Monday, November 23, 2009

Full of Thanks

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday!  I love that it is a holiday to simply enjoy the company of family and friends, bake and cook food that you normally don't throughout the year, eat yummy food all day long, play games, laugh, and relax.  The most important reason it's my favorite holiday (with food a close second :) is that we have a day set aside on the calendar to remind us of what we have to be thankful for.  I try to think this way all year long, but a stressful and busy life can plague my thoughts sometimes . . .and I just can't avoid the thankful atmosphere this time of year.  It makes me happy!  I decided to really reflect over the last few weeks, and here is a list of things I am thankful for, big and small, in no particular order, and the list goes on . . .
Thanksgiving 2007
  • A God who loves me no matter what, and Jesus for sacrificing his life to save little 'ol me
  • Access to education
  • My Registered Dental Hygienist license
  • Two functioning arms/hands that allow me to do my job
  • Family
  • My Maverick (Matt, for those of you who don’t know his nickname), my husband who makes me feel beautiful, loved, and adored.
  • A car that is finally mine. No car payments!!
  • To live in a country that allows me to be a Christian without prosecution
  • A Mom that survived a long battle with cancer
  • A Father that survived a not so small heart attack
  • My crock pot to cook for me when I’m at work
  • PartyLite candles to help make our house a cozy home
  • A house
  • The bright crunch of snow in the winter
  • The crisp smell of rain in the spring
  • The smell of fresh-cut grass in the summer
  • The colorful leaves in the early fall
  • My Blackberry which allows me to multitask like never before (AKA: my crackberry)
  • Old friends to reminisce with
  • New friends to grow with
  • Our dishwasher
  • Spirit 105.3 to make my heart and face smile
  • Pictures to re-live memories
  • My digital camera to capture moments to re-live in the future
  • Food Network
  • My vocal cords so I can sing
  • Ultrasonic Scalers (you other hygienists can relate)
  • Insurance
  • Nutella
  • Hot showers
  • Stephenie Meyer for creating the Twilight Saga (yes, I'm one of "them" :)
  • Dave Ramsey for motivating us to “live like no one else”
  • Burt and his Bees to hydrate my dry lips in the winter
  • Blogspot to share our lives with each other in a most creative and accessible way
  • God's daily reminders and encouragements to me to be a wife who wnjoys honoring and serving her husband
  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Power steering, key-less car entry, automatic windows and locks, and cupholders.  All of which my previous care did not have.
My previous car
  • Access to medical care
  • Hot apple cider
  • Wonderfully supportive and loving in-laws.  Rachel and Roland will be celebrating their 40th anniversay December 20 (the day Matt and I met)
  • Clean and safe drinking water
  • Bringing the beautiful ocean into the middle of our living room via Matt's fish tank
  • Our baby puppy we'll be picking up November 29th!
  • Living in a neighborhood where I feel safe, and having great neighbors
  • A garage to park my car in . . .a first for me, and it's fabulous!
  • A wonderful husband who keeps the garage clean enough for me to park my car in
  • Happy memories to cherish
  • Moments of sadness and trials to make me stronger and help my growth 
  • The men and women of our armed forces in our past, present, and future; who risk(ed) their lives to protect mine
  • DVR so we can watch our shows when we have the time
  • Matt's warm feet to warm up mine
  • My massage therapist, Sharon, who works out my "Everest Knots" and will help my longevity as a Hygienist
  • My weakness, movie theater popcorn, as bad as I know it is for me
  • The Cheesemonger in Leavenworth . . . Mmmm . . . .cheeeeeeeezzzzeeee!
  • The Office, Parks and Recreation, The Community, and 30 Rock for making Thursdays so incredibly funny (this Fall anyway)
  • Sandy Kemper for creating Smiles Forever, a Dental Hygiene program in Cochabamba, Bolivia which empowers women by giving them a chance to change their family tree
  • Fruit and nut trail mix from Costco.  Dried kiwi and strawberries?!?! YUM!
  • Tofurky kielbasa
  • Shoes
  • To love in a country with such a great travel system of highways, trains, and airplanes.  Even though we all complain about it all, it really is easy to move about the country!
  • My hearing, eyesight, and speech
  • Being blessed to go on an amazing honeymoon that was more breathtaking than I ever dreamed it would be!!
  • "Cleaning mode" on our oven
  • Pandora.com
  • The Love Dare to help Matt and I be the best husband and wife we can for one another
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mom and Dad for my smile . . . Dr. Simons and Dr. Bloomquist for perfecting it
  • Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Butternut Squash Lasagna



I came across this recipe on a blog I started following in a roundabout way, alizarine.typepad.com (an art teacher who also loves to play with food).  The lasagna is a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis, probably my favorite Food Network chef.  I don't recommend attempting this if you get home from work at 6:30 like me, because you won't be eating until around 9:00.  I do recommend making sure you have milk when you start the cooking, that will save you some time and a trip to the store for milk (thank you Maverick).  I also recommend that you don't scald the milk; that too will save you some time because you won't have to make the sauce twice.  With that said, it was soooo worth the wait in my opinion.  However, I had to cook Matt's chicken before the lasagna was done becuase he couldn't wait.  We both agree it's definitely "a keeper"!


Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used a 3 lb squash and it was perfect)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 amaretti cookies, crumbled (a tip from alizarine.typepad.com, I used Pepperidge Farms gingerbread men)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Directions:
Heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet and then cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the amaretti cookies and blend until smooth. (I just mashed it up in the skillet with the back of a wooden spoon) Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender (keep one side of the lid popped to vent to prevent the suction that can cause "heat explosion") . Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna (this was Matt's job:). Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!!!! (hopefully before 9:00 pm :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Champion


You're looking at the 2009 Maple Valley Rec League Champion team!!!  I had such a great time cheering my Maverick on this season, and am excited for the Spring league he's planning on playing in as well.  I have to give it to his team "Polk High" for playing with such integrity and sportsmanship.  I witnessed some pretty "dirty" plays and heard some pretty "nasty" words from members of other teams throughout the season, and that just isn't fun for anyone. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

More Than Enough

This last Tuesday on my drive home from class, this song by Barlow Girl came on the radio.  I cranked up the volume to 40 (which is loud in my car :) and sang along at the top of my lungs not caring for a second what other drivers on the road thought! (it was dark, though)

All of You
is more than enough for
All of me
for every thirst and
every need
You satisfy me
with Your love
And all I have in You
Is more than enough
 
I once wrote a paper in an English Composition class regarding "Pecuniary Emulation", the desire to acquire "more".  With this song, Christ reminded me to be content in the place I am in life and for what I have; and it also brought back memories of the days when I struggled to put gas in my car and ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.  I feel so blessed to be married to such an amazing man, to have a great career especially in these "hard economic times" (a phrase I've been hearing a lot lately).  I thank God for such a supportive family who helped me through those difficult years with masses of emotional support.  So, just when I was feeling the urge to desire "more", I was reminded of what I am MORE than thankful for! 

I am more than content

All I have in You

Is more than enough