serendipitous reflections

Thursday, September 29, 2005

One more prayer

I would like to ask everyone to keep Chuck and Christi in their thoughts and prayers. Their mother, Janet, passed away tonight. Her body could no longer fight the good fight.

Rest in peace Janet.

Update from Hannah

Hannah sent us an update on her brother, Nathan.

"Hi everyone! I just want to update you. Thank you so much for your prayers...I know they are working because Nathan improves everyday. He had surgery on his leg again yesterday and while they were in there they took out his chest tube and took him off oxygen. He was moved to the ortho ward today which is much nicer. He had a really rough night last night, and they found infection in a wound on his upper leg that they don't want to move to his exposed bone down below. He has a surgery scheduled for Friday and then on Tuesday another to take muscle from the back of his leg to cover the front, and skin from his thigh to cover that. Many more surgeries may be required after that. Please pray that they can control the infection and still for his pain.

I have to say that the Army takes care of its own. Everything that my parents and I need is covered by them. Travel, food, lodging, etc. is all covered. I have arranged to go home on Friday. I hate to leave, but I miss my family. My mom and dad are staying through the beginning of next week to attend Sgt. Allers wake, who is being buried here in Arlington. Mom will then stay approx. a month or so with Nathan.

Please also pray for Sgt. Bradley, Nathans new roomate. He is 25 yrs old, and lost both legs in Iraq. He has a wife and kids. He had surgery today and seemed to be in incredible pain. There are so many soldiers here with missing legs. Everywhere you turn. We are very fortunate that Nathan did not lose his. from a description of the blast (possible anti-tank mine) he should have. We can thank God for that!!! There's just no other explanation!

We love all of you and again, thank you so much!!


Ahhhh, small town living at it's finest

This was an actualy entry in the police blotter of the Bluefield Telegraph website.

VICIOUS POODLE: A vicious poodle was reported at Mitchell Stadium Saturday. When police arrived, it was discovered that the poodle was not vicious. The dog was removed from Mitchell Stadium. Patrolman J.T. Brooks investigated.

I was laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Chicken Satay Stir-fry with Orange scented Jasmine Rice

I just love chicken satay with peanut sauce, and I've been trying our a whole bunch of different recipes for it. This one is from my girl Rachael Ray. The peanut sauce turned out wonderfully. This was only the second time I've cooked with Jasmine rice and I will definitely make this rice again. It would go perfectly with just about any kind of chicken, well maybe not barbecue unless it has a hint of orange in the sauce. I highly recommend this recipe for people who like Thai food and want to try making it at home.

Chicken Satay Stir-fry with Orange Scented Jasmine Rice

3 3/4 cups water
2 oranges, zested
2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds chicken breast tenders, 2 packages, sliced on an angle into bite-size pieces 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium yellow skinned onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, quartered and sliced
1 cup shredded carrots, store bought, or 2 medium carrots cut into matchsticks
6 scallions, cut on an angle into 2 inch pieces
1 cup snow peas, a couple of handfuls

Satay sauce:
4 rounded tablespoonfuls chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons dark soy, Tamari
3 tablespoons honey
1-inch ginger root, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 orange, juiced

2 ounces (1/4 cup) chopped peanuts or nut topping, available on the baking aisle
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Heat water with orange zest to boiling. Add rice, return to boil, stir. Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Cook rice until tender, 18 minutes. Fluff with fork.

For stir-fry, heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add chicken, garlic and onion, stir-fry 3 minutes. Add remaining veggies and stir-fry 5 minutes more. Heat all ingredients for sauce together in a small pot over low heat, stirring the sauce until all ingredients are combined.

Transfer stir-fry to a large platter and pour sauce evenly over the chicken and vegetables. Sprinkle the platter with chopped nuts, cilantro, and basil. Serve jasmine rice in a separate dish with an ice cream scoop to serve the rice with -- it makes perfect, pretty, round portions of rice on the dinner plates.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Visit with Kelli

While I was in Iowa, I also went up to Iowa City to visit my friend red-headed Kelli. We had such a fantastic weekend. We did a bunch of shopping, movie watching, and of course laughing. On Saturday night we had a little get together at Kelli's house and our friend Stephanie drove up from Davenport. We had a great time. Then on Sunday all we did was lay around and watch girl movies. You can't really beat a weekend like that! Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 23, 2005

Only by the grace of God...

Jeni spoke with Hannah today and got the details on Nathan's injuries.

Nathan was driving the lead Humvee in a caravan along a route they routinely patrolled when they hit a freshly laid landmine. Their Humvee was thrown six to eight feet in the air, killing Nathan's friend "Worm" in the passenger seat immediately. The gunner in the turret was ejected, which is probably the only way he survived. When the Humvee hit the ground, the engine collapsed on Nathan, crushing his leg. Nathan realized "Worm" was dead and started calling for the gunner. At this point, they started taking on fire from the insurgents.

Nathan's friend was driving the second vehicle in the convoy. He and three others pushed Nathan further into the Humvee and lifted the engine so that they were able to pull him through the turret and out of the Humvee. His friend stayed with Nathan behind the Humvee, pouring water from Nathan's canteen on him and shielding him from fire and the sun. Nathan said he was extremely hot, but didn't know if it was from the explosion, his injuries or simply being in the desert. He suffered the crushed leg, a broken spine with several fractured vertebra, a pneumothorax in one lung with the other lung collapsed and injuries to his spleen.

He recalls hearing helicopters coming and saying to his friend that he was happy that the medivac was on its way, and his friend said that that wasn't the medivac but their backup instead. Medivac was about seven minutes out, and Nathan said he didn't think he could live another seven minutes.

Fortunately, he did. He was airlifted away with no paralysis, taken to Germany to be stabilized and is en route to Walter Reed in Washington, DC. The status of his leg is unknown, and they are closely monitoring his spleen in hopes of not removing it. Hannah is flying out tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Her son Hunter is ten and when Hannah heard of Nathan's injuries, at first she only knew of the broken leg. She told Hunter that the Army had called her mom and Hunter immediately went into hysterics. Hannah calmed him, assuring Hunter that Nathan was alive and going to be OK, so he only knows of the injured leg and that Nathan is coming home. I can only imagine what a 10-year-old's imagination could do with this scenario.

Please continue to keep Nathan and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We just thank God he's alive and coming home.

Oh no he didn't

All I can say is oh dear God in Heaven. You just have to go and see the Daily Dancer.

Thanks Doug for the link.

What a beautiful boy!

As most of you know, I was in Iowa last week. I went out to visit my friends, Tracey and Clay and their son Garrett. Garrett was born in January and this is the first time I've been able to make it out to Iowa to hold him, squeeze his little fat rolls, and kiss those cute little cheeks. He just melted my heart. I had such a wonderful visit with Tracey that the week just flew by before we knew it. Clay and I shared some tasty recipes, and Tracey and I got to share so much...like shopping, good food, a lot of belly laughs (the ones that make you double over or fall out of chair, or even pee your pants a little), and she even started me thinking I would like to start scrapbooking. But the best and most important part of my trip was I getting to spend time with that beautiful boy. Posted by Picasa

The happiest cowboy

This is Garrett the first day I was out in Iowa. Tracey's mom bought Garrett this little cowboy hat a couple of months ago, and we took Garrett on Friday to have his picture made in his whole cowboy outfit - hat, bibs, boots and even a horse which was Clay's when he was boy. Unfortunately he was the unhappiest cowboy that day, but the photographer did get a couple of really good pictures. But how couldn't she, he's gorgeous. Posted by Picasa

Kiss me I'm well adjusted

Just another fine example of a healthy chiropractic baby. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Happy Birthday Dean!

Yesterday was Dean's 33rd birthday. He had an awesome day at work (adjusted 88 patients!!), then we went out to dinner with Bill and Barbara. We went to the Blue Marlin and had incredible seafood. We had ahi tuna sashimi for starters and Dean had shrimp and grits, and I had Mahi Mahi with lump crabmeat and shrimp. Then off to Nonnah's for dessert. We had a great time. And as Dean said Thanks to everyone for the many, many birthday wishes!

I know this post is a day late, but I was so busy yesterday I didn't get a chance to post. Posted by Picasa

Birthday wishes and sad news

I want to thank everyone for all their birthday wishes. It was nice to be remembered and thought of by everyone.

When I was talking to Hannah last night, she told me her brother in Iraq, his patrol had been attacked and his Humvee had been blown up. He survived with injuries and had been flown to Germany for medical care they could not provide in Iraq. According to her dad, he will be flown to Walter Reed in Washington, DC by next week. Please keep him in your prayers.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Welcome to the website songs

When I found Jack Johnson's website, it was before the redesign and there were several mp3s available for download, including an entire live concert he had done, which was really cool. Among the songs was "Welcome to my website," a little 26 second diddy that was pointless but fun. So I downloaded it and added it to my collection. Today, I stumbled across the Level 42 website (you know them from the 80s -- Something About You) and right there, on their site, is also a "Welcome" song. How fun! So now, it appears that I'll be hunting down welcome songs sung by bands I enjoy. I just think it's such a fun idea for a musician -- or maybe an indication that my wife has been out of town too long...

[Right when I hit the "publish" button, I saw a typo and let out a "garr!" which was my testiment to Talk Like A Pirate Day. I couldn't let it go by without being recognized.]

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Makenzie!

Happy Birthday Makenzie! My goodness ... three birthdays in a row. This picture is from Brandi's wedding earlier this year. Makenzie was a beautiful flower girl and stands here with her cousin Jacob. Hopefully we will see you soon. Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 16, 2005

Oh wow!

My brother posted this link and I just had to make sure everyone saw this video...

Happy Birthday Nikki

Happy 31st Birthday, Nikki! This picture is from her 30th last year. We all had a big time in Atlanta. She rented a big SUV stretch limo and we went out on the town and despite a few bumps and bruises a good time was had by all. (To top it off, Tennessee concluded a dramatic win over Florida that night, too) This year should be a little more subdued, but we still expect to have some fun. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Happy Birthday Brittany

Happy Birthday Brittany! My how the time flies. I still remember you as the little toddler I first met, and you are evolving into this little woman -- yikes! Making us feel old! (I like this picture from last year's family reunion because it shows Brittany's trademark sassiness and her mentor.) Posted by Picasa

Play that funky music

I need some recommendations. I feel like I have essentially been listening to the same music selection for years, yet I can't find anything new that is even remotely appealing. Sure, I enjoy Jack Johnson and John Mayer and I was thrilled to be introduced to dan darrah and Chuck Prophet ... and of course Tiff has blessed me with numerous selections (Stereo Popsicle, Eddie From Ohio, Cowboy Mouth) ... but like everyone, I always want more. So if there's someone out there I should be listening to, please let me know. Thanks...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

House hunting

Tomorrow will be a fun day ... Jeni and I are going to drive around and look at a few houses. Nothing serious right now, but getting a feel for some of the different areas in Columbia. Even though we have lived here a year-and-a-half, we're still getting used to some of the lay of the land. And anyone familiar with Columbia knows its an oddly "dog-patchy" sort of town, with a mix of good and bad with a little so-so in between. But we need to get out of apartment living and start building on a home.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Happy Birthday Evan!

Today is Evan's fourth birthday. I can't believe how big he is getting. He is such a special child. That smile, those eyes, and that sweet voice...Man, he can melt my heart. Now don't get me wrong, he is a little naughty sometimes, so thank God he's cute.

I'll post some birthday party picture when Nikki sends them to me. For those of you who know Evan you can only guess what the theme is going to be for the party....CARS!!
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Peanut butter cookies and "Neiman Marcus" cookies

For the mid-week snack for Patient Appreciation week, I made 280 cookies, peanut butter and chocolate chocolate chip. The chocolate chip cookies come with a story. I have since found out it isn't true, but I've been making the cookies for 10 years with the assumption it was true. Honestly it doesn't matter because they are awesome! The peanut butter cookies are super simple and very tasty. The chocolate chip cookies are worth every minute in the kitchen.

sidenote: Thanks Tiff for putting on the stickers before we left for the beach.

The Neiman-Marcus Cookie Story
My daughter & I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because our family are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie". It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and they said with a small frown, "I'm afraid not." Well, I said, would you let me buy the recipe? With a cute smile, she said, "Yes." I asked how much, and she responded, "Two fifty." I said with approval, just add it to my tab.
Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe - $250.00." Boy, was I upset!! I called Neiman's Accounting Dept. and told them the waitress said it was "two fifty," and I did not realize she meant $250.00 for a cookie recipe. I asked them to take back the recipe and reduce my bill and they said they were sorry, but because all the recipes were this expensive so not just everyone could duplicate any of our bakery recipes....the bill would stand. I waited, thinking of how I could get even or even try and get any of my money back.
I just said, "Okay, you folks got my $250.00 and now I'm going to have $250.00 worth of fun." I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover will have a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus for nothing. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this." I said, "I'm sorry but this is the only way I feel I could get even," and I will.

So went to the Neiman Marcus website and this is what they had to say about it.

NM Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe***

An urban myth is a modern folk tale, its origins unknown, its believability enhanced simply by the frequency with which it is repeated. Our signature chocolate chip cookie is the subject of one such myth. If you haven't heard the story, we won't perpetuate it here. If you have, the recipe below should serve to refute it. Copy it, print it out, pass it along to friends and family. It's a terrific recipe. And it's absolutely free.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, slightly crushed
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter with the sugars until fluffy.

Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.

Combine the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for a crispier cookie. Makes 12 to 15 large cookies.

***I personally have not this recipe.

OK, enough about the origin of the cookie recipe - here is the recipe I use. It is absolutely one of my favorite cookies, and my stepmother loves them also. I do recommend a heavy duty mixer to make these or mix them by hand in the later stages of the process.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
5 C old fashioned rolled oats
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 lb (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 C light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
24 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper. (You have to use parchment paper!!)

In a food processor, grind oats into a fine powder. Coarsely chop chocolate and grind with oats. The finer the powder, the better the cookies.

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then gradually beat flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Use a HEAVY DUTY MIXER or hands-- add oats mixture and beat it in. Use hands to work chocolate chips in the dough.

Make balls of dough about twice the size of golf balls - 12 per sheet (I use professional baking sheets and they are bigger than the average baking sheet. So use your judgment when putting these on the sheets because you don't want them to touch when they start spreading out.)

Bake one sheet at a time. Bake 11-12 mins reversing the sheet half-way through baking. The cookies will not appear done, but take them out! (Surface will be covered with cracks.)

Let the cookies cool on the sheet rather than racks. If you transfer when hot, they will drip through the racks.

Store in plastic bags or air-tight container.

yields 48 huge cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 C butter
3/4 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

In another bowl, mix the egg and vanilla extract, then gradually beat into the butter mixture.

Stir in the peanut butter and blend thoroughly. Stir in the dry ingredients. Chill for at least 30 minutes, until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two baking sheets.

Spoon out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls.

Place the balls the prepared baking sheets and press flat with a fork into circles about 2 1/2" in diameter, making criss-cross pattern with a fork. (you may need to chill your fork or spray it with Pam)

Bake for 12 -14 minutes, until lightly colored. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Grandma Staker's Pumpkin Bread and Poppy Seed Bread

A few weeks ago, Dean's office had Patient Appreciation week. I made my grandmother's pumpkin bread and poppy seed bread to kick off the week. I ended up making 80 mini loaves of bread. The patients loved them. They all keep asking when I'm going to do it again. I contribute this to my grandmother's yummy recipes.

Pumpkin Bread
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 C oil
3/4 C water
1 1/2 C pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 1/2 C flour
2 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.

Blend beaten eggs, oil, water, and pumpkin. Sift dry ingredients and blend into pumpkin mixture. Pour into 2 loaf pans. Bake 1 hour.

Poppy Seed Bread
3 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C milk
3/4 C oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring
3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 T poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 loaf pans.

Blend eggs, sugar, milk, oil, vanilla, almond extract, and butter flavoring. Sift in flour, salt, baking powder, and poppy seeds. Pour into 2 loaf pans and bake for 55-60 mins.
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You MUST read this one...

I saw this article online and had to share the link:
School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Do you remember?

Jeni recalls a children's book called "Yummer's Tea Room" ... does this ring a bell with anyone else? I tried to Blingo/Google it, but got nothing.

Bluecoats on TV

Kelly's Bluecoats Drum Corps competition from earlier this month will be televised on ESPN2 tonight (Tuesday, September 6) at 10:00 p.m. Tune in and see what all the fuss was about. (I won't tell you where they finish, but it is a best-ever for them!)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Garage cleanup

Since we passed on the family reunion this year (gas prices and availability), we decided we had to do something productive with our time. We went through the garage, trying to figure out why the heck we've moved some of this stuff several times. We managed to purge a number of items (most claimed by the people who cruise by the dumpster looking for treasures) and also found a few items that were driving us crazy looking for them. Overall, it was a successful afternoon.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

C is for cookie

I bought Jeni a cookie press yesterday (on sale, Linens & Things!) and we made cookies tonight. Cookies like Mom makes at Christmas, four months early. The cookie recipe will come soon... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Wardrobe Police

Cathy's newest website is possibly my favorite addition yet. I just need more updates. She posts pictures of my brothers awful clothes for us to vote on their fate: keep, donate or toss.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Vote for Smokey

Smokey has been selected as one of the 12 mascots in the Capitol One Mascot Challenge. Go online and vote for Smokey vs. Cocky from South Carolina!

Keg stand

Nikki's first (and probably last) keg stand. Extra points for doing it in a skirt. Posted by Picasa

Coconut bra

It's not a party until the guy in the coconut bra shows up. Posted by Picasa

Hello, again

Well, who knows what's different, except that now Hello want's to communicate with the blog and post, so OK ... pictures are right again.

Evan at football

Evan was a hoot during the football game. He gave it his all, exploring and playing football with kids twice his size. But he did actually wear down and said, "I go home in Jeni and Dean's car" when we were getting ready to leave. He's definitely our buddy. He really broke our hearts when it was time for us to finally come back to Columbia. He stood at the glass front door with his fists pounding the door in defiance and crying as we drove off. Posted by Picasa

Our house in New Orleans

I lived in New Orleans from first to fourth grade. We actually lived in the suburb Kenner and were very close to Lake Pontchatrain. Well, this morning I actually remembered our old address and looked it up on Google Maps. I did the hybrid view of the house so you can get a concept of where we were. The green on the left side of the screen is the lake, and the arrow is a little off from our actual house, or what was our old house, because as you can imagine from how close we were to the lake, it's gone. Crazy, huh?

(Just for fun, if you scroll down, you can follow the levee to the airport runway where Doug and I used to ride our bikes and watch planes take off...)

Rock on Brock

This is my nephew Brock's website. It's just getting started, but it's going to be pretty cool when it's finished. Make sure to check back for the downloads. He's an awesome guitarist. I have asked my step-brother Fred to send me a story about how Brock was given Van Halen's drumsticks at a concert. When I hear back from him, I'll post the picture and the story.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Keg resuscitation

Chris put his CPR skills to the test pumping the keg in preparation for the keg stands.