Thursday, July 31, 2008

Black Bean and Pepper Salad

At food...I mean on Saturday, one of the gals made this amazing, summery bean salad. I love anything with black beans, and this was so good I could have eaten serving after serving!

Black Bean and Pepper Salad

by Michelle Ryan

1 can black beans -rinsed

1 can corn-I used one fresh ear of corn, cut off the cob

3 peppers-I used one yellow and one organge and only used 3/4 of each (I'm not a huge pepper fan)

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced

Fresh cilantro, well chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tbsp red wine vinegar

juice of 1 lime

pepper and salt, to taste

Seed and dice peppers. Combine peppers, onion, corn, garlic and cilantro. Toss. Add olive oil, vinegar and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss and add black beans.

SOOOOO good. I am serving this tonight with Cuban Rice and Beans for dinner. Perhaps a little overboard on the black beans, but, like I said, I love beans!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shopping Spree

Isabelle officially had her first shopping spree Thursday. Kid-to-Kid, a fantastic consignment shop in York had its annual clearance sale yesterday. The doors opened at 4:00pm; I arrived early, as I had heard that the best items went quickly. At 3:35, I hopped out of my car to stand in the front of what was to become a huge line. Each woman with given several small bags (and I mean smaller than a Wal-Mart bag), with the instructions to remove all hangers, roll clothing, and stuff them into your bags. Only clearance items would be included in the sale. With that, we were off. I ran into the store...ok, so I walked briskly, directly to the infant girl section. I quickly began checking tags to make sure the item was marked down, gently taking clothing off hangers, rolling them, and placing them into my bag. Then it hit me, this is taking way too long. Bella will only get five items at the pace I'm going. The other women were brutal. Ramming their strolling into my calves, throwing elbows to get the cutest onesies and sleepers. I grabbed anything that looked cute, left all clothing on the hangers, to be removed once I was in line, and moved from section to section like a madwoman. I had one goal: Find the cutest clothes and grab them before the woman next to me did! ha. I had one bag fully stuffed when I got in line. I managed to remove all hangers and stuff the rest of the clothing into one more bag. Not bad for a hard day's work.

Two overflowing bags of gently used clothing: $10
Actual worth of clothing: at least $250
Watching other woman act like children in a candy shop on Black Friday: Priceless

Seriously, Kid-to-Kid is worth the drive. They only accept VERY gently usedtems such as clothing, toys, shoes, baby gear, etc. Everything I've seen looks brand new. If you want to go, I have a coupon for $3 off your purchase. Let me know and I'll go with you, and I promise, no punches will be thrown!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lisa See

I'd never heard of Lisa See, much less read anything by the American author. Recently, however, someone recommended "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan." I've been looking for a good read, and found just that. How long has it been since you've read a book that you don't want to put down? "Snow Flower" has captured and held my attention through each turned page. I sneak in a chapter at every free moment, rewarding myself for finishing the vacuuming or dishes. The imagery is amazing, the writing phenomenal, and the portrait of Chinese life enlightening and beautiful.

Lisa See masterfully details the lives of two young Chinese girls as the grow up, marry, have children, and face the difficulties of daily life. She tackles difficult issues such as love, death, hatred and bitterness. All the while, she weaves an intricate story of two kindred spirits, separated by status and rank. Amy Tan, author of ""The Joy Luck Club, calls the novel "achingly beautiful" and I'd have to agree.

What was the last page-turner you read?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Isabelle and other week 23 events

Serious CONS of being pregnant:
1. My feet have grown more than 1/2 size. Even my flipflops are getting too small.
2. Inability to sleep at night. I am a stomach sleeper; breaking a 28 year old habit is nearly impossible!

#1 does have a PRO. I've bought several new pairs of shoes in the last few weeks! I LOVE shoe shopping, and I haven't purchased new shoes in years. Literally.

Saturday was an insanely busy day. I only lasted three and a half hours at our community yard sale. It got so hot by 10am that I was ready to call it quits. In that time, I managed to sell $60 worth of junk. There are some serious suckers in this world! ha.

Saturday evening, ten girls went downtown to celebrate my sister-in-laws' birthday. We surprised her at our house, were escorted downtown in a limo, and then had dinner at Pazo's (review to come later). The evening was a great time together, laughing, sharing stories, and getting to know ladies that I'd only met in passing. All of the ladies, but one, either have numerous kids or were pregnant. At one point, the limo ride conversation turned to epidurals, labor, and bladder control (lack there of) after giving birth. We are deep in discussion when the limo driver yells back "TMI" and promptly shuts the window between us and him. We died laughing. Here are some shots from our evening.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

yard sale

Our community is supposed to have a yard sale today. Thus far, I've seen ONE sign posted (and that looked like a a 'for sale by owner' sign!); there is nothing mentioned of it in our local newspaper; and I was the one to post it on Craig's List. So, all that to say. We're allowed 2 yard sales per year, and each sale costs me $5 (borough requires a permit). I'd better at least make those five bucks back! Whatever doesn't sell, I'll post here, to see if there are any local takers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Have you ever sat back and really evaluated the direction your life has taken? I met for lunch with a friend today and realized that my life is taking some very different turns than I had ever imagined it would. As I am gearing up to become a mother, I am facing the reality that I will only be working for ten more weeks once the school year begins, AND those ten weeks may be the last that I work for years to come. That thought scares me, saddens me, yet at the same time brings great joy. I stand amazed that these emotions can coexist and even reveal themselves simultaneously. After questioning the "what ifs" and "buts" of quitting my full-time job, I am realizing that the direction my life is taking is exactly the one He has laid out for me. The all too familiar passage in Jeremiah 29 has been resonating through my heart and mind.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. "

I can take heart that the path of motherhood means not only the end of one dream, but also the fulfillment of an entirely new one. Does your path look vastly different from the one you had imagined as a college freshman or new graduate? Are you saddened by the thought of a "missed opportunity" or excited by the journey you now walk?

Monday, July 14, 2008

6 years later

I graduated from Towson University (undergrad) over six years ago. Today, I received my diploma in the mail....I wonder if I actually earned my degree in 2002?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Favorite summer meal

During the summer, I seem to have less motivation for cooking gourmet (or even new) meals. This is our old standby, but we love it!

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Sauce
Prep time: 5 min. Cook time: 20 min. Total time: under 30 min.

1 pound chicken
1 jar Classico Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Sauce
1 Spaghetti Squash (I generally use about 1 pound per person)

1. Boil chicken breasts for 20 minutes. Shred.
2. Place shredded chicken and all of sauce in a pan.
3. Stir until sauce is heated through. Let simmer on low, stir occasionally.
4. While chicken is boiling, cut squash in half and remove all seeds and pulp.
5. Place in a pie plate or other microwaveable dish. Fill with enough water to just cover bottom of squash.
6. Cover squash tightly with plastic wrap. Pierce with 5 holes.
7. Microwave on high for 15 minutes. Will be VERY hot when you remove it.
8. Let is cool slightly. Shred squash with a fork onto plates. Squash will come out like spaghetti noodles and easily replaces pasta in any dish!
9. Cover each serving with the chicken/sauce mixture.
10. Serve with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

**The squash is very hearty, so we always end up with left overs since we can't eat a "normal" pasta sized portion!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Song Yet Sung

"Song Yet Sung," by James McBride was our latest book club book for the summer. Though turtle-paced from the beginning, the novel picked up and was full of action and suspense during the last third. "Song Yet Sung" is an historical fiction novel set in Maryland's Eastern Shore. The book was chosen by two members, who grew up on the shore. The book, from that sense, was intriguing.

James McBride discusses the desire for freedom that drove slaves to unthinkable actions, just on the brink of the Civil War. The book was full of mysticism and religion; with a "Dreamer" as the main character. Liz, the Dreamer, as she was dubbed, was severely wounded in the head and would often fall into deep sleep and then dream about the future (her character was loosely based on Harriet Tubman). In her dreams, she not only saw the the immediate dangers awaiting her and her companions, she also saw the future of all black people. Interestingly, McBride used Liz's dreams to discuss contemporary black leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fascinating approach to writing.

The often confusing plot and mention of the "song yet sung" ended up taking form in King's famous speech "free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last." Freedom, as Liz realized, was not in traveling North, or even gaining ownership of herself. Freedom was only found in death. Freedom from this world and all of its entanglements. Freedom to walk in Heaven along side Jesus.

Do I recommend the book? Half-heartedly. There was some foul language and gruesome fight scenes. Not to mention the slow pace and not-fantastic end. However, the writing, from a historical perspective was educational and entertaining. I don't know if I'll be able to visit O.C. without thinking of the difficult lives that slaves and plantation owners alike once lived.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Week 21

This week has continued to bring changes on the baby front. Bella's kicks are no longer flutters, they are now kicks and jabs! Tuesday, I was laying on the couch reading, when she started moving around. I looked at my stomach and could see it moving at the location of her kicks. What an amazing sight and feeling! It's hard to believe that this baby girl is truly living and growing inside of me.

We've begun our hunt and search for baby bedding so that we can paint the nursery. I found a design I absolutely LOVE, but then saw the price tag. So, Sharon Lilley and I are going to make the bedding! That will be a fun adventure. Now, if I can only find material that looks exactly like this:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Today, I met with my boss at Southern Middle about my kids' schedules for next year. He is a wonderful man, very personable, and genuinely interested in his employees. This in mind, it shouldn't have come as a surprise when he asked, "Do you plan to return to work after the baby is born?" I had been avoiding this specific conversation, concerned that I wouldn't have a job to come back to in the fall. However, he was MORE than gracious as I relayed our plans. God willing, I will be staying home once Isabel arrives in November! And now I do not have to dance around this intention any longer. My boss was supportive and said he had planned on this scenario, but this gives him specific direction.

I feel such peace and relief now that my boss has this knowledge.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Recipe needed

Anyone have a great recipe for macaroni salad? I've never made it, want to, but don't really want to pull some random recipe off of the Internet!