Tuesday, March 29, 2011

AP Classes Cost Money

This year Shannon enrolled in six AP (Advance Placement) classes.  Brahms enrolled in one.  I was pleased because that means that if they pass these classes that they won't have to take them in college.  Now the school year is about to end, the kids are preparing for the final exams and guess what?  We have to pay for their exams.  AP exams are expensive - $89 per subject.   Multiply that by seven.   In the previous years when we were paying for two or three AP exams for Shannon alone, we didn't seem to notice the cost.   Well, I will be consoled by the knowledge that if they pass their exams their college fees will at least be reduced. 

Next year I will be more aware of the monetary implication of AP classes.   I will still encourage my kids to take them if they can.  Who knows, God will still allow us to afford the cost.  :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shannon Learns To Cook Tri-Tip

Shannon is feeling too happy.

Mondays are often busy for our family.  Brahms and Miriam have music lessons around the time that I would be cooking dinner.   Papa Murphy's Pizza is a convenient solution most of the time.   However, when I plan ahead the family can have something homemade in spite of the hectic schedule.  Last week there were two tri-tip steaks that were marinating in the fridge...so I asked Shannon to grill them while we were at the music lessons.  The idea scared her since she hasn't used the outdoor grill before.  So I pre-heated the grill and left her very detailed instructions.   She was nervous but she had no choice because her Dad was on a conference call - she was the only hope.  To her amazement, she cooked the steak while she did her homework.  We had dinner before seven o'clock.

Spring Salad with Feta-Cranberries (dried)
Grilled Tri tip Steak
Tater Tots

Grilled Tri-Tip Beef Steak

 3-4  lb. tri-tip steak
3  Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2  Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1  Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Montreal Steak Seasoning

  1. Prepare marinade by mixing balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and worcestershire sauce.
  2. Coat the meat with the marinade one or up to five days in advance by placing the marinade and the meat in a Ziploc bag.  Squeeze out air and seal the bag then put it in the refrigerator.
  3. One hour before cooking, bring out the meat to get to room temperature. 
  4. Preheat grill to 450-500°F.  Liberally coat the meat with Montreal Steak seasoning.
  5. Place the steaks on the grill to sear for two minutes on each side. 
  6. Turn down the temperature to medium heat (350°F) and cook the meat for 10 minutes on each side.  For thicker cuts of steaks, increase cooking time accordingly. 
  7. Take the meat off the grill and place on a tray.  Cover with foil loosely and let it stand for at least 15 minutes.
  8. Slice the steak across the grain and arrange on a serving platter.
  9. For a balanced meal, serve with your favorite carb-food, vegetable, and fruits.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Panini for Dummies

Ham-cheese-and-Arugula Panini

One of the most -often-used gadgets in our kitchen is the Panini press.   It makes sandwiches instantly warm and crispy.    Ham and Cheese with Arugula Panini is one of the sandwiches I made last week for lunch.  The procedure is very very simple but I am writing it here for my children; they want me to record all the foods that I cook at home. 

The quality of sandwiches depends on the ingredients used.  (Like you didn't already know.)  The mayonnaise can be skipped if you are trying to cut on fat.   Whenever we get a chance to get them, I also like to put sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, etc.) and basil to add a different flavor.  

Ham-Cheese and Arugula Panini

4 Slices of wheat bread
1 tbsp. Mayonnaise (optional)
1  tsp. Dijon mustard
12+ arugula leaves
      Sliced red onions
2-4   Slices of swiss cheese
8 ounces Thinly sliced Black Forest Ham

Step by step Procedure:
1.  Preheat the Panini press to # 5-6.*
2.  Make the sandwiches making sure that the chesses are piled along the center
    Spread mayonnaise and Dijon mustard evenly on to one side of two bread slices.
    Divide the arugula leaves and onion into two (sandwiches) and lay them over the mustard.   Arrange 4 ounces of ham over the vegetables.
   Top the meat with one or two slices of cheese making sure to pile them in the center of the bread so that they will not leak out during the process.
 Complete the layers with the other slices of bread.
3. Grill.  Place in Panini grill press until deep brown marks appear on the surfaces of the bread or when melted cheese begin to show on the sides of the sandwiches.
(*In the absence of a Panini press, use a preheated grill or saut√©  pan.  Press down the sandwiches using a heavy pot.  Turn when one side is brown.  Cook the other side until melted cheese begin to show.)
4.  Enjoy.  Cut the sandwiches in half and serve with fruits on the side. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tim's Other Job

Tim wears an apron on top of his Phoenix Technologies shirt.

 Every Friday Tim takes and early lunch break to go help at the Senior Center.  The Senior Center is place where elderly people in the community can go when the house feels lonely.  One of the things that the Senior Center offers is food service.  A senior person can eat all their meals there if they want to for a very minimal price.  This is the area where Tim volunteers to work.

A fulfilled life does not only focus on ones desires but also on helping others.   The Senior Center relies on volunteers' help to cut cost.  This in turn would allow the elderly to eat inexpensively.  Tim takes a couple of hours from programming or debugging codes in order to help plate meals and wash dishes.   He also gets a chance to talk with the old folks while he eats lunch with them.  This part is not very long because like a real laborer, he's got some work to do in the kitchen.  :)

Tim learns to use a commercial-grade dishwasher. 

This job makes Tim happy.  Every time he comes home from this volunteer job, his face is all red and sweaty from the steam in the kitchen but he is smiling. He takes of his hat and goes back to his job as a BIOS Architect for Phoenix Technologies.
Tim posing with Yvonne, the Director of the Senior Center.

"From now on, any definition of a successful life must include serving others."   ~  George Bush

Academically Fine

Mr .Nordquist announcing Miriam's Award.

Brooks Golden Bear Award (BGBA) is an award for academic excellence.  So far Miriam has not missed to get one since she was in fourth grade.  We are proud of her.  Although she's so tiny her "smarts" are not as inferior as her height.  :) 

She is enjoying her fifth grade year except on those sad days when she gets in trouble for dozing off while Mr. Nordquist gives his lectures. 

Janae, Miriam and Emily

 Janae and Emily are Miriam's best friends.  Miriam looks like a tiny sprout when standing in between them.   She loves them both and is oblivious of her relative vertical status.  The only time when she realizes the size difference in this trio-friendship is when Emily and Janae get excited in a happy way and they pat or hug her.  "They are very strong!"  I told her that it would be a good idea to let them know their physical effects on her. 

Classmates:  Dan, Miriam, Will, Emily
Very soon Miriam will go to Middle School.   Today we filled out some paper work which is related to an orientation meeting for Rolling Hills Middle School - her future school.  My baby is growing up. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Twenty Years!

I have been busy lately but last month my Tim and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.  While there has been so many activities that we did to celebrate this 20th anniversary, including an extended trip to Salem, February 23 was the real celebration day!  It so happened that I worked on that day which means that I didn't even have any chance to do something to make our anniversary special.  Well, I did make dinner, but I also left for bible study after eating.  Tim on the other hand was busy.   He brought lovely flowers for me - 'Red Intuition' roses and 'Star Gazer' Lilies filled the vases at home.  He gave me another diamond ring!  It seems to me that he presents me with a diamond ring every ten years.  There is one big problem - I like to work in the garden and I do not like to wear my precious rings when I am gardening.  I've been trying to wear one of them each time we go somewhere special such as on our Monday lunch dates but then I come home and take it off before I do some garden work.  As a result I end up not wearing anything which makes Tim cringe.   

The other thing he did was to play a song that we both  used to like - "Right Here Waiting for You" by Richard Marx.  Tim and I met in the Philippines and we got engaged before he came back to the US.   After that we wrote to each other every day and we talked on the phone once a month.  This is a time when an hour of phone call to the Philippines would cost him two hundred dollars.  There were no such things as cell phones, emails, internet, Facebook, etc.  We wrote and we sent tapes to each other.  This song was one of our favorites because it described our relationship to the point.  J

Anniversaries are milestones.   They reflect the distance we've traveled together.  It is a time to reflect on the past year or decade of life together.  Tim and I made it this far through God's grace.  We can say that we face a future that is not like the past as no two years are ever the same.  We will have a child in college.  Life will be really different.   The children in the house will be reduced to two and probably our finances will be interesting.  :)  We will have to brace ourselves to the One who does not change - God.  He is our only hope; he will renew our strength.  With His grace we will soar on wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary; we will walk and not be faint. 

I thank God for Tim and our life together.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Talent Show

Watching and waiting for their turn.

March 9, 2010 marks the first time that Miriam participated in the school Talent Show.  She decided to join Will Lezsinske and Erich Lippuner perform a Pok√©mon dance.  The three of them practiced a couple of time at our house.  The idea came from Will but the mastermind for the choreography was Miriam.  There were times when I tried to insert my suggestions but were quickly disregarded.  Their performance turned out very well.   The experience of coming up with a concept and putting it into a stage performance is desirable.  Doing the whole process with two other friends - having to agree or disagree and compromise with them - required a healthy exercise of humility and determination.  My Miriam is such a kind and sweet girl.  On the other hand, she has her own mind to know when to give up or fight for an idea.  This is a skill or talent that every person - young and old need to have.   

Miriam amazed her friends when she decided to join two other boys for the show. 

Two boys and one girl... They were so cute!!!

Miriams classmates and friends - Tobias, Will, Alex and Erich.

Although this is Miram's first Talent Show experience at Brooks Elementary, she has participated in several stage performances through our church.  In fact she is currently in the cast for the next Spring Musical.