Thursday, July 31

Checking In

Just a quick post to say it is crazy around here. I am hoping to get my car back today and get rid of the hoopty rental car I have had since the wreck.

It was definitly not my first choice of cars.

As always we are running on empty around here because it is Thursday and I've hardly seen my daughter since Tuesday. I always feel exhausted by today and look forward to being off on Friday.

So, I promise to write more tomorrow, I have lots on my mind...

And thanks to all you who participated in Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. It was a ball and we got some great recipes.

Monday, July 28

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Welcome, once again, to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. My sister and I are so glad you came by. If you are joining us for the first time, here is the scoop. My twin, Lisa, and I want to have some fun with our blogging community. We are co-hosting this blog carnival. We hope you will share recipes, kitchen tips, restaurant reviews, or anything else food related. We aren't gourmet cooks. We are two Texas girls who like to cook and LOVE to eat. Enjoy!

Today I'm giving you my homemade Baked Rigatoni.
We are big Italian food fans so I am always looking for a way to change up a recipe or create a new one. This is one of those. Honestly, there are times I get a real craving for Italian food, it usually comes after I watched this marathon or this show. I know it is sad, I have a thing for Mob movies. But nothing gets me in the mood for a plate of rigatoni or manacotti than THIS movie. I'm crazy... I am very aware of this, thank you.

So here it is... my Baked Rigatoni.

1 lb Mild Italian Sausage removed from the casing
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce. (I LOVE Classico Spicy Tomato Pesto)
1 box Rigatoni
3 cups Mozzarella shredded
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
1 16oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 Tbs dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water and cook rigatoni using package directions. Do not over cook as it will continue to cook in the oven. In a large skillet brown the sausage. Try to break it up so that it will not be too chunky (that is an official cooking term) When browned, add the jar of spaghetti sauce and let simmer a few minutes.

In a large bowl combine ricotta, 2cups mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well.

When the rigatoni is done boiling, strain water and add the sauce mixture to the pasta. Stir well. Now, add the ricotta mixture to the pasta and stir... well.

Spray Pam in a 13x9 baking dish. Now, ready, this will be heavy, pour the entire mixture in your baking dish. Top with the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese and extra Parmesan if you like (I like).

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until all bubbly un-covered.

Fix a Caesar salad fill up your plate with cheese Rigatoni goodness and turn on Moonstruck. Don't forget to pour a glass of something wonderful and Enjoy your Italian feast.
Now, quick, go to Lisa's blog and check out Mr. Linky for more TMTT fun!

picture by me

Sunday, July 27

Don't give up on me now!

Have I lost you all? All 10 of you? I know, I'm failing my blogging responsibilities for sure. I have thought about you, my loyal blogging buddies. I just have had no time. I've been over run

Let me share the past few weeks with you. I'll try not to drag it out as to bore you.

Two weeks ago: as an assistant to the Media minister at our church, we have been planning a national Media Minister's conference here in our city. We have planned for months and months and yes...months. It has been crazy, but it was finally here. To begin the wonderful week-o-fun most of the ministers and their families went one of the BEST water parks in the country. My husband and I went along for a much needed vacation day. We had so much fun, especially since we left the 4 year old at home (thanks MeMaw and PaPaw for babysitting.)

It was a very relaxing day, floating and splashing until about an hour before we were to leave. We realize that our driver's license and a credit card were missing from our "very secure" Velcro pocket. It was a moment of sheer panic. They were at the bottom of some giant wave pool. Immediately we called and canceled the credit card right there from the water park. But our driver's licenses... what to do? Nothing. I began praying right then that God would convict the heart of whoever found them to return them to us, for our own sanity. I prayed this for the past 2 weeks.

So... we proceeded through the week full of conference fun and business. Rushing here and rushing there. I was at the beck and call of the group. All was going just as we had planned all those months. I was so glad. Then on 4th day as I drove to the hotel... I had a car wreck. Yes, Yes I did. Thankfully, it could have been much worse, but there was a trip to the E.R. that day due to neck and back pain. I missed some work and my car is in the shop and I have a rental car. I begin some physical therapy this week, so I'm sure I'll be feeling better soon, but for now it is just bothersome.

Now, this week I've been trying to get back in the swing of things, working and awaiting a long needed family reunion. So excited to see cousins and aunts and uncles. It is such a blast when we all get together. We began the Family fun with a trip to the local Minor league baseball park where me and two of my closest friends sang the National Anthem. So FUN!
We had a BALL! Really we did. Funniest thing about it... did you catch it? On the jumbo tron? They had my name as Lara...not Lana. Hysterical, no really it was, my whole family was there to begin the big reunion, so all weekend they called me Lara. We also had a huge group of friends from church there for the festivities. I will forever be Lara who sang the National Anthem. Now, if you don't think God has a sense of humor yet... just keep reading.

So the next morning as we were getting ready to go meet family for the reunion, I was making this incredible southwest corn dip and I sliced open my finger. Oh yea I did a real good job too. As the E.R nurse said, "you really fillet it" Nice... And to come full circle, guess who my doctor was? The same doctor from a week before from the car accident. We all had a good laugh as he fixed me all up, tetanus shot and all. He did request that I not come back next week. He may be afraid I am stalking him or something.

And what do I say to all that? God is good. He answered my prayers. Two days ago we got a package in the had both driver's licenses and the credit card in it. No note, just the cards. What a relief. Thank you God.

God is so good, because right before my wreck I was driving and praying and asking Him to continue to take care of my family and myself, and He has and He will continue to.

Am I weary, You better believe it. Do I need a some rest, most definitely, but my God is in control and still taking care of me. We have had some really fun times the last few weeks, peppered with life, smack you in the face, not-so-fun-sometimes-life. Honestly... I wouldn't have it any other way. I like how God helps to remind me that I'm NOT in control, I do need Him everyday, in every way. He keeps my pride in check (Lara) and reminds me whose I am.

Wednesday, July 23

What Condiment are You?

This is fun. I took the "What condiment are You?" Quiz. My results are below. What do you think? Go take the quiz and let me know what you are? Apparently Cammie and I are more alike then we knew!

I Am

Barbeque Sauce

You are a social person. You enjoy cooking for other people.

You are both skillful and competitive. You enjoy mastering hard tasks.

You appreciate complexity more than simplicity.

Your taste in food tends to lean toward interesting flavors.

You appreciate exotic spice combinations. You tend to like cutting edge, fusion cuisine.

You get along with all personalities from a distance. Except salsa personalities, who always seem to annoy you.

Monday, July 21

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Welcome, once again, to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. My sister and I are so glad you came by. If you are joining us for the first time, here is the scoop. My twin, Lisa, and I want to have some fun with our blogging community. We are co-hosting this blog carnival. We hope you will share recipes, kitchen tips, restaurant reviews, or anything else food related. We aren't gourmet cooks. We are two Texas girls who like to cook and LOVE to eat. Enjoy!

This week I am sharing a secret recipe!

SHHH don't tell.

It is the BEST Muffin Mix recipe you will find. I found it watching The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network. Her recipe was a little different in that she added a few more things to make it all crunchy and wonderful.

But the secret part was this. It was a base muffin recipe to add any and everything to. Make this mix and you can add bananas, blueberries, walnuts, bran, raisins, cranberries.... do you understand what I am telling you? Consider it your new muffin mix. Then just decide what yummy goodness you want to add. I promise you will not be unhappy.

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb butter melted & cooled

2 extra large eggs

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup mashed bananas (or whatever YUMMY thing you want to add)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the first 5 dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add melted butter and blend. In a separate bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla and mashed bananas. Now add them to your flour and butter mixture. DON'T OVER MIX. They need love.

Pour into muffin cups and bake 25-30 minutes, until tops are brown.

This makes 18 ENORMOUS muffins or 36 regular muffins. I usually half the recipe for our little family.

You will not be sorry you tried this, and honestly, you won't want to go back to the boxed mix ever again.

muffin photo: stock exchange


It's the Facebook revolution. Surely you have a Facebook account, right? If not, I must tell you, this site has led me to people I have not made contact with in 20 years (I'm old, apparently)

Last year I was doing research on social networking sites regarding Internet bullying and high school students. I am a member of a school board and my research led me to Facebook and My Space. Now, I'm not going to talk about Bullying... that is a WHOLE other topic and one I will get into another day. BUT, I joined these two websites so that I could see what they were all about. I did not really do anything with them until a few months ago when I started getting friend requests.

So, long story short, It has been great making contact with old friends from high school and college. I am actually looking forward to that dreaded 20 year class reunion next year. It is helping to break the ice, if you will. I even convinced my sweet husband that he should join up and find some old friends too. You must know, he thinks I'm a little wacky with all this blogging and Facebook hub-bub. But he did it, he joined up and was even adding applications and quizzes last night to his page. Peer pressure... I love it... at any age.

I have this great friend who I work with. He is a college student, he's all hip and trendy (is that so un-cool to say) anyway, he thought it was ridiculous that I had a Facebook account. I explained why I started it (like I was defending myself.) He said, you are my Mom's age... you are not supposed to be on Facebook. I know, I know... I said, but guess what... us OLDIES must be taking over because I am SO loving this new way to stay in touch. So, to my young college friend, sorry... your Mom's friends are taking over the world wide web, you are just going to have to deal with it.

If you are on Facebook, look me up at lanahowell at sbcglobal dot net. I'd love to be your friend too. Just let me know you found me from my blog.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for Temp My Tummy Tuesday!

Saturday, July 19

Above All...

It has truly been, one of those weeks. Through it all I am reminded that Above All, I know who is in control. I won't go into all the details, but my crazy week ended with a car accident on Thursday morning.

I am alright, shaken and very sore. I am sure I have some physical therapy for my back in my future. But this is what I want you to know, as I was driving I had a sense that this was the day my car was going to get hit. I had been in bad traffic listening to my favorite classical music station and was just talking to God about my week. Praying for my sister and her husband, asking that God would continue to take care of them, I was praying for my husband and for our family, for wisdom in parenting and and wisdom for decisions we need to make.

Then I just said, "God keep me safe in this horrible traffic, keep me safe." It was one minute later, traffic let up and we all started driving at normal speed and then everyone started braking again, expect the guy behind me. He hit me hard. But all I could think was "Thank you God, this could have been so much worse"

So today, I am thankful for Him taking care of me and that Above All... He loves me and you and wants what is best.

For more inspirational music go to Amy's site for Then Sings My Soul Saturday.

And don't forget to come back here for Temp my Tummy Tuesday.

Monday, July 14

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

Welcome, once again, to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. My sister and I are so glad you came by. If you are joining us for the first time, here is the scoop. My twin Lisa, and I want to have some fun with our blogging community. We hope you will share recipes, kitchen tips, restaurant reviews, or anything else food related. We aren't gourmet cooks. We are two Texas girls who like to cook and LOVE to eat.

Now I have to tell you... we really are twins, because without even talking to eachother about it, today we both picked Texas salads! TOO FUNNY!

Today I am inspired by a post I read the other day asking people to discuss the stereotypes from the states they live. Well, here in Texas, there are so many to choose from. What can I say, we think we are pretty special and we are sad for those of you who are not here. We have everything from red necks, cowboys, hippies, socialites, tree huggers and everything else under the sun.

We are also proud of our food. It's is not like there isn't great food in other states, again, we think we invented good food. Beef bbq, Tex-Mex, Whole food vegan organic stuff... you name it, we think we invented it.

So today I'm giving you Texas Caviar. You heard me... caviar... just the way we like it. We use tortilla chips or a big Frito scoop, it is some of the best stuff you can serve at a party. You are gonna love this stuff. It serves plenty for your next Sunday school party, bunko group, or super bowl party. I love it and I think you will too.

Now, I tried hard to find you a picture, I do not have one, I'm so sorry, but please know you will want to make this even if you do not have a beautifully Texan photo to entice you.


Texas Caviar

1/2 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (8 ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, mix together onion, green bell pepper, green onions, jalapeno peppers, garlic, cherry tomatoes, zesty Italian dressing, black beans, black-eyed peas and coriander. Cover and chill in the refrigerator approximately 2 hours. Toss with desired amount of fresh cilantro to serve. It tastes even better if you can wait one day... just one day, I promise it will be worth it!

NOW... QUICK go to Lisa's blog. You'll find Mr. Linky and you can add your recipe and see what everyone had to offer this week!

Being an Unhurried Mom...

As I hurriedly read my daily devotional I was stopped by the Lord. An Unhurried Life is the title today. Did anyone else read it? I get it in my email every weekday from Proverbs 31 Ministries. They had not posted today's devotional yet on the website, but I encourage you to go there today and read it, hopefully it will be up soon.

I am convicted about always being on the go, running from one thing to another. How many times have I missed an opportunity from God?

I pray we all take a little time today and look for missed opportunities.

Friday, July 11

It has been a quite week in Lake... oh what am I saying?

There are days I wish I lived in Lake Wobegone, in the middle of some story told by Garrison Keillor. He has a way to make crazy and insane sound normal and acceptable. I mean the craziness of everyday life.

We all have the deadlines to meet, children to tend to and a spouse to adore. But there are days... weeks when we just need a break and a little Lake Wobegone.
...where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

I'm looking forward to a Wobegone kind of weekend. I hope you can have one too.

Tuesday, July 8

My Parents

What I am thankful for today is the legacy of Christian parents. I am blessed to have learned from my parents to love God, love family, love others and to serve God. I learned that each day should begin with prayer and end that way. I observed what it means to work hard and to be trustworthy.

I am thankful for parents who although not perfect, perfectly love each other, their children and now grandchildren. I am thankful that God brought them together so many years ago so they could be my parents.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Day.

I love you...always.

It works for me... always has, always will. For get helpful hints today to to Rocks In My Dyer for Works for me Wednesday.

Monday, July 7


This is about Church volunteerism. Don't go away yet, this just might be something you need to read or better yet, give me your opinion.

I see this from two perspectives. The first is as a church staff member. The second is as a volunteer. You could say, I fell into my staff position because of volunteer work my husband was doing. I'll get back to that later.

First let me ask you, do you volunteer at church?

Do you teach Sunday school, children's choir, serve food at Wednesday night supper, sing in choir or praise team? What about running a camera or Easy worship or sound equipment? Do you set up chairs for a service that meets in a gym? What do you do?

Do you do anything but sit in a pew? Don't get me wrong there are times we need to sit and refresh and be renewed in the word. But have you thought that there may be people serving in your church who have not sat through a service to refresh and renew because their job is to "work" during the service. Have you wondered if there is anyone who fill in for them so they can just sit sometimes?

Studies show that most churches run on the 80/20 system; 20% of the people are doing 80% of the work. I would venture to guess that if you are serving at your church, it is in more than one area. Say, choir, teach Sunday school and help out in the nursery from time to time. That is a lot.
As one of my "staff" jobs, I am the volunteer coordinator for our Media Ministry. On any given Sunday, there are 32 media slots to fill. We usually have around 19 people each week to fill those slots. That means that many of these volunteers are working in multiple services (8:30,11:00 and 6:00pm). If they are working in multiple services, when do they get to actually go to church and refresh and renew?

I feel terrible asking peole to serve SO much. It breaks my heart to think that they are getting totally burned out. I have volunteers who have not been out more than 3 Sundays in 2 years. The pastor gets more time off than that. Now it is different in some areas where you can bring anyone in to fill a nursery slot. But these are jobs that require training ahead of time. It is not that the job is hard, it just requires a little training.

I had someone say something to me last night that cut to my heart. I had to ask him to pick up another Sunday service, which means another week of not "worshiping" but "working". He said, "you guys are really taking advantage of me and wearing me out. You are on staff...I am not." I wanted to crumble to the ground right there. I didn't have anything to say, but I am sorry, but I don't have another option.

Now, my husband is a "volunteer". He/we have to be at church at 7:30am each week as he runs graphics/video for the Praise & Worship service as do I from time to time. I no longer have a volunteer to trade off with him every other week. His replacement quit. Who could blame him. My daughter has to spend the night with family on Saturday night because we have to be there so early. We have not gone to church as a family in a long time. My husband also is the engineer at our 11am service that is broadcast for TV, and I sing in the choir for that service. So we are there all morning. Is that nutty?

As a staff member I am burning out the volunteers... as a volunteer... I am burned out myself.

It is a vicious circle, too few people volunteer, making it harder for those who do, burning them out quickly so that they quit and make it tougher for the others, and so on and so on.

Now, this is my question for you. What are you doing to help? Have you wondered, what can I do? Or better yet, have you never asked yourself that question? If so, you are reading this right now because God has a plan and purpose for you in the local church. Our Lord doesn't ask us to do His work without helping us. He blesses each of us with specific abilities—spiritual gifts—for the ministry He wants us to be in. 1 Corinthians 12 affirms that "God gives [spiritual gifts] to each one, just as he determines." (v. 11) We all have something to offer in ministry, because He gave it to us!I am sure there is someone at your church just waiting to get your call or email saying, "I think I'd like to volunteer somewhere."

Do you know your spiritual gifts? If you would like to take a Spiritual Gift Inventory Test you can. It will help you see areas of service you may be perfect for.

Pray about your role in your local church. Pray about it, ask God to show you where He wants you to serve. And above all, pray for those who faithfully serve every week, say thank you when you have the chance.

Sunday, July 6

Is This the little girl I carried?

As usual, this has been a busy week and I realize I have not shared my thoughts on birthday. My girl turned 4 this week. I can hardly believe it. As I am sitting here I find myself humming "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof It is fitting this week. I am thinking back to our first night together in the hospital.
Ok...beside the fact that I am huge...I truly remember thinking my life has just begun. What a sense or before and after that I will never experience again. Life before Kathryn and life with her.
I am amazed watching her as she changes and has become this kid. No longer the little baby, but a child, my dear child. I am listening to her right now as I type, she is in her room singing "Under the Sea" at the top of her lungs and I'm sure she is dancing. She has such joy, she loves to play, loves to pretend and just plain old loves...everything! I love her and I am blessed everyday by her. Some days she makes me crazy, but that is what it is all about. Happy birthday sweetie... Mommy loves you.

Saturday, July 5


There is nothing like the Gaither's singing a patriotic song to make you love this great land even more. I hope you all had a great 4th of July. My daughter woke up this morning asking when the fireworks were going to start again.
It was a good day with family and friends.

For more inspirational music today... go to Amy's place

Don't forget to come back for Temp My Tummy Tuesday for great dinner ideas!

Friday, July 4

Comedy? I don't think so.

This is what have been working on. Yes, defensive driving online. NO I did not get a ticket, but I need it so that I can be added to our church's insurance so that I can drive the church van. No... I'm really not that excited about that, but I do work there and you never know when the occasion will arise.

Well low and behold, there is an event coming up, and I needed to get this done. In trying to find the best and most efficient solution to add this to my already crazy schedule, I figured, I would do this on line and why not get a laugh while I'm at it. Yep... that is what I thought.

HA! The laugh is on ME! Did you see the guy on the home page? He is an actual person. What they failed to tell me or I failed to read was that the online Funny Ha-Ha version is all CARTOONS! I'm not talking bugs bunny or little Einsteins. I could handle that if I knew it was coming... bugs sayin' "Ahhh what's up doc? Put on your seat belt and get off the cell phone why don't ya?" BUT THIS is bad Comedy Central cartoons impersonating people like Arnold, Unsolved Mystery guy, Gary Busey and the worst is some road kill animal that has been animated. It is crazy. I don't know what is worse the boring material they have tried to make funny or the disturbing cartoon characters on screen.
I have one more hour of this 6 hour marathon of insanity. At least doing it online allows me to stop and start on my own time.

Crazy stuff people... crazy stuff.