My Fab Fam

My Fab Fam
Photo by Thousand Hills Photography. Click on photo to visit their site.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day

So, I started to title this post "My Picture-less Perfect Day" because I took not one picture of all the fun we had on Memorial Day.  But, alas!  I remembered that I had the perfect picture material for this occasion...

These are the masterpieces of my little ar-teest.  In anticipation of our Memorial Day celebration, she spent a large portion of her Sunday afternoon making American flags.  She made two large flags to hang on the handles of the front and back door, and all the little flags were laid around such places as her kitchen set, the TV stand, and the piano.  She also hung some dress-up butterfly wings on the closet door and draped a knitted scarf across her kitchen set.  She came running to me after placing these items, saying, "Everything's decorated, mommy!"  Her Pa-Pop and Ne-Ne were coming for lunch and she wanted everything to be just perfect.  And it was.

We had a great time.  My man grilled burgers and dogs AND made some yummy broccoli salad (which required cooking a LOT of bacon--one of my least favorite things to do).  I was so excited to be excused from cooking duty that I gladly made the tea, and set out the chips, fruit, and condiments.  I know he's grateful; I mean, I could have done nothing.

After lunch, we put on our bathing suits, pulled out the sprinkler, and got wet.  Okay, so maybe not all of us.  The girls and I got wet while their daddy, Ne-Ne, and Pop looked on jealously as we frolicked and played the non-Eskimo way.

After Pop and Ne-Ne left and the girls had baths and naps, we got a wild hair and decided to go buy an ice cream maker.  Obviously everyone else had the same idea this weekend because Lowe's was sold out of all but their display.  We bought it.  Which meant we had no instruction manual or recipes.  Google to the rescue!  We didn't have the right ingredients for any of the recipes we found; so, like everything else we make, we improvised.  We used 2 cups milk, 3 cups heavy cream, a can of condensed milk, and a few teaspoons of vanilla.  I mean, how can you go wrong with those ingredients?  We had an obligatory dinner of bacon sandwiches (using the left-over bacon my man cooked, of course) just so we could move on to the much-anticipated dessert that was churning outside.  It was yumm-o.

Many thanks to all the men and women (particularly those in my own family) who have fought for the freedom in which we live.  I assure all of you that this little family thoroughly celebrated it yesterday.

Monday, May 28, 2012

More Recipes Anyone?

It turns out that my sis-in-law is in need of more recipes for the ALS cookbook she's putting together.  So, here are a few more of my own meager contributions.  The funny part is that I am contributing recipes at all!  I rarely pull out a recipe book or box when I'm cooking.  Most of what I do is a "little of this, a little of that..." and therefore every dish is slightly different.  For good or for bad.  When I make something that we really like I can rarely remember how to duplicate it.  So, here is pretty much all the true recipes (recipes that are written down and not just in my head) that I use on a semi-regular basis.  And even these have been modified from the original recipes that were given to me.  The sweet potato fries and black bean wraps are exceptions, since these are my very own creations and therefore never had an "original" recipe for me to copy.  I am just guessing at measurements.  My suggestion when measuring:  go with your gut!

If you have any recipes you'd like to share, please feel free to leave one or two or more in the comment section below.  You'll be helping a good cause!!!

Herb-Tomato Crostini

1/4 c. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 French baguette, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 lemon, juiced (approx 3 Tbs. juice)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 large tomato, finely chopped
3/4 c. finely chopped green onions
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix 1/4 c. olive oil and pressed garlic.  Lay baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with garlic and olive oil mixture.  Bake approximately 10 minutes.

Toss together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, tomato, green onions, and feta cheese.  Serve over toasted baguette slices.

Mexican Corn Dip

2 cans Mexican corn, drained
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
garlic salt to taste
4-5 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
4-5 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix all ingredients.  Refrigerate overnight.  Serve with corn chips.

Garlic Rosemary Flatbread
(Martha Stewart)

1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. coarse salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling
1 lb. pre-made pizza dough
1/2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary, plus a handful of small sprigs for topping

Preheat oven to 425.  In small saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over med heat.  Add garlic and salt.  Cook, stirring until garlic is fragrant but not browned (about one minute).  Remove from heat.

Sprinkle bottom of baking sheet with cornmeal.  Divide the dough into 4 equal parts.  Roll out into 1/4 inch-thick rounds.  Brush with butter mixture.  Sprinkle rounds with chopped rosemary, arrange a few small sprigs on top of each.

Bake flatbreads until golden brown (about 15 minutes).  Drizzle with oil and season with salt.

Sweet Potato Fries

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips no wider than 1/2 inch
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss potatoes with olive oil, thyme, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer over a cookie sheet.  Bake approximate 25 minutes, or until soft and slightly browned around the edges.

Broccoli Salad

1/2 c. Mayonnaise
1/4 c. (or less) sugar
2 Tbs. vinegar
Mix well.

1 bunch broccoli, chopped in bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. bacon, fried crisp
1/2 small onion
1 c. sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Pour dressing over salad and mix well.

Cabo Chicken

1 c. fresh lime juice (approx. 5-6 limes)
1/2 c. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Whisk lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper.  Put in self-sealing bag with chicken and refrigerate overnight.  Turn bag several times.  Grill 12-15 minutes.

Jamaican Pork Tenderloins

2 pork tenderloins (approx. 1 lb. each)
4 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne pepper
2 medium Braeburn or Granny Smith apples, cut in wedges
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in wedges
1 large yellow onion, cut in wedges
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 c. maple-flavored syrup

Preheat oven to 425.  Place pork tenderloins side by side, but not touching, on a large rimmed cooking sheet.  Combine seasonings.  Rub 2 Tbs. of seasonings over tenderloins; set aside remainder for vegetables.  Combine oil and remaining seasonings.  Add apples and vegetables and toss.  Place apples and vegetables around tenderloins.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until meat is 160 (for medium) or 170 (for well).  Remove from oven, tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes.  Carefully pour off pan juices and add maple-flavored syrup and mix well.  Carve tenderloins into thin slices.  Serve with juices.

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

3-3 1/2 lbs. chicken
green pepper, coarsely chopped
red pepper, coarsely chopped
yellow pepper, coarsely chopped
yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 c. sliced mushrooms (or 1 small can)
2 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. dry basil
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
Pasta of your choice, cooked al dente
Fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

Layer all in crock pot, except pasta and Parmesan.  Cook over low heat for 8 hours, or high heat for 4 hours.  Serve over pasta and generously sprinkle with Parmesan.

Black Bean Wraps

1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, pressed
olive oil
cayenne pepper, to taste
tortilla wraps
cheddar cheese
sour cream
hot sauce
rice, cooked according to package

Squeeze excess water from thawed spinach, and pat between towels to absorb as much water as possible.  Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of a large skillet.  Sauté onion over medium heat, cooking just until soft.  Add cayenne and garlic, cooking just until fragrant (approximately 1 minute).  Add black beans, corn, and spinach.  Stir constantly, cooking just until heated through.  Spoon onto tortillas, top with cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce, and wrap up tortilla. Serve over rice.

Blueberry Crunch Cake

1 20 oz. can crushed pineapples with juice
1 21 oz. can blueberry pie filling (can substitute any flavor)
1 18 oz. yellow butter cake mix
1 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. melted butter

Preheat over to 350.  Grease pan.  Spread pineapple with juice in pan.  Spoon pie filling evenly over pineapple.  Sprinkle cake mix over filling, leveling out with fork.  Sprinkle chopped pecans over cake mix.  Drizzle with melted butter.  (Optional:  top with 1/4 c. fresh blueberries.)  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reader Discretion is Advised

(This post contains graphic information that may not be suitable for some readers.)

Baby girl is STILL potty-training.  I mean this kid is un-be-lievable.  She can go when she wants a piece of candy, but unless her desire for sugar over-rides her desire for play, she usually just doesn't want to pause her life long enough to potty.  Well, the other day when it was time for nap, she decided she needed (or wanted) to poop.  She excells at going to the potty around nap time and bed time.  (Things that make you go hmmmm.)  Well, we got her on the potty and I told her to call for me when she was all done.  Her big sister was already asleep, so in a minute or two I heard my little one whispering for me.  I went to the bathroom, expecting to find her on the potty, ready for me to wipe her.  Um, no.  She was standing, holding her hands out, whispering, "Mommy, I need to wash my hands."  No kidding!  And your belly, and your legs, just need a bath!  She had tried to wipe herself and had managed to get it all over her.  Let's hope my very stern lecture about letting mommy wipe sunk in.  I do not want to go through that again anytime soon.

A bit later in the day the heat and air guy came to give us an estimate for a new HVAC system.  Only, I didn't know he was coming and the girls and I had been lounging all day.  In our PJ's.  Soooo, I opened the door just slightly, expecting to refuse some salesman, and instead found a familiar face that I needed to let it.  And I had no bra on.  Super!  I should mention here that this same guy (who works with my husband) has been here to service our unit a few times and every time I and my house have been a mess!  And this time he had to walk through the entire house to check out the AC unit, the vents, the air intake, etc.  So, he saw the piles of laundry I was folding, the other pile I was ironing, the masses of papers strewn all over the table and island that I had started sorting but never finished, all the girls' toys that had been dragged throughout the entire house, and our messy bedrooms.  No, I do not make our beds everyday.  Who am I kidding?  I RARELY make our beds.  And, on top of thinking I'm dirty, I'm sure he now thinks I'm also a rather odd kind of gal since I kept my arms crossed the whole time he was here.

So, the same company came back today to put in our new system.  "This time," I thought, "I'll be prepared!"  So, at 11:30 last night I was mopping my kitchen floor.  Back up early this morning to finish vacuuming, clean the bathroom, AND make the beds.  I was showered and, yes, I had a bra on!  Little did I know that 1) two men I had never seen before would be coming, so I wouldn't get to prove to the aforementioned man that I can clean up, and 2) they would be tearing my house up from the floor up so all the cleaning I did had to be redone when they left.  Literally they left a trail of dirt, insulation, wire clippings, and other UFO's (unidentified floor objects) from one end of my house to the other, as they had to access my attic (through my bedroom closet on one end of the house) and the AC unit (in the laundry room closet on the other end of the house).

There's a bright side here:  my girl is at least going to the potty some!  Woo-hoo!  I hereby declare she will be potty-trained by the end of the summer.  (Believing is half the battle, right?)  And by the end of this summer, we will have checked off all the big home improvement projects that have been on our list since buying this house.

(See?  Storm damage isn't all that bad.)

My up-dated to-do list:
New roof, check
New HVAC, check
New siding, almost check
Potty-training, almost check

Well, a girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"I'm Irreplaceable"

These wise words were spoken by my man this weekend.  And I desperately needed to hear them.  So I'm sharing them, thinking perhaps some of you out there might need to hear them too.

My man and I went car shopping this weekend.  Because we planned on test-driving some things (preferably at least one Honda Element), we went without the girls.  So, we went on a "car date."  Unfortunately, the car shopping was not very successful--understatement--but the date was a success.

Somehow we started discussing our time in high school.  I shared something that I had never really formed into words before--that I was always pretty good at a lot of things but never really great at anything and that actually discouraged me.

Athletics excluded.  I was not a super star athlete, FOR SURE.  Not an athlete at all, unless playing volleyball after church youth group on Wednesday nights counts.  (haha)  This was by far my weakest area.  To give you an idea of just how un-athletic I am...I was always one of the last ones picked when we had to pick teams in PE.

Not a super star student.  But at least I did pretty well in this area.  Mostly A's, with a few B's, particularly in my AP classes.  Graduated in the top five or six of my class, but not a salutatorian or valedictorian.  Got a few local scholarships but no full rides or anything even close.

Not a prodigy pianist, though I did all right here too.  For a while at least.  I had some really good teachers.  Maybe a few not-so-great ones too.  But they pushed and challenged me.  I could play some pretty impressive pieces by the time I graduated high school, but then I dropped it.  I've barely touched a piano since moving away from home.  I never was much for sight-reading.  I can't play by ear.  And it's been at least 16 years since I've had a lesson; so, I really can't play anything anymore.  Sad.

Not a musical prodigy, period.  I played the flute too.  I wasn't usually last chair and I wasn't usually first, though I may have held both positions at some point during my high school career, I honestly don't remember.  But, the point is, I was usually somewhere in the middle.  Not terrible.  Not great.

Not a natural-born artist.  But, given enough time, I can produce a decent drawing or painting...especially if you give me some pictures to replicate.  I still do love to draw and paint, but it's the time thing that gets in my way now.  I need hours of uninterrupted time.  And I'm a stay-at-home momma; so, we all know that's really happenin'.  Not.

I could go on, but you get the point.  And, please don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to toot my own horn by telling you all the things I did.  Quite the opposite.  I'm trying to show you that I never really could do anything super well.  And I think it is because I was trying to do too many things.  Advanced placement classes, piano, flute, color guard, even field commander at one point, various clubs, church youth activities, oh! and I had a job, AND I certainly felt that I had to maintain a very active social life.  Really?  No wonder I didn't do anything really well.  I dipped my foot in a little bit of everything, but I never jumped into anything with both feet.

I once heard it said that you can't do a million things to the glory of God.  Sure, everything you do can be, and should be, done to the glory of God.  But I can not do everything.  You can not do everything.  And if we try, we won't do everything well.  We all seem to run around trying to do everything and hoping we are glorifying God.  But really we should find out the one or two things He really wants us to do and then focus our energies on those things.  Then, when we excel, God gets the glory.

So, to get back to where I started, I'm telling my man that I was always pretty good at most of the stuff I did, but never the best.  And that left me discouraged.  Because I have theses perfectionist tendencies that leave me feeling like I always miss the mark.  (You know that self-diagnosed OCD I've told you about?)  These kinds of thoughts go through my brain:  "I can't do things the way I want to, so why try?  It can't be perfect, so why bother?"

This spills over into my relationships and even my parenting.  Sometimes I fall so short of my own expectations that I just want to give up trying to be better.  I've talked about this before.  I know that oftentimes I set up ridiculously high standards for myself; these are not anyone else's expectations, not even God's.  But still I get discouraged because I don't feel like I'm doing anything REALLY well.

So, I'm telling my man all this and then he says something like this:

I was always pretty good at everything I did too, but never the best.  Until now.  And I know I'm the best at this.  I know that God hand-picked me to be your husband and our daughters' daddy and that makes me the best suited.  I'm irreplaceable.  Sure, I could die, and you might remarry, it might be good, but it wouldn't be the same.  It wouldn't be their "daddy."

And he's right.  I'm the best mommy my girls will ever have.  I might really stink it up sometimes, but I love them and they know that, and no matter what other woman might come into their lives, there could never be another mommy just like me for them.  If something happened to me, and my man remarried, they might get a mom that has it together a little better than I do, but they would still want me.  I'm the best suited mommy for them.

And you are too!  You are irreplaceable.  You are the best mommy your kids will ever have.  You are the best wife your husband could ever have.  (Yes, God put you together.)  You are the best sister.  Daughter.  Daugther-in-law.  And on and on.  We can become better, with God's help, but we are already the best suited candidate for our families.  We are irreplaceable.  We are hand-picked for the families God has placed us in.

We often ask God, "What is it You want me to do?"  And sometimes we even want Him to just pick us up and set us back down right in front of the "thing" He has for us.  But He's already done that!  He's placed us right in the middle of a group of people that He wants us to focus our energies on.  Our family.  Therefore, we may wonder if we are in the right job, the right area of service in our church, the right civic organizations, but we can know we are safe in pouring ourselves into our families.  It's the one thing that God has set right in front of us.  He's saying, "Do this thing!"

I don't know about you, but I need to focus more of my energies on the one thing that I know God really wants me to do.  I don't want to try to do a million things to the glory of God, but He's hand-picked me for my family; I am perfectly suited for this job...I want to do it well!


Lord, may we excel at "doing" family, because we know you have called us to the exact family we are in.  And when we excel, may You get the glory, Father.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Mini Vacay in Pix

So, as I said in a recent post, we took a little trip week before last.
My man had to go to a quaint little town for a work conference.
So, the girls and I decided to tag along and turn the trip into a little family get-away.
On our trip out of town, we stopped to eat at Chili's.
The large pepper was very fascinating for the girls.


While our man was in his meetings, we girls went out on the town.

Here we are at one of my very favorite places:  a coffee shop.
We spent  A LOT of time in this coffee shop.
These pix were taken the night we arrived in town;
the girls and I went in for dessert while daddy went to his first meeting.

After we left the coffee shop, we took a little walk.

And look what decided to join us!

When we returned to the hotel, we had to spend some time checking out all the ramps (up and down, up and down), chairs, and flowers on the covered patio that wrapped around the building.
It was beautiful there.
And it gave me some great photo opps!

These were taken the next morning.
Yes, at the coffee shop.
Man, my girls were tired.
And the trip had just begun!

After a good nap, daddy returned from another meeting and we all just lazed around the room.
I love these pictures.
They stood like this and talked for a long time.
Until baby sis climbed on top of daddy's back.
Then began the usual tickling and wrestling.

Day 3:
Heading down to eat breakfast in the historical hotel's yummy restaurant.

After leaving this very cozy town, we set off for a nearby horse park since our girls are horse lovers.
They were able to ride a pony for the first time.
And groom a pony.
And we took a ride in a trolley car pulled by draft horses.
AND we saw a horse show with different types of horses from around the world.
They have not stopped talking about it.
Just today they put on a "show" for me.
In their show, big girl was riding a horse named America and she said the pledge of allegiance before her part of the show began.
(The show we saw at the park started off with the national anthem.) 
Then my girls swung their hats around to signal when they were finished.
(I can't remember, but I'm sure the riders that wore hats must have also tipped them after their turn around the arena.)
It's amazing how much their little minds can remember.

And here they are on their ponies.
Baby girl said it was bumpy!
(She says everything with exclamation marks!)

Riding the ponies was hard work...
time for an ice cream break!

(And, no, my kid has never watched Sponge Bob in her life, she just liked the ice cream with a face on it.)

My three favorite people in the whole wide world,
waiting for the show, "Horses of the World," to begin.

We got to get up close and personal with some of the horses after the show.

This one was my personal favorite.  
This breed of horses has such a curve to its ears that they can even over-lap.

We saw some interesting things around the park.  
Here is a "basket" and two large chairs that were used in horse shows at one time.  
These two chairs sat around a large table that the horses would jump over.  
There was a picture of a horse jumping that old table.  
I understand why they don't do it anymore!  
PETA would be there in a nanosecond.

After leaving the horse park, we went the complete opposite direction to visit my family.
One of my nephews was graduating and another was turning one. 
The drive to my family's place was going to be long, so we told the girls to nap.
One of them did.

Here's baby girl with her Ma-Ma at my nephew's graduation.

And big girl with her daddy.
Perpetually tired by this point.

Here they are at their cousin's birthday party.
They go very few places these days without a great big flower in their hair.
Who's kids are these?
(I think it's pretty safe to say you'll never see me with flowers or anything floofy in my hair or anywhere on my body.)

We went out to eat with my mom and several of my siblings on Mother's Day before heading home.
By this point in our trip, the girls were so tired they didn't even want to eat...
until the server brought dessert.
You've never seen kids perk up so fast!

Last picture from our trip.
All together now!

(Last three pictures, courtesy of Aunt Sissa Photography.  Tee-hee.)

P.S.  I had some really good pix of my girls hugging their closest cousins (in age), watching their baby cousin plow into his first birthday cake, and hanging at their older cousin's graduation celebrations.  But, it's late, I'm tired, this post is already too long, and I didn't clear using those pix with the cousins/siblings/parents.  Perhaps I'll do a "Mini Vacay in Pix, Part Deux" post sometime in the near future.
G'night, all.  Or is it morning?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Deep Thoughts by Jack...I mean...

It's been a LONG time, like years, since this gal has watched any Saturday Night Live, but the one thing I remember about it is "Deep Thoughts," which weren't deep at all, but silly.  And my deep thoughts run about as deep as Jack Handey's, but nonetheless, here are a few that have bumped together in my mind all morning...

If you are a leader, you are going to make some decisions that offend or upset.  And, yes, you are going to make some wrong decisions.  But if you are called to be a leader, be willing to lead!  Ask God for guidance and move forward.  If you make the wrong decision, say you're sorry and keep moving forward.  Don't let it get you so down that you never make another decision!

If you are a mom, it is okay to have a period of life when you make the same stinking meals over and over and over.  I think for four years we lived on a rotation of less than twenty meals.  During my pre-kids era I was constantly trying new recipes.  Post-kids, we have been lucky to get one or two new recipes a year.  But, I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  I think that until your youngest child is two, life is all about the kids.  For me, that meant creative cooking (among many other things) went on hold.  But my youngest is two and we have started having some new meals again.  It's fun!  Hang in there!  If you still have toddlers, the time will come when you can do the things you love again!

When you're crabby and the world around you seems to be crashing down, stop and ask yourself when you last had some coffee with God.  I say it like that because when you have coffee with friends, you sit, relax, chit-chat, and share real life struggles.  When was the last time you had time like THAT with God?  I find that when I am intimately tied to Him, life usually doesn't seem nearly as overwhelming.  BUT, even if the world continues to fall around me, I suddenly have the strength to stand through it.  On Christ the Solid Rock I stand.  I realized my attitude about the construction-project-gone-south was in large part due to the lack of quality time I had spent with my Father.  We had been gone for a week, and aside from a few Scripture readings here and there I had not had any quiet time.  Detrimental, I tell you.  Detrimental.  To my health and, unfortunately the health of those around me.

Sometimes you just need a nap at 9 in the morning.  My poor baby girl was just not herself this morning.  She not only refused to listen, she threw full-blown fits.  To give you a small glimpse of our morning, picture this:  We have just returned home from dropping big girl off at preschool...I tell baby girl to get out of the car...she asks to play in the car while I go inside...I tell her no that I can't leave her alone outside...she then refuses to respond to anything I ask her to do...I have to lift her out of the car...she's crying at this point...I try to console her with crayons, paper, and books...she kicks them...I set her in time-out...I then tell her she can get up when I get in the shower...she continues to scream-cry throughout my entire shower.  We went back to bed after that.  (We will all be grateful when the construction workers have completed their work and we can sleep.)

These are some of the lessons I am learning today.  I could share a lot more, but this is all I am able to tackle right now.  Tomorrow will bring a whole new set of lessons.  And joys.  Among these lessons have been opportunities to pray for friends, a long-overdue phone call with a very close friend, some much-needed quiet time for this mommy while one girl is at school and another sleeps.

"We worship you, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we worship you for who you are, and you are good!"
--"You are Good" 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Construction, a Contractor, a Crier, and a Confession

I cried over my house today.  And, no it didn't burn.  It wasn't swept away by a tornado.  It wasn't lost to me in any way, and yet I cried.  Not just once, but off and on all morning.

Several months ago we had a damaging storm that came through our area.  Our house actually fared quite well in comparison to many others and yet we are still getting a new roof and new siding.  My man works in the housing industry and has experience in construction.  He also knows a lot of handymen that are willing to help him repair our house.  So, even though they plan to do a lot of the repairs, we still chose to hire one contractor for some of the work.  One reason we hired a contractor was because we didn't want to abuse our friends' generosity; another is because my man's schedule is so crazy that it would take forever to finish everything if we did it all ourselves.

Who here has worked with contractors before?  Who can testify to the difficulties that can bring?  Amen?

Our contractor showed up about 6 o'clock this morning.  And one hour later I crawled back in bed and asked God if I could start my day over again.

Before this morning we knew exactly what we wanted to do.  By doing some of the work ourselves, we were going to have some extra money to make some improvements and upgrades.  Then the contractor came and, in one hour, destroyed our vision.

I know I am being very cryptic and for that I am sorry.  I just don't want to bash our contractor.  I understand his position; however, I also understand that this is my house and my money and my vision.  My vision that has just been ripped into.  And, in a moment of weakness...okay, let me be several moments of weakness, I cried.

I admitted to my good friends that I saw at a MOPS meeting this morning that I know it is just a thing.  A material thing that could be taken away from me tomorrow.  I know that I should be grateful that I am getting a new roof and siding and all that goes with it.  Heck!  I should just be grateful for my house, with the old, beat-up siding and the faded roof and everything that goes with that!  And I am.  But I also had hopes for vast improvements that were dashed this morning.

The worst part is that my man and I were grumpy with each other all day too.  We were grumpy this morning before we both left.  We were grumpy on the phone a few hours later.  We were grumpy when he came home to check on the workers' progress.  And, when he left to go back to work to work, we were still grumpy.  That's when I finally came to my senses.

I don't know about you all, but when I have to say goodbye to someone, that seems to always put things in perspective.  I realized, after he walked out the door without a hug, a kiss, or even a "goodbye," what was really important.  I always have thoughts like this:  What if he has a car accident and I don't get to tell him I'm sorry and that I love him?  So, I called him.  He didn't answer.  I'm assuming he was on the other line, but let's be honest, he might have just been too aggravated to talk to me.  He did eventually call back though and I told him I was sorry, that it wasn't worth being upset with each other for a something as silly as a house.

We still can't have exactly what we wanted for our house, but we have peace.  We still aren't exactly happy, but we have joy.  We will save some money, thanks to the change of plans.  And, like I told my man this morning, I had prayed that God would keep him safe when he and the other men were working on our roof today, and because of the changes, they didn't have to work on it.  Perhaps God kept them from some terrible disaster.  I don't know.  But I do know that even in this very minor bump in my life journey, God is refining me.  Teaching me patience and perspective.  Preparing me for bigger hurdles and disappointments.

I feel silly admitting it, but this is the real me:  the girl who cries over a construction project.  I nearly laughed out loud just typing it.  See?  He's working on me already!  (Just kidding.  And smiling.)


P.S.  After typing out all those recipes to send to my sister-in-law for the ALS cookbook, I have had a hankering for scones.  I finally made them today.  And, guess what?  I left out the butter!  The butter!  I'm like Paula Deen--I put butter in everything!  And if a little bit is good, a lot is better!  I realized my mistake when they were baking and totally expected them to be gross.  But, God knew I needed a small miracle today.  They were yummo.  It probably helped that I poured chocolate butter all over them.  Seriously.  I put two sticks of butter in the microwave with about a cup of chocolate chips, melted, stirred, and slathered it all over the scones (which already had chocolate chips in them).  Yummo, I tell ya.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Recipes & ALS

So, this is the post I wrote last week that got deleted somehow when I was trying to post it from my phone.  I was out of town all last week; so, in preparation, I had written three things to be posted while away from home, using my phone's blogger app.  Only, my phone doesn't communicate very well with my blog site.  After multiple post attempts, I not only failed to post it, but I also deleted it!  And since I'm not really up for a lot of typing tonight, you now get the abbreviated version.  See, there's a blessing in this for you!

I thought perhaps some of you might be interested in having a few new recipes.  I mean, who doesn't love a new EASY recipe?  And, with the exception of the scones, which are a bit time-consuming, all the recipes I'm sharing with you are super easy.

If you're wondering how recipes and ALS found themselves in the same post, here's the connection:

My sister-in-law is putting together a cookbook to raise money for ALS research and patient support.  I thought I would share the recipes that I am contributing to the cookbook.  Then, if you're interested, when the cookbooks are finished, I will post how you can order one.  All purchases will help fund research and help support ALS patients.

For any of you who may not know, ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  This was something that meant very little to me about a year and a half ago, before my oldest brother began battling this horrid disease.  If you aren't aware of what it is, here's my layman's explanation:  it is a terminal illness that affects the nervous system, causing the loss of muscle control.  It first became evident in my brother's foot and leg, but each patient is different.  It eventually affects the patient's ability to talk, swallow, and breathe.  Rather than going into great detail, let me just post a link for those of you that would like to know more.  This is the national ALS association's website:

So, here is my small contribution to raise funds for ALS.  If, after checking out the recipes below, you are interested in buying a cookbook, keep checking back for information on how you can order one!


3-4 roma tomatoes, finely diced
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
3-4 marinated sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
dash of salt

Mix and serve over toasted crusty bread (Italian bread or baguette)


Hot Ham Rolls

1 stick butter
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp. Worcestershire
sliced Swiss cheese
1 pkg. Hawaiian sweet rolls
sliced ham

Melt butter.  Add seeds, mustard, and Worcestershire.  Slice rolls.  Lay ham and cheese over bottom layer of bread.  Spoon 1/2 butter mixture over cheese.  Add roll tops.  Spoon remaining butter mixture over roll tops.  Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.


Strawberry Chicken Salad

For dressing, mix:
1/2 c. poppy seed dressing
1/4 c. mayo

1 1/2 lbs. cooked chicken, chopped
1 pint strawberries, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. sliced almonds

Mix all ingredients.  Serve with croissants.


Sausage Won tons

1 lb. sausage
1 small can chopped  black olives
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 c. monterey cheese, grated
Won ton wrappers

Mix sausage, olives, ranch dressing, and cheese--with hand.  Brush won ton wrapper edges with water and spoon sausage mixture onto wrappers.  Pinch edges of wrapper together and place in mini-muffin pan, edges up.  Bake at 350 until edges are golden brown and sausage is cooked through.  Remove from pan immediately and place on paper towels to cool.


Basic Cream Scones

2 1/4 AP flour
4 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
2/3 heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
raw sugar, for topping
Optional mix-ins:  dried fruits and/or nuts; my favorite combos are chocolate chips and almonds or dried apricots (diced) and white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter (or mix in a food processor, fitted with steel blade, pulsing on and off to mix).  Process until mixture resembles coarse crumbles.

In a separate bowl, mix heavy cream and eggs.  
Remove 1 Tbs. of mixture and reserve; pour remaining cream mixture over flour mixture.  
Stir just until wet and dry ingredients are incorporated and dough is soft.  
Fold in any desired mix-ins, approximately 1/2 to 1 cup.   
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.
Shape dough into ball and pat into a circle 8 inches in diameter.
Cut into 8 wedges.
Place scones 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Brush reserve cream mixture over tops of scones and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on wire rack.


Black Bean Salsa

1 can of black beans
1 can of red beans
1 can hominy
1 can whole kernel corn
(All cans should be approx 14 ounce-size.)

4-5 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 red onion, minced
fresh cilantro, minced, measuring approximately 1/4 c.
small package of cherry or grape tomatoes, diced
2-3 limes, juiced
splash of tequila

Tortilla chips

Pour all beans, hominy, and corn into a colander, rinse well with cold water, and drain.  Place in large bowl, and add garlic, onion, cilanto and tomatoes.  Pour lime juice and tequila over all.  Mix well.  Serve with chips.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pix and Ice Cream

So, I wrote a forever-long post recently that I saved as a draft to be posted at a later date.
But when I tried to post it a few days ago from my Iphone, I somehow deleted the whole thing.
So, I'll try that one again later.
For now....

Since I haven't posted any pictures in a while, I thought I'd just give you a whirlwind trip through our last few weeks...

My happy place...
This was taken from my deck, looking down on the garden and patio.
The foliage at the bottom of the pic is in one of my herb boxes lining the deck.
The garden has already changed from when I took this pic, but I haven't taken a recent one.
Veggies are in the ground.
Will update as the plants progress.

In their happy place...
Some things just don't change.
Like sweetness.
And swinging.

Waiting for big sis to get out of preschool...
She loves to "buckle," which really means unbuckle, and play in the car until sister comes out.
This day she put on my glasses and cheesed, but as soon as I pulled out the camera (aka phone), she pulled them off.
I asked her to put them back on and she said no.
So, I bribed her.
I don't remember what the bribe was now, probably something awful like a sucker, but nonetheless, it gave me a super-cute photo op!

Capturing wildlife...
On our way to preschool one morning, this little guy (or gal) decided to risk death by crossing the road.
My first thought was to pick him up and set him in the grass, which I did.
Then I headed back to the car.
But the girls were clamoring to see him; so, I picked him up again and held him up to the car window for them to see.
Then I headed back to the car.
But I had a rare good idea!
I had boxes to take to the recycle center; so, I picked him up for the third time, stuck him in a box, and took him to preschool.
Don't worry, animal lovers; I brought him back and released him near the point of capture.

Making ice cream at a Derby party...
This was a super yummy, pretty natural way to eat some cold sugary goodness.
(Recipe at the bottom)

Washing hair and making faces...

Golfing with daddy and Mr. Tom...

Going to Nana's...
With a few of their favorite things:
PJ's, rain boots, and chapstick.
It was extremely bright that morning;
I had to get the sun behind me so there wasn't a glare, which meant it was in front of them for the pic, but then they couldn't look at me.

Eating the tiniest food on the planet...

This was, of course, another project from the creative Aunt Sissa.
The tiniest donuts, sandwiches, and carrot sticks ever eaten.
The donuts are cheerios with icing and sprinkles.
The girls took one look at their "lunch," served up on saucers from their tea set, and decided their momma and aunt were no longer mentally stable.


Here's the easy home-made ice cream recipe if you're interested in a fun project for your kiddos:

Ice Cream in a Bag

1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. milk
1 c. heavy whipping cream or half and half
crushed ice
1 c. rock salt
1 quart and 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bags
duct tape
bath towel

Pour the sugar, vanilla, milk and cream into a quart freezer bag.
Fold a piece of duct tape over the seal.
Place the quart bag into a gallon bag.
Pack crushed ice around the quart bag.
Pour 3/4 to 1 cup of salt evenly over the ice.
Seal gallon bag and wrap in a bath towel.
Shake for 10 minutes.
Remove quart bag and wipe off salt water.
Cut off top and spoon ice cream into bowls.
Makes about 3 cups.