Monday, February 27, 2012

Wonderful Words - Yes

Isn't YES one of the most beautiful words in the English language? YES, I'll marry you. YES, I'll help you. YES, I'll pray for you. YES, you have my permission to do it.


It's only three letters long, but so powerful. YES.

Three times we had the privilege of saying YES to a child who needed us. YES. It changed our lives. It changed their lives. Never have we regretted saying YES to any of our children.

I love the sentiments expressed by these children. Children who had no hope - until someone said YES.

What question have you answered with a YES? How has that one YES changed your life?

Link up here and let us all know how YES has changed your life.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another "G" for a2z

Wow, imagine that! I have another a2z post - two in the same week. All this because last night, we had GAME NIGHT!!

Did we ever have fun. Our hostess was fabulous - chips and crackers and dip and a big pot of chili. I brought chocolate cherry cobbler. GOOD EATING.

We had so much fun chatting that we almost forgot to play GAMES (ha.ha.) Doug & I taught them telephone pictionary. Basically, each player has a stack of paper squares, one for each person playing. On the first paper, you write a sentence. The more nonsensical the better. You then pass your paper stack to the next player (all players are doing this at the same time). They draw a picture about your sentence. Put the first sentence at the bottom of the stack and pass to the next player. They write a sentence describing your picture. And so on and so forth. When you get your original stack back, you read the sentences and show the corresponding pictures. HILARIOUS! We laughed until my throat hurt. Oh. My. What a fun GAME.

Brian's friend, one he's grown up with from the very start, was there and they made a Starbucks and candy run. Alyssa had two friends there, so we all had fun. Jonalyn drew her own pictures :)

GAME NIGHT was a huge success. We're definitely going to have another one soon! The best thing - it didn't cost much at all to get together with our friends and have a barrel of fun. (Sorry, I forgot my camera :(

Do you have something you do with your friends on a regular basis? Or how about starting a GAME NIGHT tradition of your own?

Here's the link to Patty's blog if you haven't made it there yet this week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

a2z - letter G

Wow, we're up to G already! Hard to believe.

This week G is for...Good Eating!

There was such good eating around here this past week that I put back on a couple of the pounds I worked so hard to take off. First, it was Valentine's Day and a pan of lasagna. If you've been around here much at all, you know we like our traditions in our house and I make lasagna once a year, on Valentine's Day, because I'm lactose intolerant and really shouldn't eat it. But it was Good Eating! No picture, sorry.

Then on Wednesday, Brian's 17th birthday (yes, I was 12 when we adopted him LOL!), we had our egg rolls and won ton soup. (Click on the links if you want the recipe.) I did take pictures of them. And yes, they tasted as good as they look!

Brian has never been a sweet eater. Hard to bribe him to finish his dinner when he was little. He does like cookies and cream ice cream and then I found this boxed, no-cook dessert in cookies and cream. That was his cake. (His ipod had just fallen into his soup at this point, so he wasn't in a smiling mood. Good news is that it dried out and is working just fine now. Lesson learned.)

One of my children must have gotten a hold of the camera and took a close-up shot of the "cake". Good Eating!

My mom made him a real cake on Sunday, but I don't think he ate any of it. She made chocolate, knowing us girls would eat most of it. Good Eating. And another reason I gained some weight!

Oh, and then Brian made 2 pans of brownies to take to school, but only managed to give away one pan. He left the brownies alone with me when he went to a sleep-over. Good Eating. Enough said.

What Good Eating is going on in your house?

Visit Patty's blog to read more "G" posts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wonderful Words - Pinterest

O.K., maybe that's cheating because Pinterest isn't found in the dictionary...yet. But I discovered it today (hence, the lateness of this post!) and it's rather fun. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the cure to my disorganization. Probably not, but hope springs eternal. If you look at my Pinterest stuff, you'll see lots of recipes. Can you tell what I like to do? I hope to get more writing pins and more craft ideas up there soon.

What is Pinterest? Well, I'm just learning it myself, but it's like a giant, online bulletin board. And you can peek at other people's bulletin boards, too. That's about it. I've already found some very delicious sounding recipes, which is great because I was feeling in a rut about mealtimes.

If you scroll down the side a little ways, you'll see the button to follow me on Pinterest. I'd love to have you join me - and I'll return the favor.

So, what are you all pinning to Pinterest? If you write a post about it, please link back to this post and use Mr. Linky so we can all see what you're pinning!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vietnamese Won Ton Soup

Hope you enjoyed your egg rolls ;) Here is the recipe for Vietnamese Won Ton Soup. This can also be time consuming, so enlist your family to help. After some practice, it does go much faster.

1 package won ton wrappers
1/2 pound ground turkey, chicken or pork
3 scallions, finely chopped (reserve the green tops of the scallions, cutting them into 1/4 inch pieces)
dash pepper
several dashes fish sauce
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large can or box chicken broth
1 egg, beaten

Set large pot of water on stove to boil. Mix ground meat, scallions, pepper and fish sauce. Lay out several won ton at a time. Set about 1 teaspoon of meat in center of wrapper. Be careful not to overfill or they won't stay shut. Brush 2 sides of the wrapper with egg. Take one corner and fold over to the opposite corner, forming a triangle. Pinch firmly all around to seal. Repeat with remaining egg roll wrappers.

Drop in boiling water and boil until they float and wrapper looks cooked. You will have to do this in batches. I set the finished won ton on a plate next to the stove. In the mean time, pour broth into a pot, add sliced carrots and bring to a boil to cook the carrots. Just before serving, sprinkle in reserved scallion tops.

Put boiled won ton into bowls (I usually put 3 or 4 in a bowl). Pour chicken broth over won ton. Be sure to get some carrots & scallions in there.

I think the Vietnamese woman who showed us this recipe modified it to our American taste & to make it easier to make. Many of the recipes I saw online also have rice noodles in the soup as well as things like bok choy and mushrooms. I'm sure you could add those if you wish. Our family loves this just the way it is! The picture is the closest one I could find to our dish.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vietnamese Egg Rolls

When Brian was small, we belonged to a group of families who had adopted from Vietnam. One of them knew a Vietnamese woman and invited her to be part of our group. This woman taught us how to make Vietnamese egg rolls and won ton soup. Every birthday, this is what Brian requests. So, in honor of his #17, I'm sharing these recipes with you. Today: egg rolls. Please forgive me if this recipe is not precise. She only showed us, never wrote it down, and I've only ever made it from memory.

1 package egg roll wrappers
1 pound ground turkey (use can also use ground chicken and probably ground pork)
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely grated
1 teaspoon sugar
dash of pepper
couple of dashes of fish sauce
handful of rice noodles, soaked in hot water until soft (takes about 15 minutes or so)
1 egg, beaten
oil for frying

Mix together ground turkey, scallions, carrot, sugar, pepper and fish sauce. I lay out a few egg roll wrappers at a time. Across the middle, lay a few rice noodles. On top of that put a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture so that it resembles a hot dog. Don't go all the way to the ends. Brush all the edges with egg. Be generous. Fold over the edges perpendicular to the meat mixture. Brush both ends with egg. Fold over one end parallel to the meat and roll. Press firmly to seal. Repeat with the other wrappers. If you get helpers in the kitchen, this goes quite fast!

Fry in the oil until golden brown. You can either deep fry or fry in a skillet, turning them once. Drain on paper towel and serve hot with nuoc mam. You can find a recipe for that here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a2z - letter F

This took some doing to come up with an F. For some reason, it's been very hard. Anyway, a light dawned. Or flickered. The letter F is for...
FABULOUS Valentine's gift.

Seventeen years ago today, I received my most FABULOUS Valentine's gift ever, and I didn't even know it. My husband and I had a normal day - he worked and I stayed at home. I must have babysat, but I can't remember. We had dinner (can't remember what we had) and then we put some soft music on the stereo and sat and relaxed together. I remember that I didn't feel well - I think I was coming down with a cold.

Unbeknownst to us, in Vietnam, a woman was giving us the most FABULOUS Valentine gift ever - our son. There it was the 15th, so that's his birthday, but here it was still the 14th.

My thoughts turn often to her at this time of the year. She weighed heavily on my heart yesterday and I spent much time praying for her. She is one of the three women in the world I admire most.

Six weeks later, we learned about our FABULOUS Valentine's gift and laughed to know that he was FOUND as we were celebrating a day of love.

It was a FANTASTIC journey to meet him. He was a FABULOUS baby, a FABULOUS child and is now a FABULOUS young man.

What was your most FABULOUS Valentine's gift?

To read more a2z posts, please visit Patty's blog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wonderful Words - Effervescent

This week's wonderful word is...

Isn't it fun to say??

Here's what I think of when I hear the word.

Um, yes, I'm old enough to remember that commercial. The dictionary actually defines effervesce as: to bubble, hiss or foam as gas escapes or to show liveliness or exhilaration.

O.K., I'm not going to blog about the first definition. That might get me into a little trouble LOL! I'll be using the second meaning of the word.

Days can be effervescent. There are days when the sun is shining, the air is warm, you're surrounded by friends and family, you've had a chance to play and have fun. That's an effervescent day.

Homes can be effervescent. The kids play and laugh and roam free, things might be a little chaotic, but the parents don't mind. There are always activities going on at that house and friends visiting. You know you're in for a great time when you're invited.

People can be effervescent. There is a woman at church who exudes effervescence. She bounces from one place to another, from one person to another, positive, encouraging. I would call her effervescent. Jonalyn is effervescent. She is busy, busy, busy. Whatever you're doing, she wants to be a part of it. She bounces and dances and sings.

Effervescent people are fun to be around. Who do you know who's effervescent? What do you think of when you hear the word effervescent? Please post on your blog and let us know!! Come back here and link up so we can all join you!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

12 in '12 - February Update

Here we are at the 12th of February already. How am I doing on my list of 12 fun things I wanted to do this year?
1. I want to do something on top of my hutch in the dinette. It looks so bare after I took down the Christmas decorations. Nothing done on this. I have no ideas.
2. Start regular soup or salad and game nights with our friends. In general, I'd like to do more entertaining. We have our first game night set for February 24th. I can't wait!!
3. Try one new food I have never tried before. Last year it was fresh tuna. The year before some Puerto Rican dish (both VERY yummy!!). Wonder what it will be this year. In general, I don't like to try new food. No new foods yet. My meals have been rather boring lately. I have to perk them up.
4. Get my bedroom painted. And try an accent wall in there. This is not going well. I haven't started on my bedroom, yet, but I will!
5. Sit one night on each of my front porches. Just sit. That's it. It's February. Do you really think this has happened yet??
6. Go snowshoeing. I don't think this is going to happen this winter. I did hike in the woods when we were at the cabin a couple of weekends ago. I could have brought my snowshoes, but I wasn't sure if there would be enough snow. We got 3" yesterday, but that's not enough, especially with the way it blew around. There are bare patches.
7. Go to a local lake with a friend and her kids. See my answer to #5.
8. Skype with a dear friend. Nope. Haven't done that.
9. Go to the flea market near our house up north. See #5 and #7.
10. Get our scrapbook group up and going again. I thought I could scrap on my own. Who was I kidding? I sent out the email a little while ago. We start scrapping again on the 27th!!
11. Call my aunt as part of my research for my WWII series. I've been busy with my prairie romance proposal and now another one I'm researching. But I'm getting to it. Soon.
12. Read a novel not in my genre. That's stepping out for me. Maybe I'll try a cozy mystery. I'm too skittish about suspense. Not yet. All I'm reading right now are research books.

So, I'm getting there. I have two things done. If you count my hike in the woods as snowshoeing (come on, it's not my fault!), I have three. I'm on pace to finish this list by the end of the year.

Doug started his own list. He only has two things on it: make prime rib at home (if you can help me with this, I'd appreciate it), and go kayaking w
Linkith his friend from work. We'll have to see how he does with his list!

How are you doing on your list?

Check out Patty's blog to see how others are coming along.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

You Know You Have a Teenager When...

1. They take longer in the shower than you do.

2. Music blares from your car stereo when you turn the ignition in the morning.

3. Clothes, back packs, socks, books, and general stuff are scattered all over the house.

4. Your grocery bill is quadruple what it used to be a few years ago. And that's adjusted for inflation.

5. You can have real, meaningful, thoughtful conversations with your kids.

6. You know you can find your car keys in your kids' room.

7. They complain of pain in their thumbs from all the texting.

8. Eye rolling becomes an Olympic sport in your home.

9. College brochures start showing up in your mailbox.

10. You have to peer up to look them in the eye.

11. Their math looks more like alphabet soup than numbers.

12. They begin working on projects alongside you - and I don't mean gluing macaroni on cardboard.

13. You see the Lord working in their hearts and are proud of them as men and women.

14. You realize this might be the last family vacation you take with all the kids, or the last Christmas with all of them, or the last family picture you will take.

15. You realize you should have treasured your memories of them as young children more and resolve to enjoy these days to the fullest.

Love to my teen and my pretty-much-a-teen :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

a2z - letter E

This week we're up to the letter E and...

My husband has tightened our belts around here. We have one in braces and a new driver. Extra expenses.
I've economized by changing my grocery shopping habits. I had one favorite grocery store I went to. I got everything there, including health & beauty products.

Now I go to three stores. I start on Tuesday afternoon at the super cheap store. You have to put a deposit of 25 cents on your cart. I resisted. I didn't like the store at first, but I have to admit, I like it now. Each week I'm finding more and more.

Wednesday morning I go to cheap store. It's the only time of the week I'll step foot in this store. I hate it. Early in the morning isn't too bad, so I get out of there as quickly as possible.

Wednesday afternoon I go to my beloved store and buy what they have on special and use my coupons here because they double them.

That's my idea of economizing. Here is my children's:

How do you like the 16" take & bake pizza?
It's fine.
I got it for $5.99 at super cheap store.
I really don't like it at all. It's way too spicy.


Here are some burritos I got for 25 cents at super cheap store.
Yuck. These are terrible.


How's that mac & cheese?
It's awful. I like what you get at cheap store better. (At least this child has some idea of economizing.)

Of course, what used to take me about 1 hr. 15 minutes now takes me 2 1/2 hours over 2 days. Oh, and I bring my own bags so I save 5 cents for each bag I bring. Now we're talking big economizing!!

How I economize on clothes? Buy a sweater and a shirt on clearance. Total: $16. Use my $10 off coupon for spending so much on my credit card over Christmas. New total: $6. Use the gift card I got for my birthday: Free to me. And plenty left over on that card for a summer shirt & maybe shorts :)

Sigh. The sacrifices we all have to make.

How do you economize?

To see more a2z posts, visit Patty's blog.

And don't forget to post your Wonderful Words!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wonderful Words - Inconceivable

This week's Wonderful Word is...
My definition: something you can't even dream up

I love, love, love the movie The Princess Bride and have watched it numerous times. The character Vizzini uses the word INCONCEIVABLE over and over again. It's very, very funny in context, but here's a montage of him saying, "INCONCEIVABLE".

You have to love his lisp!

Well, we had an INCONCEIVABLE occurrence this weekend. Remember, Saturday was February 4th. In Wisconsin. I'll say that again. February 4th in Wisconsin. This is how it usually looks.

This past Saturday was INCONCEIVABLE for Wisconsin in early February. We have never, never, never done this on the 4th before. Notice that the hubs has no coat on!!!

We could never do this:
Or this:

Even if it would happen to get warm, there would be snow and it would be yucky. Saturday was gorgeous - blue skies, no wind, warm temperatures. I even walked the dog and worked up a sweat.

INCONCEIVABLE! she said with a lisp :)

What other inconceivable things have happened to you or have you done? Please link up below. You can find the details of how Wonderful Words works here. And don't feel you have to do it Monday - Wonderful Words is open all week!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Amazing Connection

Dzjohen, thank you for your comment on my post about the events of April 11, 1945. I'd love to hear more from you because we are related! Your great-grandmother Hiltje was my grandmother's sister (I think that's right!). I know Johan was my father's first cousin. That visit to the Netherlands in the late 70's was so special. My father talked about visiting Johan and Klaske for years afterward.
liztolsma (at) gmail (dot) com

Things Writers Do Instead of Writing

1. They blog. It's much more fun.

2. They clean their offices. Must have a neat workspace before they can settle down.

3. They get coffee. After all, they need to stay fresh and alert.

4. They read a novel. It's research, you know.

5. They watch videos on YouTube. They might just get some inspiration.

6. Looking around the office, they think how nice it would be to remodel it. Maybe the kitchen, too. And the bathrooms. Must go online for ideas.

7. They trim the dog's nails. That insistent clacking on the hardwood floors drives them crazy. Can't concentrate.

8. They stretch and do some jumping jacks. If they can get the blood flowing to their heads, perhaps they'll get a brilliant idea.

9. They email their critique partners. If they aren't writing, there is need to feel guilty about not writing.

10. They paint their nails. Must look beautiful when "The Call" comes from their agent.

11. They hunt the house for hidden chocolate. Somewhere there has to be a stash. Chocolate makes such a great reward for writing. Now, where could it be?

12. They write motivational notes and stick them all over the computer. You know, like, "One word at a time", and, "Get moving", and "You'll never finish if you don't start". Even Bible verses like Acts 20:24. "My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me."

What do you do when procrastinating?