Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Apparently I Was NOT Born on a Tuesday

Do you remember that old rhyme,

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I am so clearly not a Tuesday's child. There is not a graceful bone in my body. Particularly when it comes to stairs. Going down them specifically.

Once some girlfriends and I went down the the Florida Keys for a girls' weekend. Just the four of us in a condo. While packing up and going home, I was carrying an ice chest (full of food, mind you) down the stairs to the car. I slipped and while nothing was injured but my pride, all the food was now spilled and splattered all over the stairs.

Another time I fell down the stairs at church, fortunately catching myself on the handrail after about 4 or 5 steps.

I got to the point where I always took the elevator down the stairs at our local library because I couldn't bear the thought of falling in such a public place.

Until now.

The other day I ran over to the nearest grocery store to pick up something I needed for dinner. As I was coming out, my foot slipped on the dusty, granite stairs (have I mentioned how dusty it is here?!?). I went down the entire staircase on my shins and my left ankle. I have no idea how I ended up in that position, but I have the bruises to prove it.

When I finally hit the bottom I sat (well, whatever you call it when you are on your shins) there for a second, stunned and in pain. Did I point out that the stairs were granite and very sharp at the edges? I looked around for help, but saw only men. Muslim men.

Muslim men will not touch a woman (like to help her get up!) or, for that matter, even acknowledge a woman most of the time. Not because they are unkind, but because it is considered taboo in this culture. Who knows, a woman like me, blond and clearly Western? I might have just thrown my body at them. Well, dragging my bleeding and swollen left leg behind me.

So I struggled to my feet and hobbled to my car. I managed to get in and get the car started. I refused to cry. Well, at least until I got out of the parking lot so they couldn't see me. Then I burst into tears and lost it.

Just that morning I was doing research on hospitals and found that there is an excellent one nearby, so I drove by it just to make sure I knew where it was. I got home and honked for the kids who came out and helped me into the house and got my leg elevated with ice on the ankle.

Nothing's broken, except for my pride, but I do have two huge, swollen contusions (sounds more serious than bruises) on my left shin and ankle. After all, I was born on a Monday, so that means I'm fair of face. That doesn't apply to my legs apparently.
Monday, April 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


Good Morning Internets!!

Welcome to Menu Plan Monday here at The Simple Life at Home. True to the name, I am making it simple by using my new and improved 8 Week Menu that I posted last week. This makes it a snap to look at my home organization binder and know instantly what I'll be having and what I need.

I'll be starting off in Week 3. The reason? Well, here in Qatar you need a license to buy alcohol and two of my recipes, Spaghetti and Meatballs in Week 1 and Beef Burgundy in Week 2, require red wine. To get a license you need a letter of permission from your employer and you must put down a deposit of $250. I only use alcohol for cooking, so it hasn't been a necessity until now. Since we haven't gotten our license yet, I'm skipping those weeks and hopefully I'll have it next time around.

So here is this week's menu:

Monday - Tostadas

Tuesday - Lentils and Rice with a lemon-dressed chopped salad

Wednesday - Mexi-Chicken in the crockpot served with rice and a salad

Thursday - Creamy Pasta Primavera (recipe below), Caesar salad and garlic bread

Friday - Sandwiches, cole slaw, potato chips

Saturday - Roast Sticky Chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic green beans

Sunday - Cauliflower Soup and homemade bread

Looks good, huh?? I think my favorite thing on this week's menu has to be the Creamy Pasta Primavera. It's a recipe I got from my pastor's wife over 20 years ago and I love it! I hope you'll like it too.

Creamy Pasta Primavera

1 box of linguine
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
handful of fresh green beans, snipped and cut into 1" pcs.
1 onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
basil to taste
6 oz. cream, warmed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil linguine until done. While it's boiling, saute all the vegetables in the olive oil and butter until they are tender-crisp. Sprinkle with basil to taste. Drain pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Top with vegetables. Pour in the cream Parmesan cheese and stir to cover the pasta and vegetables well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For more menu ideas, be sure to check out The Organizing Junkie!
Sunday, April 27, 2008

Koosa Mahshi (Stuffed Zucchini)

Believe it or not, a lot of people come to The Simple Life at Home by searching for "Koosa Mahshi." This simple, but delicious, Lebanese dish is fairly easy to prepare and well worth giving a try. It's included on my 8 Week Menu Plan and since so many people come looking for a recipe, I figured it was time to post it.


First you will need a special tool for hollowing out the zucchini. This could be found in any Middle Eastern grocery store inexpensively. It's similar to an apple corer, but longer - say about 6-8 inches. It's not expensive, but if you can't find one, I guess you could use a similar type tool, like an apple corer.

You want to choose small squashes. I don't know why - that's just what my mother-in-law told me. She even cut the larger ones in half to use, so it must be really important, right?

Koosa Mahshi

2 lbs. small zucchini
1 cup rice
2/3 cup ground beef
1 T. melted butter
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. all spice
sliced tomatoes (you can keep one or two whole, but hollowed out for extra stuffing)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
hot water
salt and pepper
2-3 coarsely chopped garlic cloves
2 T. dried mint

Wash squash, cut off stem tips and, using corer, hollow out. Be careful not to break squash. Set aside. Mix rice, meat, butter and spices together. Stuff mixture loosely into squash - do not pack too tightly or the squash will burst as the rice expands during cooking. Arrange stuffed squash (and tomato if you've chosen to stuff them also) in a sauce pan (I use a pressure cooker - takes 8 minutes that way!). Add sliced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Add enough hot water to cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low heat and cook for 25 minutes, until squash is tender. When almost done, sprinkle garlic and mint over the squash and simmer a few minutes longer.

Voila! A delicious, healthy meal!

Sahtain! (Arabic for "bon appetit!")
Saturday, April 26, 2008

I Realize it's Not Thursday, But....

When I saw this week's themed edition of Thursday Thirteen over on Ashley's blog, I just had to take part. What could have such drawing power, you ask?

Travel.

I love to go to new places and see new things and people. This week's edition is 13 places I've visited. Here's some of my highlights:

1. Salzburg, Austria - This is actually where I spent my 21st birthday with a great group of friends. We spent the day traipsing around town looking for scenes from The Sound of Music (and saw quite a few too!), visiting a castle, playing a game of life-size chess in the town square. A beautiful city.

2. Amman, Jordan - Hubby's hometown. Did you know that there is an amazingly well-preserved Roman amphitheater there? My first visit to the Middle East - little did I know what lay aheah, huh?

3. Rome, Italy - While backpacking through Europe with my dear friend, this was one of my favorite stops. The sights, the food, this history, the boys...Ahh, it was a delightful few days.

4. Vienna, Austria - While spending a year on a short-term mission I was based one hour south of Vienna. Each weekend we would head up to the big city to take in as many of the sights as we could on our missionary stipend of $5 a week (or so) spending money. We didn't get to go to any great cultural events, but loved walking along the Danube River and hanging out at the plaza in front of St. Stephan's Cathedral. Our biggest goal was to get standing room only tickets to see "The Phantom of the Opera." Alas, it never happened.

5. Ensenada, Mexico - I spent a long weekend there as a college student working at Aqua Viva, a ministry which provides campgrounds for Mexican churches to use as retreats. That basketball court? I helped build that! Those cabins? Them too! While there we got to visit a local family who touched us with their love and warmth in the midst of utter poverty. It was a life-changing experience.

6. Petra, Jordan - This ancient city of Nabateans, carved out of red sandstone is truly a wonder to behold. Hubby and I took a little mini-vacation last time we were in Jordan and went there for a couple of days. Amazing! To think that this entire city (which is huge! ask my poor tired feet) was done without the aid of modern tools or technology is incredible. As you walk to the city, you go through a long, narrow gorge. The first glimpse of the building known as the Treasury is breath-taking.

7. Amsterdam, Netherlands - This was one of the final legs on my European backpacking trip. Alone in the big city (having left my friend behind in Budapest so she could continue on into Russia), I briefly considered getting a tatoo and then, wisely, thought the better of it.

8. Czechoslovakia - Ok, so I only rode through here on a train, but I think it's cool that I've been to a country that doesn't even exist anymore. Add East Germany to that list too.

9. Niagra Falls - I know I went as a kid and was amazed. But it was even more fun to go several years ago with my own children and see them be awestruck.

10. Paris, France - Sorry, but I was not impressed by gay Paris. The people there were rude, spoiling the fun for my friend and I. It was amazing going to the Louvre, but sadly I did not have the same appreciation for art that I do now. And the Eiffel Tower is so much bigger than you can imagine. Seriously. Huge. I had my Eiffel Tower earrings up until a couple of years ago when the post broke and I was really, really sad.

11. London, England - Last stop on the "Europe in 23 days" tour. I only had one day to spend there, but my friend Angela did a bang-up (see, that's an English phrase!) job of being a tour guide. We rode a double-decker bus through town and saw all the sights, went to Buckingham Palace and watched the changing of the guard and had a great time.

12. West Berlin, West Germany - Stopped off her on my way to a short-term mission trip in Poland. This was before the Berlin Wall came down, so we got to see it. Very, very powerful experience to think that on the other side of the wall were people living in total repression. I wept for joy when, just a few years later, the wall fell and people were dancing on it.

13. Doha, Qatar - Does it count as visiting if you move there? We've been here a month now and are beginning to see all the good things. Not much interesting touristy-wise, but we are getting to know the town and hope to get to know some of the people.
Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Most Expensive Birthday Present I'LL Ever Get!!

So Tuesday was my birthday. A big birthday. One of those one's that end in zero. And not just that, but THE birthday that all the fuss is made over, that all the decoration companies just love to point out. As Hubby put it, I had my 15th anniversary of my 25th birthday. (Did you know visiting this blog require math skills?)

Yes, I turned 40. Oooh, it hurts just to type that.

The day started out with breakfast almost-in-bed served up by my kids. They wanted to do poached eggs with toast, one of my favorite breakfasts, but a) didn't know how to poach eggs, and b) couldn't remember how to start the gas stovetop. Instead I got two slices of toast and a glass of milk. Along with a cute stuffed bunny, whom I have chosen to name Fred.

In the middle of my breakfast, they insisted that I come downstairs. As I walked down the stairs, Emily played "Happy Birthday" on the piano, which was completely decorated with, ahem, 25th birthday decorations, having been lovingly sent along secretly in Emily's suitcase from Miami by my wonderful friend Mylinda. There was also a card from her and the kids had picked out a nice one for me as well.

That night we went to dinner, in Hubby's car as one child, possibly Daniel, had left the door open on the rental I've been driving and the light drained the battery. I was a little bummed that this meant that I wouldn't be able to get to Bible study the next morning. And then, in the midst of one of the best dinners I've ever had, Hubby's cell rang. It was the car salesman, calling to say that my brand spankin' new Chevy Tahoe was ready.

We picked it up after dinner and, man, is it pretty!!! I have to say this is my favorite car I have ever had. Big, open windows with lots of space, sunroof, Bose speakers (blasting some of my favorite 80's music as I drove to Bible Study yesterday), and the best part? It has a remote start feature so when it's 115 degrees in the summer, I can turn it on from the house and get it all nice and cooled before getting in. Isn't technology wonderful??!!!??

And now, I have a present for you, even though it's not your birthday. Well, I guess it might be your birthday. If it IS your birthday, Happy Birthday!! I get credit for getting you a gift, right? Anyways, if you like to laugh, you have to visit Stuff Christians Like. This guy is hysterical and right on the money. Today's post? An ode to the Crockpot which, thankyouverymuch, I will be using today. Other recent posts include the inability of some churches to get the whole clapping thing down, sending email forwards which hint that you aren't really a Christian if you don't keep them going, and pastors who go a little too far with the whole alliteration thing. So if you can laugh at yourself and at "The Church" as a social institution, you will totally enjoy this site.

You can mail your thank you note to me once I actually have an address.
Monday, April 21, 2008

8 Week Menu Plan (Revised Version)



A while back I posted my 8 week menu plan. It took quite a bit of time to think through, but in the end saved me tons of time in weekly menu planning . I even prepared weekly shopping lists which included every ingredient for every item on the week's plan. FANTASTIC!!! Shopping, deciding what to have each night, and even preparing it became so much easier! I knew just what to get, what to make each night and I had everything I needed, so no last minute rush to the store.


Well, over time and with our recent move to another country, some changes were in order. There were some recipes that, let's be honest, the family just didn't like (even though I did). There were some recipes that I just can't find ingredients for here in Doha. Grocery shopping is kind of like a grueling marathon, requiring trips to three or four different places to get everything on your list and even then you don't find it all.


And then, too, our lifestyle has changed. I've not only dropped some menus and included new ones, but I've rearranged them to better fit our lifestyle here in Doha. Which, as we get more settled in may change, but this is now. You'll notice that I certain days each week which have a certain "type" of meal - slow cooker on Wednesday, soup or salad on Saturday, etc. Fridays, which are now our day off together as a family, are generally something easy and fast. I've also left in days when I can try those yummy new recipes I find at YOUR blog!!


For those of you coming over from Laura's Menu Plan Monday, hi!!! I'm not actually going to post this week's menu because I didn't have this finalized when I did my shopping and I don't want to confuse the issue. Let's just hope you don't consider me a cheater (after all, you are getting 8 weeks worth of menu plans!) and you don't report me to the teacher!


Week 1

Monday - Baked Tilapia, rice and steamed veggies

Tuesday - Fondue (chicken, steak, shrimp, and veggies) in broth with lots of dipping sauces

Wednesday - Crockpot roast with potatoes and carrots

Thursday - Uncle David's Spaghetti and Meatballs, tossed salad and garlic bread

Friday - Shish Kebabs with rice and pita bread

Saturday - Curry Cajun Chicken with mashed potatoes

Sunday - Country Corn Chowder with rolls


Week 2

Monday - Rosemary & Lime Chicken, steamed veggies, and salad

Tuesday - Baked Shrimp Scampi over linguine

Wednesday - Crockpot Beef Burgundy, rice and tossed salad

Thursday - Arabic Meatloaf, chopped salad

Friday - Mezze (assortment of small dishes - tabbouleh, hummus, pickles, cheeses, bread, olives)

Saturday - New Recipe

Sunday - Potato Lover's Salad


Week 3

Monday - Tostadas


Wednesday - Crockpot Mexi Chicken (chicken breasts with Ro-Tel in the crockpot)

Thursday - Creamy Pasta Primavera with salad and garlic bread

Friday - Sandwiches with cole slaw

Saturday - Roast Sticky Chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic green beans

Sunday - Cauliflower soup


Week 4

Monday - Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad and garlic bread

Tuesday - Chicken stir fry and rice


Thursday - Zesty Mac and Cheese with salad

Friday - Homemade pizza

Saturday - New Recipe



Week 5

Monday - Tacos

Tuesday - Salmon, steamed veggies and rice

Wednesday - Crockpot roast with carrots and potatoes

Thursday - Bezella over rice with a chopped salad

Friday - Burgers, potato salad and chips

Saturday - Chicken Parmesan, Caesar salad and garlic bread

Sunday - Vegetable Stew for Two and rolls


Week 6

Monday - Fish fry, cole slaw and french fries

Tuesday - Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Wednesday - Crockpot Chicken Breasts (chicken with cream of mushroom soup and onions)

Thursday - Lasagna, salad and breadsticks

Friday - Chicken Dijon, salad and roasted broccoli

Saturday - New Recipe



Week 7

Monday - Roasted chicken, roasted potatoes and salad

Tuesday - Shepherd's Pie and a salad

Wednesday - Chili and cornbread

Thursday - Mahlouba, yogurt and salad

Friday - Sandwiches, cole slaw and chips

Saturday - Jambalaya with rice

Sunday - Cobb Salad


Week 8

Monday - Toasted Ziti and Cheese, garlic bread and a salad

Tuesday - Pineapple Glazed Meatloaf, au gratin potatoes and steamed veggies

Wednesday - Crockpot Shredded Beef Sandwiches and potato salad

Thursday - Koosa Mahshi (zucchini stuffed with rice and meat in a tomato sauce)

Friday - Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, grilled tomatoes

Saturday - New Recipe


So there it is! I'll try to post more of the accompanying recipes as time goes by, but if there is one that caught your eye and you'd like the recipe, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to share! Have a great week!!
Friday, April 18, 2008

Drumroll, please....

Ok, since some of you (:::cough:::, Leeann) are impatiently hinting to see pictures, I'm going to go ahead and post some even though the house is far from ready. Since our walls are masonry, we don't have the tools necessary to hang any artwork and we are lacking couches in our living room (which, come to think of it, I didn't even photograph, so never mind), we need carpets and some places need new drapes, etc., etc.
So, now without further ado here is our new home (comments are for the picture below them):

Here is the family room and dining room. You can see through the doorway to the right the living room and stairs leading to the second floor. The door behind the dining table leads to a hallway and the guest bath, kitchen, 5th bedroom and opens up into the stairs and living room.


This is a view of the family room standing in the dining room. You can see that out our window there is a little garden area. Right now there is are two trees and a bougainvillea (that needs quite a bit of TLC) in the middle. On the right side of the garden there are some lovely white flowers, impatiens maybe) that are starting to come back with a little attention. Unfortunately, the entire left side is completely dead and we will need to redo the whole thing probably. We have our patio furniture just outside the window. Oh, and the doors to the left? There are two sets of front doors - one in this room and one in the living room. We assume that it was originally designed to be a men's entrance and a ladies' entrance. But the previous tenant lost the key to this set of doors so we only use the one in the living room.

Here's a picture of our dining room. You can see we really need to hang our artwork! But I have our china cabinet set up with our Willow Tree and Precious Moments collectibles, and oh yeah, some chinaware! And see that rectangular box up on the wall near the top of the picture? That our "split a/c unit." They are similar to window units, but work SUPER well. In fact, it's often too cold in the house. The thing I like about them is that we only have to cool the room(s) we are in. In a house this size central air would cost a fortune, I'm sure!


Here's our kitchen. See that mound of dishes drying? That's what I spend my life doing. That dishwasher is coming soon, I tell you. You want to hear something funny? All refrigerators here come with a lock. We think it is to keep out the maid. But I should probably hide the key from myself! LOL!! To the right of the picture, out of sight, is the door to the back, where you would find a "maid's room" which we are using for storage and a second kitchen. For some weird reason, Arabs don't seem to appreciate the smell of food cooking in the house, so they often use another kitchen for cooking and just use the main kitchen for small things. There is not stove there, so we are using that for storage as well and also as a laundry room. You can see the door - it's that brown thing with the semi-circle on it out the window. Also, you can see here the stove of death. I should have taken a close up of the knives of death as well, but didn't want to get too close.



Here is the loft, where the stairs lead you. The four bedrooms upstairs are along the wall to the right and one behind you. The couches and entertainment center belong to the company and we will replace the eventually. I found a rug I wanted to put up here today, but we had plants and soil in the car and I didn't want it to get ruined, so we will go back tomorrow.



Here is half of my bedroom. The other half is a) too messy to show you and b) wouldn't fit in the picture. The little alcove on the left is directly above the garden area described above. I love it because the tree is FULL of birds chirping all the time. I want to get a birdbath (now that I'm not in mosquito laden South Florida) and watch them splash about. Out of camera sight on the left is my bathroom (did I mention Hubby and I have our own bathrooms? I am loving it!!!) and wardrobe. Yes, no closets here in the Middle East. In fact, Jimmy Carter could have stayed home because I'm convinced that a great majority of the anger and tension here is that people have no place to put things. It's very annoying. Really, really annoying. No clothes closets, no linen closets, no coat closets - nada. But I like the room. The curtains I brought from home are too short and I want to get a nice armchair and table to put in the corner (or maybe the alcove, but it might get too hot) and make a little quiet place for me to read.



Here's Emily's room. She had wanted this exact color from the time we were in Miami, so it's like this was made for her. It really looks nice with her white furniture. She's got tons of things to put up on her walls as well and she would like to have a mural painted on the ceiling.


She wanted me to include this picture. She took photos of all her friends from Miami and made a pyramid out of all of them. It is not, I repeat NOT, a Christmas tree, or so she claims.


So that's all I've got for now. Next week I'll hopefully have pictures of the outside of the house, Daniel's room, and the living room. Little by little we are getting there!
Thanks for taking a tour of the house with me!
Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thankful Thursday


I'm mad. I'm really mad. Hubby was just informed that his one Saturday a month that he was told he gets off (keeping in mind that his only day off is Friday), he no longer can take. So he got to do that ONE time. We are both frustrated with the politics of his company - refusing to respond when they just don't want to deal with you, promising things then taking them away, etc. I guess I shouldn't complain - they have honored what is in the contract, but verbally have made many more promises and then reneged.

The point I'm getting at is that I really don't feel like doing Thankful Thursday today. I'm frustrated and annoyed and angry all rolled up into one. But yet I'm called to be thankful.

Now, some people would say that I would be hypocritical to sit here and blog about all the happy and good things when I'm in such a bad mood. They might feel that I'm putting on an act. And, to some degree they might be right. It is an act. But feelings often follow actions. By choosing to be thankful in the midst of not wanting to be, I begin a process of healing in my heart and attitude. It's like praying for your enemy - it's hard to stay mad at them for very long when you are sincerely praying blessings upon them.

But even more importantly than the impact it has on our hearts and minds is the fact that we are commanded to be thankful.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:18

You see, it's not an option. Even when we don't feel thankful, we are called to be thankful. Many of the problems of the world today stem back to people only doing what feels good, rather than what is the right thing to do.

So, here is my "sacrifice of praise," my list of things I truly am thankful for, even though I started this post (though just writing it has immensely improved my outlook) grumpy and mad.

* I'm thankful for my Lord, who saved me from my sin and who continually is with me.

* I'm thankful for my husband, who is a wise leader and godly man.

* I'm thankful for my children, who are kind and loving.

* I'm thankful for my parents (and extended family) who have handled our move WAAAY better than I would have ever believed.

* I'm thankful for our beautiful home. I know, I know - look for pictures tomorrow!

* I'm thankful for our move to Doha. Even though there have been frustrating moments, I truly believe it is a good thing for our family, for my children in particular, for our faith, and for our minds.

* I'm thankful for the women's Bible study I began yesterday. Over 40 women meeting together in the middle of a Muslim country to worship God and learn about discerning His voice. Amazing!

* I'm thankful for my good friends in the States who have continually emailed and encouraged us.

You see - I have the really important things in life. What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Live Well Wednesday

I lost two pounds!!!

I lost two pounds!!!

The big thing is that I did it without major effort, just by making small changes that, truthfully, I didn't even really notice.

For years I've been trying to do big, dramatic changes and expecting MAJOR results INSTANTLY. And I get frustrated, bored, tired, you name it. And then I quit.

But this time I'm not quitting. I am recognizing that Rome (and my waistline) wasn't built in a day, nor will it be undone in a day.

Did I have a perfect week? No, not by far. But I did make more positive choices than negative ones. That's gonna be my ticket I think. And, hopefully over time, those choices will become second nature to me and easier to make. I hope to get to the point where it's not even a choice, but just a natural instinct.

Thanks to all of you for your positive comments and encouragement last week. It meant the world to me. I have a long way to go still, but I know that by going slow and steady, I can indeed win this race.

Today I began a Women's' Bible Study at our new church. The opening song was by Casting Crowns, a truly amazing Christian band with amazing lyrics. This song, The Voice of Truth, talks about how things in our lives constantly throw up in our faces our past failures, but that we much CHOOSE to listen to the voice of truth - God - rather than the voices of those who would tear us down. The One who is with us in all things, in all struggles. The One who will be glorified when we conquer our sins and addictions. The One who gives us strength.

WFMW - Getting Rid of Molluscum


First of all, a big howdy to those of you who clicked over just to find out what the heck is a molluscum!! Some kind of sea animal? The stuff you put on bunions and corns? Or maybe the stuff that floats at the top of still lake water? Congratulations for wanting to educate yourself! There's always something new to learn, isn't there?

Molluscum is a skin condition that is viral in nature. It most often affects children between the ages of 2 and 12. It can be spread through close contact or even shared clothing. Here's a pic to give you an idea of what it looks like:



Pretty, huh? Now imagine tens, even a hundred of these all over your child's body. With my daughter it started on her elbows. Then it spread up her arms, into her armpits, showed up on her knees, and finally on her chest. The doctors, both her pediatrician and the dermatologist I took her to, told me that there was nothing I could do but wait for it to run its course - which could be 2-3 years!! Meanwhile I had a 10 year old girl who was embarrassed because kids would frequently ask her about the bumps. When it got to her throat, I was desperate to stop it before it moved up to her face and I started looking for alternatives.

After searching the internet, I found Molluscum No More, an organic treatment that promised to cure the problem. It was pretty pricey at $27 for a small bottle, but I was desperate to save my child's self-esteem so I ordered a bottle.

She hated having me apply it to her skin. It has a very strong odor, but doesn't sting or hurt in anyway. But, people, let me tell you that within one week I saw improvement. Within two weeks, they were gone. We had been struggling with them for over a year and here was the answer we needed!! And that little bottle? Well, I had enough to treat a few bumps that my son had also developed and I still have over half of it left. Just a Q-tip's worth is all it took, three times a day.

If your child has molluscum, this can work for you too!

Thanks, as always, to Shannon for hosting Works for Me Wednesday! Be sure to click on over and check out more fantastic mom ideas!
Monday, April 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - April 14th!



First of all, a huge happy birthday to my little boy. He's 11 years old today and a real joy. Here's a pic from back in Miami - obvious by the fact that there is grass!! Happy birthday, Daniel!!





Now, onto the menus. I want to say upfront that I am in the process of re-working my 8 Week Menu Plan, as well as my Daily Cleaning Schedule. Being in both a new country (where some ingredients are not readily available) and in a new home have necessitated some changes. Look for these updated plans in the next week or two.

Here's what we will be having this week!

Monday - Tonight we are going out for dinner to celebrate Daniel's birthday. He's chosen to go to Bennigan's. Yep, there's a Bennigan's in Qatar!

Tuesday - Chicken Parmesan, steamed vegetables, Caesar salad and garlic bread (didn't get to make this last week as I couldn't find shredded Parmesan cheese - as it is I settled for a mozzarella/parm blend that I hope works)

Wednesday - Baja Beef and Beans with Tex-Mex Rice

Thursday - Crockpot Chicken over rice (simply chicken breasts with cream of chicken soup and onion soup mix in the crockpot)

Friday - Homemade Pizza

Saturday - Lentils and Rice

Sunday - Shepherd's Pie

If your menu planning could use a little boost, be sure to drop by The Organizing Junkie to find hundreds of menu plans. We could all use some new ideas, right??

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Importance of Having a Plan

I've been wandering around my house for, oh, 13 days now (since we moved in) just beside myself because I'm so overwhelmed. There is so much to do, and this is by far the biggest house I have ever lived in, that I just don't even know where to start.

Now, my family (Mom! Troy) constantly makes fun of my list-making habit. I love to make lists! I may not always complete what's on the list, but at least it gives me a sense of direction, a place to start.

For some reason, probably exhaustion and mental fatigue, I hadn't taken the time to sit down and make a list of all that needs to be done. I just wandered from room to room thinking, "Oh, I need to do (fill-in-the-blank)." And then I would walk out of the room and forget about it.

Today I finally made my list. Here it is:

1) Taxes!!! (Fortunately, I learned that those living outside the US on Apr. 15 get an extra 2 months to file!)
2) Take my medical test (A requirement for getting my resident's permit here in Qatar)
3) Reorganize the kitchen (it's too full - I need to take somethings out to storage)
4) Organize the desk, coffee table and extra table (currently full of electronics and wires and such)
5) Sweep and mop floors (all three levels!)
6) Move small bookcase to the loft and fill with schoolbooks (need to start school this week!)
7) Strip beds and put on mattress covers, wash bedding and remake beds.
8) Take down and wash curtains in 1st floor bedroom, iron and put them up in master. Hang different curtains in 1st floor bedroom.
9) Hang up remaining clothes in my suitcase and reorganize drawers. (more to come on this is another post. Trust me - there's more to the story.)
10) Organize the "library." (Sounds fancy, doesn't it? Really it's just an extra bedroom where we put all the boxes of books. It's also become a dumping ground for suitcases and many other things.)
11) Fix hose. (Apparently hoses here come without either male or female parts - just a cut hose end. You have to buy the parts and attach them yourselves.) Once that's done I can...
12) Clean the patio and patio furniture. (Qatar is dusty. Very dusty.)
13) Pull out dead plants, left courtesy of the previous tenant. (Fortunately, by watering a little bit, I have found out that there is a lovely bougainvillea, as well as some pentas that were able to survive. Hopefully with a little nurturing they will come back to full beauty.)

So that's what I'll be doing the next few days. Now that I have a plan, I can go methodically through it, crossing things off as I go. If you have been overwhelmed by the clutter in your home, just make a list of the top 5 things you want to do. Then do them, one by one. Don't get overwhelmed, don't get discouraged. Remember that an progress is better than none.

Ok, now I'm off to get poked and prodded.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Now We're Cookin' With Gas!

No, seriously! One of the many steps of progress I've made in the last few days is that I finally figured out the stove. In fact, just tonight for dinner I used it to make Pepperidge Farm 5 Cheese Garlic Bread.

"5 Cheese Garlic Bread" in Qatar, Lori?" you may ask. That's right. Another step is that I visited Megamart, a local grocery store. Now, I've been to probably 10 different grocery stores since arriving here in Doha, but this? This was heaven. I found so many things that I haven't seen elsewhere. Things like Cool Whip, hot chocolate mix, cake frosting (don't forget that our entire family's birthdays fall in April!), mild flavor olive oil, pepper jack cheese and - most exciting of all - TALL. DRAWSTRING. GARBAGE BAGS. I know, I know. Tr to contain your excitement.

Then I drove the kiddos and I all the way out to the Villagio mall and then found the nearby Doha Zoo. Just for fun, I took a different way home and found my way just fine, thank you very much.

Tomorrow we will have our satellite service connected so we will have access to several American channels. Most exciting, of course, about this is that I will be able to watch "Lost" again. Oh, how I have missed you, Sawyer. Season 4 doesn't start here until May, so I'll be reminiscing about the good ol' days of Season 3 this month. Charlie was still alive, there wasn't any boat and the biggest worry was to trust Juliet or not.

Oh, and most importantly, I have learned that there is a fine line between your water being just a little on the cool side and "oh, my stinkin' heck, I just burned off a layer of skin!" That line would be just about the thickness of a layer of skin tissue. So that was a good lesson to learn. Those of you who were concerned about our safety here in Doha? The biggest threat to our safety is, apparently, me. What with slicing my thumb open and scalding myself every time I turn on the water or stove I may not have much feeling left in my hands by the time we are ready to move back to the U.S.

All this is to say is that we are settling into life quite nicely here in Doha. Tonight we went to get our photos taken for our residency permits. Hubby took us to an area that, well, let's just say it's probably not on any tour bus route. I was kind of skeptical, but actually we had a great time browsing the shops while waiting for the photos to be ready. We went into a bakery and picked out some yummy Arabic desserts and breads. We stopped by a paint shop to get a quote and look at colors for painting the interior of our new home. We visited a fruit and vegetable market and picked up some things at a great price. It was really nice.

Living Well


Well, holding fast to the cliche of better late than never, here I am posting my first Live Well Wednesday post. I've been thinking about joining for quite some time, but it just seemed that in the middle of a move to the other side of the world that there was too much to think about besides, you know, me.

But I think that's a big part of my problem. I'm always putting something else ahead of taking care of myself. Not that I'm a martyr, mind you. Often, that thing that I'm putting ahead of caring for myself is just my own foolish desires - staying up too late watching tv, eating junk food just because I like it, etc. It seems as if I don't value the body which God has given me highly enough. And so I let it fall apart.

Oftentimes I'll be overwhelmed with guilt and shame about it. Being an overweight person is a shameful experience, let me tell you. But instead of allowing that to motivate me to change, somehow it sends me into a downward spiral of self-recrimination. Which leads to more shame and guilt.

I make grand plans to go on big exercise and diet kicks. And then, just days into it, I give up.

My new plan as I begin to "live well" is to just try to modify slowly my life; to make healthier choices, to be more active, to sleep more, to take care of this one and only body which God has gifted me with.

Some of the things I want to work on:

*** Drinking more water *** I have a wicked addiction to soda. Having moved to the Middle East I am already noticing a difference in the amount of water I'm consuming. While I am still drinking Pepsi, the amount has greatly decreased. But my goal is to work my way up to 100 ounces a day.

*** Make better eating choices *** I won't eat perfectly. I need to accept that. But I need to not give up and binge everytime I make a mistake. I have started to start using fruits, nuts and seeds as snacks rather than chips. That should be easier here because chips cost much more here than in the States, so it will be easier on my wallet as well.

*** Stop eating at night *** My biggest pitfall seems to be at night once everyone else goes to bed. I stay up with the excuse that I "need some alone time." After all, I'm a homeschooling mother! But in reality I graze constantly once everyone's asleep.

*** Sleep more *** Right on par with the above item is I NEED MORE SLEEP!!! I generally go to bed around 1 am. Here in Doha, the sun comes up so early that I'm only getting 4 or 5 hours sleep. This morning, for instance, I woke up, lay in bed for several minutes, finally got up and took a looooong shower. I got out, got dressed, did my hair and makeup and started down the stairs, when I heard my husband moving around. I was shocked to discover that it was only 6:05!!! So I really need to work on getting to bed between 10:30 and 11:00. Not to mention getting a clock so I'll know what time it is!

*** Be more active *** I'm not promising myself that I am going to exercise for an hour a day or any of that. I just, at this point, need to move more. Having 52 stairs in my house is helping. I may have "buns of steel" before we move back to the States!! Also, the more physical housework that I've been doing is contributing towards physical movement. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

So, the bottom line of all of this? I do want to live well. I want to enjoy my life with my husband and kids. I want to be physically ready for all that God calls me to. I want to have energy and exuberance for this life. I want to love my life.

Thanks for sticking through reading this. I look forward to getting to know you other LWW participants and encouraging each other!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Making" A Home

Have you ever watched "Little House on the Prairie?" Of course you have! Or perhaps you've read the books to your children. When I read them to mine, what stuck out is how much work homemaking was back then.

That's where I am right now, internet.

Ok, honestly maybe I'm at the "Leave it to Beaver"stage, some 70 years further along. But definately it's far different from any home-making I've ever had to do. This is the fourth home that Hubby and I have lived in. First we lived in his tiny, 400 sq. ft. apartment which was pretty much set up already, bachelor pad that it was. Several months later, we moved into our first house. We were there for about 8 years before moving around the corner. Each time I had no problem transitioning smoothly. Things were basically the same.

This is a whole other story. Moving to Doha has been an adventure in more ways than one. Having left behind some of the things I took for granted, I am now looking at my home in a whole new way. There is no one place here for which I can get everything I need - no Target, no Wal-Mart. Each store has some things that it is better to shop for and others it's not going to have. The same with grocery stores - we've visited a million of them and still there are things I'm looking for, things that in the States would be no problem to find.To me it reminds me of the days when you had to go to many different stores (butcher, baker, candlestick maker) to get what a home needed.

I also, for the time being, do not have either a dryer or dishwasher. Dishes are being washed and dried by hand and clothes are being hung up to dry, necessitating a great deal more ironing.

While I will probably soon break down and buy one, if not both of these items, for the time being I'm am enjoying being more...connected, if you will, with my home. I'm spending much more time actually working at being a homemaker; making this a place of refuge and a haven for my family.

I know that many of you probably live every day (and have for years) without these little luxuries. I am in no way trying to complain. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm really "working" on my home. Not just maintaining, but actually working: to make it a better place, to make it comfortable and attractive, to make it the control center of our lives.
I feel like a Proverbs 31 woman!

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it;out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Proverbs 31: 10-31, NIV

(Now, where did those servant girls go???)
Sunday, April 6, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!!

Hey, I'm feeling pretty good!! I've gotten a home-cooked dinner on the table two nights in a row!! Not bad considering I'm still not sure how to work the oven in our new home. I did get it lit yesterday (with the help of Hubby) so that I could roast some potatoes and carrots to go with my pot roast in the crockpot. And today I made Bezella, one of Hubby's favorites. That's a stovetop recipe, so it was easy.

Apparently I need to push in the oven control to release the gas, then wave a match inside a slot on the bottom of the oven, then slowly release the oven control once it gets lit. Sounds simple, right? Well, I'm sure it would be if, upon lighting, a huge fireball didn't erupt and singe my hands! Then today, I cut my finger chopping tomatoes and just an hour later sliced into my thumb. Did ya know that thumbs bleed? Alot? There was blood everywhere - in the sink, on the floor, on the window, on the stove - everywhere. I was so relieved that I had sent the kids out to walk Snow just a couple of minutes before - they would have panicked.

Anyway, on to the menus. I know that it's only Sunday afternoon for most of you, but I'm used to doing my posts the night before when the house is quiet and I can actually, you know, think. I'll just have to link up later when Laura puts up her Menu Plan Monday post.

Here's what we'll be having this week:

Monday - Chicken Parmesan, Caesar salad and steamed veggies

Tuesday - Beef Stir Fry and rice

Wednesday - Bow Tie Pasta, garlic bread and salad

Thursday - Rosemary & Lime Chicken (recipe below), rice, and salad

Friday - Arabic Meatloaf (recipe below) and a chopped salad

Rosemary & Lime Chicken

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2.5-3 lbs. chicken, cut into serving size pieces (I use boneless breasts)
1/2 cup chicken broth
grated rind and juice of one 1 large lime
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Heat oil in heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Add chicken and cook, uncovered, turning once or twice until well browned, about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cover, reduce heat to moderate low and simmer for 25 minutes. Skim fat from pan juices and service chicken with natural gravy. Simple and delicious!!

Arabic Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 bunch (a little less is ok) of finely chopped parsley
1 large finely chopped onion
1 tsp. allspice
salt to taste
thinly sliced potatoes (approx. 3 or 4, depending on size)
thinly sliced tomatoes (approx. 3 or 4, depending on size)
2 onions, thinly sliced into rings
Salt (I use sea salt) to taste

Mix first five ingredients well and spread about 3/4"thick into a large baking pan (9x12 works well). Cover with a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, overlapping slightly. Top that layer with a layer of tomatoes and then a layer of the onions. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour.
Friday, April 4, 2008

The Body

"So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:46-47



Today we attended our new church home. We got there late, being that Hubby was with us (he has tardiness issues - LOL!), so we had to sit separately in the back hall. Everyone was in plastic patio chairs. It was a little stuffy.

And still it was beautiful.

It was beautiful to see so many different nationalities all gathered under one roof to worship the one true Lord.

It was beautiful that we meet in a house. A very large house used just for the church meetings, but still. The simplicity was very refreshing for me. Just a simple house, used to glorify Jesus.

It was beautiful that the prayer requests submitted by the congregation were collected and read aloud and then prayed for.

It was beautiful that the pastor had a wonderful message, based on Jesus's prayer for his disciples in John 17. He made it come alive and made it real in my life.

It was beautiful that Daniel's Sunday, oops FRIDAY school teacher is a homeschooler and introduced me to another homeschooler. They let me know about a homeschool group for Christians that meets locally.

It was beautiful (and this is my favorite part) that they prayed for a man from Nepal today. This man became a Christian while working here in Doha six years ago. He is now preparing to go back to Nepal and serve there as a pastor. I never in a million years would have thought as Doha, Qatar as a sending grounds for new pastors. God is truly an amazing God. Please join me in praying that this man, whose name escapes me, will have an incredible impact in his homeland and that Christ's name will be preached there.

You see, God's people are everywhere. We don't need the big fancy building or the large church staff. We don't need tons of programs to keep people entertained. These things are nice and I certainly appreciated them throughout my life.

But the message of Christ is simple and so was His life. Remember, He started with just 12 flawed, rough, uneducated men.

Maybe He can use me too.
Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thankful Thursday



Well, this may take a little getting used to. Blogging on a different schedule, that is. Being over here in the Middle East means I'm at least 7 hours ahead of anyone else in the States. How on earth do you Aussies, not to mention the rest of you all around the world, do it? I guess it will become second nature over time. I'm so used to posting late at night for the next day but if I did that now, I'd be really WAY too early.

I have a lot to be grateful for today. First and foremost, I'm so thankful to be with my husband again. After being apart for three months while in transition for our move to Doha, it's so good to be together. Having your best friend and life partner, fellow parent and soul mate, there's nothing like it.

I'm grateful that my children seem to be adapting well. After a bumpy start the first night when Emily cried for two hours hysterically about how much she hated it here (after 1 hour of being here. at 11:00 at night when you couldn't tell ANYTHING about the town. Drama Queen.), they have settled down and begun to enjoy their new home and exploring their new town.

I'm grateful for our beautiful new home. And for the fact that, while it's a new home, we have all of our belongings from our old home. It's definitely helping to make us feel more at ease quickly.

I'm also grateful for my neighbor who came by to introduce herself. She is from Jordan, like my husband, and was so sweet and offered to help with anything I needed.

I'm grateful that I know that God is with me WHEREVER I go. There is no place where he is not. Although this is a totally different environment, it's still of his making and under his control and sovereignty. I have utter faith that as long as we are obedient to his word and his will, that we will be blessed and protected.

For more Thankful Thursday posts, be sure to visit Iris at Sting My Heart. Seeing the many blessings we all have is a wonderful way to spend some time.


Random Notes

  • New houses make lots of wierd noises. Especially at night.
  • Hooray to Blogger for finally giving us the opportunity to schedule posts to be published at a later time/date!!! I've been dying for this!
  • Grocery shopping here is a sport. A sport very much like roller derby. Shopping carts are 4 wheel drive - all four wheels move freely, making it very interesting. Add in the fact that it's a crowded as DisneyWorld on a summer day and you've got the makings of a stress-inducing trip like you've never seen. I always enjoyed grocery shopping in the States. I think those days are over.
  • My mom got a bird. I know, I know. You don't care. But she tells me about the bird so much that it truly must be a matter of national concern that I'm missing out on over here. It's a white-faced cockatiel named Tater. But you probably already heard that on the nightly news.
  • Who would have thought that my children's new favorite pasttime would be ice skating? In the desert? And yet it is.
  • 'Member what I said about grocery shopping? Well, quadruple that and you have driving. I've made two quick trips so far with Hubby in the car. Today is my first attempt at a real errand. If you never hear from me again, you'll know we fell victim to a Doha roundabout. LOL!
  • I actually LOVE our house. (Well, except for the wierd noises. Like right now it's very windy outside and every exterior door is bumping back and forth.) It's huge and has high hat lights everywhere and beautiful tray ceilings in every room and, did I mention it's huge?, and beautiful floors and granite countertops. Plus I hear birds chirping (though I imagine once it hits, oh, 110 degrees that will stop - LOL!) in the tree next to my bedroom window.
  • Tonight Emily will go to the youth group of our new church. Tomorrow we go to the church itself. Please pray that both she and Daniel, and, oh, heck ME, will make friends quickly and easily.
  • And finally, I promise you (no, I'm not running for President) that this blog is not going to turn into being all about life in the Middle East. I know it's consumed my life in the past couple of months, but I'm going to strive to still make it about what it was designed for - living a simple life at home.

Blessings and much love!!

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