met.

She doesn't host teas anymore, but she still feeds people. She feeds people with her life and, more importantly, her words. She feeds my soul with vibrant words of faith, and little cards in the mail. She just overflows with endless gratitude and exuberance. She chatters a mile a minute, sharing all her recent sorrows and joys-- four funerals of friends and a miraculous pregnancy for one of her granddaughters who had several miscarriages. She tells me that she just got email: "Imagine that! At 91 I have email!" she says.

She isn't an anomaly. She still faces life as a 91 year old. She has a compressed disk in her back, she had a colon resection 26 years ago after fighting cancer, and she has high blood pressure that fatigues her. But her words ring in my ear: "Jesus makes all the difference." In contrast to the depressed elderly I see every day in the hospital, here is a woman who defies age. She defies it with her faith, her outlook and her Lord.

She tells me how she loves potatoes as I fry them on the stove while we talk. She says I can eat the fish, she'll eat the potatoes. I wish I could have her to dinner tonight, if only to just listen to her love for life and the Savior. She tells me that life is precious. Every day that passes, she realizes it more and more. Every day is special, whether it's a letter from a friend, or a phone call, or an invitation to a barbeque. What a heritage and treasure! I have my grandmother's best friend still calling me to tell me that my life is just getting started. She reassures me that I am just planting my foot in life. She tells me that she can't think of a better way to start life. I need to hear that. I need her perspective. I want to live like her, believing with joy that every day is a gift, remembering that this day is indeed special.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bright Spots

On Saturday, the grad school widow found something to do on Saturday while the husband was studying all day. The Nam girls (my new sisters) and I found a few projects and activities to occupy ourselves with: we picked out fabrics for their pillow shams at the fabric store, picked up our peach order and then sat down for a nice lunch at Oregano's.

Afterwards we went to my house to use my dishwasher. The Nam's are still without a countertop and without running water in the kitchen...which means, no dishwasher. They have been using the tub and sink, but that just doesn't cut it on spaghetti sauce on Tupperware :)

According to...

nurses, a chest tube is one of the most painful medical treatments possible. Our dear Steve was hospitalized last week and has been keeping us away from computers, blogs, Travis' books. But, our fatigue can't compare to the "excitement" and exhaustion he went through recovering from the complications of his pneumonia. The picture from ADAM gives you an idea of the lovely invasion he underwent. He had two 12 inch tubes inserted into his pleural cavity to help him heal after surgery. More info than you probably wanted but now you'll know why pneumonia is so dreadful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


As I have been thinking about my life lately, I am trying to rejoice in the permanance of my salvation and hope. This is especially relevant after the death of two young women I have had the priviledge of knowing while they battled cancer: Madonna, from my old church, and Amy, a previous caregroup lady, who died yesterday. My friend Rachel reminded me of this great quote from the Gospel Primer.
For the Gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me... The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to his gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


My friend Becky, asked me to help teach her how to make granola. To her credit, this skill has been passed down to me by the lovely Mrs. Lauterbach, who taught us how to make California style granola. There are many versions, but yesterday I made crunchy Tropical Granola with pineapple, coconut and almonds. Becky wanted gooey-style, like the Costco version.
In the back of my mind, I remembered thinking about ordering granola from my co-op, but I checked online and it didn't appear that I had ordered it. So, Thursday, I make two whole containers. Friday, I get my reminder email to pick up my co-op granola. Needless to say, we have more than enough.

Friday, September 07, 2007

extras in ORDINARY days

I went to a meeting.
I wrote emails.
I talked with my boss.
I ate lunch with my mother-in-law
I visited friends.
I made granola.
I listened to my power steering pump grind away.
I changed my sheets.
I spritzed my bathroom counter with grapefruit Method.
I rearranged furniture.
I washed my sheets.
I did the ironing.
I ironed my sheets.
I ironed all my t-shirts.
This is my day. My evening obviously was very exciting. This is what happens when I don't go to spin class on Travis' school nights. Thank goodness for the YMCA.

Monday, September 03, 2007

PheNAMenal times

We have been busy here in Arizona... helping the Nams move into their new and almost improved Phoenix house. I felt like I was moving in all over again-- the endless shopping, endless boxes, and endless cleaning :) What a joy to welcome them into our lives here! They hosted us for their first dinner party-- I made Deep-Dish Pizza (the oven is one of two appliances in order) and we had an incredible Italian salad. The Nams are great friends that are just as close as family; Travis' family stayed with them during our wedding week-- you can see their house in all the pre-wedding photos! We both feel that we now have three families to divide our time between because of their care, their friendship and the openness with which they share their lives. We'll take some photos once the kitchen is is the last frontier-- we are waiting for the granite to be fabricated...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

According to...

Brittany K. Thanks for the amazing photo of Brett from one of the conferences.


My friend, Chanelle, tagged me in her blog to talk about my four favorite standby recipes. I will start with the everyday dinner category, since that is what I typically make the most of on the fly. These are some of the recipes that are the ones I go back to time and again.

Lentil Casserole--a classic one dish meal that incorporates vegetables with the high fiber qualities of the often neglected legumes to create a filling yet low-calorie one dish meal.

Fresh Salsa--this spices up at least one meal a week in my household, to eat with eggs and toast or beans and rice or a baked potato.
2- 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (with or without jalepenos)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
4 green onions, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded (opt), minced
Place the greens in the bottom of a blender, then add the remaining ingredients on top. Process on chop or slowly, in quick pulses, until greens and tomatoes are incorporated.
Deep-dish Pizza Dough--this pizza dough is a soft, thick chewy crust that handles a week in
the refrigerator beautifully. This recipes comes from the best cookbook, Frog Commissary.

2 tsp yeast, proofed in 1 1/3 cup warm water
3 cups bread flour (can sub 1 cup whole wheat)
3/4 cup semolina
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine flours and salt and sugar in bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add yeast and oil and pulse to combine. Remove from bowl and finish by kneading until smooth.
Let rise 1 hour in a covered bowl. Punch down and either use immediately or refrigerate. Roll to a large rectangle to fit a greased jelly roll pan. Top and bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes, or until edges begin to brown.
Chicken Nectarine Salad--this has become a classic Jansen family recipe that is treasured in the summer. I adapt it for the winter substituting other season fruits like apples and walnuts, etc. We have had this endless times, to the enjoyment of all again and again.

The rules:
1. Let others know who tagged you (Chanelle)
2. Start with 4 recipes you especially like
3. Tag 4 other people and notify them that they have been tagged : Megan, Lory, Emily, Rachel
4. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 4 recipes.