Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving for 60

Yep, 60 adults. We had a Thanksgiving feast at our apartment complex this weekend and planned on feeding 60. We had about 50 residents come so we have a little bit left over, but not much. I went to 3 different grocery stores on Saturday morning in order to keep the cost as low as possible. We get a monthly budget for apartment life so it didn't come out of our pocket but we still had to keep cost low.

We got the cost down to $2.50 per person which is pretty incredible for all the food we had. Below is the menu and then the shopping list...just in case you ever have to do Thanksgiving for 60.

Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry Sauce
Rolls (mom brought them so they are not on the shopping list)
Pumpkin Pie
Devil Food Cheese Cake

Shopping List:
2, 18lb Turkeys (...I got a few funny looks at Sprouts when I was purchasing 2 huge turkeys)
12 sticks of butter
6 boxes of Stove Top Stuffing
15 lbs of potatoes
6 large bags of frozen green beans
6 cans of cream of mushroom soup
5 onions
1 large tub of mushrooms
12 garlic cloves
2 large tubs of fried onions
8 cups of grated cheese
12 lbs of sweet potatoes
Brown sugar
3 cups of chopped pecans
5 cans of cranberry sauce
2 cans of pumpkin puree
2 cans evaporated milk
Ground ginger
2 pie crusts
1 Devil Food Cake box
3 packages of cream cheese
Dutch cocoa
Bittersweet chocolate
Melting Chocolate

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

EXCITING Life Update!!!!

Sometimes timing is humorous. Chase got home last night with some great news. There is a newer woman in his unit that actually wants to take his place for the April mission!!!! What does this mean? Chase is now the alternate NOT the primary. There is still a possibility that he would go, IF this lady backs out or IF they find out that she isn't elligable. Otherwise, he is off the hook!!! This is such a burden lifted. This weekend was full of roller coaster emotions for me for a coule reasons, but it ended with great emotions! PTL!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life Update

When I first posted about Chase's deployment there was a small chance that another guy from his unit would take his place. We learned this last weekend that the small chance has been depleted to no chance. It's official, Chase will leave in April for at least 6 months. There are a lot of un-knowns that won't be known until he gets there. We don't know if we'll be able to see each other even though he's only 3 hours away.

Chase gets back tomorrow after being away for 5 days with the Army. We haven't talked to each other at all and it's been HARD! Normally we can at least have a few conversations while he's gone but between a busy schedule on his part and horrible cell phone reception, there has been no communication. Grrrr. I will be extremely grateful to have him home tomorrow night.

I have a few friends who are military wives and their hubby's have been deployed overseas. Every time Chase is gone I gain more and more respect and appreciation for the sacrifice the entire family makes. To all the wives, thank you for supporting your husband as he serves. I only know on a small level what it's like...and it's not easy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PA Distribution Center-People, Scenery, Food

The Pennsylvania Distribution Center is the place where GAiN receives and sends it's humanitarian aid. Twice a year, we have a work project where thousands of volunteers come and help us process the aid. This year we had over 5,000 volunteers over the span of 9 days. They helped us process new and used clothing, medical supplies, shoes, school supplies, toys, and blankets. It was a lot of work but it was a blast!


The first picture encompasses about a third of the you can see, there were a lot of people and even more stuff to process! I did a bunch of tours for groups as they came in for the first time and I told them that this DC contains a lot of stuff...but this stuff is used as a tool to meet physical needs so that ultimately we can meet spiritual needs.

We process thousand of blankets.

This is my friend and co-worker, Melissa, who was with the kids the entire project. She helped the kids tie gospel bead bracelets around the necks of TY beanie babies.

Mr. Dave is in charge of
GAiN's water initiative. He set up a display at the PDC to help volunteers gain (ha! no pun intended) a glimpse of the worlds water issues. Did you know that over 6,000 children die every day from water related illnesses?

The first day I was at the PDC, I ran into this familiar family! Eric discipled Chase in college. They are on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and now live in PA doing ministry. I had NO idea they were going to be there, and they had no idea I even worked for GAiN!

Our (GAiN staff) lodging was provided by people in the community who opened up their homes to us for 10 days. Myself, Melissa, and 3 other woman stayed with a wonderful couple who were involved in the Church of the Brethren (similar to Mennonites). They live very simply, make the most amazing food, and are a true delight to be around. The couple we stayed with has small crop of neck-pumpkins (they pronounced it puN-kins). Mr. Shirk raved about neck-pumpkins and how much better they are for 'pun-kin' pie. They sold their small crop in their shed. They kept a money box in the shed and placed a sign in front that read 'Neck Pumpkins $2 each, on the honor system.'

The next 2 pictures were taken right outside the PDC...if you can't tell by the pictures, the PDC was in the middle of no-where PA. Amish farms surrounded the DC, it was incredibly beautiful!

I LOVE cultural food! It is one of my passions which is why I shop at so many ethnic grocery stores. Food is normally a large part of a culture so you can learn a lot about someone by understanding the food they eat and how it is prepared.
Below is a picture of Ham Balls.....yep, HAM. Balls. I wasn't too fond of it but at least I tried it. It's composed of shredded ham and a brown sugar type glaze packed tightly into the shape of a ball. It tasted good but had a unique texture that I didn't care for.

This one is a regular plane-Jane hamburger but it was served on a napkin! That's a first for me.

Ok, now for THE best gas station food EVER! I had heard from a couple people that I had to try the pretzel sandwich! As soon as I had an opportunity to get away from the DC, I went straight to Sheetz, a gas station that has AMAZING food!

Dun, dun na na! Behold, the pretzel sandwich! Yuuum Yum!

I also got a side of 3-cheese Mac & Cheese. It was the best gas station mac & cheese I've ever had! Oh, wait, I've never had gas station mac & cheese before Sheetz! It really was very good and creamy.

If your ever in the Lancaster County and see a Sheetz, STOP! Buy a pretzel sandwich! I might have to volunteer again for the PDC just for the opportunity to go to Sheetz.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Addition to our Family

No, we're not pregnant, we got a dog!!! I've been researching dog breeds for months now and finally narrowed it down to a labradoodle (lab and standard poodle mix) or a goldendoodle (golden retriever and standard poodle mix). Both breeds have the intelligence and little shedding of the poodle but have the gentle, fun-loving personality of the lab or retriever. They were originally bred to be therapy dogs so they make great pets. There is only one tincy wincey problem....they are expensive!!! Getting one from a decent breeder easily cost $1800, yikes!

About 6 weeks ago I posted a 'labradoodle or goldendoodle wanted' plea on craigslist. We had gotten a few hits but none of them worked out. Last week I got an email from a nice family about Jackson, a 2 year old, 63 lb goldendoodle. They had recently found out that the dad was HIGHLY allergic to the dog so they needed to find him a new home. They got him from a wonderful breeder in Missouri and had him shipped to Texas. He is neutered, up to date on shots, they gave us his crate, 6 months of heart worm and flea meds, collars, leashes, toys, and treats all for FREE! We are stocked! It will be great to have a dog around especially when Chase is deployed.

We were dog sitting for my mom this weekend. She has a 4lb dog and we now have a 63lb dog! It was very entertaining watching them play this weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cake Week

Somehow this week started and ended with long nights, early mornings, and cakes! One of our friends turned the big 4-0 Wednesday and the surprise bday party is tonight. It's been a pretty busy week so this one was a pretty fast cake to put together. It's a lot larger than it looks, its a 12" round cake double stacked. One of the commonly asked questions I get regarding cakes is "How long does it take to make?" The 'fast' ones take about 4 hours start to finish. The more colors and fancy fillings you add the longer it takes. Once the cake is assembled, it only takes me 1 - 1.5 hours to frost and decorate. Most of the time is spent baking, making the frosting, coloring the frosting, make fillings, rolling fondant, etc. Some of the more elaborate cakes take me 3-4 hours to decorate, plus the 3-4 hours of baking and assembling.

The cake below is a white vanilla cake with a layer of raspberry and a layer of orange cream cheese fillings with buttercream frosting.

The cake below was for another bday party earlier this week. I really like how this one turned out. I like the texture I was able to do on the bottom layer. I think I'll make this style cake again soon. The roses I made with buttercream. They take about 2 minutes each to make. I made them while the cakes were baking so it didn't any 'extra' time.

Both cakes were white chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting. The bottom cake had raspberry filling and the top cake had a white chocolate mouse filling.....can you tell they like white chocolate?

Halloween Costume

My creative hubby decided to dress up like his boss for Halloween this year. Don is a wonderful man and a great boss, but he has some quirky fashion. More days than not, Don comes into work wearing shorts (even in the winter months), long dark socks, sandals, and a short sleeve button down. Oh, and let's not forget about the beard without the mustache! Do you see the resemblance?

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm here, I'm here!

Whew! It's already November! October went by SO quickly. Sorry I haven't updated this in over 2 weeks. I was out of town for a week and when I got home, it was non-stop craziness. I was in the great state of Pennsylvania in small town Mt. Joy deep in the heart of Amish country. It was gorgeous!!! I have some pics that are on my camera that I left at home today. GAiN's (where I work) distribution center is in Mt. Joy and twice a year we do a work project with volunteers. This year we had over 5,000 volunteers who, over the course of 9 working days, helped us process millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid that will be shipped out to over 30 countries. I'll be doing several posts in the next couple days about my time there.

One of my good friends' mom past away last week. She died of cancer that was diagnosed only 6 short months ago. I saw the family a couple days before she passed. Death always makes me re-evaluate life, my priorities, my relationship with the Lord, my passions. Chase and I were both honored to be apart of the service. My heart breaks for my friend, her brother, and her father who have lost someone so dear. I am so grateful that God, in His infinite sovereignty, made a way for us, who have rejected Him over and over, to have an intimate relationship with Him and ultimately spend an eternity wholly restored to perfect fellowship.

So the election is tomorrow and I didn't get a chance to early vote. Yep, I'll be standing in a long line with the other 73% of procrastinates. I had intended to vote several different times last week but things kept coming up that need immediate attention. Todd, the pastor at Watermark, did a GREAT job with yesterday's sermon regarding the election. You should listen to it before you vote. Click HERE. He presents a lot of history that I had never considered before. Oh, and while your at it, listen to last weeks sermon on Redemption...wholly cow!...I was in tears by the end.

I've never been good at remembering important dates, until this past year. Every time I see a new Doctor I have to download the past years history with dates and all. Dates of surgery's, dates of treatments, dates, dates, dates. Earlier this week I was thinking about some of last years dates and was reminded that one year ago exactly, we found out we were pregnant. We weren't trying, in fact, I had just had my first surgery so we were shocked! A lots happened this past year...kind of daunting to think about. There are so many lessons learned and so many He is in the middle of teaching me. I know now more than ever that the Lord IS in control and His timing is perfect. I can't control when or if we have a biological child, and that is ok. I know He already knows the children He will entrust us with, its just a matter of time...and I will rest in that.

Stay tuned, pictures of PA coming soon!