Friday, August 28, 2009

It Is August And I Am Cold

What in the Sam Hill is up with this summer?  Seriously! I hate summer and even I'm scratching my head.

I do seriously hate summer, by the way.  

Okay, hate is some strong language.  I'll say this, it is far far far and away my least favorite season.

Fall is my favorite.  Good thing, too, as it is, apparently, here.

I'm snuggling under a blanket right now.   So much for global warming.

I'm not complaining, I promise.  I'm just perplexed.  Didn't August used to be the hottest month, or am I disremembering?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for the small things.  

  • Not being in a hot rush this morning.  Especially since I forgot my purse and had to whip a U turn, to go back for it.
  • Not getting arrested for driving 85 while ROCKING out to Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin.  I'm pretty sure this would not have gotten me out of a ticket - "I'm sorry, Officer, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is speeding..."
  • A precious baby girl who sat happily in her stroller for 2.5 hours at the garage sale.  Mind you Elmo had a lot to do with that.
  • Elmo.
  • Having sweet friends to chat with while peddling old junk and making lotsa coin!
  • McDonald's.
  • Warm socks.
What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Things Don't Go As Planned

This post could also be titled, Confessions of A Control Freak.  Catchy, right?

I'm such a planner.  I wish I wasn't.  I wish I was all, "Whatever, dude..." 

Not so.

So when I make plans, especially involving other people,  and then they fall through?  I'm not going to lie, my feathers?  They get a little ruffled.  Again, wishing I were more the "whatever, dude" type.  I think I would live longer, that's for sure.

I remember being in elementary school, and this one friend would always make plans with me and ALWAYS BAIL!  Usually, at the last minute, when it was too late to find something else to do.  That used to drive me nuts.  These days, I try to be super understanding when other people have things come up, or need to change plans.  Often times, it's a relief.  That way I don't have to leave the house...  ;)

No, these days, it frustrates me to no end, when I have to change plans involving other people. I hate that feeling of letting people down.  Unfortunately, the way I have dealt with this, is by not really making very many plans.  Probably not the best choice, but honestly, more often than not these days, when I make plans, I have to cancel them.  

It makes me think of these verses in James:

13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 

So, Lord willing, I'll see you on here tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hopefully I Don't Lose My Mind

This week is going to be a DOOZIE!!!  Hopefully, in the very best way.  Let me just tell you, of all the weeks to be fasting from complaining?  Had I known what was in store, I may have held off on posting this...

I've mentioned Uncle Matt a time or ten, right?  Well, he got a job!  I am overjoyed for him and really believe that today is the first day of the rest of his life!  Unfortunately, priority one is getting him a vehicle, since I am Taxi Girl, until he can do that...  Not a big deal.  I love my brother to tiny bits and pieces, so I'm down to do whatever I can to help him get up and running.

Here's the deal, though.  My husband is going out of town for work, so I will be flying solo with getting Matt to and fro, all week.  Oh, wait.  Did I say solo?  I meant, along with my darling Chloe, who doesn't usually get up quite so early.  Ha!  Neither do I!  I'm telling you, we will be considering it PURE JOY!!! this week.  Oh yes we will!

So, I guess we'll see if I've got what it takes to leave the house every single day this week.  4 of the 5 days by 7 AM. Okay, I already know that I absolutely do not have what it takes. Jesus - I need your strength!!!  

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Closets Are Empty But My Heart Is Full

We are doing a little remodeling around these parts...  And by we, I mean my husband.  The carpet in the downstairs bedroom and bathroom needed replacing approximately 15 years ago.  Not putting carpet in a bathroom at all would have been my first choice, but since I was four when this house was built and my family wasn't involved in the building of it, no one asked my opinion.  So carpet it is.  

But not anymore...  Today that nasty carpet met it's maker.  Well, not really, but it did get, quite literally, kicked to the curb.  Take that, you shag carpet.  And don'tcha come back no more, no more, no more, no more.

My lovely role in all of this was cleaning out the room and three closets.  Yes, a dream come true.  Three closets.  Until it's time to empty of all of their contents.

I'm still recovering.

Oh the things that I save, people.  I had a beautiful collection of card board boxes.  Priceless, I'm sure.

Much of my time this weekend has been spent going through my greeting card collection.  This one is priceless, in the eyes of this words of affirmation lovin' gal...  I loved holding cards that my dear gram selected just for me.  And reading of the exploits of all my girlfriends, some of them from nearly 20 years ago. 

WHAT?  2o years?  I'm not that old, are you that old?  Because I'm not that old.

Really though, where does the time go?

I love going through years of cards in one sitting to see that my mother-in-law gave me the same birthday card two different times, so did my dad - but he takes the cake with giving me the same Valentine's card three different years!  He says he must of really liked what it said.

One of the biggest blessings, though - is seeing card after card from the same friend saying how important I have been in her life and how priceless and irreplacable our friendship has been to her.  And another friend who said, no less than 7 times, on different occasions, that she hopes all the good I've done for others would come back to me.

It's one thing for someone to write something sweet on a card, then you read it and think, wow - that's really sweet.  But to be able to sit down on a Sunday afternoon years after the words, sometimes the same exact words, have been written over and over again, and read through dear friends' heartfelt messages and the best part, to be able to still call them your closest friends?  That just blessed my heart like nothing else.

So even though my closets are empty, which of course means the rest of my house is a DISASTROPHY, my heart is filled to overflowing with the loving words of the dearest friends anyone could ever hope to have in 10 lifetimes.  And that is worth countless hours of sorting through all of the random junk that I've been collecting all these years.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I've Got The Power

Of life and death, you know... In my words.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue has the
power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Are you tracking with me?

This post, by one of my old pastors, has me thinking, dear friends. That and my brother. He's got me thinking, too. My brother has been staying with us for a couple of months. He is trying to find a job, but not having a lot of luck. He helps us a lot around the house and in the yard, to earn his keep. He has been absolutely wonderful. Who knew my house could be so clean? I surely didn't.

I've noticed something about my 22 year old brother. He rarely, if ever, complains. He is so incredibly gracious and appreciative and springs into action as soon we ask him to do something. He is bored, broke, frustrated and I'm sure, at times, wishing he didn't have a 16 month old for a roommate. But he doesn't complain about any of those things.

I need to learn from that. I am learning from that. I tend to be a bit of a complainer, I'm ashamed to admit. I don't put it on my to do list, it just seems to happen.

From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 Ugh. One of my many internal malfunctions.

I love what Craig said, "When I complain, it reveals that I believe that things should be different than they are."

I had never thought about that... Like I'm entitled to better weather, or something, right?

So, I'm ready to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Whenever I complain, whether to myself or someone else, I plan to turn it around. I have found when I have been working on cleaning up my language, (yes I come from a LONG line of potty mouths, and that stuff runs deep.) correcting myself immediately and out loud is the fastest way to turn it around. I expect that it will work similarly, when trying to focus on the positive and vocalize my gratitude instead of my complaints.

Wish me luck! Better yet, pray that God would change my heart because seriously, from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

Lord, change my heart and help me to be intentional about using the power of words for blessing and lifting others up and ultimately bringing glory to Your Name!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Uncle Matt + BB Gun = Bye Bye Batty Batterson

Last night was a much needed and anticipated Girl's Night Out.  Great food, great friends, and a great movie.  It was just what I needed.

While Momma was away, Daddy and Uncle Matt had a little excitement.  It would seem that we've had a bat living in (on?) our front porch light fixture.  One night, I was letting the dogs out and my brother (Uncle Matt) was behind me and saw something swoop past my head.  I had no idea, so the neighbors were not awakened by a blood curdling scream.  Not that they probably would have cared, since I hollered like I was being murdered in the last 30 seconds of birthing my baby at home and the cops never showed up.  Apparently, they are some heavy sleepers, our neighbors.

I digress.

There have been, shall we say, droppings, under that fixture and we couldn't figure out what the story was.  Don't bats party at night and sleep all day?  That's what we thought, so we found it perplexing that the make-shift Bat Motel was always vacant during the day.  Daddy has gotten the fly by treatment a couple of times too, so apparently we have a bat that has his days and nights mixed up.  Or should I say had...

So while Momma was out enjoying adult conversation, (that all too often is about kids, but at least not with kids), and the greatest Macaroni and Cheese than can be found within a 500 million mile radius of this fine solar system, Daddy and Uncle Matt went bat hunting.

Okay, that's definitely making it seem more dramatic and exciting than it actually was.  I do that sometimes.  Okay, all the time.

Daddy goes to let the dogs out, looks over at the light fixture, sure as the world, Batty Batterson is dangling in all his upside down glory.  

At this point, they began to plan the demise of Batty Batterson.

Apparently, Uncle Matt is a pretty good shot with the BB Gun.

While I'm glad I wasn't here for the execution, I am a little sad that I missed the perfect opportunity to say to my brother - "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Works for Me Wednesday - The Grocery List

I am a creature of habit.  Especially when it comes to cooking.  I like to try new recipes, but I come back to the favorites time after time.  I have A LOT of tried and true recipes, so I can go weeks with out repeats and then start the cycle over again without getting burn out on the classics.  And I do switch it up every now again.  When I find a winner, I add it to the repertoire and it just makes the cycle another day longer.

I bore you with this to tell you about my grocery list.  Since I make much of the same stuff over and over, my grocery list rarely changes.  I have made a master list of all the items I keep on hand on a regular basis and it really works for me.  I have an excel spread sheet with everything I buy on it.  I have multiple columns for pricing.  I buy certain things at Walmart, certain things at Aldi, certain things at Sam's and a crap ton of stuff at Kroger.  I also go to Meijer when the sales lure me...  I like to keep track of the prices at each store so that when I get a coupon or something seems to be really cheap on sale, I can see if it beats the best price.  If so, I stock up. If not, I wait and stock up the next time I'm at Sam's, Aldi, Walmart, etc...  

Another reason this master list really works for me is because, as you may remember from this post, I have a small or maybe gargantuan issue with getting out the door.  If I'm going to the grocery store, I never go without my coupon binder, where I also keep my master list.  If I run out and forget my mini-list, you know - the one with milk, eggs, sugar - whatever I've completely run out of, then I can just scan through the master list and jog my memory that way.  I can also look at my meal list, the list I've made of all of the go to meals I make over and over, and see what's coming up and then do a mental inventory of the pantry.  Do I have olives?  Do I need tomato sauce?  It's really helpful in so many ways.

For more helpful tips, head over to We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Love Food, Will Travel

I've been watching this show on the Food Network, The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Many of the chefs and hosts on Food Network talk about, well, the best food they've ever eaten. 

I'm watching my third episode and I had to pause it to go find something on which to write all of these amazing restaurant suggestions!  Because, seriously - I'd probably fly to San Diego just to eat this peanut butter and banana stuffed french toast.  Hello?  When does my flight leave? If you find yourself in San Diego, check out Cafe 222.

I love to travel, and I love to eat.  I always search area restaurants before going on vacation, and I always plan my days based on where I want to eat (and shop).  A weekend in a city with tasty food and bargain shopping?  That's what I'm talking about...

Apparently, there is a place in Chicago called Ann Sather, that makes these ridiculous cinnamon rolls...  Em, are you getting this?  I want it.  Right now.  I think my blood sugar would crash like WHAT if I tried to eat that thing for breakfast, but we could always have a respectable breakfast in Roscoe Village and then go to Ann's for dessert.  I'll be there in 5 hours, Em.  Leave the light on for me.

I'm not exactly a fan of the corn beef hash, but I suppose I'm a little more likely to find myself in Cleveland than San Diego, so I thought I'd make a note of Big Al's Diner.  I think my hubby would be a fan.

Jacques Torres NYC - Wicked Spicy Hot Chocolate?  I think I'll pass.  But if you like hot peppers ground up and mixed in with your hot cocoa, then go on with your bad self and check it out.  I can't have chocolate, anyway...  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Never Knew I Had So Much Will Power...

Until I went an entire year without eating chocolate.

Yes, you read that right.  I haven't eaten chocolate in over a year. 

Here's the reader's digest version...

I found out when I was 21 that I was allergic to chocolate.  I looked the allergist square in the face and said.  "Oh, well."  I didn't get rid of my dog either, so you might say I wasted that trip. I actually found out I was allergic to scads of things I ate all the time.  Things I didn't even know you could be allergic to.  Like pork.  And potatoes.  Seriously?  Potatoes?

So I continued to go on about my business for the next 10 years.  I ate what I wanted when I wanted.  Cantalope, cucumbers and green peppers made my throat itch and since I was scured my throat might close, I actually stopped eating those items.  But the potatoes, chocolate, peanuts - for crying out loud - I continued to eat them.

Fast forward to the birth of my daughter.  When she was very young it seemed she always had a rash on her face.  I was convinced that it was the SPF in my lip balm.  I switched lip balms.  It was not, in fact, the SPF in my lip balm.

I had stopped over to my midwife's, and she was convinced it was from food allergies.  Could it be?  Could it be that my eating things that I probably shouldn't was giving my precious little baby a rash, not to mention ruining countless photo ops?  I started paying closer attention to what I was eating and how it seemed to be effecting her through my breast milk.  

I did not like what I found.

Chocolate was the worst.

Isn't it funny though, how I didn't care that my own body wasn't a huge fan, but the minute it caused harm to my baby, I was like - Boom!  Cold turkey.  Good bye to all of the loves of my life.  Mom's are funny that way, no?

So.  It has been a year since I quit eating chocolate.  Now.  To make a long story, that I already promised to keep short, longer...

I was one of those oh so lucky/blessed souls who dropped my pregnancy weight with no effort whatsoever.  Even my doctor looked at me funny when I went in to my 6 week check up and was basically back to prepregnancy weight.  Was it the breastfeeding?  Maybe.  Probably.  About 4 months into breastfeeding, I stopped eating all of the foods I was allergic to.  I continued to lose weight.  This was perplexing to me.  I nursed for a year and then weaned.  At this point, I was 17 pounds lighter than when I conceived.  I continued to abstain from the offending foods.  I figured if my diet remained unchanged, it would be a a true test of what was helping me stay so slim.  I had heard tales of friends losing weight while nursing, only to gain it back after weaning.  So I waited.  2 months went by.  Then 3.  Then 4.  No change in weight.  Meanwhile Girl Scout Cookies went on sale.  Sweet Mother of Thin Mints, I wanted to eat chocolate.  I continued to wait.

Can you believe I caved on potatoes first?  

Me neither. 

I've decided to add stuff back slowly and observe the changes as I go.  Can you tell I was a science teacher in a former life?

I think, chances are good that chocolate is the culprit.  I don't know how long I'll hold off. Lately my thoughts have been overwhelmed with:

Klondike Bars
Dove Chocolates
Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Triple Chocolate Meltdown Cake from Applebee's  - Oh how I miss you TCM Cake!
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Skorr Bars
Mackinaw Island Fudge Ice Cream
All manner of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, most especially Chubby Hubby and Mint Chocolate Cookie
Hot Chocolate
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
No Bake Cookies
Peppermint Mochas
Thin Mints
Andes Mints
York Peppermint Patties
Homemade Chocolate Covered Cherries
BROWNIES!!!!!!!!!!!!  How could I forget the BROWNIES!?!?!?!?!

And so many other things that I can't seem to think of right now.

God help my waistline and grocery budget, if and when I go back to the dark side.

Oh yes, the dark side.  Dark chocolate Lindor Truffles. 

Praise Jesus, Hallelujah.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Why I'd Make A Perfect Hermit

I really struggled to get myself out the door, before I had a child.  Now?  Oh. My. Word.

It's just easier to stay home.

I wouldn't call myself a morning person, but I am more motivated first thing in the morning.  If I don't get out early, I only have about a 20% chance of getting out at all.  It's really kind of sad.

The other day, I really needed to go to the grocery store.  I mean really.  When you have a 16 month old and the answer to Got Milk is no?  You go to the store.

Plus, I forgot to cancel my subscription to The Grocery Game before it billed me A LOT OF DOLLARS, so I need to maximize my stock pilling over the next several weeks, to make up for it.

So we get up.  Chloe has her breakfast.  The plan is to get out the door ASAP.  I opt to go with a fast getaway, rather than looking cute.  I'm fairly certain, I'll see 17 people I know, as a result of that choice.  Whatever.

I have multiple stops to make.  I bring lots of water and goldfish crackers.

I have to print the grocery game lists.  I can't get my coupons to print.  I need to pack a cooler, so I can hit more than one grocery store.

Where is her hat?


Where is my purse?


Where is her other shoe?

Only God knows.

I'm sweating by this point. (Accidentally typed swearing, which is of course not true.  Ahem.)

Why are we doing this again?  

Right.  Milk.

I may have to buy something a bit stronger...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some Things Never Change

We went to the county fair last night.  Oh, how I adore the fried food.   We took Chloe for her first fair experience, and she loved it!  The animals, the carousel, the elephant ears.  She has never laughed so much in such a short period of time!

When I was young, I looked forward to the county fair more than anything else.  My best friend and I would go practically every day for the week it ran.  I hadn't been in years, and it struck me how everything was in the same place that it used to be 20 years ago.  I couldn't believe that all the food trailers were arranged exactly as I remember them always being all those years ago. 

I'm not a fan of change.  I never have been.  It's inevitable, of course, so I manage to deal with it one way or another.  I never could have imagined how much my life would change when Chloe was born.  I know that it's normal and that everyone experiences it, but it doesn't make it any easier.

I really never could have imagined that the best friend who I spent every summer and every day of fair week with could die when she was 25.  

So if I have a point, which I'm not sure that I do, it's that seeing that some things never change, like where I get an elephant ear, is very comforting to me.

The end.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday

This week, We Are THAT Family is hosting a Back To School edition of Works for me Wednesday. I don't have any school aged children, but once upon a time, in a land far far away, I was a school aged child.


Back in the day, I used to freeze my juice boxes.  I would put it in my lunch in the morning frozen solid and by lunchtime, it would be icy cold and ready to drink.  Or super slushy and ready to be enjoyed for dessert with a spoon.  Either way, I was a very happy camper.  It can also serve to keep a sandwich or fruit cup cold.  (A frozen container of yogurt also works!)

Speaking of lunch, I had planned to share some recipes for what Chloe has been eating, lately. She is 16 months old, and while she does have 6 teeth, they are all in the front and are really not terribly useful in chewing food.  I find that she basically swallows much of what I give her whole.  I'll give you one guess as to how I know this.  Ahem.  Anywho...  I feel better if I run her meat dishes through the food processor.


1 lb. ground beef, chicken or turkey browned and seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder and cumin - to taste.

Once browned, I put this in the food processor and give it a whir.  Then to the food processor, I add:

1 can of black beans drained and rinsed.
1 can diced tomatoes.  I buy no slat added tomatoes for this purpose.
1 cup corn frozen or canned - heat if frozen.

I give it another quick whir, then I spoon meal sized portions onto a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, freeze for a few hours and then put the servings all together into a large freezer bag.  When it's time to serve, I put one serving into a Corelle bowl and microwave for 1 minute. (If you can avoid microwaving in plastic bowls, you should.)

Another item I like to keep in the freezer is applesauce chicken.  For this, I just brown ground chicken and whir it up with some unsweetened applesauce and a little bit of cinnamon. Sometimes, I feed her this for breakfast.  She loves it!


1 lb. ground beef, chicken or turkey - brown and put into the food processor.

To the food processor, add:

1 jar of Newman's Own Marinara Sauce.
half a box of frozen spinach thawed and drained

Once the sauce is done, combine it with cooked alphabet pasta.  This is the perfect sized pasta for Chloe, so I don't grind it up.   Once everything is combined, I do the flash freezing I mentioned above.

The last time I made up meals for Chloe I made a variation of her favorite:

Instead of black beans, I combined the sweet potato puree with browned ground chicken and the other half of the box of spinach.  Cumin is a great spice to add to this recipe.

Chloe is really wanting to feed herself, these days.  She's not great at it, but she is learning.  The recipes above are great ones for practicing.  The texture of the meals work well for sticking to the baby spoon.  I usually give her a spoon and have one for me to use, as well.  She can practice, and I can feed her in between bites.  She's happy with her spoon and feeling good about herself.  She's not fighting me for the spoon, she's not making too big of a mess, and it doesn't take us a sweet forever to get a meal in her!  Cheerios in milk or yogurt, or cottage cheese with finely diced fruit also work well for practice for breakfast.

What finger foods do you give your toddler?  I don't really want her eating her body weight in hot dogs every week, though she sure does LOVE them...  I give her grilled cheese, lots of beans, and sliced cheese sticks.  I'd love to hear your go to toddler foods!

For more great tips, especially Back to School tips, head over to We Are THAT Family for Works For Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Random Information That Will Definitely Not Change Your Life

I finally have a fully functioning DSLR camera!  I got the Canon Rebel XTi.  I took 7 pictures of Chloe and then she cracked her head on the wall and now has a mighty fine bruise above her eye. We're all about the perfect timing around here.  I've waited for almost two months to take pictures of her to my little hearts content.  Then she bounces her little skull off the wall, the day I finally can.  Grrr.

I have been really struggling with a few things lately, things that I mostly don't want to discuss.  So I won't.  I think there is light at the end of the tunnel, but I sure would appreciate your prayers.  The Lord knows.

If I don't get a handle on my laundry soon, I might cry.  Or set it all on fire.  I suppose it'll depend on my mood that day.

I watched The Bourne Ultimatum tonight, and I had to pause it on several occasions to take deep breaths and drink ginger-ale due to all the motion sickness.  From a movie?  Seriously?  Who's idea was this?  Was it intentional?  Why?  Why would you do that to us?  Pretty good movie, though I gotta say, I don't know about a 4th...  It seemed to me they were running out of ideas for the 3rd, as it is...

I'm really looking forward to the county fair.   I think Chloe is going to love walking through all of the animal barns.  And oh how I love the elephant ears.

I really wish I wasn't watching Elmo's World at 2 Am on this fine Tuesday morning.  You can thank Chloe for the 3 minutes of your life that you'll never get back...  I certainly hope she goes right back to sleep with out any back talk as soon as it's over.  Please Jesus? Thank you, Amen.