Wednesday, May 9, 2007

One of my Favorite Birthdays

Last Wednesday I turned 38!!

I had a wonderful day!

Barb Vermilyea took me to a restaurant called Tuscanos. Then she dropped me off at the kids' school so I could get Jack and walk him home. Once home I hung a load of laundry outside. Not long after I finished, Sam arrived home, and Mark took all three boys to the mall to find a present for me over the lunch hour. When Mark and Joel got back after dropping Sam and Jack at school, Mark sent me out for a couple hours of peace...and coffee. I spent the afternoon at The Second Cup writing my update.

When I arrived home, balloons and streamers decorated the dining room and Mark was already deep into the preparations for my birthday supper. Joyce called to wish me a happy birthday and to sing to me sometime after I got home. We had Tuscan chicken (sautéed tomatoes, basil and capers over grilled chicken breast), corn on the cob, and rice. And we had Cheese Blintzes which were INCREDIBLE and healthy too.

Here's the recipe:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
250 g of pressed low fat cottage cheese
2 scoops vanilla or strawberry protein powder
1/2 cup Splenda
1 cup strawberries
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Preheat non-stick skillet on medium heat.

In a mixing bowl, mix whole wheat flour, water and vanilla extract until just smooth. If this mixture is too watery, add small portions of whole wheat flour to thicken it up but keep in mind this has to be fluid. Pour the batter into the skillet, forming a circular crepe. Cook for 30-60 seconds, based on the thickeness of the crepe--the thinner the crepe, the less time it will need to cook. Once the crepe is browned on the bottom, carefully flip it over to the other side, cooking for another 30-60 seconds. Once the crepes are finished, place aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese, protein powder and 1/2 cup Splenda. If the mixture appears too thick, use 1 tsp of low fat skim milk to make more fluid. Once mixed, place equal portions of the mix onto each crepe and wrap them up. Wrap the bottom upwards first. Then, fold in the two side walls, followed by the top.

Place the blitzes onto the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. While baking, place strawberries and lemon juice in blender and blend to make sauce. Place aside.

When the blintzes are finished, take out of the oven and arrange onto a plate. Take a few berries and arrange alongside. Top with sauce.

While we were eating, Claudia (my neighbor and friend) brought me a present. It was a pot of "table tomatoes" which are cherry tomatoes that grow indoors and can go right from the plant to the table as they are pesticide-free. There was ONE ready the next day so I ate it. It was delicious and a reminder that fresh-from-the-garden produce can not be beat. I can't wait for the rest to ripen.

It was a feat to take the time to enjoy such a nice birthday supper and also get everything cleaned up in time for our small group meeting by 7:00. We almost succeeded--Mark was still in the kitchen washing up the last dishes when the first people showed up.

One of the girls brought brownies and ice cream (nice surprise) and we partied again. After everyone left Rich called and we talked for quite a while. Dan tried too, but we didn't connect. Thanks for remembering, guys. Thanks to the rest of you who sent me notes during the day. I really appreciated it. Simone called on Friday to remind me that for a couple days I'm older than she is. I had such a nice time talking to her and catching up a bit. Thanks, Simone. And happy birthday to you TODAY!!!

A Most Wonderful Birthday Present

This is our friend, Mélissa, pictured here being crazy at church with the Easter chocolate fondue. She gave me a very nice birthday present Sunday afternoon. After the kids' naps/rests she picked them up and took them for the evening so Mark and I could have some time together. They went to the river and threw rocks, then ate supper at McDonald's, and then played at the little park near our home.
Here's how Mark and I spent our time. We went on a little bicycle ride and stopped to eat subs outside at a restaurant called the Subtile. It was warm and beautiful. Then we rode on home and watched Blood Diamond (set in the Sierra Leone Civil War of 1999). It is really an excellent, but disturbing movie.

I don't know who had more fun--the boys, Mélissa, or Mark and I.

Don't Try This At Home (or Do--I dare ya')

I found this workout in an old Muscle Media magazine that I decided to try out on Saturday. Here it is:

warm-up jog for three to four minutes at 50 percent perceived maximum effort followed by:

Station 1: sprinting
Sprinting for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Sprinting for 20 seconds
Move to station 2 (10 seconds)

Station 2: skipping rope
Skip rope for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Skip rope for 20 seconds
Move to Station 3 (10 seconds)

Station 3: jump squats
(Start with your hands lightly touching your head. Slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, then explode upward, jumping as high as you can, bringing your legs to your chest. Repeat as many times as you can within the 20-second exercise bursts.)

Jump squats for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Jump squats for 20 seconds
Move to Station 1 (10 seconds)

Repeat the cycle three times

Cool-down jog at 50 percent perceived maximum effort for 3 minutes

I knew it was a tough one for me when I found myself looking forward to the jumping rope segment to "rest" a little. Oh yeah, it's called THE GUERRILLA CIRCUIT!!!

Learning from Hudson Taylor and Margaret Laird

The kids and I have been reading They Called Me Mama. Rich and Dan, do you remember when Mom read this same book to us probably 25 years ago? In one chapter, Margaret Laird talks about reading a story about Hudson Taylor when she was in Bible school that really touched her. It's really hit a nerve for me as well and so I wanted to share it here.
Hudson Taylor was just a young man when he completed his training and was looking forward to going to China as a missionary. He felt he should go out entirely by faith. He had learned of the conditions there, and to make himself ready and to realize whether he could live in such simple conditions, he withdrew from his home, his friends, and the comforts he had known to live in a bare, little attic room in a very poor section of London.

Once, late at night, a boy who had heard him speak at a Sunday evening meeting came and asked him to hurry to the boy's home.

"My mother is dying," he said. "We need you to come right now."

Hudson went with the child through some of the very worst streets of London and up rickety stairs to a little apartment where the mother lay on a bed with a mattress but no sheets or blankets. Only one chair was in the room.

"Will you pray for my wife?" the father asked.

Hudson agreed and started to pray, but could not. A struggle was going on in his heart. It was over a piece of money he had in his pocket, a sovereign.

If I just had change instead of this one large sum, he thought, I could do something for this family. I just can't do anything with this one piece of money, though. My rent is due the day after tomorrow. I have a cup of tea and two pieces of toast left for tonight. For tomorrow, I have nothing. I can't give them my whole sovereign. Yet I can't give them the coin and then ask for change.

He really struggled with the problem, so much so that he didn't hear the husband trying to get his attention. Finally he heard.

"Did you realize I asked you to come here because my wife is dying and I want you to pray for her? She doesn't know the Lord."

"Yes, Yes! I understand."

Then he knelt once more beside the bed and tried to pray. Again, no success. The conflict over the coin wouldn't let him.

How can I pray for them, knowing they are hungry, knowing they are cold? How can I pray and do nothing about their needs, all the time with this sovereign in my pocket?

Finally, after quite a struggle, he took the coin from his pocket and handed it to the husband, telling him to go get his wife food and something for a covering.

Then the tears came, his heart broke, and he knelt and prayed. Everyone in the family was gloriously saved that night, and God saw fit to raise the woman back to health and strength.

Hudson Taylor was so wonderfully happy when he got home that he forgot about the burden of rent and also that there was no food for the next day.

The next morning during his personal Bible study, a knock interrupted him. It was the postman, more than an hour earlier than usual. He handed Hudson a letter which included a check for more than five times what he had given to the woman the night before. He had his rent and his supplies. The Lord spoke to him then: "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord."