Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So. Now that I've got everyone all hyped up... :) Most of you know the big news anyway, and I don't know that this post is going to be anything special because I'm tired. But I have a few minutes while I wait for my clothes to dry here in the hotel laundry room, so I thought I'd try to put my thoughts down on paper. Or computer. Or whatever.

The deal is, we have been praying for a long time about our lives. The last two years have been hard...don't get me wrong, they've been good. But hard. Marc's worked two jobs for two years in which 5 nights a week he doesn't get a full night's sleep. I was pregnant, nursing, and/or taking care of a fussy fussy crankypants baby for two years. We lived paycheck to paycheck for two years. We always had enough to eat, but usually not any extra. We lived in a two bedroom house with all the above conditions for two years. It was hard, but through it all we felt God speaking to us about His providence and about learning contentment.

Contentment. Now that's a word you don't hear every day. Seems like we all want what we want, when we want it. And usually, we want it NOW. But God was asking us to wait. I wish I could say we waited patiently. Or pleasantly. So many lessons to learn! The biggest lesson I learned was that in everything there is a lesson to be learned. Ponder that one for awhile...

We had gotten to a place in our lives where we KNEW that we were following the right paths but still feeling frustrated. It's hard to continue hoping for change, putting your hope in God and Him alone, when you're not seeing any results. One day I was really struggling, and the Lord spoke to me through an old prayer notebook from 10 years ago. I saw a quote from a Sunday night church service that said, "Anything you can do on your own is not faith." Now I know that in many contexts, this quote is not entirely accurate. But for me, for that day, it was exactly what I needed to remember. That this battle wasn't mine, but God's. That He still had our best in mind. That He was the only one who could deliver. And that He would, in His timing.

God brought me to a place where I had no one else to hope in but Him. And what I learned, once my answer came, was that this was the answer. To have no other hope. The answer wasn't "give me whatever I think I need." It was learning, no matter what my situation, "to be content."

There are so many details that lead to where we are now, but I think the details mar the overall awesomeness of what happened. And what happened was....Marc lost his full-time job. Yeah, I know. Not the answer we were hoping for, exactly. But in all of it, I was able to pursue an opportunity to work for my former company in a new location, doing a job I have dreamed of doing. We prayed: "God, open the right doors wide. And slam shut the wrong doors. We only want Your will." All the doors have been opened as wide as can be, and here I am.

"Here" is Morgantown, WV. I get to work for a company I loved working for, for my old boss (in a new location), and doing what I really love. Oh, and I get to make money, too. Isn't that cool? So Marc & I are switching for awhile. He'll be the stay at home parent, able to renew his relationship with the kids, get some much-needed and much-deserved rest, and remember what it's like to feel normal again. I will get to help provide for my family in a new way. Both of us will probably go back to school (not at the same time). I'm loving my job so far, and God has blessed me in every way. I am remembering things from 2 years ago I should have forgotten, and I just feel overwhelmed and humbled at how much He loves.

We'll be moving our family here this weekend, and I get to see my kids in two days. I love the new city, and while it's not Knoxville, I know it's where we're supposed to be, so don't hate me if I have a love for it. :) It's beautiful here, and Zach is excited he gets to see snow.

So, in all this, I'm hoping that what shines through is what He has done. He hears, He answers, He loves. Hope in Him. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

He answers.

I want to take some time to share what God is doing for our family and in our lives, but I really want to do this post justice, and I'm not sure I have the necessary time at the moment. My brain is spinning (in a good way), and I am trying to process all the amazing ways that God has answered our prayers.

For those who have been (and are still) praying for God's deliverance and blessing: Don't stop praying. Don't stop hoping. He listens. He waits for the perfect time. He changes you through the process. He answers.

But be careful, because His answer may not be what you expected.

It may be better.

Much love from our family, and more details to come!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This is my family's homemade pierogie recipe--I am half Ukrainian and half French, and this recipe comes from the Ukrainian side. It takes a lot of work, but is well worth the effort. Because it's so labor intensive, when I make it, I typically make a large batch--about 11 dozen pierogies. If you want to pare the recipe down, you'll have to attempt it yourself. :)

Now, there are lots of different types of pierogie recipes out there--potato, meat, or cabbage/sauerkraut. This one is your traditional one, filled with potato, cheese, and onions. It also happens to be my favorite. The techniques that follow were developed by my loving mother, who made and sold about 300 dozen pierogies one year to make money so we could have an awesome Christmas (I think I was 11 or 12?). She's the master!

Here are the ingredients. Detailed instructions follow.

Filling (makes 11 dozen pierogies)

5 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 pound (8 oz) grated cheese, typically Farmers Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds medium yellow onions, finely diced
1 stick butter

Dough (you'll need to make 5-6 batches worth of dough to equal 11 dozen pierogies)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp melted butter

The first thing I would recommend is to prepare the onions. You'll need about 2 lbs yellow onions and 1 stick of butter for this part. If you have a food processor, the easiest thing to do is to peel your onions, slice into quarters, and pulse them a few times in the processor. This saves your eyes...you can definitely do it the old fashioned way with a knife; it will just take you a bit longer. Once you get all the onions diced pretty finely, add them to a large saute or frying pan along with the butter. Cook over medium heat, until the onions caramelize or turn brown. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. I usually add up to 1/2 cup water to help keep them from burning. Depending on how many onions are in your pan, this could take 20-30 minutes.

Once you get the onions cooking, peel and quarter your potatoes. You'll need 5 pounds of russet potatoes. Don't use any other kind of potato (red, large baking, etc). Russet only. Just trust me. Place the potatoes in a large stockpot along with a bunch of water. Boil the potatoes until tender and drain. Add a couple Tbsp butter, mash them well with a potato masher, or use a potato ricer if you have one of those (I don't, but it's on my wish list!). You don't want lumpy pierogies. Whatever you do though, don't use an electric mixer--this makes the potatoes too fluffy.

Add about 2/3 of your onions to the mashed potatoes. (Save the remaining 1/3 onions to use for topping the pierogies.) Make sure to salt and pepper your potato mixture to taste...these need lots of salt. Grate 1/2 pound (8 oz) cheese and add to slightly cooled potato-onion mixture. (If it's too hot, the cheese will start to melt and get stringy. Not a pretty sight.) Traditionally, the cheese used in this pierogie recipe is farmers cheese, a soft, mild cheese similar in texture to mozzarella. Cheddar cheese also works well, but I'm picky. If I go to the trouble to make these things, I want them to be GOOD. So I use farmers cheese. You can usually find it in the specialty cheese section at your local grocery store. (TN residents--I find this fairly easily at Kroger.)

Because this is such a large recipe, I typically make the onions & potatoes a day ahead of time, then refrigerate for use the next day, when I make the dough, fill the pierogies, and cook them. It breaks it up, especially if no one else is helping you prepare them.

When you're ready to start assembling the pierogies, make a doubled dough recipe (4 cups flour, 2 eggs, etc). Do not try to use an electric mixer to make the dough. It's fragile and just take it from someone who's experienced. Use a regular old bowl and wooden spoon. Mix all dough ingredients until well blended but try not to overmix. Let the dough stand for 30 minutes, covered with a damp dishtowel. Then take about 1/3 of the dough, roll out onto a lightly floured surface until you get a thickness of about 1/4-1/8 inch. Not too thick, not too thin. Don't be afraid of the dough...it doesn't hurt. Take a round biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, lightly floured, and cut out dough circles. Take up the pieces of the dough left, re-roll and cut out more circles. When you sense the bits and pieces of dough getting tough, discard it & start again with the remaining dough in your bowl. Always keep dough you're not working with covered with a damp towel to keep it fresh.

Next, you'll want to fill these dough circles with the potato/onion/cheese mixture. In our house, we take it a step further and roll the potato mixture into small/medium balls with our hands. This makes it a bit easier to work with and works well when you're cooking "assembly line style." Put the potato ball or small spoon of mixture in the center of the dough circle and bring the round edges of the dough together, pinching as you go along to form a seal, keeping all the potatoes inside. You can use a commercial "pierogie maker" or ravioli maker if you want to, but we find that wastes a lot of dough.

Bring a large stockpot full of water to a boil; place filled pierogies into water and boil for about 2-3 minutes until the pierogies float to the top. You can cook up to 10 pierogies at once this way. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet with edges (to catch any drips of water).

Now your pierogies are cooked and ready to eat. They're yummy this way, but not super attractive. A great finishing touch is to fry your pierogies in a bit of butter until golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve with remaining caramelized onions and sour cream.

**You can freeze pierogies after they are boiled. Simply allow them to cool, then place in freezer bags. They'll last several months this way and taste just as fresh when they defrost and you fry them up. You can also freeze any remaining onions for topping. Do not freeze any leftover potato mixture, though. I tried that already and trust me, it doesn't work!

I know this seems like a lot of work, and I won't lie to you. It is. But the end result is so worth it, so much better than any pierogie you buy from the freezer section of your grocery store....you'll never want to go back. I promise!

Turkey Tetrazzini

This is not your cafeteria style Turkey Tetrazzini....it's so yummy! I freeze leftover diced cooked turkey (from Thanksgiving or other), and make my own broth from the turkey carcass. Homemade turkey broth/stock makes all the difference!

To make the stock: Remove as much turkey meat as possible from your carcass. Dice the meat & freeze in ziploc bags. Place the remainder of the carcass (bones & skin) in a large stockpot. Add water so the pot is approximately 2/3 - 3/4 full. Add 2 whole bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer on med-low heat for about 2 hours. Drain in a large colander over a large bowl to contain stock. Freeze cooled stock for later use.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Yield: 6-8 servings

4 cups cooked pasta
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, divided
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup hot turkey stock or canned broth
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 heavy whipping cream
Salt/Pepper to taste
2-3 cups diced, cooked turkey
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp dried bread crumbs

**Cook pasta 1-2 minutes less than suggested time. Drain and toss with 2 Tbsp butter. Set aside.

**Saute mushrooms with 2 Tbsp butter; cook til butter is absorbed and mushrooms' liquid is evaporated. Set aside.

**Heat turkey stock or broth in one saucepan; melt 2 Tbsp butter in another. Add flour to butter, making a roux, stirring to blend for 2 minutes over medium heat. Gradually add hot turkey stock and simmer sauce on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring as it thickens. Pour in cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then fold in diced turkey and mushrooms. Set aside.

**Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish and layer the bottom with half the cooked pasta. Spoon half the cream sauce over pasta. Repeat layers. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and cheese, and dot with remaining 2 Tbsp butter.

**Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

{I don't like mushrooms, so I omit them, and this is still very flavorful. But my friend June who gave me the recipe, loves the mushrooms and says they add terrific flavor!}

Friday, September 11, 2009


It's quiet here. Kids in bed, Marc just left for work. I'm winding down myself. I love the strength that is found in the quiet. It's enough to remind me that I am only me. And He is God. And that is enough.