Monday, February 28, 2011

Cashew Chicken in the Crockpot

When I'm not feeling good, the Crockpot is one of my best friends. Well actually...I can be feeling great and she's still my best friend! I actually like to call her the elf.

Today the elf came through for me when I've still got this nasty headache (five days and counting...). Here's what she whipped up for me today:

Cashew Chicken in the Crockpot

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, sliced into 1/2" pieces (or red's what I had on hand)
1/4 cup soy sauce (gluten free if you need it)
2 tsp grated gingerroot
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup cashews
1 can pineapple
2 TB cornstarch
3 TB water
Cooked brown or white rice

Place chicken, mushrooms, green onions, soy sauce, ginger, chicken broth, salt and pepper in the Crockpot. Cook on low about 6 hours. Mix cornstarch and water in separate bowl. Stir into crock pot and cook on high 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened. Serve over rice, with cashews and pineapple to garnish.

Sorry no photos today...wasn't up to that. But trust's a yummy recipe worth making. Especially if your elf does it for you!

(Recipe adapted from

Saturday, February 26, 2011


There are a lot of days when I feel blessed by the Lord.

Sometimes it's as simple as seeing a beautiful sunset, being encouraged by a friend or getting a card in the mail.

Then there are other days where God's blessing is even more potent. Today is one of those days.

I have been living with what I call a "monster headache" for the past three days. I don't get them very often. But when they come, it's grueling. If you've ever had one, you know what I'm talking about.

This one has gotten worse as the days have gone much so that I'm in bed today. You probably wonder, "If she has a monster headache, what's she doing on the computer??!!"

Well...I've laid here all day thinking about how blessed I am and couldn't help but write a post about it, even though it actually hurts to look at the computer screen. So I'll keep this brief.

My family has been the hands and feet of Jesus today, thus blessing me beyond what I deserve.

Claire has cleaned, mopped, baked (the most amazing thin mint cookies...I hope she'll post the recipe on her blog soon!), shopped, and brought me food. She's at the store now buying things to make dinner.

Dave has rubbed my head, held my hand, brought me medicine, watched a movie with me and loved me well, even when he's tired after the conference.

Caleb has brought in wood, tended the fire, checked in on me, washed my car...all while he's not feeling the greatest either!

So even though my head is hurting and I can't get out of bed, I feel blessed the Lord through my family.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Cooking Philosophy...and a recipe

Truth be told, I don't like to spend a lot of time cooking. I like making nutritious and tasty meals for my family. But only if it takes about 30 minutes...maybe 40, but no more than that! So in general, if I can't make dinner in less than 40 minutes, it's not a recipe for me.

A few days ago I printed off a recipe for soup that looked like it'd be a quick one. And the ingredients were things I had on hand, except for the beef which was easy to pick up at the store.

Yesterday, when we got home from the salt caves (yes, tried another round of it, and I like how I'm feeling during and after a session there!), I started in on the soup.

Twenty minutes later we were sitting down to eat it. Seriously, from start to finish it was that quick. When I'd looked at the instructions it looked like it wouldn't take long, but I didn't realize it'd be that fast.

After enjoying dinner, I was back in the kitchen and happened to glance at the recipe that I'd been following to make the soup. I am not kidding when I tell you it was only then that I noticed the title of the recipe:

Chef Meg's 15-Minute Asian Beef Soup

That just made me laugh at myself! How had I missed that important point in the title?! But I also thought, "If only all recipes told you in the title how long it would take to make!"

So from Chef Meg at SparkPeople, here's a 15-20 minute soup (with my adaptations):

8 ounces beef sirloin, fat removed, sliced into 1-inch strips 
(used four medium sized pieces of thin beef, sliced into strips)

1 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced sodium 
(I use a gluten free soy sauce I get here at Albert)

1 quart reduced-sodium or homemade beef stock 
(used 3 beef bouillon cubes in about 10 cups of water)

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated (one of the key ingredients!)

2 large carrots, shredded, about 1 cup

1/2 head Napa cabbage, about 2 1/2 cups, shredded 
(also known as Chinese cabbage...I used the regular white cabbage we get here)

6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, tops only, stems removed, sliced, about 1 1/2 cups 
(didn't have any of these so omitted them)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil 
(another key ingredient)

2 cups fresh bean sprouts 
(didn't have those in my pantry so used a can of bamboo shoots that I did have instead)

1 teaspoon sriracha sauce 
(a Thai hot sauce, another key ingredient...for those who live here in Czech you can get it at Billa)

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped 
(Billa was out of cilantro so omitted that as well)

3 green onions, chopped 
(forgot to get it so went without this as well!)

Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan or stock pot.
Place the beef, soy sauce, and ginger in a glass dish, mix to combine, and let marinate for five minutes.
Add the beef and sauce to the boiling stock, and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for two minutes, then add the carrots, cabbage, and mushrooms and cook another two minutes before adding the sesame oil, sriracha, and bean sprouts and cooking for final two minutes.
Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How's YOUR Day?!

Because we live out of the city, there are no gas lines to the houses out here. Thus, we all have propane tanks in the ground that have to be filled in order to heat our houses.

As I said yesterday, our tank is empty so we called the gas man to ask if he could bring some to us. He said sure, he'd come on Thursday morning.

But the morning came and went, and no delivery.

Dave is still up at the Advance conference, but I was able to get a hold of him and let him know that we didn't have gas yet. He said he'd call the man and find out where he was.

A few hours later, Dave called with not so good news...not necessarily for us, but for the gas man!

He was at the intersection waiting to make the turn up to our house this morning, went a SEMI hit him from behind!! Thankfully no one was injured...but his pump was smashed and rendered inoperable. We were the first of 17 deliveries that he had scheduled today. He told Dave, some people are threatening to sue him for this...and it wasn't his fault!

Unfortunately, the parts that are needed to do the repair won't be in to the service garage until Monday. The soonest he can start making deliveries again is Tuesday. He actually called the other two gas delivery companies in the area to see if they could help him, but they aren't free until at least a week from now, and later!

We're definitely getting by with our fireplace and extra blankets on the bed. However, we have a friend living in our guest apartment over the garage right now and there is no heat over there without the gas. So this evening the man is bringing a portable gas heater to loan to us until he can make the delivery. That's pretty good service!

I don't know what kind of day you're having, but hearing our gas man's woes, mine are VERY small in comparison!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On My Heart

It's late...11:30 PM to be exact.

Dave is still up at the hotel for the Advance conference. He called a little bit ago to tell me not to wait up...but it's hard for me to not do that! So here I sit, writing a blog post about what's on my heart tonight as I wait for him to get home.

  • Caleb does have's a serious case of it and the doctor told him he needs to stay home for two weeks. I feel for him as he puts life on hold in order to take care of his body...not easy for my active, extrovert son. This is the first time he's had it in 8 years...back then he had it seven times in six months and then got his tonsils out!
  • Amy, Laura and I had a wonderful time together today working on JV ladies retreat we loved thinking of all our JV ladies today! I sense God has some really good plans for us all during our days together (March 15-19 in Poland)...praying for that anyway!
  • When Dave called a bit ago he said, "It was a REALLY good day at the Advance conference!" I'm sure details will come...though maybe not tonight. Maybe on the week-end?!
  • The garage called today and Dave's car was fixed a day early! Hooray! I was able to pick it up and deliver it up to Malenovice so he could drive himself home tonight.
  • This is good news because it is SUPER cold out and I'd rather just sit by the fire and stay warm while I wait for him!
  • We ran out of propane gas in our tank today so have no heat in the house besides our fireplace. This means it will be a cold night in bed! BRRR!! Hopefully the gas man will be able to come tomorrow. No matter how much gas we buy in the summer to fill the tank, it never seems to be enough to get us through the winter. VERY thankful to have a good fireplace right now....and lots of wood to burn! :)
  • Had the sweetest talk with Tyler this evening as he was on his way from Moody to youth group at Grace Church (our home church in the Wheaton area, and where he leads a small group of guys on Wednesday nights). I love my son! I love that he's got such a good heart for the Lord, and keeps going deeper in his walk with Him. 

That's all for tonight! Except to leave you with a parting picture of Amy, Laura and I just as they were leaving tonight! I meant to get pictures earlier...but only remembered as they had their coats on. Sure love these dear sisters!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Prayer Needs

Dave came home so encouraged from the Advance conference last night!

With his car in the garage (he hit a pot hole while driving home from the Krakow airport on Friday and actually broke a spring...yeah, the big one on the underside of his car! Must've been quite a pot hole...), I went up to the hotel to pick him up late last night, waiting in the parking lot down below for a bit (too much ice to risk going up), while he had one last conversation with someone before walking down.

He said the group of people there for this conference is so outstanding that it's hard NOT to just stand around and talk! With 120 people there, all focused on this crucial area of birthing healthy churches, I'm sure there will be many enriching conversations this week, along with the teaching.

I drove Dave up there again this morning at 7:45 and he'll be there until 10 or 11 PM again tonight...these are long, but good days for all of them at the conference! Thanks for your prayers for them this week.

On another note...Caleb woke up with what seems like strep this morning. He's at the doctor right now. Would appreciate prayer for him. Winter is always hard on his body - has been for the past 9 years since his first serious illness back then. I know he'd be grateful for prayer right now.

Tomorrow I'll be meeting for the whole day with Amy and Laura, my two JV friends who will be teaching with me at our annual JV ladies retreat in March. We taught together in Romania in September, and now have the joy of teaching our friends and co-workers. Please pray for us as we get in tune with each other, with the Spirit and with the hearts of our ladies as we prepare to teach.

Thanks for standing with us in prayer my dear blog reading friends!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pray for Advance

Tomorrow is an important day: 125 pastors and church planters will gather at Malenovice for JV's second annual "Advance" conference, Monday through Thursday.

One of our desires in JV is to see healthy new churches birthed across the region of Central and Eastern Europe. This conference is designed to help equip those God has called to this significant task.

In a region where so few people know the Lord, attend church, or even know someone who does, the future of the church is at stake. If we are to reach this generation with the Gospel, we must have churches that are equipped to not only share Christ, but also disciple and care for new believers, as well as penetrate every aspect of society.

Pray with us this week for fresh vision for the bride of Christ. Pray for the leaders who will take hold of this vision to see the bride flourish. Pray for a movement of God in this part of the world that sees the church thrive!

When I asked Dave what he was excited about this week, his face lit up and he replied, "It's a really good group of leaders who will gather this week! They have lots of potential to speed up the growth of the church in this region and initiate new church plants. There is a lot of significance for the future of the church as we come  together this week. PLEASE pray God moves in a powerful way!"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Salt Caves

With the variety of health problems we've lived through over the years, it's just regular practice for me to keep my ears open for new things that might help us stay well.

It's not that health is the end all goal...I know that our bodies are temporary, that it's our souls that will live on forever. And that's the most important part of me that I invest in.

But I also want to be a good steward of the body God gave me here and now, so that I can live well for Him here on this earth. As with everything, it's a always a matter of balance - nourishing all parts of me: body, mind, spirit and soul.

Yesterday, Claire and I tried out something new as an investment in our bodies.

Ever heard of a salt cave? No, I hadn't either until a few years ago, though they've been around Eastern Europe for a long time.

Salt caves were first used medicinally after a Polish doctor noted in 1832 that salt miners rarely suffered from respiratory diseases. One theory is that salt's antiseptic properties help fight bacteria.

I've read many websites that say it's supposed to be good for all sorts of health problems: respiratory aliments, allergies, digestive problems, heart far we're "check" on all of those! So off we went to try it out.

If nothing else, it turns out to be very relaxing in the salt cave! The light is dim, you walk in over crunchy white salt on the ground, surrounded by huge crystals of salt on the walls. Lying in super comfy chairs, you listen to soft music with a soothing waterfall running in the corner. There are blankets to cover up with (it's not that it's necessarily cold in there...but it's not warm either so the blanket was welcome) as you lay there for 45 minutes letting the salt and minerals soak in (I guess!).

They say to get the full benefit of the salt treatment, you have to go regularly - once a week if you're well, twice to even three times a week when you're sick (though I wondered how I'd feel being in the salt cave with a really ill person!). With it costing just $3 a session, Claire and I are going to try it out for a few weeks and see if it helps our bodies feel any better.

For many years I have suffered from chronic rhinitis (lovely name huh?!) - in common language that's a perpetual runny nose. I have tried so many different medications and treatments for this, none of which has solved the problem. So I'm going to give this a try and see if it helps.

I heard one person say a session in the salt cave is worth a week at the sea. While I'd rather be in Croatia breathing in the salt air there, this is the next best thing right now! If it turns out to be of help, I'll write an update and let you what the result was.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


When Claire said at dinner tonight, "Wow don't usually get this excited about food!" I decided to share what we had for dinner tonight, and what I'm enjoying so much these days.

Years ago, when my mom and dad had a watch store at the 5th Street Public Market in Eugene, Oregon, my dad liked to have lunch at the same place every day.

No big deal, right? Well, it is if it's at Cafe Yumm!

You have to know something about Eugene to appreciate this unique restaurant.

While Eugene is known for its running trails, wide variety of cultural events, political activists, Saturday Market and the University of's also known for, as Wikipedia puts it: a significant population of people in pursuit of alternative ideas, and a large original hippie population!

And that definitely has impact on the community, particularly in the area of food. One of the ways that plays out, and that I like, is the emphasis they've brought to Eugene on healthy, natural, often gluten-free and vegetarian food that is found in restaurants and grocery stores throughout the city.

Which brings me back to Cafe Yumm! While you wouldn't know it when you walk in, it's a mostly vegetarian cafe. And their specialty is...the Yumm! Bowl. Yes, the "!' is part of the name of the best item on the menu!

When I was in Eugene a few weeks ago I wanted to go to the actual cafe, but we never had time. Thankfully, my mom had a bottle of Yumm sauce in her frig, so we made our own Yumm! Bowls at home.

I kept thinking how I really wanted to take some sauce home with me...except that it has to be refrigerated and I couldn't quite figure out how I'd do that with my already overstuffed luggage, bulging at the seams. So in the end, I didn't take any home.

Ah, but that didn't stop me from figuring out how to have a Yumm! Bowl here at home in Czech!

The first day after I returned home, I went to the internet in search of a recipe for their famous sauce...and found it! With a few modifications (since I couldn't find everything listed), I made it and have not been able to get enough! I have not even had time to take my own photo because it's that good!! (Photos courtesy of a Google search!)

I know this is getting long but I have to share this totally favorite recipe...right here, with my modifications. If you want to see the original recipe I modified from, go here. If not, here's my version of the Yumm sauce!

1/2 cup canola oil (I use grapeseed oil)
1/2 cup almond flour (it makes the sauce creamy)
1/2 cup garbanzo beans (from a can, or cooked)
3/4 cup tofu (I's not something I've ever cooked with, but in this recipe it works!)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried cilantro

1. In a blender or food processor, blend almonds and oil
2. Add all other ingredients and puree until creamy smooth
3. Cover and let stand in refrigerator (or use it right away like we do!)

In a bowl, use the sauce over:
Cooked brown rice
Cooked (or heated) black beans (I cooked my own beans tonight since I can't find canned ones here right now)

Top with whatever combination sounds good to you: salsa, cheese, fresh tomatoes, avocado, olives, fresh cilantro

And there you have it! The food that I could eat nearly every day right now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's No Secret

It's no secret that I like to celebrate.

Birthdays? Check! Christmas? Double check! New Driver's License? Of course!

Valentine's? ABSOLUTELY!

I think it started because of my mom (isn't she pretty?!) who also likes to celebrate. She was always so good about those holidays and special events too...and to this day, never forgets to send beautiful, perfectly worded Hallmark cards that she has specially chosen for many occasions!

Years ago, when the kids were really little, I started celebrating Valentine's Day with them. It came at a time of year when we needed a "perk" inside when outside was often so gray and gloomy.

Although Valentine's Day is not really celebrated here in Czech (and especially wasn't in our early years) we would cut out red hearts, make cards for each other, decorate the kitchen table, and never forget to bake cookies or cupcakes! I always made a point of stashing away American canned frosting (you know, the pink kind with the sprinkles on top that you probably should only eat once a year?!) just so we could have it to use on Valentine's Day!

Fast forward many years later...I'm still doing it! And I even baked gluten free cupcakes that totally rivaled any box mix I ever made in the past!  (And my mom supplied the pink frosting this year...thanks mom!)

I found a recipe here that was the perfect yellow cake recipe...moist and tasty, but best of all, gluten free!

Celebrating is a way for me to honor, love, cherish and value the people around me. I like saying, "I love you" even with a pink cupcake!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

He's a Good Man

Dave is in the States right now...not just one state, but many! Over the past eleven days he's been in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, California...and he's on his way to Oregon today.

He's had a very full schedule...JV winter board meeting, preaching numerous times, visiting supporters, talking with people interested in JV, getting together with teams going out this summer, sharing the JV vision with many.

But what I love about him is that he is so good at connecting to us back home when he's gone, which was especially important yesterday! :)

While he was wishing me a happy Valentine's day on the phone, I heard Caleb rustling some paper in the kitchen. The next thing I knew, he brought in a beautiful bouquet of roses he'd gone into town to buy on Dave's them to me as I was on the phone with him!

He's a good man!

Not only were there flowers for me, but for Claire too!

He's also a great dad!

Though we missed his presence here on Valentine's Day, we knew he was with us in his heart!

PS. After posting this, I found out that it was actually CALEB who thought to buy Valentine's flowers for his sister! :) He's a good man too! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Perfect Time

On Saturday Tyler sent me this message:

I have to pay an enrollment fee {to Moody} by next Friday so they know I'll be returning next semester. How should we do that? 

As it is for most everyone, putting a child through college is a stretch financially. We're so happy Tyler's there, and the Lord's always provided for him...never too early, never too late.

I sat at my computer making the bank transfer, talking with the Lord about all that...and again expressing my trust that He'd cover this for us as He has in the past. It was a sweet, simple moment with Him and I felt a rest in my soul as I made that transfer.

Just an hour later, I stopped by the mailbox as I'd forgotten to do it the day before. Amidst all the fliers, ads and bills, there was one personal letter from friends who we've actually only met one time when they came here to visit us, yet they've been so good at staying in touch.

Inside their newsy letter were not one, but two checks...totaling the EXACT amount that I'd just transferred into Tyler's account so he could pay the fee!!!!

Their letter had been mailed from the U.S. January arrived on the 11th of February...I picked it up on the 12th...just ONE HOUR after I'd transferred the money in faith.

How does God do that??!!

Just had to give testimony to the Lord for once again being an amazing, and perfectly timed, provider!!  

Makes me feel like dancing!

 *Photo by Tyler

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Moody Founder's Week

One of the blessings of having Tyler at Moody is being connected to what's happening there!

This past week was "Founder's Week". I didn't know that it's been going on for such a long time. Here's what it says about it on Moody's website:

Founder's Week, held annually since 1901, commemorates the Feb. 5 birthday of world-renowned 19th century pastor, preacher and Moody Bible Institute founder, Dwight Lyman Moody. Along with students, faculty and Moody employees, Founder's Week draws attendees from Chicagoland, the nation and the world. 

What a great tradition that Tyler gets to be part of! It was so fun talking to him while I was in the States, as Founder's Week was going on, hearing about the speakers and how he was being impacted.

Now that I'm back at home, I've been able to go on their website and listen to many of the sessions. I think I've listened to six so far, and every one of them has been great.

If you have time, I'd highly recommend it. Go here for a listing of who spoke, and enjoy being filled up by good teaching!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thanks to Claire

It's Spring break at our house, which means life is in a different mode...and in our case, that means that Claire is experimenting in the baking department. I love when she does that!

This morning I enjoyed... Egg Mcmuffin on a gluten free English muffin that she made! And let me tell was better than any store bought English muffin, gluten or no gluten! Wow...amazing.

She even took the this is really a "thanks to Claire" post!

I did buy a very cool egg poaching (and omelet) pan while I was in the States and thus have a perfectly poached egg to go on that English muffin! And I gotta say...the bacon I buy at our little store in town in the best! It was perfect on that Egg McMuffin.

Together we're going to try our hand at an apple strudel this afternoon, and I have my eye on a new spaghetti sauce that we'll make for dinner, complete with some aged cheese we bought at our local cheese store.

It's nice to be in vacation mode for a few days!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home in Czech

I got home safe and sound Saturday evening after good, normal, on-time flights back from Portland (took this photo with my phone just before starting my 24 hour trek home).

Caleb and Claire drove to the train station to get me (SO happy he has his license now!), and Caleb even met me on the platform to help carry my heavy bags to the car.

That was a trick, getting from the airport in Prague to the train station by myself with a 50 lb suitcase, a 40 lb carry-on (please don't tell the airline...I think that's a "tiny bit" over what they say you can have) and a 25 lb purse...yes, it's true! You can't imagine how many steps I carried all three of those bags up and down before he met me. WHEW!

It was the most relieving feeling to get home and just REST after all that's happened these past two weeks!

My mom, dad and I have visited SO many stores...

Wrapped so many dishes and other items to go in boxes...

...and had a lot of fun along the way, including fun doughnuts downtown Eugene! (Don't ask if it's gluten free...)

Thank you again for praying me through these past weeks. While I was out doing my marathon shopping, I honestly had such a peace. The Lord led us to so many beautiful things for good prices, and to so many wonderful people along the way. And it was actually a lot of fun being on a mission for Him!

It's spring break for Caleb and Claire this week so we're able to just enjoy time together while I'm recovering...a nice way to make re-entry into life here!

The container will be loaded this week with all the things I bought, and shipped early next week. It will be at least a month before we see  everything after it's traveled a long ocean voyage. Please pray for safe travels for that container now!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Leaving for Home

This is what I am leaving at my parents this morning as I head back to Czech!

You really can't see the amount of things that are packed in here...and this is nothing to say of the things that have to picked up (furniture, etc) and other things that are still to be bought next week when our friend, Petr, comes from Czech to finish up this process and pack the 40 ft container. The Lord has provided SO much on this trip for the cabins at Malenovice. I'm excited to see how it all fits together on the other side!

I leave for the airport in just a few minutes, but wanted to get something on my blog before I leave to say thank you for any of you who have prayed for me during this time. It's been an extraordinary trip in so many ways and I'm very thankful for all the Lord has provided...not to mention the very sweet time I've had with my parents...who definitely get the award for patience, perseverance and love for their daughter as they have endured this marathon shopping trip with me!

Dave and I are crossing in the air today...I fly to Seattle, Frankfurt and Prague...he's on a plane from Krakow to Munich to Chicago right now. So we'll be apart for two more weeks...very sad face about that.

But the Lord has had a good plan for these weeks that I've been gone and it's been a joy to be in the center of his will!

See you on the other side!!