Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Make Change your Friend

There are people in your life that you come to truly appreciate. There are some changes in our church family, and our hearts are heavy at the fellow hearts that are being separated from our own, but we must make friends with change.

People come.

People go.

People live and pass away.

But there is one constant in our lives... Change!

Monkey Shine loves Emily.

Do you see that little chubby, dimpled arm around her neck?
That is Noelle holding on for dear life!

I don't know what she was trying to be safe from.

Maybe her mother was terrorizing her by taking too many pictures.

Get used to it! It will not end any time soon!

Monkey Shine pensive, Emily radiant!

I have always been so grateful for the gentleness and interest the girls from this family have had for my Monkeys.

That is a powerful thing to little kids: having bigger kids think they are great, and treating them with respect and affection.

I know that my little Monkeys will miss them terribly -and so will I.

Though we will miss this dear teen (and her family that I don't have any pictures of), we send them to the grand plan that God has for them. And we pray that they will have God's best in their lives -knowing that they belong to Him.

So as we send off friends -and reach out to make new ones- we will remember to include change in the relationships we nurture.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Favorite Things -Monkey Shine

We found this little doll in the Rescue Mission store, and she fell in love with it right away. Sometimes there are things that your kids gravitate towards immediately -like a magnet to metal.

It feels so right.

It was meant to be.

We belong together.

She carried it around as we looked at recycled furniture (See how GREAT I made that sound! Actually, they have some really nice new stuff there too!), and through the book section -clearly the BEST place to find the classics! When it was time to go, I told her that we could not buy it today. And, with some hesitation, she took that castoff dolly, and shoved it in the bottom of a bin off stuffed animals so, "...nobody will take it when I am gone! So I can come back and take her!" At that moment I knew that dolly was for Monkey Shine. So two days later I went back and dug through the stuffys, and her strategy worked! There she was on the bottom of the bin! Best 50 cents I ever spent! Ever since, she and dolly (who -oddly enough has the SAME NAME! What are the chances of that! What a coincidence!) have been inseparable!
What in the world struck her so much about this doll I will never know.

She is a little less than clean.

She is very small.

She is not fancy in the least!

Maybe it is the hair.

Girls out there near my age (you will just have to guess since I will NEVER tell!), do you remember the Troll dolls? I never owned on, but when I was a kid, a friend showed me this thing that she did. She would twist the hair into a point, and smack the troll on the bottom if its feet. The hair would immediately fluff out of its point into a furry fringe.

Well this poor baby has troll hair.

I simply could not resist!
You take the hair in your hand...

Like this.

Then twist it until it makes a little point...

Like this!

Then you firmly SMACK the dolling down on her bottom!

(Which I can't show you a picture of because I am not that coordinated. I am so accident prone I might actually injure myself!)

And THIS is what happens!

Wait a minute...





AAACK! It looks JUST the same! I don't know why I even bother!

Monkey Shine's favorite things!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Burgers

There are VERY few things that I make, that anyone would feel ANY inclination to compliment. I will not lie to you. I am a terrible cook on most things I make. Really. I can make about three things VERY well(alright, maybe four), and with everything else I lean HEAVILY on the cooking talents of my Sweet Geek. So you will not get many great recipes from me (Not like Pioneer Woman), but I do have something for those people out there who cannot really cook well -or who do not cook at all. The ramblings of a fellow kitchen-challenged, NON-cook, who can get you by! For those of you who want more of a challenge, visit Pioneer Woman's site -just make sure that you come back after you see it!
(NO! Don't go away! I will try harder! I promise!)

So there are very few compliments from my kitchen (OK, now, all of you mocking me! I am WORKING on it!), but this is one that gets the thumbs up every time I make it, and my family LOVES it! These summer burgers are fast, easy and sure to please.

In addition to the raw thawed hamburger, here are the needed ingredients:
Eggs, onion(s), garlic (Fresh or minced), Lipton onion-mushroom soup mix (OK, OK! I am cheating!), Chipotle Tabasco Sauce, and bread crumbs (you could use bread stuffing in a pinch).

I think that is all.

Watch out for an ingredient drive-by!

So, first get your onion(s) ready.
Cut off the top and bottom, and peel off outer the skin. You want nothing left with any dryness or wilting. Rinsing the onions in tepid water can help you to get over your emotional issues before you cut that onion! I don't understand why, but for some reason the roughest and stiffest of men are dissolved to tears by the soft crying-shoulder an onion has! Maybe it is the warmth of the water! Maybe it is the moment for pause! Maybe it is purely mental and so am I! Anyway, you can run it under the water and it may or may not help you keep from crying. You want to dice the onion especially small. If you cut it too large, the burgers will fall apart. Cutting them small has always been a challenge for me! I just can't seem to do it very fast without my accident-prone tendencies resulting in one of many different sized injuries. So it may require patience, but be careful. OR... You can find a former chef to cut them FOR you! Look at those hands FLY! And he NEVER... Ever... Has a slip and cuts himself. Now I just think you are showing off!! I am SO jealous! Oh, to be normal and not accident prone!

This is what they should look like.
Ok, you will need to put your thawed raw hamburger in a large bowl. One bigger than it seems you will need. Trust me, you will thank me later! Ok, we were crunched for time, so I will be moving quickly. Follow closely! Or you could just read it at slowly as you want to! Doesn't matter to me!

Add one package of onion-mushroom soup mix.
Ok, add the bread crumbs. What I have here is about 1cup, but I also started with 3lbs of meat, so use a little bit of give. Start with less and then add more if the meat is mushy when everything is mixed in.

Add your eggs.
I use two eggs for every pound of meat. You want it hold together well.

Next comes the garlic. You can use fresh garlic, or if you don't like it leave it out.
I put in 1 teaspoon per pound of meat.
Give or take.

The magic add! Now I am not a huge Tabasco fan, but I love the Chipotle Tabaso, and a very small amount added to burgers gives them a touch of flavor without the kick! It is SO yummy!

If you try nothing else in your burgers, try that. Only a hint. I used less than a teaspoon with 3lbs or burger. So go easy. Better less than too much. Unless you LOVE spicy food, then crank it out! You will love the flavor!


Unexpected ingredient! (See how out of focus the picture is?! It is times like this I envy Pioneer Woman, and Ryan's cameras! But mine is better than most, so I can't complain. I just want a great lens or two. That will never happen, though. It would require me to cut back on my shoe budget, and I am not sure I could survive!)

My cook husband had an idea to add some green goddess dressing! Not a combination that I would have thought of. I have added RANCH dressing before! But that is why he is the cook, and I just drool over his food and his talent! Let's just say this: We will be adding this as a permanent ingredient of our Summer Burgers! Throw those onions in! You don't dare forget those!

Don"t forget the salt...
And Pepper... Now stop. Before you stick your hands in the bowl (And you WILL! And get all lovely and messy!), you need to take a sheet pan and just cover it with some aluminum foil. You will be simply too messy to do it later! This is also the time to tell your husband to start the grill. Then comes the FUN part! You get to kneed the ingredients together. I am sorry, but unless you have an industrial size bread machine, you are going to have to do this by hand. Have your soap ready, and dig right in! If you have never done this before, the concept is to take from the bottom and push it into the mixture. If you do this enough times, it will be mixed evenly. Like so: Grab from the side...

Pull up...

And over...

Then make a fist and press into the middle.

Turn the bowl slowly as you work the mixture.
This is the same technique used for homemade bread!
That is a recipe for another time.

So now it is time to make the patties. Take a hand-sized portion and work it into a ball, then flatten it out, and smooth the edges all around. If you work it in your hand a little, it will stick together better. I can't show you this process because I think that my Sweet Geek would be VERY upset if he had to clean hamburger mush out of the shutter button of my camera! As you finish them, well, I am SURE you can figure out what to do with them! Here is what they should look like: You will notice that there is a dent in the middle of each patty. You will want the edges to be thicker than the middle. If you don't, then the burgers will shrink more, not get done in the middle, and have charred edges.
Doesn't that sound awful?!
Unless you like that charred, undercooked meat thing -then go right ahead.

Let's get that red, American meat on the grill! I must say, it is SO nice having a big strapping COOK around to do the grilling!
He is especially
good at that! Mmmmmm! starting to sizzle! I am actually dancing with anticipation!
Don't worry! I won't subject you to a video, and I promise to stop when I am taking a picture so they are not all a blur!

Finished product! Isn't your mouth watering? Nananana-naaaa-naaaa!

Don't worry! You can make them too, and this Fourth of July you will be armed with the best burgers at the picnic or family reunion! Mmmmmmm! Then you can enjoy them without even a hint of my strangeness! Won't that be nice?!