Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Women's Retreat and Our "Chick Band" with Kim Meeder

This last weekend was another great women's retreat event.  I love being part of such a great ministry where we as the band get to do what we love and were created to do while feeling refreshed at the same time.   I first of all have to give credit and thanks to the Lord for opening doors and nudging me years ago to step into my musical side and then to my amazing husband who so willingly lets me go and do this.  I can't say that these wknds are always the highlight of news for him when they are scheduled, but he knows how much I enjoy them and how much joy it brings to me and hopefully others in the process.   It is a little more challenging when, like this last weekend, I call home after the first session and hear one of our kids is throwing up.. ugh

The weather was HORRIBLE at the beach on Friday and then it was as if God blew his mighty wind on the Oregon coast, bringing beautiful clear skies for all of us on Saturday.  
Told You She's Tough

Our speaker Kim Meeder from Chrystal Peaks Ranch was well pretty amazing!  I have heard a lot of speakers while doing retreats and normally get something out of each one, but I must say Kim is an exceptional teacher, story teller, gifted author and has a heart of gold.  She is probably one of the toughest and adventurous chicks I've ever met yet God has given her such a beautiful graciousness and spirit of tenderness that overflows out of her and people are just drawn to her.  If I was in a dark alley at night and needed a friend to walk through it Kim would be the first pick!  I am about as far on the other side of the cautious fearful person as Kim.   I wanted to share her website with you and show you what she does when she isn't speaking.    Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch ranch takes damaged horses in restores them to health and combines them with "damaged youth"  building a bond of healing and trust.

The Chick Band:L-R Courtney, Katie, Lisa, (Kim Meeder) Jen, Ruth

I love our little chick band girls.  Ruth comes down from Seattle which is kind of a bummer because it is hard to find a girl drummer and she is good.  Jen plays bass, I'm on guitar and vocals, Lisa in on keys and vocals and Katie is on vocals.  I love this group of girls/women/ladies/ because we gel musically really fast.  We have played many many times together and in smaller sections of the group, we just know how each other works and where we are going, which makes it so easy and fun to be able to just play the music and worship songs that we can sing along with all the 250 women singing.  I think that is the best part for us is that we plan, practice, play and then we get to hear these 250 voices come together and sing their hearts out to the Lord.  I LOVE THAT!!   God is amazing how he brings things together and puts us right where He wants us.
And of course we have way too much fun on Saturday night staying up way too late telling funny stories, some that we have heard over and over again but get better each time.  Love you girls and thanks Kim can't wait to do another retreat with you!

If you are planning a retreat and need an "all chick band" please contact me and we'll see what we can work out, we'd love to come if we can get there!
Of course we can't be serious for more than 5 seconds

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I love, love, love, Pumpkin Bread, and I love making little loaves during the holidays, but I've been trying to make it more throughout the year because my family loves it. I found this great recipe and wanted to share it. The great thing is that it makes about 8 mini loaves which are great for freezing for later or to give away when the time comes. These little loaves are a little more challenging to keep around because they are so little and seem to scream "EAT ME I'M LITTLE SO I DON'T HAVE A LOT OF CALORIES" which isn't true, but very hard not to believe when the little yummy loaf is just sitting there.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread
found on
3 cups sugar
1 cup veg oil
3 Large eggs
1 16 oz can solid pack pumpkin
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat 350 F
Beat sugar, oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin mix. Sift together dry ingredients in another large bowl and stir into Pumpkin mixture gradually.
You can choose if you want to make two 9x5x3 inch loafs divided equally OR fill mini loaf pans 1/2 way with batter.
Bake about 1 hour 10 minutes or until knife comes clean after inserting into the center. The mini loaves cook faster I feel. Turn loaves onto racks and cool completely.

When the Sun is Not Cause of the Shadow on Your Dinner Plate

Are we all on the same page here and would say that it is highly uncomfortable to sit so close to other people at restaurants? I'm not talking about people in your party, I'm talking about the people you didn't plan on having dinner with, the people that are sitting at the next table over but only inches away because the restaurant crams every last inch of the room with tables.

I first noticed this in LA about 10 years ago at the Cheesecake factory.  I thought "only in LA" at the time where you finally get a table after waiting 45 minutes and then walking around the corner in the overcrowded room, and spot our small little table squished between two other tables.  Being in LA, not knowing anyone and figuring I'd never see these people sitting inches from my table, I took the opportunity to talk a little louder and about my expensive world travels and adventures.  What was really funny was watching the really uncomfortable look on my husband's face as I was giving him the eye hint as if to say "come on.. don't blow our cover, work with me here.. play along!!!"  He was bit about to join that game, so I had to go back to finding something real to talk about which made things pretty boring sounding after Venice and my recent enhancement surgery that went awry.

As with everything that starts in LA and works its way up the coast, that close, crammed, table for 2 seating, has infringed upon Oregon popular restaurants.  It is so awkward sitting that close and TRYING not to eves drop on the conversation and trying to keep our conversation ours.  The even more awkward thing is when the people next to us get up and as the man is swiveling to the side to hoist himself up to squeeze by, half his bum is over my plate!!.. which of course he has no idea! I take note of this and make sure I don't swing my purse to wide when I got up or fling my coat in their plate while trying to exit, and kept a very stiff sideways side step as I left my table.

The one good thing about this close table arrangement and the ONLY good thing, is that it makes for really easy gawking at what people order.  Sometimes I'd love just to walk around prior to ordering and take visual notes and interview people about their selection, however that seems socially unacceptable so I do  that weird side look out of my eyes for about 15 minutes scanning every table.

Recently we hit a great new to us restaurant in the Pearl District.  Thankfully, we were able to have an empty table in between us and the other people.

Isabel Pearl 

Wow! is all I can say about this great restaurant in the Pearl District of Portland, OR.  I'm very big on ambiance and the while checking out options online first, I wasn't too sold on that aspect virtually but once there those worries were gone.  It was Saturday night and the place was not over full just nicely popular.   An open kitchen with small tables scattered around we picked one by the window, which really there was nothing to see outside, but it was a good choice for some conversation away from the other tables.  "California comfort food" was what this restaurant boasts as their specialty which I really wasn't sure what that was, but comfort has worked well in the past in most situations.  With our Passport Diners Card in our pocket and our recent vacation canceled we felt we could splurge a little on our dinner and everything looked really good on the menu.  We started with the lettuce wraps which were served with this amazing cubed grilled chicken and a side of peanut sauce...very comforting for a good start.
 Our waiter was so cute and friendly which makes it so much more enjoyable, informative and comforting.. and love when they actually know what is on the menu and have tried. Is it wierd I'm checking for a ring in hopes to set him up with my friend? Back to the menu, he suggests some great options and I go with one of the noodle bowls.  Check out the website
Dessert was the most amazing dessert I have EVER had at a restaurant and I'm not kidding.   My husband and I were fighting over the last bites of this banana in the glazed delightful mess with ice cream and something unexplainable glazed on top!!
We both sat there in awe of the complete experience from start to finish of such an amazing meal.  Kind of like the first time we went on Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland!  Go check it out, it is a great place.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paula Deen's Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

This My Presentation Plate
The title sounds way more difficult than this recipe ended up being. I will say my kitchen was a disaster after making this but it was a nice change from the bottled Alfredo sauce over noodles and chicken, which on many occasions has been the only option for something that looked like dinner. NOT that there is anything wrong with convenience food, I'm just trying to actually make things by mixing more than 2 ingredients.

I found this Recipe in the 2008 Christmas edition of Paul Deen Magazine. You might be wondering why I had this magazine sitting around after 3 years, well you know how life is.. busy and I hadn't gotten around to tearing out any recipes or pictures for my "happy book" (that is a binder of cute things I find in magazines). I'm glad I didn't throw this away because I'll definitely do this recipe again only ad a little more liquid to the sauce or a little less noodles to soak up the sauce.. The noodles were kind of sticky. I will say this recipe wasn't as cheap as some others, more of a special meal. It calls for Gruyere cheese which was $4.99 for 1 cup or so. YIKES!!! But the good thing is there are leftovers saving my husband from having to eat out for lunch.

The recipe was sort of long so click on the link to view and print.

Paula Deen's Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta