Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thai Beef Stir Fry

David and I LOVE Thai food. We could probably eat Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles everyday and not get sick of them. We finally had a chance to try making our own Thai deliciousness: Beef Stir Fry. Well, David actually made it. I took the pictures.

I came home from work to witness these freshly chopped veggies - peppers, carrots, garlic, and bamboo shoots. The curiosity got the best of me and not realizing what it was, I grabbed a bamboo shoot to taste. Let's just say bamboo shoots taste a lot better once they're cooked.

The sauce smelled so good, and so peanuty!

Action shot!

We were so excited to eat the stir-fry that we forgot to take a final shot.

For the recipe: Thai Beef Stir Fry

Love: Red Letter Words

Recently came across Red Letter Words by Dee and her amazing mounted art printed. I am absolutely in love, especially with these Christmas ones:

And how about this Fruit of the Spirit one for everyday. This would look great in my kitchen! (Hint, hint, this is now on my wishlist).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Food for Thought: Titus

For the past few weeks, our church has been going over the book of Titus and the clear implications the gospel has on our lives. Some powerful food for thought lies in this 3 chapter book.

Although this specific message is directed to church elders, all Christians, especially those involved in any kind of leadership, both in the church and out should strive towards these things:

"They must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, they must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.

Respect the government and be ready to do whatever is good, slander no one, be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. "

Why should we strive towards these things? Because we should always remember our story of redemption, after all:

"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone."

All passages listed are from Titus 1-3 - please do read the entire book to grasp the full message for yourself, and feel free to post any thoughts, reflections, etc.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Festive Veggie Platters

Who said Veggie platters couldn't get their party on?

I love my veggies and if they can double as a creative decorative piece along with the nutritional value, I'm all over it. My only apprehension though, if you saw a veggie display this fun, would you be tempted to eat it or feel guilty to even touch it? I can't say for sure for myself.

If you're interested in making one of these fabulous crudite masterpieces, instructions can be found for the top one here and the bottom one here.

Thanks Apartment Therapy for sharing these awesome creative crudites.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Helping At-Risk Students Succeed Big Time

Ironically, after watching
Finding Forrester, I come across an article in the Oregonian about one of the best non-profits in Portland doing an amazing job with African American students who have traditionally been struggling to succeed in Oregon's schools.

Their passionate work has been causing dramatic results:

More than 95 percent of students enrolled in the SEI program earn high school diplomas. By contrast, only about 45 percent of African American students statewide graduate in four years.

This is incredible by itself, but what I find even more incredible is their approach. They do not take students completely out of their home high school and put them in an isolated bubble environment. Instead, they provide identified students with wraparound mentoring - they become part of the student's life where the student is at, AND they stick around with students for the long haul. They are committed to support the student until they are 25.

I am not surprised by their success, and I think many more groups who are trying to make positive changes for at-risk youth need to look to them as a good example of what is effective in making a difference in the lives of today's students.

The article by Betsy Hammond is definitely worth the read.

Love: Wooden Christmas Trees

When you're living in a small space, innovative, small but adorable ideas for decorating are always welcome. That's why I love this tiny wooden Christmas tree from Red Zebra Designs that is perfect to put on an entry table. Light some pine scented candles and you've got yourself a Christmas tree without the mess.

I also like this one from PossibiliTree:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Freebie: Holiday Prints

It's after Thanksgiving, and I can safely admit that I'm playing Peaceful Holiday's on Pandora and thinking about adding some Christmas spirit to our apartment. Naturally then, I was excited for this freebie:

Craftily Ever After has a couple fun free holiday printables. I am printing one to frame and put on our fireplace mantel. Haven't decided which one - I think they are both neat.

Go ahead - print one and add some holiday spirit to your room, cubicle, binder, etc!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Leftover Turkey Finds a Way

After all the delightful feasting, if you made the turkey, you're probably also going to get stuck with a bit of turkey leftovers. What do you do with these leftovers without it feeling like you're eating leftover turkey for weeks? Turkey sandwich, step-aside!

Creamy turkey pot pies are the new cool kids in town. Okay, I admit, when I first heard of chicken pot pies or turkey pot pies, I was kinda grossed out. Can chicken and pie be in the same sentence? It was a weird concept. Then I tried a piece and absolutely fell in love! I couldn't wait to make my own.

What is great about chicken/turkey pot pies is that they let you use the entire chicken. So this week, you might have turkey leftovers, but this also works amazing with leftover rotisserie chicken. I've always been kinda apprehensive about buying rotisserie chicken because we always have too much left over and don't quite know what to do with it. This was a wonderful solution.

What are your favorite ways to finish that left-over turkey?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Baking Recap

Thanksgiving eve I had a blast baking three different pumpkin desserts for three different family gatherings. Survey says they all turned out delicious, and in the spirit of giving - I wanted to share the recipes.

Impossibly Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Notice the progression? All were slightly different, and David said the pumpkin cheesecake bars were his favorite, but feedback was good for them all. And I think they were worth not remembering whether I turned off the oven while we were half way to our family dinner on the other side of town. Twas a moment of panic infused problem solving, and thankfully in the end our apartment is still standing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving: What to Make?

The week leading up to Thanksgiving is always exciting - this weekend was extra exciting for me because my husband conspired a little early birthday surprise for me. It was my first time flying since I was a toddler - flying over the many vineyards in Dundee was breathtaking.

But now its time to figure out what I'm going to make to the several Thanksgiving feasts that await. I have narrowed down to a couple different options:

Betty Crocker's Impossibly Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake OR the almost perfect scoring Pumpkin Bars OR the perfect scoring Pecan Pie Bars (not pictured)?

With 3 upcoming feasts, I just might make them all...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SCRAP's Holiday Bazaar

SCRAP is amazing. They have been the source of a lot of my joy, including where I bought a variety of random supplies for scrapbooking and the ultimate place for finding craft supplies for the many groups I have led with students. Students have loved field trips here where they learned all about the joys of recycling and re-purposing everyday objects into works of art. This is a wonderful non-profit in Portland and I am excited to visit their Holiday Bazaar! They always have really cool stuff, and this bazaar is more than shopping. It's going to be a party.

What: SCRAP’s Holiday Bazaar 2010 – Craft vendors, live music, food carts, raffle and gift wrapping by SCRAP!
Who: Local vendors selling reused/recycled gifts made from at least 75% reclaimed materials
When: Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21, 10am-6pm
Where: SCRAP, 2915 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. Portland, OR

Addicted Much?

Perhaps this is a warning to myself, but I can't help but notice the growing impact of internet addictions, especially those to social media, like the Florida mom who lost control and killed her own baby. Of course most of us will deny that we would ever be pushed to that limit, but have we come close?

Does this cheesy video look familiar?

I'll admit, I've been there. There being the place where upon sitting for hours on social media, any interaction with a live person becomes a nuisance. I'm sure I've snapped a fair share at my little brothers unfairly because I was "in the zone" of the internet. And even now, sometimes I catch myself.

I was excited to see Holiday Matinee mention Hamlet's Blackberry, a book that shares practical advice on how to manage all the connectedness and how to disconnect once in a while. I'll definitely be picking this one up.

Technology isn't evil, but achieving a healthy balance can be challenging. How do you set your boundaries? Are you happy with the amount of face time vs. tech time you get?

I liked how Sarah from Her.Meneutics put it:

"When God created man to desire companionship, he didn’t take a rib and turn it into a Wi-fi signal. He took Adam’s rib and turned it into a living, breathing creature who could hug, touch, comfort, and even intuit emotion in its fellow inhabitants. I don’t think that means God frowns on technology like computers or phones. Social media facilitate most of our relationships and can even deepen some of them. But God’s intentions for humans call us to be purposeful about preserving face-to-face relationships — and stopping virtual addictions before they start."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Can't Help Being So Giddy

Thanksgiving is next week. I just finished a huge project at work that turned out to be a success. What can I say? I'm in a great mood and can't help dancing around the room, singing along to my favorite tunes. However am I going to get to sleep tonight?

GIVE Handmade Sale in Portland

If you're planning your post-Thanksgiving shopping, consider visiting the GIVE Handmade Sale. Not only will you find much unique-ness made by local artists, but 10% of all sales will go to the Oregon Food Bank to fight hunger.

In case you didn't know, Oregon has the 3rd highest hunger rate in the nation. For the over half million people in Oregon who struggle with food insecurity, Oregon Food Bank's impact is huge.

GIVE Handmade Sale
Sunday November 28th
11am – 5pm
Left Bank Annex
101 N. Weidler
Free Admission – All Ages
Please bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Oregon Food Bank. Cash donations will also be accepted.
Food and drink available for purchase
Swag boxes for the first 100 people through the doors!

Thanks handmade in portland for the heads-up!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Smart Gift Wrap

With the holiday's approaching, many of us have already given some thought as to what is on our wish list and what we are giving others. Many of us acknowledge that part of the joy of gift giving is the presentation of the gift.

But consider these facts:

In the U.S., annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, household waste increases by 25%, which adds a million more tons of waste into the landfills.

Now I'm not exactly an environmentalist, but considering the magnitude of waste in the landfills, and considering that all the pretty gift wrapping literally goes to waste makes me wonder what alternatives exist to the standard wrapping paper.

I was excited to come across some ideas that take gift wrapping to another level:

Little Kay Gardens makes gift wrap that can later be planted to grow wildflowers. Imagine that!

Apartment Therapy shared some cute reusable gift boxes that are more or less ready to give. Just add a simple, classy ribbon or get creative. I can definitely imagine a project with Kate's Paperie's Mini Suitcase that will be an irresistibly awesome gift presentation. Can you?

The Knepprath family is huge on re-using gift wrap and getting elaborate and creative with the way gifts are wrapped. I confess, David is a better gift wrapper than I, but maybe this year I will up my game with some of this multi-functional gift presentation options. We'll see.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hot Apple Cider - Perfect for a Chilly Day

Fall is hot apple cider while snuggled on the couch with a cozy blanket and intriguing book. Or if you're a student, like me, its one of those little things that goes a long way in making writing essays a bit more serene and enjoyable.

Usually, because of the chaotic school-work life, I have to opt for the instant Alpine Spiced Apple Cider, but I am looking forward to trying some of the more authentic apple ciders come winter break.

Here are some varieties on cider recipes if you want to mix it up a little bit:

Easy Apple Cider - 5 ingredients, 5 minutes prep time and ready in an hour - I may have to give this one a shot this weekend!

Hot Spiced Cider - Adds flavors of maple, orange and lemon.

Spiced Apricot Cider - Never tried apricot cider before!

Spirited Apple Cider - Sounds perfect for a cold and wet rainy night by the fireplace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo Book Website Review

There is something extra special about holding a professionally printed book filled with family photos. The excitement from holding such a polished family keepsake is one reason why I love photo books. Another is that it is super easy, clean, and is probably, in the long run, cheaper than scrapbooking.

Well its supposed to be super easy. I've tried several different programs/websites for creating photo books and here is what I have found.

Shutterfly - Maybe I'm biased because I used Shutterfly to make my first photo book, or maybe they simple are just super amazing. It is extremely easy to use their program, it is very intuitive and easy to follow. They have multiple uploading and many choices for customizing backgrounds. The best part is they are always running some sort of deal and every once in a while I get an email for a free photo book. I've used it several times and I love it. What can beat getting a $20 product for free? A downside is that they don't have many font options and have limited options for text.

Kodak Gallery - An absolute nightmare. Well, they have nice sleek background choices and I like their font options, but the program is very glitchy. I have found myself muttering at the computer multiple times while trying to create a book. It is frustrating and sometimes freezes. The only reason I'm sticking through with using it this time is because I have a Mamapedia coupon. I will not use this program again. There are many programs out there that are a lot less painful.

Snapfish - Equivalent to Shutterfly in terms of ease of setting up a book. They occasionally have great deals for freebies, but not as often as Shutterfly.

The great thing about all of these is that you get free prints upon signing up. So far, Snapfish and Shutterfly have sent me monthly freebies, be they free greeting cards, posters, photo books, etc. to create and use. Kodak Gallery has yet to catch up.

Now your turn: Do you use online photo printing services? Which ones are your favorite?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brilliant: Speak With Conviction

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

Wonderful social commentary on the demise of assertive language in today's youth. This made me laugh and nod my head in acknowledgment. How brilliant and true is this observation!

Thanks, Motivated Youth for sharing!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Love: Robots

It is National Novel Writers Month and David is writing 1,500 words a day towards what is becoming quite an interesting sci-fi, Matrix meets Brave New World type novel. This writing opportunity is great for him, and being the sociologist and technophile that he is, it only makes sense that he is incorporating technology and the social science elements into his writing.

Thus, in the spirit of fusing technology and social science:

The most adorable robot necklace I have ever seen from Marolsha. Reminds me of my little brother's lego guys, except its somehow cute enough to wear.

And what about Thomson. His body is made of the Thomson Recording Wattmeter from the early 1900's, with Baby Brownie camera eyes and a voltmeter mouth, legs of retired fire hose nozzles and freezer door handles arms, he is definitely a work of art.

And in case you forgot, Ninja's and Robots are still friends.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Makes Men Happy

It's not what you would expect. Or is it? Research shows that fathers are happier when they are involved in more housework and less stressed the more involved they are in their children's lives. Employers are still catching up to making work more reasonable for women, if they want truly happy employees, they will have to extend the benefits to men.

I hope this research will encourage more employers to offer flex-time and other family friendly perks.

Do you agree with these findings? Disagree?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Skeleton Bones

Last month, David and I visited Door of Hope, a church in SE Portland off of Hawthorne. We had a few friends that went there, and we wanted to see what they were a part of. It was beautiful. Hundreds of youth (and many not the typical church going type) with hands lifted high worshipping Jesus. It was exciting to see what the Lord is doing in the lives of many who have struggled with figuring out what Jesus is truly about vs. how Christian culture has been thus defined. The message was solid and the music...definitely made me feel like I was around a campfire by the beach singing with friends. It was wonderful.

We heard this song, and couldn't get it out of our head since:

John Mark McMillan - Skeleton Bones from john mark mcmillan on Vimeo.

Peel back our ribs again
and stand inside of our chest.
We just wanna' love you
We just wanna' love you

Peel back the veil of time
And let us see You with our naked eyes
We just wanna' love you
We just wanna' love you

We want your blood to flow inside our body
We want your wind inside our lungs
We just wanna' love you
We just wanna' love you

Skeleton bones stand at the sound of eternity
On the lips of the found
And gravestones roll
To the rhythm of the sound of you
Skeleton bones stand at the sound of eternity
On the lips of the found
So separate those doors
And let the son of resurrection in.

Oh let us adore the
Son of Glory drenched in love
Open up your gates before him
Crown Him, stand Him up

I am currently enjoying more of John Mark McMillan's great folk rock songs with thoughtful lyrics on Myspace Music. Don't miss, Death in His Grave , a great song and video.

Also, the pastor of Door to Hope, Josh White is coming out with an album that you can currently listen to on Grooveshark.

P.S. Do you recognize Josh White's voice? He was the lead singer of the band Telecast.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Importance of Children's Ministry

This video puts it perfectly:

If you are a youth leader or parent, I hope you find this video encouraging and inspiring. Working with children is challenging and beautiful. Though we have much responsibility to teach, we should never stop learning from them.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."
(Matthew 18:2-6 ESV)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Scrapbook Giveaway

If you are into scrapbooking, you will be interested in this giveaway. from Sweet Peach Crop Shop featured on Simply Me. Scroll to the bottom of the linked blogpost for instructions on how to enter. Deadline is Friday morning. Sweet Peach Crop Shop features monthly scrapbook kits delivered right to your door. How's that for keeping you inspired and motivated to finish those projects?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Free Owl Calendar

Owl Lover 2011 Calendar

For all the owl lovers out there, how about a free owl calendar? Click on the owl for the site where you can customize the calendar with your favorite owl images, then download and print! Make it even more fun by printing on textured paper and binding it yourself using thread, rafia, or what have you. If you aren't an owl lover but know someone who is, this would make a great gift!

Thanks paper n stitch for this one!

On the Brink: Cursive

The last time I had to write in cursive per teachers request was in 8th grade, when my social studies teacher made us write a complete essay in those graceful loops and letters. I remember groaning at this assignment along with many of my peers.

Since then, I thought I escaped the writers cramp of writing an essay by hand in perfectly flowing letters, until I was applying for a job in the Sherwood school district and they required applicants to write a paragraph in cursive explaining why they want the job. After not writing in such a fashion for over six years, I gave my pathetic attempt. My writing looked awful!

But apparently I am not alone, writes the Oregonian. Cursive is on the brink of extinction. It is an endangered form of writing that is reserved for calligraphy specialists and crafty people. Handwriting as a whole is being replaced with typing and texting.

I'm not complaining with this shift. Typing is much easier on my fingers, and is much more legible.

But of course, there is a cost. Because I mainly type, my handwriting is horrible. And I'm not alone. Only 15% of handwritten SAT essays in 2006 were written in cursive. The rest printed. As you can guess, I was among the masses who printed.

Officials are concerned:

"What most concerns.. is the loss of the aesthetic qualities of handwriting with its descent into cold print. Cursive writing in its flourishes and graceful strokes expresses an artistic beauty that goes beyond its utility and gives artistic experience to those who use it, he says. Students today "are not doing this kind of craftsmanship activity that they used to do on a daily basis."

Apparently we are losing something when we aren't writing in cursive. But technology is give and take. You gain some, you lose some.

What do you think - how much of a problem do you think it is that not many people are writing in cursive? Should we try to preserve cursive? Do you write in cursive? Why or why not?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Groupon, Living Social, Mamapedia and now...Walmart?

Face it. We all love good deals and most of us have given in to at least some form of group buying at some point this past year. I love it because:

1) I'm a sucker for deals.
2) Sometimes these deals are actually useful.

For example, we bought a Groupon for a free kayaking lesson from Next Adventure. This deal was amazing in itself, the experience was phenomenal AND at the end of the lesson, we scored some more coupons for Next Adventure as well as a free t-shirt. Thanks to this series of events, I scored an amazing pair of new Tubbs Frontier snowshoes for 80 bucks!

So these group buying sites have their benefits. Like for example, Mamapedia, which features a daily deal and donates 5% of the purchase to a school of your choice. How noble.

But their awesomeness and power over what we buy is kind of scary. Group buying is brilliant and frightening at the same time. I still wrestle with how I feel about participating in them. Are they dictating what I buy? Am I in control or is Groupon influencing me? What boundaries do we set for ourselves with these things? Do I simply need to accept that this is a freakishly effective marketing strategy that I enjoy being a target of?

And then today I find that Walmart is joining in on the scheme. Apparently they too have their own version of group buying. This article raises some interesting points about Walmart, but I think the questions are also applicable to all the social media coupon sites.

As consumers who are so used to having many choices, why are we absolutely enjoying the concept of being told what deals exist and on some subconscious level being told where to go and what to do based on the weakness we all have for incredible deals?

I feel like pleading ignorance. I don't want to think of the implications of this marketing strategy and just relish in good deals, but at the same time...I can't ignore it. Tangled neurons!

Your thoughts?

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