Friday, October 29, 2010
2. I have been plugging "Fernando Ortega" into Pandora every morning while I get ready for work. This week I've only had about 25-30 minutes to get ready because I have been getting every possible moment of sleep. It makes for some interesting hair, folks. Anyway, I like Fernando. I like the music that they link to his. It's soothing. And in my mind's eye, Fernando looks like Yanni. Here is Yanni's pic, probably from the late 80's or early 90's & just how I remember him:
And here is Fernando Ortega. My imagination has been just a little bit off!
3. I made a power move at work today. I turned the heat on. When I arrived this morning it was only 55 degrees in the lab. I decided that was my breaking point. Boy, did it smell bad when it first kicked on! None of the guys commented much except to say that it was stinky. However, I just got back from a total of two trips to get my supervisor his lunch (a long, stupid story) & it's feeling a little chilly in here again. Methinks someone has undone my power move. Grrr. A pox on him. Not really but it does kind of provoke me. *ahem*
4. I need a pumpkin pie blizzard from DQ stat. I know that doesn't make sense with my cold-natured-ness but don't question a girl's need for seasonal ice cream treats.
5. Did I mention that this head cold is still kicking my hiney? The overall worst problem is the sinus pressure. Behind my right eye, in my ears, making my teeth hurt...it's intense, people. And it's making me more irrational than usual.
6. Mike has tomorrow off - praise be to God above! He has worked the last three Saturdays & that is a drag like no other. So we have decided that tomorrow we are going to do the mature thing & COMPLETELY IGNORE all of the things that need to be done around the house. We are going to escape town for the day & do completely worthless fun things.
7. I haven't washed dishes since Tuesday. Our kitchen is kinda grody. Just keepin' it real.
8. I think I'm going to bake a pumpkin this evening. That is, if I can find my kitchen under the aforementioned dirty dishes. And if I can make myself create more dirty dishes by baking.
Actually, this whole kitchen cleaning, baking, & then cleaning up again business is looking really iffy...
9. I'm sending a package to Missy in Vienna today. I love sending international mail. It makes me feel kind of cool or urban or international or something.
By the way, I'm totally dorky, hickified, & not at all international. I'm just a regular Josephine.
10. My supervisor is watching tv on his iphone in the other office. I have no idea what he may be watching but it involves a screaming crowd & a warbling Adam Sandler (I think). Weird.
Happy weekend to you one & all!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Forgive me, I just couldn't resist getting a little dramatic *grin*
Two years ago Mike asked me to be his wife. You can read about his proposal here. I was only just beginning to realize how much I loved that man.
Mike has to work late tonight & I am on Day 7 of the worst cold of my adult life. We will be celebrating quietly - a very nice dinner of BBQ Pork Loin, Mushroom & Cheddar Potatoes, & Green Beans. Mike doesn't know it yet but I'm going to rush home from work & put together a batch of his favorite cookies as a surprise. It helps that his favorite cookies are peanut butter & they only require three ingredients. That man is too easy on me!
Anyway, I thought maybe our little 'anniversary' was worth noting. How do you remember your life story events? The first date? The proposal? The first/fifth/tenth anniversary? Please share all your girly, giggly stories - it will be like a bloggie slumber party!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
I handed Mike his lunch box, kissed his handsome face, promised him I would pray for him, & watched him get into his car. It's my morning ritual.
Anyway, ritual completed, time to think about the pizzeria perfume hanging around our little abode. I thought back to last night's dinner preparation. My meal planning was just a little sketchy this week. I haven't been home to cook a lot & last night I was really tired. I've got a cold coming on & I was just dragging. So I opted for a somewhat simple chicken & broccoli & rice dish for Mike (it's one of his favorites but I can take it or leave it). For myself, I was going to take some of the chicken & make up a quick couscous & balsamic vinegar & feta cheese creation. It's a fabulous dish but Mike isn't a fan so I figured the perfect compromise was taking place - his easy favorite for him, my easy favorite for me.
Everything was going very well; I was multi-tasking like a professional! For my dinner I needed to crush two cloves of garlic, add some olive oil & chicken broth then put in the microwave to heat to a nice simmer. I pulled the aromatic mixture out of the microwave & promptly dumped a box of couscous in. And then I recoiled in horror, mouth agape. There were some dead bug looking like things in my couscous! Ack! Serious yuckiness!
So the contents of the bowl went in the trash. So sad. I ended up with a smorgasbord kind of dinner, eating two bites of this & two bites of that to finish up some leftovers.
After dinner I looked at the half empty trash can & knew that it would have to be emptied because of the garlic in the couscous mixture as well as some chicken garbage. Both of those items are notoriously stinky if left around any time at all. The trash was disposed of promptly & the kitchen was wiped down & closed for the night.
We went to bed & all was well.
So why does the house smell like a pizzeria today? I just can't figure it out.
Oh well...at least the house doesn't smell like this guy's arm pit! This picture cracked me up. I hope it brings a giggle to your Friday!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I heap the punishment upon myself by doing our grocery shopping on Mondays. If I want to take part in the good deals at CVS & Walgreens I have to shop on Monday. And if I am going to make two stops, I might as well make them all!
This week I had my list all planned & my coupons all organized before the end of my workday. I was able to leave work & head right out to shop. That always makes me happy. Get it out of the way & have the evening to relax & just be at home...ahhh!
The shopping went well. I even feel like I got it done quickly! Mike checked in with me when he got off work & I told him I was 'only' going to go to Walmart, Kroger, & Walgreens. Usually I hit Aldi & CVS, too. He thinks I'm nuts for making all of those stops. He would just go to Kroger & be done with it. I just can't take the easy road. I must use coupons! I must take advantage of the deals! I think I adopt a warrior shopper mindset. I must crush & destroy the enemy!
Anyway, it was a good, profitable, money saving shopping trip.
Then I got home. We lugged in the haul. I unpacked the bags. And I found this:
My Greek yogurt cup lid had a big puncture in it! *sigh* I had bought it on sale with a double coupon. It was one of my shopping victories (not to mention one of my favorite snacks!). Oh well. No use crying over stabbed yogurt, right?
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Shannalee gives restaurant reviews & she does a lot of cooking that is organic, natural, has weird ingredients, is frequently gluten free, & always interesting.
Am I starting to sound like a commercial or a cheerleader?
Anyway, I like to read her stuff & I like to fantasize about making some of her recipes. This past weekend I knocked out two of them!
First of all, let me mention that October 11th was my dad's 60th birthday. We had a backyard hot dog roast to celebrate on Saturday night. I was kind of in a bit of a hurry to get my kitchen experimenting done before the party. Note To Self: NEVER cook in a hurry. Bad things happen. Interesting things happen. I am simply not very good at multitasking in a hurry. Thankfully I did not destroy anything I was making but I did make us way late to the party when I put the macaroni in the oven to bake & then turned the oven off. I know, I'm brilliant.
The first recipe I tried was actually another one of my brilliant moments. I read Shannalee's post about Coconut Flour Cookies & while I was skimming over the post I kept thinking, I want to make these for Dad! My dad loves coconut. He especially loves coconut baked goods. In fact, my mom was going to make him a coconut cake for his party. I personally think that coconut feels like sawdust in your mouth & tastes like suntan lotion, but my opinion is unimportant. I decided to make these cookies for Dad.
Until I started combining the ingredients I was completely unaware that while these cookies have coconut flour & coconut oil in them, they do not in fact have coconut in them. Oops. The bag of coconut that I bought went to live in my parent's pantry.
Here is the finished product. They look burnt to a crisp but they are really just coated in cinnamon & sugar. They were a little different in texture but had a mild kind of nutty flavor. I liked them; they weren't super sweet. They were especially good with coffee.
My second culinary endeavor was to make some homemade Chunky Applesauce. I've wanted to try making applesauce for quite a while but I have hesitated because I didn't want to make a huge batch. All the recipes I had seen required a lot of apples & a canning process. I just felt like that was a little too much for me to attempt. So Shannalee's recipe for applesauce that only required 5 apples was just what I was looking for!
It took a little longer than I thought it would to cook them down. I had to resist my usual impatience that causes me to cook things on heat that is too high which usually results in things burning or boiling over or even melting random things onto my stove top. Impatience is BAD!
First I chunked the cooked apples up with a potato masher. I couldn't get the consistency quite smooth enough so I got out the blender. I was a little worried because I didn't want to liquefy the stuff. Looking at the buttons on my blender do you think that maybe sometimes we just have too many options?? It's just confusing...
The end result was one super yummy bowl of apple saucy goodness. I've been nibbling on it all week. I get a little dish full & then stick it in the microwave until it is all warm. Then I pretend it's apple pie. Without the crust. Which is sometimes just as amazing as the apple filling. But you know, you can't have it all, all of the time. Unless it's Christmas...or your birthday...or Friday because Friday is the beginning of the weekend & therefore very special...
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Can I just state for the record that I never, ever, ever want to embark on such a project ever again?
Now that we have that out of the way, here's the whole saga. You might just want to look at the pics & say, "Good enough!" but in case you are interested in details, here goes!
I bought our house 2 1/2 years ago. Since the purchase of our home I have had to have the plumbers come & rout out our sewer line six or seven times because of two large maple trees in front of our house. Their roots are unbelievable. Since we were spending $100 on the plumber each time along with the inconvenience of not being able to use our plumbing, we knew we were going to have to take some major action. Another difficulty we faced is that all of the plumbing outlets of our home (bathroom, kitchen, & laundry) each come out of a different side of the house. In order to access the sewer line to replace it we were going to have to do some major digging. Or we could replumb everything inside the house which would require relocating our basement stairs & cutting a hole in a supporting wall. Oy.
We decided to dig. We figured we could find some cheap labor (ourselves!) & then just pay the plumbers to lay the new pipe.
We had no idea how hard digging would be.
We haven't had a seriously good soaking rain for well over a month. Part of the ground that we needed to dig up was right alongside the alley & had been driven over & packed down for years. So we decided to rent this big guy:
Thank God we did because he was worth every little penny! And no, I didn't drive him or do any of the digging with him. I'm much more of a shovel girl. Give me a shovel & a pick axe & I can make some progress!
We had to dig up all along this side of the house. The pipe was about 3 1/2 feet down.
This was when Mike first used the excavator. His Uncle Steve was helping us (he was a Godsend!). Steve had used an excavator before & he was quickly bored with Mike's slow, careful movements so he hopped up there & took over. Mike was super glad because several times he had almost knocked off the back door overhang. While the guys were working back here I walked over to my parent's house (about two blocks) to borrow my dad's wheel barrow. I felt super cool pushing that thing back home. I probably looked like I was ripping it off out of someone's yard!
This is the spot where most of the problem lies. It's closest to the front of the house & those massive trees. I promise you, if they didn't turn the most beautiful shade of red in the autumn I would go out there & cut them down myself.
Mike is crouched down in this pic so the ditch isn't as deep as he is tall. In this corner where the pipe goes around the house there were three big chunks of concrete covering the pipe. Perhaps it had needed repairs before?
Ahhh! Beautiful! This pic shows the new pipe & where the kitchen joins in & where the new clean out is. See that old terra cotta pipe? Yeah, it cannot withstand tree roots, that is for sure!
Saturday morning we got up & got to work trying to fill in the hole. We had been shoveling for about 45 minutes when it started to rain. I was sad. Very sad. Dirt is heavy to shovel but mud is MUCH HEAVIER. We heaved & hoed for about another hour and a half. Mike's cousin Von came over & helped for a little while & he was such a blessing. We all had so much mud on the bottom of our shoes that we were about three inches taller than normal! We still have some dirt to move. We might work on it tonight. I'm excited. Yeehaw.
These three chunks of concrete were the ones I mentioned above. As we were digging we had to put most of the dirt on our neighbor's property because the sewer line practically runs on the property line. Mike was concerned about leaving it in the neighbor's yard for too long so we went out there Tuesday afternoon to move it. I am no wimpy girl but I just couldn't get it up off the ground. We were struggling with it when a blue truck pulled onto our street & slowed way down. The truck stopped & I got all embarrassed because I thought the person was just watching us for a laugh. Well, the guy got out of his truck hollering, "Miss, put that down! You're going to hurt yourself! Let me help him!" This kind stranger helped Mike move all of the concrete pieces. We were so grateful that the Lord provided help just when we needed it!
Here you can see some of the tree roots that we have been contending with. They are so huge & widespread that it seems like they just want to take over. My mother in law has said that for all of the branches a tree has above ground there are just as many roots below ground. I think she's right.
This is the one place that remains to be dealt with. Unfortunately this is also where we have had the most problems. The bathroom plumbing exits the house here & then turns & runs parallel to this sidewalk. The problem is, the pipe goes under the sidewalk & the sidewalk is about 8 inches thick. Mike was very reluctant to break up the concrete & he ran out of time to try to do it anyway. We didn't fill the hole back in because Mike & Uncle Steve have brainstormed a way to repair it. They just have to have the time to do it. Until then, we are leaving it dug up. In order to keep drivers out of our little ditch we put our trash can in the hole. Pretty funny, huh?
All told, we were without plumbing for about three days. I had scheduled for the plumbers to arrive on Thursday morning & my understanding was that they would be on the job Thursday until they got it done. I went to work that morning very confident that the whole situation would be taken care of that day. Mike stayed home & met the plumbers & talked with them, etc. Based on the text messages that Mike sent throughout the workday, I began to realize that it was going to be no simple fix. The plumbers arrived & discussed the job with Mike. They didn't seem too happy with our digging & that they were going to have to get in the hole & break up the old pipe. They didn't seem to happy about having the job at all. They left within an hour saying they needed to get supplies, go on a couple of service calls & get more help. That was about 11 a.m. When I got home from work at 3 p.m. they still hadn't come back. Here comes the anxiety & frustration! They finally arrived at about 3:45 & they stayed at it until about 5 o'clock. My mom dropped by on her way home from work & while I was talking to her they just left. No goodbye we'll be back at such-n-such time or anything. I was so upset because we still had no plumbing. I'm grateful my parents live close but it's no fun leaving home to take a shower. And since we didn't know for sure when they would be back I got really wound up.
Well, they came back the next day but it was in the late afternoon. Mike & I had a whole house full of company coming for dinner to help us celebrate the completion of the project & to thank them for their help. We had invited his Uncle Steve & his wife Debbie & their two sons, Mike's mom & dad, his cousin Von & Aunt Becky. How was I going to fix dinner with no water? How do you celebrate a project that isn't completed? Some things that we maybe should have thought about before handing out the invites...
Anyway, disaster was averted when they wrapped the job up at about 4:30. I wrote them a check (not the amount we were praying for, but one the Lord knew we could handle - just barely!) & then ran inside to get cooking.
We had a fabulous good dinner & a lot of fun together. Growing up I thought I had the loudest, funnest, craziest family; now that I am married & part of another family, I have realized that my family is pretty normal. When you get a big group of people who love each other around a table full of good food wonderful things happen. We had a blast!
And then I washed dishes in warm sudsy water that exited my sink in a lovely new turquoise sewer pipe; that is my current definition of happiness!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
When I walked through the door I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple from my church at a table they had set up where they were giving flu shots. I had a nice little catch up chat with them. I haven't seen them much lately because they have had some health challenges. It was really good to see them out and about. BONUS: before we said goodbye Julie told me that the grapes were on sale for $.25/lb.! What a steal of a deal!
I quickly gathered the items on my list for the workplace & then jammed over to the white grapes (Mike doesn't like the red ones; he's a weirdo). And why do they call them white grapes? They are totally green. And that's what I call them when no one is listening. I guess I'm just a little too literal... Anyway, I kind of expected them to be a little fuzzy or smooshed or just not good. But they weren't! So I grabbed some & I got this whole big colander full for $1!
Yum! What a blessing!
Sometimes I just get into ruts of junk thinking. It's almost automatic (what does that say about me?!). When I was in college I found it fairly easy to trust the Lord for my finances. If He wanted to keep me in school He would have to provide the funds. There was really no way I could work more or manipulate the situation. He had to work. And He did. Sometimes it felt like the money literally fell from the sky. That kind of answered prayer should make an impact on a person & it did. But once I graduated & began working my attitude has become totally different. Kind of like, "Thanks Lord for getting me through school. I can take care of this now. You can have a break." When money gets tight I try to find ways to work more or cut costs. My first instinct is not to pray. My first reaction is not to trust the Lord. I've got a big fat trust in myself problem.
So when little blessings come my way, like grapes massively on sale, they are actually huge blessings. They help me recognize that the Lord is watching out for us. He is our provider. He is our Jehovah Jireh.
And I am just a crazy stubborn hard-headed woman who has a lot still to learn.
But right now I'm going to go munch on some fabulous grapes!
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
We have all hard floors in our little house - hardwood & linoleum. I could (& sometimes do!) sweep every day. Usually for mopping, I hand mop or use a Swiffer wet mop. I am happy to hand mop the bathroom (it's little), but the larger areas of our home are much harder to hand mop so I Swiffer regularly & when I'm turbo motivated I hand mop. Either way, I don't think I'm ever super happy about the state of our floors.
How do you mop? Have you seen the mop she's featuring in her giveaway? Have you used one?
I'm always on the hunt for cleaning tips so you have two assignments:
#1. Go check out Clean Mama & her giveaway.
#2. Give me a floor cleaning tip that is tried & true
Pretty please & thank you very much.
At least I'm pretty sure she says a line something like that in the movie. Lately I've really wanted to sit down & watch all of the Anne of Green Gables movies. Since I don't have the dvds and in no way do I have the time, I haven't watched them. But I can quote from them! Or pseudo quote since I'm not entirely sure she actually says that line. Somehow, I have a notion that she does...
Anyway, all of that just to say this:
I've been in a bit of a funk lately. We have had some challenges - a major sewer repair (more on that to come), lots of medical bills from Michael's accident (which means lots of phone calls, deciphering of insurance lingo & other cringe-inducing tasks), & lots of overtime for Michael which is a blessing that comes with a bit of a curse (not much time together & trying to overcome the grumpies from being overworked).
So, in an effort to address my not-in-a-good-way funkiness, I am attempting to retrain my attitude that each day is brand new. The Lord's mercies are renewed, His faithfulness is the same, His strength is available every moment, & His joy is my strength. Each morning when our alarm buzzes at 4:50 I have a fresh start awaiting me. It is my choice to let the Holy Spirit reign & help me make the most of the new day. Instead of viewing each day as a muddy furrow to slough through to make it to the weekend, I need to joyfully anticipate what all the Lord will bring my way - a sunny day, a challenging task at work, the opportunity to try a new applesauce recipe, & even regular tasks like folding laundry or washing dishes that are mundane but make our house a peaceful, tidy home.
Lately I have really struggled with stuff. You know, daily stuff. Things that are worthwhile & even necessary but things that never get done. EVERY DAY I have to make the bed, go to work, tidy the house, prepare meals, clean & tidy myself, and so on. There will always be teeth that need brushing, clothes that need washing, attitudes that need repairing, relationships that need tending, grass that needs mowing...you get the idea? Sometimes I just get under all of that. And I see others get under, too; seeing them discouraged/tired/funky like me, I get even more discouraged. I get bone weary of the day to day to day to day.
And I just want to drop out. The thought, "I don't want to..." runs through my mind many times every day. Or the other favorite, "I'm too tired to..." Then I start up with the old stand by, "If I could just get away for a few days, go lay on a beach somewhere & really rest up..."
Because I used to hop on a plane or get in the car for a major road trip when this funk hit.
These days that isn't really an option. Maybe now I should look for the real solution? Maybe the Lord is trying to teach me to look to Him for the strength needed to stick by the stuff. Maybe I should be praying for some discipline, diligence, & dedication needed to live this life in a way that reflects His character.
Then when I observe others who are quick to un-volunteer themselves for service I won't be so quick to get discouraged. When the daily gets a little too DAILY, I will be able to hit the floor running early every morning knowing that I'm not living this life all by myself. I have a whole lot more to go on than my own strength or even the strength I can borrow from Mike. The Lord Himself watches over me; He knows my abilities & frailties. He knows just where I am & just how much I can endure. Maybe I can even reach the point where I rely on Him enough that I can even help encourage someone else. After all, isn't that a huge part of the Christian life? Encouraging, exhorting, & loving one another?
I'm excited to learn. I'm excited to change. I'm excited to grow. I'm excited to see what God can do because He is a very great God. And He can do great things.
Know that the LORD, he is God!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
For the LORD is good;