Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Replacing dishes, One Plate at a Time - Chicken Enchiladas

Tonight I was the dish queen; and I wish I had a tiara or a crown, as I've been dish queen so many times as an adult I couldn't even begin to count. We lost another plate today, though, and it reminded me of how little I've been cooking and how much I miss it. I am reminded of how much more I enjoy the cooking side of a meal than the cleanup, and I would gladly pass the tiara to a lass in my footsteps... volunteers greatly appreciated!

Seeing as fall is on its way in a hurry, I am planning my fall cooking routine... I am going to cook a hearty, home cooked meal each week. Maybe even two. First up, chicken enchiladas. I have a delicious recipe from my friend Colleen, whom I haven't spent time with in eternity, but with whom I used to make large batches of cookies and brownies and enchiladas right in her amazing kitchen. Memories will live on as I bake!!

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas (ala Colleen Schweitzer)
1 7oz can diced green chilis
2 whole chicken breasts, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
16oz sour cream
1 cup grated cheese
1 pkg fajita size tortillas

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large frying pan saute the onion; add chicken and cook thoroughly. Add soup, sour cream, and chilis and cook through. Fill tortillas and place in a greased baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and cheese,  cover with foil, and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350.


Sunday, August 28, 2011


So, we have jumped headlong into our small spaces transition ...  You know how this goes, right?

In case you've forgotten it goes a little something like:

"I'm thinking we will have to arrange things this way..." And we agree... mostly...

And then "Oh, while I'm at the salon, can you do that for us?" (note that this was really a joke, but...)

Upon arriving home from the salon, I found two rooms of my house in the backyard or generally piled in the living room. So.. We have actually gotten a whole room, done, my bedroom! All things that don't belong are not going in, and its a lot freer feeling, although just a touch smaller. Without a closet or a window that opens at all. Time to accentuate the good things!

* we can fit a queen size bed!
* I have a chair in there for reading now, and an eight foot long bookcase to fill with treasures.
* It is the coolest room in the house, even without a window (thank you concrete flooring!)
* While there is no window, you actually access the laundry and the backyard through my room, so I can just open the doors!
* It is located far away from the television so the family can stay up watching movies and I can go to sleep -- no more bass reverberations! Also, since it is in the garage, I won't feel the movement of the dogs or kids as they walk through the house! Double bonus!
* I will have continued access to my former closet, in what will be the office / homework room. Never fear, I will still have my not so ironed clothing at my fingertips!

And lastly, this move will force me to ditch stuff I don't need and keep what I do need in a more creative way!

Next stop, the office. That might take a while!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

small spaces - lesson one

The journey from renter to home owner has not always been sweet. Living against the typical American grain will likely prove to be a challenge for me as long as I live...

Our most recent rental (prior to purchasing this home in 2005) was what I considered at the time, my dream home. It had three bedrooms, a very wonderful open kitchen & dining area, and a predefined landscape that took no thought at all. At the time, our girls shared a room, we had our lovely Joy in another, and I was able to fit my glorious king size bed and a couple pieces of furniture into mine. Bliss. Even with one bathroom, it was a perfect fit for us.

We had all sorts of visitors, as it was a city house, and it was perfect.

Through a series of interesting twists, God placed us here. He didn't leave us here, but I know that He had many lessons in store for me, and perhaps, all of us.

Here... We live on a couple acres in a very, very small house. We do have a large blue "shop", which is completely full of other peoples treasures, and we have our lovely Joy with us again, this time in an apartment tucked into another shop. Joy brought her husband and kids along for the ride, and it has been a blessing to have them all here...

Here... located outside of town, beyond sidewalks, up a hill and on a virtual highway which impedes cycling, here...

The first thing I noticed was the isolation. Strange, to think that a mere handful of miles out of town would be so incredibly isolating, but it is, for a city girl like me.

After a couple years and a full time job, the most common thing I struggle with is space:

Where to put the family that lives in the house?
Where to put the stuff that lives with the family in the house?
Where to keep the dogs that have their stuff and live with the family in the house?

I'm constantly intrigued by our culture and the idea to just get a storage unit or just buy a bigger house. Images from India will forever live in my mind, of a two room apartment with a tiny freestanding kitchen - no cabinets at all - and a shared bathroom down the hall. I'm pretty sure there were no Store-All locations nearby. And quite frankly, the opportunity to get a larger apartment only presented itself upon getting a new job. Not something that most of us see as a promising prospect.

Our house can't grow and we can't move. Making the most of this space has taken some creativity, and occasionally, some raw honesty. Our dining room table, for example, took over our entire dining space. There was always space at our table for guests, and there was plenty of room there for homework and mealtime. Guests, however, are few and far between... and as the years wore on, I noticed that homework stayed on as piles rather than moving back to school. So this summer I made a radical transition and replaced our dining room table with what could be called a dinette. There is cozy seating for the five of us, when you pull up the chair from the desk. The space, however, has been transformed. Its perfect. For this space...

Looking out at my 2.5 bedroom house with a single bathroom... I know we can make the best of this space and with the potential challenge of adding to the mix, I'm thinking creative. This will require a serious purging, but I feel up for it. First room, my bedroom. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Seasons

Summer took an incredibly long time to arrive this year - and as a result, each morning we have a summer/fall mashup. It FEELS like fall at 6:30 in the morning -- Except for the swirling currents of warm air that indicate another hot day.

I've just about completed my first gig at Linfield college, and I'm really enjoying everything. Okay, except the fact that to find employment they say I need a Masters degree. bosh. Exploring cultural and societal adaptations is very cool, learning more about the history of our region was beneficial, and I can't wait for another course!

I think the concept that will last with me forever is the juxtaposition between hinterland and trendsetter found in the Pacific Northwest - especially in the 21st century.

So - how else is this a new season?
I'm exploring couponing as a way to save a bit more money and use our limited cash appropriately. Thanks to www.frugallivingnw.com for the helpful instructions (and my dear friend Rachel who pointed me there!)

I'm ditching the smartphone and going back to basic. I can't cut our contracts with Verizon, so I did the next cheapest thing, and I'm excited to go back to "normal." The one and probably only thing I will miss? The ability to stream Pandora as I drive on trips! But I'll save $35 a month on the phone bill... Worth it!

I've fallen head over heals in love with the Simple Mom network of websites. Today, for example, the most yummy recipe for fall breakfasts is to be found on simplebites.net

I'm using Google Reader to keep up with my blogs

I've subscribed to Relevant and Neue magazines - and really should subscribe to Real Simple but instead I'm going to try VERY HARD to check it out at the library. Glossy images of yummy food, you slay me!

I've come to love my kindle for all kinds of specialty reads - like the book I had to review for my PNW class.

I've got a lovely daughter landing in High School. I'm so incredibly proud of her - and she seems to want to survive her teen years. The middle is off to junior high, and periodically I see a maturing version pop out of her - and the youngest, ah, she cannot wait for school - as living in the country brings her as much frustration as it does me. Poor girl, I wish I could place a sidewalk for you. This will bring you good things, at some point in your life you will be thankful!

It brings me great joy to have daughters who live a common life - a life that allows them to be children, to get to know Christ and see faith in action, to have great friends in and out of the church, to be exposed to reality but not completely immersed in pain...  They have spent the summer learning various household management skills - with limited success as mom is off to work each morning - but it has been good for us all.

Books and things -- The Collector and The Good Rain - both books for class but I'm glad I bought them!

Deep Church & A Kingdom Called Desire -- I'm going to read these books over my summer break from classes

I found an interesting book from the 70's titled the anti-american generation, and I'm reading it too - mostly in little bits, but it has some fascinating insights that I see even today as I talk to people and meet them. Surprise, there isn't anything new under the sun...

Adele, The Airborne Toxic Event, and Mumford and Sons,music to my ears. Don't forget David Crowder, Reliant K, Rootdown, and Switchfoot :)

Diet Dr Pepper with a slight touch of vanilla vodka. Put your feet up and listen to the relaxing sounds of a pool filter and a splashing 11 year old. ahh.

Last -- but never least -- cookbooks. Added to my collection this summer, The Clinton St Baking Company cookbook and Ruhlmans Twenty. I believe they will both end up as staples in my house, just like the Family Baker has.

Facebook has not come back, and I no longer miss it at all. My thoughts are turning toward Pinterist however, and so I'm just staying away!

have a marvelous summer!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer is here!

Believe it or not, on August 1, 2011, summer arrived in the Pacific Northwest. It has been all gorgeous from then... Oh, yes, it is only the 4th. We take what we can get!

This weekend our family is heading out for a much needed camping trip. By a river. In the woods. Very close to the wilderness... perhaps I'll get some writing in this weekend... it has been too long.

Welcome, summer!