Thursday, August 30, 2012

Feeling Thankful Today

I haven’t written much about this because at first I didn’t think it was my story. It happened while I was in Italy, so I wasn’t really that involved.

But the more I think about it, and the more I talk to people about it, the more I see that it IS part of my story, so I’m going to write about it.

And also, Hurricane Isaac is making me think about storms.

On July 1, our town was hit suddenly by a severe thunderstorm. Those happen here—we’re used to them—but this storm was unusual from what I understand. The suddenness and the severity were intense, catching everyone by surprise. They called it a “land hurricane,” whatever that is.

I won’t go into the details because the details aren’t part of my story (I was halfway around the world, remember?), but you have to know that the storm hit just after noon on a Sunday. My husband and daughter, who drove separate cars, were just coming home from church.

What happened next IS part of my story.

This is my husband’s car.

 The car where he was trapped for 20 minutes until my daughter (who, thankfully, was in the basement of our house) found him.

When I got word in Italy about what happened (via Facebook, I might add!) I kind of shrugged and told someone, “Gee, there was a really bad storm at home. My husband was trapped in his car for 20 minutes under a tree.”

The Italian guy looked at me and said, “You are so calm. How can you be so calm about this? Do you have storms often?”

I explained that the Midwest is known for having thunderstorms and tornadoes. It’s just something we live with.

I hadn’t seen the pictures yet.

 The next day when B posted pictures on Facebook, I realized, fully, what had happened.

My husband, my rock, my friend, the love of my life, could have been killed.


I have laughed about it since then, now that I can laugh about it, now that he’s here and he’s fine. But when I really sit in silence and think about what could have happened, how I could right now be trying to pick up the pieces of my life after a tragic accident, I realize that I have much to be thankful for.

And that’s why I’m writing today.

I’m thankful that my husband wasn’t hurt worse. Aside from some scrapes and bruises and a few shards of glass in his arm, he was not hurt.

Thank you, Lord.

I’m thankful that my daughter, who was driving a tiny car that day, was not the one to be trapped under the tree because the outcome for her could have been much different.

Thank you, Lord.

I’m thankful, selfishly, that B wasn’t driving my car that day because his car was a company car, and his company handled all the details of towing the car away, paying for a rental, and getting him a new car. Such an amazing blessing that I do NOT take for granted.

Thank you, Lord.

Mostly today, I am thankful for the husband that God has given me and that He has given us even a few more days together. I don’t know what will happen in the future, I certainly know that accidents happen, but I know we have today and for that I am thankful.

Now tell me, what are YOU thankful for today?


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Letters to My Daughters - Pressure

Dear Daughters,

It was my senior year of college. I was engaged to your dad, planning a wedding, looking for a job and a place to live, oh, and trying to finish up classes.

About a month or so before graduation I was having a bad day, so I called home. My dad answered the phone, and before I knew it, I was crying.

Blubbering is more like it.

“Dad, I don’t know where we’re going to live—we can’t find an apartment. And a job? I don’t even know what I want to DO with my life. B and I just had a huge fight, AND I HAVE AN EXAM IN AN HOUR AND I HAVEN’T EVEN STUDIED!!”

I still wonder how my dad must have reacted on the other end of the phone. He must have truly wondered if I had lost my mind, sniffling and snuffling and bellowing out my problems in the most unrefined of ways.

Yes, I remember college. I remember some really fun times. I remember the great friends that I made. I remember awesome professors.

I also remember the pressure.

 Girls, all three of you are in different stages, but you will all experience intense pressure at one time or another, even this year. Academic pressure. Financial pressure. Peer pressure.

How will you handle it?

I recently read the most amazing story in II Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat of Judah was under intense pressure—three armies from surrounding countries had declared war on him at once. It’s kind of long (you should really go read the whole thing for yourselves), but bear with me—it’s important.

1. He knew where his strength came from.

As soon as he heard that not one, not two, but THREE armies had declared war on him, the Bible says, “Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting.” (v. 3)

Jehoshaphat took the threat seriously, but he also took the Lord seriously, and he responded appropriately. Yes, he was terrified. There’s no doubting that what lay before him was a seemingly insurmountable problem. But rather than sit and cry or run away, he begged the Lord for guidance. And because the threat was especially serious, he fasted and asked everyone around him to fast as well.

When pressure comes, run to the Lord.

2. He prayed.

Jehoshaphat obviously knew the Lord well because his prayer reflects what his heart knew: “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!” (v. 6) 

He must have known himself pretty well too, because his prayer goes on to say, “We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help” (v. 12).

When pressure comes, pour out your heart to God.

3. He trusted.

After Jehoshaphat prayed, he listened to the words of the prophet Jahaziel who told him these important words: “Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v. 15). Jahaziel also told the people of Judah, “But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. . . . Believe in the Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm” (v. 17 & 20).

Really? Just stand firm? With three armies coming after you?

What happens next is truly amazing. The three armies that had come to invade Judah all turned on each other and began fighting among themselves! Pretty soon they had killed each other, and Judah just stood there watching. Crazy, huh?

When pressure comes, trust God’s word.

4. The result of trusting in God.

So this insane stuff happens. The armies all run around killing each other while Judah stands and watches it happen. And then, after all the armies are dead, Judah rushes down to the battlefield to claim the spoils. But the best result comes in verse 30: “So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.”

The result of trusting in God?

Peace. And rest.

In His faithfulness and goodness, God had delivered His people and had given them peace.

There’s nothing better.

Girls, you will experience pressure in this life. Sometimes the pressure will be more intense than others. But how you handle the pressure reveals a lot about your character.

Will you run to the Lord? Will you pour your heart out to Him? Will you trust His word?

If you do, I guarantee you will ultimately rest in His peace.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Good Reads

A few of my favorite posts as of late.

Why people think Christians are fake :: Stuff Christians Like. Yes. This.

Church and the College Years :: The Gospel Coalition blog. Our friend and the college pastor of our church, Jon Nielson, writes about the importance of being involved in a local church while in college. If you have a college student or know someone who does, send this one on to them.

The Talk :: Momastery. If you've got kids going to school, this is one important talk to have with them. No, it's not "the" talk, but it's just as important.

Fleeing to Paris :: A Deeper Story. Beautifully written story of growing toward grace.

10 Things You've Got to Know About Fear :: (in)Courage. Ann Voskamp. What can I say?

Are You a Mother First? Hmmmm :: Off the Beaten Path. Kay brings such great perspective and wisdom to every post she writes, and this one is no exception. Is mothering our first and foremost job? This post will make you think.

The Truth About Pain in Childbearing :: The Gospel Coalition blog. And then there's this one that literally brought tears to my eyes. The pain of childbearing is hitting me pretty hard right now.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Top 10 Words of Warning Advice I may or may not tell my students on the first day of class

 School starts for me next week, and believe it or not, I’m strangely excited about it. I have always, always, even when I was in middle school, loved the first day of school. What happens after the first day may be another story, but there has always been something magical about the first day for me.

That’s probably why I’m a teacher today. It's all about the first day.

So as I’ve been working on my syllabus for this semester, working through new textbooks and thinking about my past classes, I thought of some things my students might want to know ahead of time. These pieces of advice come from 21 years of teaching experience. Boy, could I tell stories!

Oh, I guess I have.

Now, understand, I hope and pray that none of my students EVER find my blog (ha!), but just in case you know a college student who would benefit from these words of advice, feel free to share.

1. I am not your mother. I do not want to know that you stayed up until 3:30 in the morning and couldn’t get out of bed for class. I will not call you to make sure you get up. I will not text you to see where you were. Just come to class. On time.

2. I like paper. Call me a murderer of trees, but I like to read your paper on, well, paper. I like to scribble and make squiggly lines on your paper. I like to write long notes at the end of your work—I think this is one of the best ways you learn how to get better at your craft. I don’t want you to send me your paper via email (although lots of great professors do), and I certainly don’t want you to hand me a disk that I’ll have to put in my own computer and which could possibly give my computer a virus of some sort. Nope. Just gimme the paper.

3. Your phone is not invited to class. If something is more important than my class, go handle it outside of class. Take an absence if you want, but just don’t bring it into my sanctuary.

4. And speaking of absences . . . yes, they do exist in college. I may not look like I’m taking attendance in front of the class, but I’m doing it in my mind. And, yes, your presence in our class matters—to me and to your classmates.

5. Sniffing. I hate sniffing. Get a tissue.

6. I’m not blind—I see stuff. I see your phone under the desk (put it away!). I see you doing homework for another class (it’s pretty obvious when you should be taking notes and when you don’t need to be writing anything). I see that smug look on your face that says, “I could be teaching this class right now.” That’s the one I really wish I could remove from the classroom.

7. I’m not as self-assured as I might seem. When you give me that smug face, it actually does hurt a little bit, even though I don’t want to give you the benefit of thinking so. Remember that your professor is a human being and treat me as such.

8. Which reminds me to tell you that I have a life outside of this classroom. Last night I probably ran my daughter to piano lessons, made dinner, vacuumed the living room, worked on a writing project, cleaned up dog puke, and graded papers until my head felt like it was going to explode. My life gets to me sometimes just like school gets to you. Grace, please.

9. You are not God’s gift to the English language. (And neither am I.) You are in my class because you have at least one thing to learn, so figure out what that is, practice it like crazy, and feel like you’ve accomplished something by the end of the semester. A big head about your abilities will get you exactly . . . nowhere.

10. I like you. I have no preconceived ideas about you based on where you’re from, what positions you take, or especially (goodness no!) how well you write. I come into the semester thinking that we’re going to have fun in class and that I’m going to learn something from you. I assume that you are a decent, interesting, likeable human being. Try not to prove me wrong.

So here we go. The semester is here. It’s going to be crazy-busy, a writing whirlwind—a typing typhoon if you will (ah, no). You’ll want to shoot me at times, and you’ll probably want to cuss me out at other times. But hopefully, in the end, you’ll see that I cared about you and wanted to help you learn something.

Let’s get to work!

How about you? What words of advice would YOU give my students? Did you like the first day of school?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letters to My Daughters - Letting Go

Dear Daughters,

I understand why they do it. Those moms who hold their children close—so close that they can’t even breathe.

I know why they stand at the kindergarten door, hands cupped around their face, nose pressed against the glass, just hoping to get a glimpse of their little one as he marches into the classroom for the very first time.

I know why they sit on the sidelines for every. single. soccer practice and that, while it looks like they’re reading a magazine, they are really watching their middle schooler run and kick and slide because they are so proud that they made such an amazing person who can do those things.

I know why they volunteer for every opportunity they can—the marching band or the dance team or the school play—because it gives them just a few more minutes to be with their high school child; just one more point of connection with a kid who will very soon be gone.

I know why, when they drop their son or daughter off at college, they look over their shoulder and say, “Your room will be waiting for you when you get home!”

I get it. I’ve been it, that smothering mother. (You probably think I still am.)

But there’s a difference between some of those moms and me: I have raised you to let you go.

On the day I first became a mother I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t—couldn’t—hold you near me forever. I wanted to give the three of you wings. I wanted you to discover all that this big, wide world had to offer, and I wanted you to make your own path through it.

As much as I could, I showed you the world: Brazil. Switzerland. England. I did this intentionally, to trigger your imagination, to encourage you to see the possibilities. Mostly, though, to help you see that God is in all of it and that His plans for the world include you.

Yes, I believe in letting go.

That doesn’t make it easy.

This is a big week of transitions for us. A week in which it would be easy for me to stay under my covers, blocking out the fact that two of you are starting new schools and one of you is taking big steps toward adulthood. This is a week that seems important and huge and permanent. This is one of those weeks that I hope I’ve prepared each of you for, and yet, a week that I wish I had not been so intentional about.

A week in which I wish I could say, “Come back! Stay here!”

Those moms? The ones who hold a little too tightly? Me, if I’m honest. They hold on because they love their kids. They hold on because they want to stay involved in the lives of their kids. They hold on because they think that if they don’t, their kids will leave them forever.

They do it because it hurts so very much to let go.

Needtobreathe has a new song out—when I heard it for the first time this week I stopped in my tracks. I needed this reminder to keep holding you not quite so tightly.

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown till you
Keep your eyes open, my love
So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me to
Keep your eyes open, my love

Girls, the “great unknown” is out there, waiting for you to make a difference in it. Keep your eyes open and do that—make a difference.

Prove me right.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Rerun - For Emma

One night this week, two of Caroline's best friends came over to say goodbye--they are all leaving for college soon, so they were having one last movie night at our house. And while one of the girls will actually be Caroline's roommate next year, the other is moving a long, long way away. As I was hugging her goodbye, sweet Emma said to me, "I'm reading your blog! I've been reading it since we went blueberry picking that day." I laughed so hard as I remembered that fateful blueberry non-picking day, and I told her I would rerun the story just for her.

So Emma, this one is for you. I wish you all the best in college (I know you will do great!) and look forward to actually picking blueberries with you some day. We love you, sweetie!

* * *

Warning: The tale you are about to read will make you weep. If it doesn’t, you have no soul.

Today was going to be a great day. It was the one day of the summer that I probably look forward to more than any of the year. It’s the day I pack my little darlings in the car and drive for a little over an hour to a blueberry farm where we get to stand in a field, pick berries, and sweat. It’s glorious, and it’s a tradition that we’ve held to pretty much since before Maggie was born.

Today was going to be the day.

But it wasn’t.

Oh, we left our house at nine o’clock this morning, alright. We drove down the highway. We even suffered through a traffic jam for about 45 minutes while singing “Mama Mia” hits. We finally made it to our destination, albeit a little late, but very excited to start filling our little metal pails with blueberry goodness.

But as we drove to the gate of the farm, this is what greeted us:

For those of you who can’t quite read the sign, here’s what it said: “We are closed until Monday, July 27. We finished the 1st pick and the berries need more time to ripen for the 2nd pick. We have large crowds.”

Every one of our jaws dropped as the realization of the situation came upon us. I very nearly drove into the ditch.

“WHAT?!” we all screamed at once.

No blueberries. No blueberry muffins. No blueberry coffee cake. No blueberry crisp. No blueberry pie.

The blueberry farm’s predicament was truly our demise as we realized that today was it. The only day we could work in a trip to the farm to pick blueberries. Next week, all the girls will be gone on different trips, so there was no chance we could go back.

My heart started to sink and sink fast. I knew we had to do something (believe me, the thought of parking down the road and sneaking into the berry farm actually crossed my mind for a minute), so we headed into the nearest town to the diner we always hit on our way home, and we ate lots of greasy food at 11:00 in the morning. Disgusting, I know. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

And then we headed home. Dazed and confused we were, and suddenly Kate realized that we (O.K., I was) moving through the five stages of grief.

Here’s kind of how it went down:

Stage 1 – Denial. “OH NO! This can’t be happening! How could they do this to us?” This was the point at which I contemplated hiding my car in the woods and sneaking onto the property. Who cares that I didn’t have a bucket in the car? I’d figure something out. I just knew I HAD to have those berries.

Stage 2 – Anger. “I called last week and they said they’d be picking for three weeks! They can’t do this!” My rational brain was completely gone by now and my crazy-out-of-my-mind brain took over, thinking of every possible reason I could have to take that berry farm to court. Don’t they know this is the ONLY day all summer that we could get out to their lousy farm to pick their scrawny berries out in the scorching heat?

Stage 3 – Bargaining. “They might not have enough berries for everyone, but maybe they would have enough for me. Maybe if I offer them a little more money, they would open the gate to just let my one little car through. We wouldn’t take too many. There would be plenty left for next week’s suckers pickers.”

Stage 4 – Depression. “You girls go ahead and eat your lunch and drink your milk shakes. I couldn’t eat a thing. I’m just too sad.” And on it went, throughout lunch and the drive home. Me, shaking my head, pounding my fists on the steering wheel (I guess that takes me back to the anger stage, doesn’t it?), and saying, “I’m just so sad” for the next hour or so.

Stage 5 – Acceptance. Truthfully? I’m not there yet. I’m not sure I’ll ever be there.

I sure had different expectations for today’s blog post. I was going to come home and take pictures of the freezer bags filled with blueberries stacked up on my kitchen counter. I was going to bake a pie and show you how beautiful it was.

Instead, I’m sitting, still depressed, on my porch writing this sad tale of woe.

The saddest part, to me, though, is that we didn’t make it to the blueberry farm last year either. We were either out of town or too busy, so we didn’t go. And now this. Does missing a tradition for two years in a row make it not a tradition anymore?

Because if that’s the case, I’m sadder than I even was this morning.

* * *

Now, if you're wondering about Fabulous Friday Food, don't despair. Here's a link to one of my all-time favorite blueberry recipes (and the FFF post that shows how it's done). Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Letters to My Daughters - Take a Stand

Dear Daughters,

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Alexander Hamilton

I’ve heard a song on the radio lately that seems to be getting a lot of play. If I’ve heard it, you’ve probably heard it—it’s called “Some Nights.”

The first couple of times I heard the song I was kind of shocked that someone would be so blatantly honest about their “lostness.”

“Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for? Oh what do I stand for? Most nights, I don't know.”

There’s a story there, and the interpretations are many (trust me, I Googled it). The meaning behind the song doesn’t really matter to me. What really stands out is that the songwriter obviously does not have a purpose in life. Over and over again he asks: “Who am I?” “What do I stand for?”

It struck me as I listened to the lyrics that these are the questions of your generation. Not just yours, of course—many generations before you have asked the same questions—but especially today, right now, many people seem to lack direction.

Quite simply, they’re lost.

Hey, I’m glad this songwriter is asking the question. Thinking through these issues is much better than just sitting on the front porch waiting for life to just come along. What’s frustrating to me about this song is that it seems like the songwriter is just waiting for someone or something to tell him what to be, what to think, what to believe.

Girls, I want you to hear this: you can’t wait for “life” to come along and tell you what you stand for. You have to decide. You don’t have to ask, “Who am I?” You have the power to determine that for yourself.

Do you want to be a person of integrity? Then be that.

Do you want to be a person who keeps her word? Then start practicing that today.

Do you want to be faithful to your husband? Then determine before you are even married that you will be a faithful wife.

Do you want to be a loser sitting on a front porch waiting for life to come along? Then do nothing, sit waiting, and you’ll be that too.

This song reflects a real sense of hopelessness, and that’s what makes me sad. It’s like the songwriter feels that he has no power. But I wonder if, really, the power has been given away—if so many of us have become accustomed to just having “life” handed to us that we’ve begun to rely on others to even tell us who we are.

Believe me, if you don’t know who you are, the world will happily decide it for you. The world will tell you that you are not enough. The world will tell you that you are a loser. The world will tell you that you aren’t worth it. The world will tell you all kinds of lies, some much worse than these.

You know this, but it bears repeating. God tells you clearly in His word who you are: chosen, beloved, cherished above the heavenly beings, forgiven, redeemed, called. There’s more—much more—but you get the idea.

There will be days when you will ask the question “Who am I?” We all have them. When those days come, run to God’s word, because therein lies the answer. Just look at the sacrifice that was made for you on the cross. The answer to the “Who am I?” question is clear: You are worth it.

God decided a long time ago who you are. You don’t need society or friends or even your parents to tell you who you are.

Once you determine that God decides who you are, then you’ll have the answer to the main question of the song: “What do I stand for?” If you are God’s beloved, chosen, redeemed by His sacrifice, and if you claim those titles for your life, what you stand for should be pretty clear—you stand for Him.

Is that an easy stand to take in these days? No. Absolutely not. And I would guess that it will become a more and more difficult stand to take in the days ahead. But if you really think about it, if you really get your head around the gospel and who you are because of Jesus, you have no other choice.

Will that stand look differently in each of your lives? I’m guessing yes. God will call you down different paths, to different careers, and to make different choices. But ultimately the decision is yours.

Will you choose to believe that you are who God made you to be? Or will you choose to believe the lies of this world?

Much different lyrics this time, but the question remains: “What do I stand for?”

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

What will you stand for?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Letters to My Daughters - Introduction

They’re growing up—quickly! This fall, my youngest daughter will enter high school, my middle daughter will enter college, and my oldest daughter will begin the second half of her college years.

Very soon they will be headed toward internships, marriage, careers . . . what some call “real” life.

Maybe you’ve felt it too, maybe you’re feeling it right now, but lately I am well aware that my time with my daughters is getting short.

And yet, it feels like there are so many life lessons that haven’t been talked about, that still need to be shared. It feels odd and uncomfortable to sit them down and talk about these things—I prefer lessons to flow naturally out of everyday life. Yet it seems that more and more I find myself thinking, “Have I told them that?” “Do they know how important that is?”

From “how to make a great spaghetti sauce” to “how to choose a husband,” I’m constantly wondering, “Have I given them the tools they need to live a fruitful and fulfilling life?”

Obviously, real life conversations with my girls are ongoing. Of course I am, hopefully, teaching them many life lessons every day. But here I want to record some specific lessons that God has taught me, most of which I have had to learn the hard way because my heart is stubborn and doesn’t like to listen to instruction.

I may have made a mistake or two that I’d like to help my girls avoid.

As I write this series, I am also thinking about the many other “daughters” that God has brought into my life. My nieces. Girls from small groups and mission trips. And my daughters’ friends whom I have been so blessed to know.

Three amazing daughters of my own. Many “adopted” daughters. So much estrogen in my life!

How could I be so blessed?

My hope here is to bless back. To impart just a little bit of wisdom so that these girls may find life just a little easier to navigate. To give them a sense that someone else had ridden this road and that everything is going to be O.K.

So tomorrow, a new series called “Letters to My Daughters” will begin here. I don’t know how long it will last. I don’t know exactly what I’ll say. I don’t even know how often these posts will come out (probably whenever I feel like it, but most likely on Monday or Tuesday). I do know that writing this been on my heart for the past couple of months, so it must be something I should do.

Will you join me? I’d love to have you come along on this journey. Feel free to follow me or sign up for email updates in the sidebar.

And while you’re still here, are there any topics you think I should cover? I have a lot of ideas right now, but I’m open to suggestions. Feel free to add those in the comments!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Good Reads . . . and an announcement!

A few posts I have enjoyed lately:

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Bank Fraud :: Imparting Grace. My friend, Richella, recently went through a horrific ordeal and shares her experience. You really need to read this and protect yourself from identity theft. [edited to add: I totally forgot to link to Richella's follow up to this story! It is amazing!]

Are You Mom Enough? (Mommy Wars) :: Desiring God Blog. Anyone else sick to death of the mommy wars? This puts an end to it for me.

If You've Ever Been Wounded by Women :: Ann VosKamp. Speaking of women treating each other badly. Ann again says so eloquently what I feel. "Who can bear living the whole of their lives and never learn what it means to really be a friend? I long to learn." Me too.

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes :: Modern Country Style. On a lighter note . . . Fall is coming, and along with it comes scarves! Ever wonder how to really tie a scarf? Here is a cute, cute video showing you 25 creative ways to tie one on. :)

Now for the announcement. Be sure to come back on Monday when I'll introduce a new series on my blog. It's something I've been thinking about for a long time, and I'm really excited about it. I hope you'll follow along!

Now tell me, what's the best post you've read or written this week? Link up in the comments!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Fabulous Friday Food - Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Hi guys!

I only have about 10 minutes to write before I have to go help one of my dear friends. Her son is getting married this weekend (fun!), and a group of us is pitching in to help pull off the rehearsal dinner. It's warming in my oven (BBQ Brisket--yum!) right now, and I'm headed over to help set up soon.

So I thought I'd write a blog post.

Makes sense, right?

Well, this recipe is so easy you can probably pull it together in about 10 minutes. And to prove it, I'm going to blog it in 10 minutes. Let's race, shall we?

Last week I had such a craving for this that I just HAD to make it. I served it with Steak Fajitas that were equally delicious. I could eat it all over again it was that good.

I love Corn and Black Bean Salsa because it's easy, it's fresh, and you can eat it with chips, on top of your fajitas, or just as a salad. Versatile food, this one.

So here we go. There won't be many pictures because it's just. that. easy.

Ingredients. Corn (obviously), black beans (again, obvi), red pepper, red onion, avocado, lime, and cilantro. You can shake things up by adding a little jalepeno if you want, or tomato, or whatever else your little heart desires. Also, I LOVE Trader Joe's frozen roasted sweet corn--so good!--but you could use fresh sweet corn or canned corn or just regular old frozen corn if you want.

Microwave about 2 cups of the corn for a couple of minutes, just to take the chill off. I then rinsed it in cold water and let it drain for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the pepper, onion, and cilantro and place them all in a bowl with the beans. Stir this.

Add the corn and the avocado last, just so you don't smush up the avocado too much when you stir.

Add the juice of one lime, a splash of olive oil, a little salt and pepper, then stir the whole business up one last time.

Pour into a pretty bowl and refrigerate a couple of hours before serving.

[Side note: I just had to chuckle to myself about the chips. I'm sure that the Pioneer Woman uses only full-triangle tortilla chips when she shoots her food. Me? I only had half a bag of chips stuck in the back of the pantry, so I used all the broken pieces from the bottom of the bag. Typical.]

There! I'm pretty sure most, if not all of you can do this.

I know! Why not have a party this weekend and make this salsa? Invite your friends and neighbors. They will all love you and want to come back for more.

Ten minutes, and I'm done. And you will be too. Have a great weekend!

So tell me, do you ever get a hankering for a food that you just HAVE to have? What is it? Share here!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"What I Did on My Summer Vacation"

Hi all!

Just checking in from a life that just seems to get in the way of the blog.

We just spent two glorious weeks in the Northwoods. You remember last summer, right? When we spent a month up there? We liked it so much that we decided to go back, but without the luxury of a sabbatical we had to “settle” for two weeks. I’m not complaining.

One week of vacation is delicious, but two weeks is sublime.

 The first week of vacation is usually spent unwinding anyway, so after you’ve unwound, you get to practice relaxing for a while. And it does take practice. If you’ve never taken a two-week vacation, you really should try it.

I came back feeling like a blob of jello.

So what did we do on our vacation?

We made s’mores. Over the lamest fires you’ve ever seen. You’d never know we have spent thousands of dollars sending our girls to summer camp to learn how to make a fire. I think we need to get our money back. Still, the s’mores were yummy.

We slept. A lot. Something about all that fresh air made us all tired. One day, after waking up around 8, I felt like I needed a nap . . . at 10. But there’s just something nice about not needing to be anywhere and nobody caring one way or another if you decide to take a nap two hours after you wake up.

We tanned. Oh yes we did. I will shout it from the rooftops that I spent as much time in the sun as I could. Because when you live in a place where you barely see the sun from February through April, you’re pretty excited to finally bask in it for a while.

We boated. B has his little canoe/kayak combo thingy, which is really fun. So much fun that one day we took off in his little boat, leaving the kids behind, and headed out exploring. Three hours later, after running into some pretty windy conditions on the lake which may have involved whitecaps, we finally made it back to our dock. I may or may not have kissed it.

 We watched the Olympics. Four years ago we were on a missions trip in Switzerland when the Olympics took place, so we really didn’t get to see them. In fact (embarrassing confession here), until a few weeks ago I honestly had never hears of Ussain Bolt. Truly! That’s how unOlympic-savvy I am. So this time around we were all excited to take in as much Olympic action as possible. Favorites so far? Gabby Douglas. Jordyn Wieber. Missy Franklin. I have a thing for teenage girls.

And after this morning’s Today Show interview with Lolo Jones, I think she may very well be making the list too.

We went on adventures. Caroline really wanted to show us a place she had been to in the Upper Peninsula, so we drove three hours to find it. Only when we got there she said it wasn’t where she had been. Thankfully, the forward-thinking mother of this family suggested that we bring B’s iPad along with us, and we were able to actually find the remote island that she wanted to see.

Little Presque Isle. Not just your average, plain old, run-of-the-mill Presque Isle.

 It was worth every tense moment of frustration.

We fished. Well, some of us fished. Some of us just watched from the dock while we baked basked in the sun.

On this trip, Julia learned how to bait a hook AND how to take the fish off the hook. I was so proud of my little fisherwoman!

In fact, she got so good at it that she caught this:

 Right after that, B thought he’d get in on the bass action, so he threw in a line and caught this:

 He may or may not have thrown it back.

We had a great vacation, and we loved every minute of just being together. We missed Kate, who was busy working at the camp across the lake, but we got to see her a couple of times.

Now real life rushes in. It’s time for me to head back to work and see if I can find my office again. It’s time for the girls to get ready for school.

And it’s time for Kate to come home!

How about you?? What have you been doing this summer? I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment!