Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday School

And, not in the traditional sense.  

We made the decision to put Claire into Chinese school and all of the ones in our city meet on Sunday afternoon.  Even before enrolling her I thought about how our Sunday had good potential of becoming very busy and stressful with church in the morning and Chinese school in the afternoon.  So, we made the decision to move our church attending to Saturday evening instead.  There are many churches in our area that now offer services on Saturday and we had tried it before and liked it so now it will become our routine.

Claire wavered between scared and excited for Chinese school to start.  She has forgotten most of her Mandarin so we feel as though she's at a crossroads.  Either, pick it back up by willingly partcipating in her Mandarin class or refuse to participate due to fear and lose it all together.  It sounds as though her first class went smashingly well today.  I am so excited for her to be in the company of other Chinese children and continue to learn Mandarin.  All the other children in her class are children with parents of Chinese heritage so they hear Mandarin at home.  This will make school fairly difficult for Claire because we aren't able to help her figure things out as well as we'd like.  We have the textbook and Google translate will tell you anything so we will muddle through the best we can.

While Claire was at Chinese school Emily attended sewing school with Mom.  She's been asking for several weeks if I would teach her how to sew so I thought today would be a good time to spend some time with her and the sewing machine.
In a couple of hours Emily sewed her first project, a pillow for her bed.  She was quite proud of her work and I am too; she is proving to be one crafty girl.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pizza Pot Pie

Recently we were watching a show ranking the top restaurants in the US when it came to cheese dishes.  Ranked #1 was a pizza pot pie invented by Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders.  You can find a picture of the pizza pot pie on their website; it looks delicious!

One Sunday afternoon I decided to try my hand at homemade pizza pot pies and they turned out wonderfully.  I told myself the next time I made them I would write about it here, so you too can change up your pizza night sometime.  Our pizza and movie night are Fridays and I've been getting creative lately.  Last week we had Cornbread Pizza from here.  I'll warn you though; only go there when you have time because if you're anything like me you will be there for a very long time looking through the many recipes.

Pizza Pot Pie

4 cups flour (I used 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp. instant dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt (I only used 1/2 tsp. because we are trying to reduce sodium intake around here)

Mix all these ingredients into a bowl and stir them together until a sticky dough is formed.  Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm area for about 30 minutes. (I actually moved mine to another, slightly oiled bowl.)
Turn the dough out onto a floured area and knead with your hands about 5 to 10 times.  Divide the dough into 2-3 inch balls and roll the dough to about one half inch thick to make a circle slightly bigger than the bowl you'll be using.  You only need to make the number of portions you will be serving (plus maybe a couple extra for leftovers!).  You will have quite a bit of dough left over; I roll it out and spread with olive oil, garlic and cheese for cheesy breadsticks.

Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy Center
Cheese (last time I used sliced mozarella, this time I had shredded on hand.  I would have preferred the sliced cheese again but I was too lazy to go to the store.)

Your choice of pizza toppings.  We used:
olives, mushroom, pepperoni and leftover beef meatballs
pizza sauce

The source of the pizza sauce is up to you.  You can buy a jar of pre-made sauce, make some quick homemade sauce with crushed tomatoes, garlic and spices or make full fledged homemade sauce with fresh tomatoes.  I did the full fledged homemade sauce earlier in the week when we had meatball hoagies so I used the leftover sauce from that as well as the cut-up meatballs for pizza toppings.  (The first time I made this I used turkey sausage flavored with italian seasoning instead of the ground beef.)

While you wait for the crust to rise, assemble the ingredients you'll use in your pizza pot pie.  Cook any ingredients that need to be, such as the meat and warm up the sauce.  Using a well greased bowl that can go into the oven layer the ingredients from bottom to top:

Make sure the rim of your bowl is greased, then lay your rolled pizza crust over the top.  Make sure you fully cover the rim of the bowl and then pinch up the bottom so it isn't touching the pan, otherwise that will burn.  Transfer your bowls to a baking sheet and place in a preheated 400 degree oven.  Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden.  Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Now the fun part.

Flip your bowl upside down so the crust is now on the plate, run a thin knife around rim of bowl and carefully lift off.  

Results with this version- The first time I made it I used a homemade yeast roll recipe for the crust instead of a traditional pizza crust recipe.  I personally liked the roll crust better but most of the family liked the pizza crust version better.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


You know, that icky by-product of getting hot, or nervous?

I hate it.

I reserve the word hate for only a few things, like snakes, mice, bridges, most household chores, and sweat. The quickest way for me to back out of exercising? Breaking a sweat. I wish there was some full body deodorant that I could apply that would allow me to go outside or exercise without sweating.

Here is why I hate it:

*It makes my skin itch.
100 degrees outside and as soon as my flesh hits the outside air sweat starts forming on my forehead and then making my skin itch. If I itch it or wipe it off, I wipe off all the make-up I just applied. Not that I'm vane and want my skin to look flawless but I would prefer if my forehead and cheeks match. Of course by 4pm all this goes out the window and there is nothing left on my face except scratch marks from my itchy skin.
It also makes my back itch. Ever go for a walk when it's a billion degrees outside wearing a tank top style sports bra? Well, if you haven't I can tell you that itching your back through that girdle thing is quite difficult.

*It feels like bugs crawling around on my head.
I think this ranks at the top of the list on why I hate sweat. After I've been outside exercising for awhile the sweat on my scalp join together and have a party, like a slide down the head and pretend it's a water slide party.
We recently decided it would be a good idea to go on a bike ride after the little kids started school but Jacob hadn't. The idea sounded great when we were sitting inside the house on a cool, cozy couch. But shortly into the bike ride I realized that 9 miles at 12 noon when it's 95 degrees outside was one of the stupidest decisions I have ever made.

Was it the screaming-for-relief muscles that made me want to give up? No

Was it the tailbone who convinced me it was broken and threatened to force me to sit in a donut for a week that made me want to give up? No. (Well, OK that did make me stop a few times.)

It was the sweat having a water park frenzy on my head which was confined under a helmet that made me stop, grunt, scream (ok, maybe that's overkill) and want to give up. I stopped numerous times to jam a finger inside my helmet and relieve the feeling of 1,000 tiny bugs running all over my head.

I haven't gotten on the bike since.

Some people love the feeling of sweating, saying things like it feels like a cleansing of the body's toxins. My husband doesn't particularly like to sweat but once he gets that way he feels empowered to make the sweat worth it; so he exercises more. I am so not in this group. When I start to sweat I want to turn my walk around and go back home leaving the toxins firmly in place.

A good solution would be to walk on a treadmill in the cold basement, right? I know that is what you're thinking. I can almost read your minds, it goes something like this: "well duh, if you hate to exercise outside so much why don't you do it on a treadmill?" The alternative to getting sweaty by walking outside is to vomit all over from getting motion sickness on a treadmill. That's right I get motion sickness on a treadmill, pretty lame, right?

So, while I hate to sweat, I guess there are worse things.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

6 months in the making

This may look like any standard 'ole picture but this picture has taken 6 months to fully mature. See that little girl with 1, ONE ponytail? Claire's hair has been growing since we met her in China. She has had a couple of trims to try and even up the layers she had before but other than those trims she hasn't had any hair cuts. I was able to put her hair into pigtails about 6 weeks ago but today was the first time I got it into one ponytail, successfully. When I finished fixing her hair she reached back to see what I'd done and got very excited.
"Mommy, you one ponytail?! Oh yay, that is cool!"

I guess that sums it up well. We've had our little girl home with us for six months today; I can't believe they have gone by so quickly but at the same time it feels like she's always been here.