Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Olive Branch, Mississippi


I love looking back at God's faithfulness in guiding my path.  In the midst of challenging times when Aaron was in seminary, God gave me a couple of special friends who have stood the test of time and distance.

We got to visit one of those friends during our quick trip to the Memphis area.  Every time we visit, we know that the entire family will have a blast.

This time, we even found a potential new favorite game, Suspend.  Whenever I spend time with Christine, I always come away challenged to make my world more beautiful and to never quit learning.

I also seem to always get busy talking and never take enough pictures of the happy chaos going on when our two families are together in this sweet household.

Christine's fingers created a lovely reminder of our relationship that God began in 2002 at library story time.

Thanks for sticking around long enough (no matter how many times I move!) to call me an "old friend".

Monday, June 29, 2015

Memphis, Tennessee


I've written before that piece of our hearts are scattered all over the world, but huge chunks of our hearts still reside in Memphis.

Over the weekend, we crammed in as many people and places as we could possibly manage - seminary professors, alto buddies from church choir, lots of people we met while Aaron served on staff at Highland Heights Baptist Church.

Some of our friends even hosted a get-together at their house to make it easier for us to catch up

 with many special friends all at the same time.

We're so grateful for all of the people who took the time and effort in the midst of busy schedules

to spend a little bit of time with us this weekend.

Our bodies are exhausted,

but our hearts

are full.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I Love Zucchini, Part 3

I had a few errands to run the other day and needed the kids to get lunch going without me, so tortilla soup was an good choice.   This is a super easy recipe with lots of room for personal interpretation.  We don't ever put the chicken in, and Honeysuckle Lane Cheese, an Arkansas farm raw cheese, is our new favorite cheese to sprinkle on top.  Or eat straight!

Tortilla Soup
Serves 6
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can tomatoes
1 small can green chilies
1/2 cup picante
1 (10 1/2 oz.) can beef bouillon
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can chicken bouillon
1 (101/2 oz.) can tomato juice
1 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup sliced zucchini
6 corn tortillas cut into 1/2" strips
1/2 cup shredded low-fat cheese
Optional: 3 oz. chicken breast, cubed 1"

  Saute onions, green peppers and garlic in oil in a large Dutch oven until tender; add next 9 ingredients and chicken, optional.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.

  Add tortillas and simmer 5 minutes.  Top with cheese in bowls. 
Serve up to the people you love and nourish their bodies and souls!

Friday, June 26, 2015


I love the way God made each one of our children.  Four kids - four totally different personalities and gifts, strengths and weaknesses.

Earlier this week, I observed Sarah's creativity flow from her fingertips all day.  She worked on curtains for her room that she and my mom created and began sewing a few weeks ago.  They got sidetracked waiting for both sewing machines to be repaired, but now the curtains are almost finished.  They are gorgeous, too.

One of our cookbooks declared that this strawberry layer cake was a traditional way to celebrate Mid-Summer's Day in Norway.

Not that we need an excuse to bake in our house.  But Sarah rose to the challenge and whipped up the luscious cake, in between taking a chemistry test and practicing for her voice lesson.  She certainly thrives on being creative!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Historic Arkansas Museum


When we live overseas, our kids don't get much Arkansas history in their school.  So, this week we took advantage of the Historic Arkansas Museum just a quick drive away.

Friends joining us on the field trip was certainly a bonus.

We got to walk around outside and browse through some buildings built 150 years ago in Little Rock.  The original wells were still in place, complete with water!

We got to meet a living history interpreter and hear her story,

and practice inking the Arkansas Gazette ready to go to press.

The Arkansas Twister game kept the kids busy for at least an hour.  And I don't think they were just trying to escape the heat outside that was pushing the triple digits.

Lots of giggles and full, encouraged hearts were a sweet by-product of a very educational day.

And after a picnic lunch, everybody wanted to stay longer, but the mamas had to get home and get back to work.  I think this will be the first of many field trips together...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015



Aaron's niece and nephew came to spend the night with grandparents, so we joined them for eating yummy food and laughing lots and playing games together.  Yet another sweet gift that we appreciate more because we usually live so far away!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I love Zucchini, Part 2

Our family REALLY likes this recipe, it's yet another reason to love zucchini.  And don't omit the fennel, this spice was never a part of my cabinet until I tried this recipe.  Now fennel goes into so many of the meals I serve my family.  It's worth adding to your spice collection!

Layered Italian Zucchini Casserole
4 servings - 1 1/2 cups each
1/2 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces no-added-salt tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
2/3 cup nonfat cottage cheese
4 small zucchini, peeled and sliced thin lengthwise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
nonstick cooking spray
1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  In a medium skillet, brown meat; drain well.  In same skillet, saute chopped onion, pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil until soft.  Stir in drained meat, tomato sauce, garlic powder, fennel, pepper, basil, and oregano.
3.  In a small mixing bowl, combine mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese.

4. Spray an 11" x 7" casserole dish with cooking spray.  Layer meat sauce, zucchini, and cheese mixture twice.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the last meat layer.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  This casserole can be assembled and refrigerated or frozen for later baking.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day, part 2

I have this tendency to get really involved in whatever is going on around me.  Then I forget to take pictures to record the special event.  It happens often.  Like Friday night when we began our Father's Day festivities with Aaron's mom and Dad #2.  Like when I dropped my dad's gift off and hugged his neck.

But I didn't forget when we drove up to party hard with the Choate side in a double celebration of Father's Day and Aaron's grandparents' 67th anniversary.  Aaron's grandfather is the last living grandfather that he or I have, and four generations of Choate men is pretty special.

So is sixty-seven years of marriage.

Aaron's sweet grandmother is the primary caretaker for Aaron's grandfather, and, in her sweet Southern voice, reminded Pop repeatedly why he was there and who each of those strange people were.  We enjoyed quite the celebration!  Aaron's mom #2 totally outdid herself with preparations for this family gathering, and Sarah and I enjoyed helping in the kitchen with the few things that were left to do.
Six of Dad's nine grandchildren were able to attend, and we heard lots of cousin feet running around and playing together.
Living close to family again continues to thrill me.  We filled up two rows at church on Sunday morning! 
I hope I never lose the excitement and joy of enjoying the family heritage God has given us.