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"Is this possible?" you ask. YES! I got this (modified a bit to suit my taste) from the Biggest Loser Cookbook, a show I've never seen but heard a lot about. It almost doesn't seem real, it's so good.

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 1/2 Tbsp powdered salsa mix (I found this in the produce section-it's a little packet at walmart)
1/2 c fat free plain yogurt or sour cream
3/4 c mild salsa
1 roma tomato, chopped

In a pot, add the asparagus and two cups of water. Boil for 5 minutes or so. Drain. Process in a food processor, add salsa mix, yogurt. Blend. Put the mixture into a bowl and add the salsa and tomato, stirring to combine.

Eat with low fat baked corn tortilla chips.

Unbelievable. I'm serving it to the family tonight in the guise of "guacamole to go with our baked chicken and black bean taquitos."

Hiya ladies. I've just found a new "healthy" food that I love! I've had hummus before and didn't think it was all that great. But I picked up some Red Pepper Hummus at our local Kroger store, toasted some whole wheat pitas that I cut into eighths, and WOW.

So my healthy lunch today is:

Julie's Romaine White Bean Salad

two heads romaine hearts, chopped and washed (LOVE my cheapie salad spinner!)
fat free italian dressing or Newman's Own light balsamic vinegrette (how do you spell that???)
1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white tuna, drained
shredded carrots

And toasted pitas and red pepper hummus.

Maybe eating healthy isn't so hard after all...

By the way, a wonderful gal on the forum recommended switching up my work out a bit, so I've added the stair killer, I mean, climber, and running. I'm hoping it's helping me break out of my plateau.

So now the official total of weight loss is: TWENTY POUNDS. It's taken FOREVER, but you must, must, must go slow. I'm totally convinced. Never give up!


One of my resolutions this year was to read at least two quality books a month. I'm on number four! I think I'll finish it today or tomorrow.

It's Anne Rice's Christ the Lord-Out of Egypt.

When I was in college, during a significant crisis of faith, I got into Anne Rice's vampire novels. They are very graphic and sensual, and I ended up throwing them away in my dorm's dumpster because, for me, I knew they weren't good for my soul. I haven't picked up one of her books since, and I was never quite brave enough to WATCH Interview with the Vampire. So I remember reading a review of this book in World magazine a while back and when I saw it at the library, I snatched it up and then found that an hour had passed without me even knowing it, engrossed as I was in the possibilities of a tale of Jesus as a young boy.

Anne Rice converted back to catholicism after many years of denying God's existence. Though raised a Catholic, she married an atheist and reports that her years writing hopeless literature illustrates her longing and seeking after God.

I'm only half way through the book. I was hesitant to read it at first, wondering if it was heretical to speculate about Jesus' early years. I don't think it is, at least I hope it's not...At any rate, I like it. I really do. We'll see how it ends.


If you have access to Grandma's Noodles, which are usually found in the freezer section of your grocery, near bread and ravioli and stuff, you absolutely must use them. You can check out their website to see where they're sold if you have trouble finding them (www.grandmaspasta.com). The noodles MAKE the soup, the recipe is one I got from our fellowship director at church, but I've tweaked it a bit.

1 whole roasting chicken
1 very large pot
water
onions, coarsely sliced
celery, coarsely chopped (you'll discard the onions and celery eventually so it makes no difference how you cut it!)
5 cubes chicken bouillon (low sodium)
1/2 lb baby carrots
1 pkg grandma's noodles, thawed according to package directions
2 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Put the whole chicken, giblets and neck removed, into a pot and cover with water. Add onion and celery. Set it to simmer all afternoon (about 4 hours), starting it on high, then turning down the heat to medium low. Cover.

Once its done, using tongs, lift out all the chicken pieces. Strain the broth into a different pot or big bowl. Put the broth back into the original pot (you might have to wash it to get the "scummy" stuff on the sides of the pot). Put the carrots in the broth and begin to simmer on medium high again. Add the bouillon cubes. Begin picking off the chicken meat from the bones (it will be a falling apart mess). Watch for little bones! Add the meat to the pot. Add the noodles to the pot and cook for 10 minutes or so until noodles are done. Add seasonings to taste.

This is my most favorite soup EVER. Last night, I put two bags of noodles in it, so I was more like chicken and noodles, than soup. Still wonderful!

My good buddy and I have been discussing this lately, and then I was reading over at Sprittibee (http://sbees.blogspot.com) about it, too, so I thought I'd share a bit about what we do.

My philosophy on scheduling is not so much to do stuff at the same TIME every day, but to do them in the same order with the same amount of time between each thing. Huh?

We might get up at 7 or 8 or 8:30. I might get full cooperation with showers and chores and breakfast. Or I might not. But regardless when we start, here's the way we do things:

Family Bible Time at Breakfast with Dad
Handwriting
Spelling Workout
Language
20 min. break to play
Reading
History
Lunch
Math with dad
Free time until dinner
Dinner
Baths for the little ones
Quick pick up
Free Reading time in bed
Lights out!

Sure, we throw the occasional playdate or trip to the library in there, but when you have a baby who takes a morning nap and and afternoon nap, it can cramp your style when it comes to stuff like that (which I don't mind-I'm a homebody anyway!).

I'm not tied to the clock so that I STRESS out, but the kids have a general idea of what is when and why. Sometimes we'll be on a roll, and I'm telling my 8 year old, "Let's just get the last two subjects done, then you can play the rest of the day." But often it's, "NOPE. I get a break after three subjects."

I use this same basic idea with my babies, too. My babies never got up at the exact same time each day, but they always got a morning nap about two hours after they got up, then they had lunch, then another two hour or so afternoon nap. If I had to push bedtime back a bit because the day ran a little late, so be it. It gave me both flexibility and structure. Usually, my kiddos fell into a nice pattern by about a year, so that now my sweet girl naps at about 10 and 2, then bedtime is between 7 and 8.

So would this post be considered a WORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAY post??



I started this book a while back and never finished it. Biographies can take a while to get into, but once I did I couldn't put this down. I think at first I thought that maybe reading about the woman who wrote the hymn "More Love to Thee" and the book Stepping Heavenward, I would feel like such a loser-Christian. You know, here's a wife and mother who never has a bad day, takes delight ALWAYS in her roles...sometimes that just makes me feel worse, you know? Well, I was relieved to find that Elizabeth Prentiss, for all her wonderful qualities, was also human. She was prone to dramatic emotional highs and lows, sometimes quick-tempered, and in the midst of raising small children she discovered that her moments were not her own.

She faced tremendous hardships, of her own health and the health of her family in mid-nineteenth century New England. She faced difficult pregnancies and deliveries. She lost two children, one as a toddler and one as a newborn baby. She writes:

Dear Jesus! must Thou take our lambs,
Our cherished lambs away?
Thou hast so many, we so few-
Canst Thou not let them stay?

Must the round limbs we love so well,
Grow still and cold in death?
Must all our loveliest flowerets fail
Before his icy breath?

Nay Lord, it is hard, is hard-
Oh, give us faith to see,
That grief, not joy, is best for us
Since it is sent by Thee.

And oh, by all our mortal pangs
Hear Thou the mother's plea-
Be gracious to the darling ones
We've given back to Thee.

She is honest, yet she knows that "God never makes a mistake." She mourns, even questions God's decisions in bringing her dear babies home to Him, but she also has a rock-solid foundation that God is good and that everything He does is good.

I appreciate that she is real, but also clings to Jesus. That inspires me to love Him more, to trust Him more, and to be more thankful for the gifts He has given me, so that when suffering comes, as I know it will, I will be ready knowing the truths of Scripture that talk about God's tremendous love and character.

Here was a woman wholly committed to God, her husband, and her children. Her faithfulness speaks volumes to me.

EVERY MOTHER SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.



Thanks to my fantastic friend, Debbie, HI DEBBIE!, I've joined Paperback Swap and you should, too!

Here's how it works:

You sign up with a valid email and mailing address. You list books you have that you want to get rid of (they can be kids' books, paperbacks or hardbacks). You list their ISBN number. Then if someone wants to swap your book, they let you know, you print out two sheets of paper and wrap the book up with the paper and tape and mail it to them. You pay the postage (usually a couple of dollars). When you receive a book yourself, the sender pays the postage, so it all evens out in the end. See? When this happens YOU get a credit, which counts for one book. Then you decide what book you'd like. It doesn't have to be from the person who wanted your book. It's any book in the wide world that's listed. You automatically get two credits (which counts for 2 books) when you join and list 10 books. I went through all my kids books and cleaned out all the books I can't stand reading out loud to the kids (READ: Disney movie adaptations). I'm starting to be ruthless in the purge of bookshelves!

If you join, please list my username of Juloyes as your referrer. That way, I get a credit! You can spread the word to others yourself and earn credits, too.

So SIGN UP TODAY! And put me as your referral: REMEMBER: JULOYES

THAT'S JULOYES.

From one bibliophile to another! :)

Uhhhh..Tara mentioned after the fact I forgot to give you the website!!! SORRY!

www.paperbackswap.com

have fun!

Oh, one more thing: I've looked at next year's homeschooling curriculum and put a bunch of the books I need on AUTO-REQUEST. So as soon as someone posts them, I've already requested them. SO EASY!

Yada yada yada about hyperlinking on this Macbook! Here is such a wonderful post by Lisa Writes I just had to share it today:

http://lisa-writes.blogspot.com/2008/01/big-and-little-revisited.html

She articulates so much of what I feel about being a cookie baking, stay at home mother, especially when I was raised in a "have it all" culture.

Thanks for more words of wisdom, Lisa!

I got a comment yesterday about a few of my older posts regarding Islam and Christianity and their relationship. I think I'll post about it, instead of just replying in a comment. So here is the comment, and following will be my response to it. I am very thankful that Khany took the time to share his ideas. I think the free exchange of ideas is what makes the West so wonderful. Both of us are free to share and believe how we choose without fear of censorship or death.


hello Juloyes,
i just across your blog by chance while browsing the web and now i feel the urge to respond although it has been so long since you posted this that you may have lost interest in the subject.

if you are interested in islam i would highly recommend that you learn it from its "primary" sources. "my year inside radical islam" might teach you something about muslims - or one person's experience inside a geographically limited community informed by its social and political environment over the course of an year - but you can hardly expect to get a handle on islam from this reading. my intention is not to disparage the book, i have not read it.

english translations of the quran (http://www.quranexplorer.com/) are readily available so too are english biographies of the prophet (peace be upon him). there are the only primary sources of islam. having said that let me address your question to the best of my knowledge.

although there numerous quranic verses that could be quoted i will highlight only three.

(002:062)
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] - those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.

(004:171)
O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three"; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.

(004:048)
Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.

muslims believe that islam is not a new religion that was revealed to the prophet muhammad. in fact it was the religion of god from the first day. all the prophets and messengers of god taught the same essential message "worship none save the one true god". in deed, prophet muhammad only reiterated this primordial message. in this sense the true followers of jesus and moses (peace be upon them) are muslims in this sense. the divination of christ is an innovation in the christian religion in the sight of islam.

yet, it is not in the right of any muslim to decree that another person will go to heaven or hell whether he be muslim or otherwise. this is because only allah knows what is in the hearts of people and he can allow out of his mercy who he wills into the garden of paradise.



Some thoughts on Islam and Christianity:

1. Is it possible for one to study an English translation of the koran, or must it be read in Arabic only? Could I study it for myself in English and still make credible points with a Muslim?

2. It seems as though the first verse you quoted says that as a Christian, I will not lose my reward. Yet the following two verses seem to say the opposite, that allah does not forgive any association with him. So which is it?

3. As C.S. Lewis so articulately expressed in his book Mere Christianity, the statements of Christ do not allow us to call Him merely a "good teacher". He is either a liar, a lunatic, or He is LORD. His claims to deity in the gospel of John, for example, are so numerous that they cannot be denied. Here is one: John 10:30 "I and the Father are one."

His disciple also affirms Jesus' deity: John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth.

4. Christians are not polytheists. The doctrine of the trinity is woven throughout the Bible. There is a sense of mystery involved, but the idea that God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is found in Mark 1:9-11, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and Matthew 28:19. Three persons within ONE God, that perfectly coexist with one another, the same in essence, equal in power and glory, as the Baptist catechism states so succinctly.

5. People are utterly depraved and have no hope of salvation. It makes no difference how many times a day you pray, how kind you are to the poor, whether you make a religious pilgrimage, stay morally pure. If one were to broadcast every thought and intention of my heart onto a movie screen for the world to see, I could never show my face again, I would be so ashamed. In contrast, God is so wholly Holy that I could never purify myself to be acceptable to Him. This is why Jesus came:

Jesus is the perfect God/Man. He is fully God, and fully man at the same time. Hebrews 4:15-16 explains that in Jesus we have a great High Priest, a Savior, who can sympathize with our weakness, but who ever fell prey to the charms of sin. He lived the perfect life that we cannot. He could only do that because he is God. He paid the ultimate price on the cross. He bore God's wrath. It fell upon Him. So that the person who recognizes his sinful, depraved state and trusts in Jesus' perfect sacrifice to atone for his sin, this is the person who is promised eternal life. I have the assurance that because I am trusting in Jesus to save me from the punishment my sin deserves, I will be with Him forever in heaven.

I do not have to labor. I can never fulfill the law's demands to save myself. I also do not serve an arbitrary god who will someday weigh my good and bad deeds and decide if I did good enough.

6. You claim to be unable to know the mind of allah, yet he has spoken in the koran so you know something about what is in his mind.

7. allah is not just. If he just decides that one person's sin never gets any punishment, he is the worst of rulers. We would never stand for a king to punish some for their wrongs, and not others. We could cry, "Tyrant!" In Christ, God is just and merciful. He punishes sin by placing it on Jesus, yet in His grace and mercy, provides a way for people to be saved: by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

8. While I have read many books that are critical of Islam, I have also had enlightening, frank conversations with my good Muslim friend, who I cherish. Hearing radical Muslims desire my death makes me feel uncomfortable, especially when they say the koran demands it.

8. There is ONE guarantee in Islam of paradise: death by jihad. Is this correct? If so, then I would certainly understand why a desperate Muslim would go to such lengths for the assurance that he or she has pleased allah enough to get to paradise. It would take off a lot of the pressure to be good enough.

At the end of the day, I am supremely thankful to have this "cyber" discussion. I am glad that Muslims and Christians can dialogue and I think it goes along way in learning to trust each other. I do not desire the death of any Muslim, even Osama bin Laden. I desire to see God change his heart in such a way that he repents of his sin, and turns to the living God, Jesus Christ. J



One of my New Year's Resolutions was to read two quality books a month, mostly from the recommendations found in Honey for a Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt (GET THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY, BOOK LOVERS!). So far, I've read Jubal Sackett by Louis L'Amour and now I finished A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle.

A Year in Provence was absolutely delightful. Originally published in 1989, it tells the true story of an English couple who has had enough of London's dreary weather and less than stellar food. So they pack up and move to the beautiful region of southern France known as Provence. (I've been there and this book completely transported me!) What follows is a year of delicious food, lovely scenery, French bureaucracy, tourists, and Provencal hunters, peasants, and construction workers. I highly recommend this book!

Hiya, girls. Not much time today, but I just read in the newest Fitness magazine that the "wiggle test" is a better measure of your fitness progress than the scale. So my scale hasn't moved much this week, but my new size 12 jeans are falling down without a belt.

Now that's exciting! If I can do this, anyone can!

Crab Rangoons

I spent this afternoon cooking in the church kitchen with a friend for our Wednesday night meal. Our church has a sign up sheet for one Wednesday a month to volunteer to cook the entire meal either by yourself or with a friend for the entire church. We decided to do Chinese food. So we spent hours cutting and frying up chicken pieces, making sweet and sour sauce, fried rice, egg drop soup, and crab rangoons. I will admit that we bought the frozen egg rolls. I've got all these chinese lantern decorations and my friend made her famous turtle cheesecake (adios diet!) and chocolate trifle. I told her a more appropriate (but not nearly so tasty) dessert would be red jell-o and banana nilla wafer pudding, maybe with an ice cream machine and sprinkles. :) ANYWAY, I thought I'd post my almost famous super easy crab rangoon recipe for you. Homemade Chinese food is a lot of work, but soooo good.

Crab Rangoons

2 blocks 1/3 fat cream cheese
4 cans crab meat
1 T garlic powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 pkg wonton wrappers (usually they come in packs 60)
1 bottle of canola oil

a fry daddy helps

Beat together cream cheese, crab meat, garlic powder, paprika. Be sure you don't let the cream cheese get too warm-it tends to seep out when you fry them in the wonton wrappers. Put a spoonful of filling into the middle of a wonton wrapper. Dampen your fingers with water and bring the corners up to the center into a little "bundle".

Fry in canola oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.



I read Jubal Sackett by Louis L'Amour in three days. Once I get hooked into a book, I can't stop! So now I need to wait for some interlibrary loans to come in before I plunge into a new book for the new year. I'm thinking of maybe having a goal of two books a month.

L'Amour is considered the best storyteller of the West, and since I live in the West, I found this book much more interesting than I would have, say, three years ago. I thought maybe L'Amour would be a niche author, but this particular book has a much broader appeal. He is a fantastic writer!

www.louislamour.com

Have you checked out Average Girl's blog? If not, you should. She's got such a sweet spirit about her. Well, when she heard it was my 30th birthday, she sent me the most BEAUTIFUL purple and blue bag that she made. I've not even had the chance to meet her in person, but maybe some day! You wouldn't have to twist my arm to go back up to the Northwest for a visit.

When hubby comes home I'm going to get him to take my picture with it and I'll post it. I've already used it a couple time since I got it the other day. It looks like something you'd pay big bucks for in a fancy boutique!

sooooo-THANK YOU AVERAGE GIRL!!!!

I've been working my tail off since Labor Day to lose weight. I've resigned myself to the fact that it is a slow process, and that only slow weight loss will yield long-term results. With that said, I have lost a total of....

17 POUNDS!!!!

I'm down one size and I can tell my endurance is improved, too. People have noticed that I've lost weight, which I have to say, is GREAT motivation to keep at it and not devour the pizza hubby makes after the kids go to bed.

My latest dilemma, however, is what to incorporate into my weight training routine. I know it's important, and I was doing it, but not seeing much results. I was also in the weight room one day with a woman who totally knows what's she doing and I've asked her for help before, but one day when she gave it, it made me feel silly. So I know that sounds strange, but I've avoided the weight room ever since! I've been getting on-line looking for suggestions, but can't seem to find what I'm looking for. So I'll KEEP looking I suppose, and keep up the cardio and watching what I eat.

I just love Lisa Writes' blog. You know what troubles I have hyperlinking, so just check it out in my blog roll, 'kay? Anyway, she posted about some of the books she wants to read this year, and I was inspired to share some of my own, especially since I just finished Honey for a Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt (oh, how I loooooooove Gladys Hunt!) So here are mine:

A Year in Provence-Peter Mayle
The Night the Bed Fell In-James Thurber, in the Thurber Chronicles
All Things Bright and Beautiful- James Herriot
Till We Have Faces-C.S. Lewis
A Fine Balance-Rohinton Mistry
Jayber Crow-Wendell Berry
Tales from Shakespeare-Charles and Mary Lamb
Giants in the Earth-Ole E. Rolvaag
Flannery O'Connor: The Complete Stories
Jubal Sackett-Louis L'Amore

I plan on getting some interlibrary loans soon. My goal is two books a month. I have more on my list, but this is a start. Have you got any books you want to read this year??

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