January 28, 2010

Crab and Artichoke Dip

The lobby of our favorite restaurant

Our family loves to go to Port Townsend (a little town on the coast) and visit The Belmont Hotel. It's a Victorian Hotel with a small restaurant that has a balcony on the water. It has always been our favorite place, even before the children were born. Now, it is a family thing. We always order the same thing - crab and artichoke dip, clam chowder and herbal tea. It is very rich and warm and extravagant.

I never attempted making the dip, but then a friend from church brought her pepper artichoke dip to a potluck and it was so similar. I asked for the recipe. She made it without the crab and tomato and it was very good...so, if you don't like crab, you can leave it out.

This recipe is large. We made a meal out of it. I served the dip with French bread and crab cakes - and we had enough for two meals. It can also be doubled if you want to take it to a potluck.

1 package cream cheese
1 cup mayo
1/4 of onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup artichoke hearts
1/2 cup roasted bell pepper chopped

2 cups shredded cheese (your choice - we used cheddar)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

1/2 cup crab meat
1 small tomato chopped.


Mix the ingredients in the order listed. The first four until creamy, add the next two items, then the cheese. Stir, then add the crab and tomato. Pour into a baking dish (I used a glass pie plate), sprinkle with more Parmesan and bake at 350 degrees until a little brown and bubbly.

Serve with crackers or crostini or French bread.


January 26, 2010

Is it raining where you are?

We wanted to go for a walk. The sky was grey and the sun peeked out here and there but we knew that it would rain. It was also cold and staying in our little warm home seemed so much better than a walk in the cold rain. Nope, if we waited for perfect weather we would never get out. A walk was in order and isn't that why coats and gloves were invented? Determined, we drove to our destination - a good park with clear paths that wouldn't be too muddy.
We did pray. We prayed that the Lord would hold off the rain until our walk was done. But He said, "No." Once we started on the path so did the drizzle.

Hmm. Well, it wasn't too bad and we would just see how it went.

Along the way we saw a few couples swimming in the marshes. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were setting up their nests. A large blue crane followed us up the path. We told Naomi that it was following her because of her blue coat. He probably just wanted to ask her "Are you my mother?" She was instantly best friends with the crane and noticed everything he did.

Once, we stopped under a fir tree to rest and watched the geese skim the water to land in a large brown field. After walking a little over a mile, we decided to turn back, just in case it really rained. And it did.

We walked silently. The children took turns holding my hand. We walked briskly with our heads down. The only sound was the rain pitter pattering on our hoods and the quick chomping our steps made on the gravel path.

It was a long mile back. I prayed. My conversation with the Lord started out like this, "Lord, why didn't you hold off the rain?" and then I poured out my heart. All the heavy things that I had been carrying lately left at my Saviors feet. My load unburdened I continued "Lord, are you here with me?"

Sophia lifted her head, "Look Mom! I love it how the rays of the sun come through the clouds like that. It looks like heaven peeking in on us."

Yes, it was nice. If only those rays were shining down on US. The rain continued to pour.

"Come on kids, we're almost there...keep coming!" The children were getting tired from our brisk pace. They were trailing behind so I turned around to urge them on. There, right near us, was the boldest, brightest rainbow I had ever seen. If it wasn't for the swamp, we could have run into it and danced in it's colors.

(jason edwards, allposters)

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deut 31:8

January 22, 2010

Must See Movie

This movie was recommended by a Beautiful Blogger Friend. All I can say is "You MUST watch this movie." It was funny, suspenseful, but most of all, eye opening. It will make you think.

If you do see it, let me know how you enjoyed it. I would love to hear your thoughts. We borrowed it on Netflix. Happy viewing.

Christmas on the brain - Part One

Most people have tossed the Christmas tree and taken down the lights. The nativity and the ornaments are packed away for next year. It's supposed to be time for resolutions, exercise routines and a new reading list.

Is that what's on your mind? Or maybe the headlines are on your mind ~ politics, earthquakes, the economy.

Me? My mind is still on Christmas. I keep coming back to the story. I hear the words of Luke as I sit on my bed meditating.

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus," Luke 1:1-3

And so starts the greatest story on earth.

I think there is good reason why we celebrate the birth of Christ at the end of December...it's not just a coincidence...to prepare us for the next year.

Maybe I was too absorbed in the tree farm and the Spontaneous Santos Expedition to experience Christmas fully. Maybe that's why I am still thinking of Jesus in the manger when everyone else is getting ready for Valentine's Day.

Read Luke chapter one.

An angel of the Lord appears unto Zechariah and says "Fear not, Zechariah: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. (vs13)

I love this verse. It tells me three things:

* He called him by name and he knew his wife too. LORD, what [is] man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Psalm 144:3

* God does not want us to be afraid.

* God hears our prayers. He does answer, in His time.

In verse 14 we see how God wanted Joy and Gladness for Zechariah ~ not only him ~ it reads, "and many shall rejoice at his birth." God's desire for us is JOY and GLADNESS. Doesn't that sound wonderful? Right now so many people are full of fear and pain, but there is this good news out there that saves people. GOOD NEWS PEOPLE!

What am I doing with this great news? What is my focus on?

Well, I am probably just like Zechariah. He had an angel of the Lord tell him this awesome news and look at what he was focused on.

And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. (vs 18)

Dwelling on the impossible, the inconceivable, the unattainable. He was old. His wife was worse than old. She was well stricken in years!

My, my.

His prayers had been heard. God's desire for him was Joy and Gladness. An angel of the Lord came to bring this great message to him ~ even quoting from the last message from God in 400 years (vs 17), but Zechariah didn't believe.

What do you believe? Does it make any difference in your life?

January 21, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new

Lately, part of the Santos clan has been looking like a bunch of orphans. Dresser drawers were bulging and the closet was full, yet the children never had anything to wear and came out of their rooms in the morning looking so frumpy and messy. I figured it was time to do inventory and clean out some junk. Guess, the new year is as good a time as ever.

We had a limited budget, but God could do anything. We prayed for wisdom and set off in faith, knowing that "My God shall supply all my needs."

It wasn't until 4:00 in the afternoon that we began our shopping excursion. The sky was dark already, but at least the house was clean and Mr. Santos' 'list' was checked off.

Our first stop was Goodwill. Clean, neat and high quality was our goal. We found a few things and then headed to the mall. The only good thing we found at the mall was that there were no crowds on a Wednesday evening. Why is it that all the clothing out there has to look like a t-shirt? Where are the collared shirts or clothes without cheap looking logos all over them? I couldn't even find a sweater thicker than some slippery synthetic thread. Tight and ill-fitting was all that was for sale.

With dismay, I thought, "If only I could knit or sew with any skill." We were about to head home with nothing, but the Lord was SO good to us.

At the clearance rack at JC Penny we found four dresses for the girls. Cap sleeves, collars, bows, below the knee ~ simple, clean and neat ~AAHH, just what I was looking for. We bought a red dress, a lavender plaid and then two little tailored suits. Everything was 70% off of the clearance price. How wonderful! The girls love them and I do too.

When we got home it was time for the real work to begin. We made piles of tops and bottoms. Anything threadbare, stained or ripped went into a pile. Anything that hadn't been worn for a couple months went into the same pile. Unmatched socks and worn out underwear topped the pile like a little snowcap. The children and I worked into the night organizing, tossing and cleaning out the closet. Finally, at eleven o'clock, I tucked three tired munchkins into their warm beds, kissed their sleepy heads and turned out the lights.

The closet was clean. The drawers were organized neatly with everything in its place. Not an unmatched sock in sight. We even knew where the belts were.

New underwear, new clothes. What a wonderful blessing. What a relief.

This morning, the children woke up and got ready in record time...WOW. Who knew a little organization could make a morning run so smoothly? I LOVE new beginnings.

January 19, 2010

On my mind for some time...

This morning I woke up to the same thing I wake up to every day ~ the same challenges you woke up to. Sometimes the challenges don't show themselves 'til after breakfast. But, it is almost guaranteed that at some point in the day you will be faced with The Challenge. What is it?

We want what we don't have or we don't have what we want. This varies in degrees for each person. One person wants a new dishwasher while another wants a baby, being overwhelmed with years of infertility. One person may have a leaky roof while another person has cancer.

Either way, the inconvenience, or pain of it all is suffering.

And so, every day, together, we are faced with the same challenge. What are we going to do with the suffering we have in our life? How are we going to deal with it?

I love practical solutions. Are you depressed? Then put on a pretty dress and do something fun and beautiful! Are you lonely? Roll up your sleeves and prepare a lovely meal for a shut-in. Practical is good ~ but often times it is not a CURE. When the suffering is prolonged or extremely painful, don't you just want RELIEF? To have your need satisfied?

The Good News is that there IS relief! There IS satisfaction! and it is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

Just take a look. First, he is your creator.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: Col 1:15-16

The one who made you came to earth to show us how to live this life: how to deal with it's challenges. That's the whole point of Christmas. Did we miss it this year? Did I miss it this year? So how DID Jesus live that I might learn how to deal with The Challenge?

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. John 14:31

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:10

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish HIS work. John 4:34 (emphasis mine)

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Luke 11:2

He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. Matt 26:42

J.R. Miller says "Life does not come to us in lifetimes. It comes one day at a time." I love this quote. If you think about it, what really makes our suffering unbearable is that we live life in the future.

We say to ourselves: "This house will never be nice enough." "I will be in pain for ever." "My husband will never change and I am doomed." These thoughts are based on future plans...or fears. What if we lived life just in the moment? Without discounting good stewardship, what if every moment of our life we asked, "Lord, what is your will in this? How would you have me respond? What do you want me to do now, Lord?"

My New Year's Resolution is to live this year moment by moment. I pray that I will live each moment for the glory of God. It is not as exciting as making plans. I love to plan ahead ~ parties and gardens and crafts ~ I will still plan, but I really only have this moment...and so how will I glorify God in this moment?

I dropped the eggs and they all broke. There is a huge, slippery mess in the kitchen. How will I glorify God in this moment?

I have a headache and I am sleepy. My children are bickering in the room. How will I glorify God in this moment?

"Pack up, we're moving." How will I glorify God in this moment?

Life is an ADVENTURE. We have no idea what is around the next corner. What makes it so exciting is knowing that we have nothing to fear. God says "Fear not for I am with thee." I really believe that living moment by moment helps us not to fear.

What about the BIG stuff? Cancer? Well, you have this moment. How would God have you live it? Loneliness? What would God have you to think on, to do this moment?

I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil 4:13

WE CAN DO IT! We can live wonderful, adventurous lives if we look unto Jesus.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life...

and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12

Freedom from Fear by Norman Rockwell

January 04, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR from The Santos Times! We had a happy and low key Christmas Eve eating tamales and pupusas with good friends. Christmas day started out very pleasant and slow. We had a nice breakfast and then began to open gifts. Halfway through the gifts, Mr. Santos announced "We need to go to California. I don't want to have any regrets about not seeing my dad." (long story short - his father, who lives in El Salvador, was in California and was returning to El Salvador the day after Christmas) Mr. Santos continued..."Everybody, throw some clothes in a bag and buckle up. We are going to California right now."

We were off on another Spontaeous Santos Expedition! Whew! Well, we are back and recovering. You haven't heard from us in a while because The Santos Clan has been sick and even our computer contracted a virus.

I have so much to share with you and record for the family, but the Daybook will have to suffice for now.

(click on icon if you want to participate in the daybook meme)


January 4, 2010

Outside my window...

I'm at the Library, borrowing their computer - so there are other readers, I can see the children sitting on the little elephant shaped chairs reading books while I check e-mail and do other computer "errands"

I am thinking...
How time flies. This morning we were talking about the things we are looking forward to this year and the children naturally mentioned their birthdays. Why do kids always want to grow up? I, of course ,told them that birthdays were not allowed this year and I had no intention of letting them grow another year older.

I am thankful for...

The Library :)

From the kitchen...

Hodge Podge and This and That. With Christmas and our Spontaneous Adventure it is time to pull meals out of a hat...But God is so good - We never go hungry and Hodge Podge meals make life more interesting. Last night we had a simple but comforting vegetable soup with crepes and coconut rice to round things out. It didn't really go together - but it was fresh, homemade and tasty.

I am wearing...

Black and white skirt, white button up shirt and black sweater, black socks and clogs.

I am creating...

A New Year's routine that includes Scripture memory every day. So far so good.

I am going...
To go home and take a nap after this...how lovely. I am so thankful to be a homemaker. All my chores are done at home, we have finished school and dinner will be a simple hodge podge - so we have time for a nap...woohoo.
I am reading...
Well, there is a new pile in the children's section next to my little wanna-be-big munchkins...we'll see what they have picked out.

From the school room...

Scripture memory, copy work, Math, and Christopher Columbus - Ah, back in the swing of things. This is also the first day of school for Mr. Santos. We'll see what sort of homework he has for 'US' :)

I am hoping...

To figure out how to compute all the earnings and taxes from the tree farm - due by the end of the month. It is such a daunting task to me - pray for me.

I am hearing...

Library noises - lots of coughs too.

Around the house...

Laundry caught up and one lamp left on for when we come home - it is a dark and wet afternoon.

One of my favorite things...

Thankfulness at the dinner table - no matter what the Hodge Podge is!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:

Hopefully, pick up a repaired computer, go grocery shopping, and finish up the tree farm accounting - PRAY for me - and post some of my thoughts for the new year.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing…
You will have to use your imagination for this one...I can't download a picture on the library computer...It's a picture of my family playing dominoes on New Year's Eve.
Commit thy works to the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established. :)


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