Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's Sunday

And I am rejoicing because today I will get to attend church.  Lately I've been thinking about church a little differently.  I have attended the same church all of my life except for when I was away for college.  A large number of my extended family also attend this church.  I've been around so long that the folks that aren't actually related to me seem like family, too!  As a result, I have always considered myself to be majorly accountable when it comes to church attendance.  If I missed a service it wouldn't just be my mom who would want to know why.  That has made it hard for me to sometimes distinguish my motive for being in the pew.  Do I go to church because I want to worship my Lord or do I go to church because I feel like I should in order to not disappoint people I love?

Just a couple of weeks ago almost all of us experienced the Massive Winter Storm of 2011.  The storm blew in at the beginning of the week & I knew almost right away that Wednesday night Prayer Meeting would be cancelled.  I didn't feel like that was too big of a deal.  Wednesday nights can be extremely hectic for us for some reason so it was nice to not have to hurry to be at church.  Then Saturday rolled around.  We were all in the process of digging out & trying to melt the ice & trying to get back to normal.  Our pastor had to make the call to once again cancel services.  All around town ice melt was sold out & there was just too much ice to clear from the parking lot for it to be safe for us to get in the building.  That phone call gave me a little pause.  I was frustrated; I was maybe a little angry.  Mike wanted to know why I was all worked up.  He thought it was a very reasonable decision considering the age of many of our congregation.  He was right, of course.  As I mulled it over that evening I realized that my flash of emotion was bred out of the disappointment that there would be no church the next day.  Church attendance is more than a routine; it is more than fellowship & accountability.  All of those things are involved, but I realized that more than anything else I was missing the worship.  The music that is designed to prepare our hearts to adore God.  The Scripture reading & preaching that is designed to draw my heart to my God & teach me how to serve Him better.

So today I'm headed out the door to church, not to please my mother or my dear friend Janet or my sweet husband Mike or anybody else.  I'm headed to church to worship my Lord & Savior Jesus. 

I was glad when they said to me,
 "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
Psalm 122:1

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gettin' It Done!

Every once in a while I have to give myself a thumbs up to keep from getting a little discouraged.  I am a crazy list maker.  I have to write everything down.  When you do that, there are always many, many things that might not get marked off for a very long time.  Cue discouragement!  So today I'm going to list a couple of things where actual progress has taken place!  By the way, don't you love that graphic?  My G-pa often gives us the thumbs up & he does a little shake with it just like this guy.  Good stuff.

  1. I have completed six weeks of my Mini training program.  I'm still not up to Olympic level but I have 10 more weeks to get there.  No reason to rush *grin*
  2. Mike has made major progress on our bookshelves.  I will post all about them when they are done, placed, & loaded up.  They are going to be Fab.U.Lous
  3. I have made some progress on the quilt.  There are now four strips sewn together.  They don't match up even slightly but why worry about details?  I can worry about details on the next quilt.  If there is a next quilt.
  4. Our federal & state taxes have been filed. *whew*  I dread that every year & try to put it off but Mike can be quite the little encourager - "let's get it done & over with" is definitely his tax filing mantra.
  5. I have now experimented with spaghetti squash & butternut squash.  Next I want to try acorn squash & I want to try making kale chips.  I feel the need to experiment with many vegetables so I can decide if we would get good use out of a CSA membership this summer.
  6. By the time this post is posted, our house should be spin 'n span clean.  That is always an accomplishment; can I get an amen?
  7. I am almost done reading "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader".  It is oh so very entertaining!
  8. I am not buried under mountains of laundry; can I get another amen?
  9. I am trying to grow my hair out so that I can donate it.  This is going to be a very hard goal for me.  Every time I go get my hair colored I want to tell Deann to chop it.  This last week I made it through one more appointment without asking for the chop.  She estimates I have about six months to go.
  10. I am way behind on my chronological Bible reading program.  But I have a plan for The Big Catchup.  There is still hope!
Ahhh...there it is - my virtual thumbs up!  If any of you are drowning under massive To Do Lists take a moment to think about what all you have gotten done.  You will surprise yourself & you just might get a little burst of energy to keep on doing!  Happy weekend to you all!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

I'm a Swagbucks girl.  I like to do my little internet searches & get my swagbucks & buy Amazon gift cards.  It makes the coupon-lover-money-saver in me very happy.  Right now Mike & I are saving swagbucks to buy some cordless speakers from Amazon for our house. Yeah, I want to listen to music while I'm in the shower. Doesn't everybody?

I have a little goal to get rewarded some kind of swagbucks every day.   However, sometimes I just can't think of things to search for.  If you have any search ideas for me, please leave them in the comments section.  Please do not leave anything medical.  My medical internet research has been almost completely curtailed because I was trying to become a hypochondriac.  I'm sure you understand.  Right?

Anyway, today I just couldn't think of anything to search for so I just put in my name.  Very interesting.  While I didn't see a single link that actually referred to me, I did find these other girls running around with my name:
  • an internationally acclaimed mezzo soprano
  • a Qualified Transactional Analyst/Psychotherapist in Perth, Australia
  • a trail attorney in the town my brother lives in
  • a music instructor at Florida State University
  • a realtor in San Antonio, Texas
  • a Registered Massage Therapist in Ontario, Canada
  • a photographer in Salt Lake City, Utah
and my personal favorite:
  • a nun that grew up in my town & now lives in Indianapolis
And I got 8 swagbucks!

If you aren't swagging yet, you should head on over there & sign up - just click the button on my side bar.  You can list me as your referral & we will get more swagbucks!  It's a win, win, win situation!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I've been doing a little snooping through the pics on my iphone.  There are a lot of them.  And since this iphone was Mike's before it was mine, it has a lot of his pics on it.  I just haven't bothered with looking through them & even if I did, I have this odd need to keep all the pics anyway.  It doesn't matter if it's a blurred pic of someone's ear, I don't want to get rid of it.  Thank goodness all of our pics are stored digitally!  Back in the day of actual photos you could hold in your hand I was always conflicted about what to do with the bad shots & the unwanted doubles. 

Anyway, looking through the pics I found no less than 39 pics in an album labeled "Buell".  For those of you who don't know, Buell is a type of motorcycle.  About 12 years ago Mike bought a slightly used motorcycle (of the crotch rocket variety; sorry for the terminology but I don't know how else to describe it).  He had that bike until about a year ago.  In fact, one of our first pre-dating hanging out evenings he took me for a ride on his bike.  About 10 minutes into our ride it broke down.  This was the first of several largely unfixable problems that eventually led to the sale of the bike.  You would have cracked up if you could have heard our conversation on the shoulder of the road that night.
MIKE: I can't call my parents.  They don't have a truck to come get us & my mom would kill me anyway for letting you ride without a helmet.
PHARMGIRL: I can't call my parents either.  They have a truck but my dad will kill me if he finds out I've been on a motorcycle.
Please note that on the night in question we were both 30 years old.  And obviously still quite afraid of our parents.
Anyway, we got rescued that night by Mike's uncle, we fell in love, got married, & lived happily ever after.

 I guess that I just didn't realize that Mike was still so into motorcycles.  Truthfully, I think it would be fun to have one.  Just not a crotch rocket or a really big one.  Buell's are mid-size & mid-price. 

Pretty cool, huh?
I like the red accents.

Mike would totally choose the blue accents.
Do you think I could buy one of these with our tax return &
 pull off the surprise of the century &
win Wife of the Year?
Yeah, me neither.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Counting A Few Blessings...

I'm not sure why but lately I've been in a little bit of a wrestling match with restlessness & irritability.  I would love to blame it on the weather because as we all know, winter is not my favorite season.  Actually, I think I just need to work on some heart attitudes & get the Lord's help with developing some contentment in my soul.  Sounds like it's time to get grateful for something.  So I spent a few minutes looking through the pics on my iphone.  I found several right away that put me in a more joyful, thankful frame of mind.
I have so many wonderful friends.  Way back friends.  A sister that is a wonderful, since the first day of my life friend.  Before Christmas Amoke', Amanda, Beth & I got together for brunch & then a little shopping.  We stopped in at a FabUlOus shoe store.  Fun was had by all.
Amoke', Amanda, & Beth huddle up for a pic. 
They are great shopping buddies!

I totally should have bought these flesh colored high heeled booties. 
My life is just not complete without them! *grin*
 I thumbed through a few more pics on the old iphone & found some from a trip I took back in November.  I met up with Roxi & we drove out to Galena, Illinois to meet Erin.  These girls are college friends.  And I trust them with my life.  I trust them so much that I didn't pay any attention to the planning of this trip.  I just said tell me where to be when & I'll show up!  That's how I ended up in Galena.  Which I thought was a lot closer.  I told my husband where I thought it was.  So when I texted him to tell him we were driving over to Dubuque (Iowa!) to go see a movie he was very confused.  You see, I thought Galena was kind of in the middle of Illinois.  It's actually about 10 miles south of the Wisconsin border & 15 miles east of the Iowa border (and don't quote me on that - once again, I'm guess-timating; it's my speciality!).  Anyway, fun of the incredible variety ensued & it was a weekend I will not soon forget.

I'm famous for making friends with girls much,
much, much shorter than me. 
 In the midst of paying $8 a cup for coffee (a slight exaggeration), trying to decide which one of 792,483 scarves to buy, avoiding the singing/dancing salesman in the antique shop, & making friends with the saleslady in the jewelry store, we had great fun trying on these Mexican wrestling masks. Can you tell who is who?

This one may or may not be Erin.
This one may or may not be PharmGirl.
I also have a pic that may or may not be Roxi but I am having issues with blogger.  I had it on here & when I was messing around trying to arrange things to please me I got it in the wrong spot & couldn't move it.  Long story longer, I deleted it & thought I could upload it again.  Apparently not. *frown, frown, pout, pout*

And finally, a huge blessing in my life is this hunky guy right here.
He may be just stubborn enough to never look at me when I'm trying to take his picture,
but he tries to understand me (even when I'm totally NOT understandable).
That makes him the best.
The very best for me.
And I'm grateful.

Is there anything you are feeling especially grateful for?
Share your blessings!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Atta Girl!

As we all know, it's important to eat a balanced diet so that we get all the vitamins & nutrients we need for good health. Since I am not any more consistent at eating properly than I am at anything else, I take my vitamins & calcium on a fairly regular basis. I also enjoy a Vitamin C drop every now & then, usually on my way to work. I have to wonder why they put so many grapefruit flavored ones in each bag? Man, the grapefruit ones make me pucker if they are the first thing I put in my mouth after brushing my teeth!

This morning I didn't get out my Vitamin C drop until I got to work. I realized there was writing all over the wrapper. Upon closer inspection I read the following words,


Really? Oh yeah. The wrapper also said:

Seize the day.
Impress yourself today
Get back in there champ!
Buckle down & push forth!
There is nothing you can't handle.

My goodness. I guess the next time I'm feeling a little insecure all I will have to do is reach down in my purse & grab a Vitamin C drop - good for the body & ego!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Musings...

My brain is a tad bit over crowded today.
Therefore, time to do a little unloading...
Mondays are painful. No matter how I spend the weekend Monday always feel the same - kind of like I've been hit by a Mack truck. Funny how that works.
I had a brilliant epiphany over the weekend as I dug through mountains of laundry (yes, I did 11 loads & I still have one to throw in this evening). If we had fewer clothes, & sheets, & towels, & blankets, I'd have less laundry to do. I know; I have some brilliant moments, don't I?
The Kielbasa Lentil soup I made on Friday was really good. The only problem is that is was one of about 50 really good dishes brought to the tasting party. Therefore, I have huge amounts of leftovers. Anybody wanna come over for dinner? I have this really great soup to serve!
My sister, her husband, their kids, my mom, my dad, & just about everyone else I can think of doesn't have to go to work or school today. No, I'm not bitter, not at all. I'm not sure what happened during those six miles on Saturday but I've been walking around looking & feeling like an arthritic 80 year old woman ever since I got up yesterday. I'm thinking it has something to do with the fact that up until Saturday 98% of my workouts had been completed on the treadmill or elliptical. Hitting the road on Saturday upped the impact factor to my feet & ankles. Asphalt is hard stuff, people! *sniff* I hate being sore. I need to implement the RICE technique (rest, ice, compression, & elevation). Come by my house tonight for lentil soup & then sit on the couch with me with our feet up!
Mike & I watched "Prince Caspian" on Saturday night. I really wanted to watch it after I read the story & I'm so glad we did. The movie was good but I loved having the background of the original story in my mind. My little decision to read all of "The Chronicles of Narnia" this year has proved out to be a very good one!
My mind keeps running over what Pastor Jeff preached in church yesterday morning & evening (Ephesians 3 & Colossians 1). It was all about never forgetting how much Christ loves us. He loved us enough to die for us. How do I forget such an amazing thing? I was so grateful to hear him preach it with fervor. It was obvious that Pastor Jeff had really soaked up what he was saying. And I'm grateful the Lord keeps bringing it to mind so I can noodle it around a little bit more.
Has anyone else noticed that blogger is loading pics all the way over to the right side & isn't really letting you manipulate where they go? I don't really have anything in my bag of tricks to help me out with that so I just keep messing with the Html to try to get it to look a little less ridiculous...hopefully it's not looking too terrible!
I know it's only Monday but I'm already looking forward to the weekend. Is that ok?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kitchen Experiments

I tend to get bored easily. I don't know why. I just have a restless kind of spirit I guess.
That's part of the reason why I am continually looking for new recipes. I have a stash of clippings & print outs that would amaze you. It's a mess. I need to stop but I just can't help myself!
You all know that we had a Tasting Party at our church Friday night. It was a smorgasbord of new & different by way of the crock pot & salad. Yum-o. Here's a pic of my contribution:

I got everything in the crock & happily cooking when I decided that I would embrace the mess that was already my kitchen & try another recipe. I had found a recipe for Orange Cranberry Bran Muffins on my cereal box. I had all the ingredients so why not? Every house could use a little happy muffin action, don't you think?

They are quite yummy. They are a little tart; I think I may have overdone the orange zest. I don't get to use my microplane very often so I just went crazy. Forgive my compulsiveness.

Here's the recipe if you're curious:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3 cups All-Bran wheat flakes cereal
1 1/4 cups orange juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 cup craisins
1 teaspoon orange zest

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, & baking powder. Set aside. In large bowl, combine cereal, orange juice, oil, & egg. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in craisins & orange zest. Add dry ingredients to cereal mixture. Stir until combined. Portion batter evenly into muffin tin coated with cooking spray. Bake for 15-19 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.

I think the muffins are super good with a little butter & honey. I think if I make them again I will run the cereal through the food processor & I will chop the craisins up a bit.

As my mom says, experiments are a lot more fun when you actually like what you make. I've had some fun this weekend with my little experiments!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday's Training Session

This morning I got up & gave Mike a good bye as he headed to work at 5:00. Then I went back to bed *grin* until 7 or so. This week I decided that I would join the training group for the long mileage day. This is the first time this season that the number of miles on the treadmill was more horrifying than the thought of the cold air. Actually, today it wasn't too bad with temperatures hovering right around 30 degrees.

Just in case you have nothing better to do, I thought I would give you some boring details about how I prepare for a six mile workout. First of all, I would want you to know that I consider myself a hybrid. Yes, you can call me Prius. I have discovered that the best way for me to train for a half marathon without sustaining any injuries (such as bone spurs or tendinitis) is to mix up the running with walking. My MO is to run the shorter distances during the week with maximum effort (read, run hard & about kill myself) and then walk the long distances on Saturdays. I start the walking on the six mile week. That was today. And when I say walk I mean that I keep a 13:30-14:00 minute mile. It's a quick pace.

The first thing to do to get ready is eat a good breakfast. I had a bowl of cereal & a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter & jelly. That's more than I would usually eat but you have to have some energy to burn! And I drank a glass of water, but not too much. I totally believe you can over-hydrate. It's no fun to be 3 miles out & need to go to the bathroom

Then I got dressed. I was excited that it was warm enough for me to leave my fleece in the closet. I got this really nice Nike jacket for Christmas this year & today was it's trial run. I loved it! And I love the bright blue - easy to see without being neon.

I also put on some fabulous socks. I know they don't look very cool, but support socks are a life saver for a girl like me. These actually look just like black tube socks & they do an incredible job of defeating foot/lower leg fatigue. I *heart* them. That's just how dorky I am.

Then I laced on these beauties. These Mizuno running shoes were my Valentine's Day gift from my sweetie. I know that sounds like a terrible Valentine's gift but it was just what I wanted & needed. And when you consider how expensive they were, Mike was way more generous than he should have been! By the way, they are like running on a cloud. They are fabulous!

And before I put my gloves on, I slime up with this stuff. My fingers do this horrible splitting & cracking thing during the winter. I have tried countless salves & lotions that kind of work. Mike found this stuff at Lowe's & it works so much better than anything else I have tried. My hands tend to swell on these long workouts in the cold so it's important to give them a quick layer of moisturizing protection before I head out.

The last step is something I have yet to figure out. I gotta have some tunes. It's cold so a headband for my ears would be great. I also can't stand the sun in my eyes. I haven't figured out how to get so much stuff in, around, & over my ears. I gave up & chose the tunes & the sunglasses. My ears were cold but I survived.

Six miles done & I'm still smiling!
After I got home I had to schedule in a little recovery time before I tackled my house cleaning & laundry To Do List. That means it was time for a little coffee & an Orange Cranberry Bran Muffin. A little snack & a little Bible reading later, I was ready to tackle the crazy mess that is our house.

Not too shabby of a way to start my Saturday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Great Crock Extravaganza

I mentioned earlier this week that I needed your help choosing a crock pot recipe to make for the annual tasting party that my church's ladies' group hosts. Tonight is the big party! Several of you passed on a recipe & I thought I would post them here for everyone to see.

Italian Chicken Sandwiches, contributed by Erin
4 chicken breast halves (bone in, skin on)
4 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
1 packet onion soup mix
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1 T. garlic salt
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients & cook until meat falls off of bone. Debone, shred the chicken & put back in the crock & heat until it's hot. Serve on hard rolls.

Pork Loin/Beef Roast, contributed by Jenny
3 lbs. beef roast or pork loin
Salt & pepper
Garlic powder
1/2 large onion
16 oz. jar mild banana pepper rings

Season the meat with salt, pepper, & garlic powder. Slice onion & put half on the bottom of the crock. Put meat in the crock & layer remaining onions over the top. Pour the jar of pepper rings over the top. Cook for 4-6 hours on low or until meat reads done on meat thermometer. Shred meat & enjoy with beans & rice or tortillas.

Spiced Slow Cooker Applesauce, contributed by Alicia
8 apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine the apples & water in a slow cooker; cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in the brown sugar & pumpkin pie spice; continue cooking another 30 minutes.

Lentils & Kielbasa, contributed by Rebecca
1 bag of lentils
1 quart chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, diced
2 potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup diced onion
12-16 oz. turkey kielbasa, sliced
4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin (or thyme)

Sort the lentils to remove any debris. Put all ingredients in crock pot. Let simmer 2-5 hours on high or 6-8 on low.

I decided that I would make the Lentils & Kielbasa to take tonight. I chose that one mostly because I've never done anything with lentils before & this recipe is most likely one that Mike would not be too excited about. Tonight's party seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip it up! The only thing I am concerned about is the timing. The party is at 6 p.m. I leave for work before 7 a.m. I couldn't get the crock cooking before I left for work or it would have been cooking for 11 hours. I won't get home until a little after 3 p.m. & that's when I'm going to get everything started. Let's hope it gets good & done by 6 p.m.! I have a stinking suspicion that my crock pot cooks a little bit on the hot side. Here's hoping I'm right!

For those of you who contributed recipes, thank you so much. They definitely helped me out & I am planning on giving each one of them a go sometime soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

That's Why I Love Him!

Today is an unusual day because I actually got to speak to Mike on the phone during his lunch break. Usually I'm at work & we text back and forth a little bit. Today I was on a Wal*art run for the office so he gave me a call. We were sharing back & forth all the little things we had planned to try to get done this evening. After work today I'm headed over to the G's to give them a little help. Then I need to run a couple of miles, get the post-snowstorm gunk washed off of the car & buy gas. Then I asked him if he wanted me to come home & get dinner fixed & then run after or if I could just go run & we could eat late (probably about 6:30). He asked what I was planning to cook & I told him & without missing a beat he said, "You have an awfully busy afternoon & evening planned. I don't want you to come home & do more work. Pick up take out of your choice on the way home & then there won't be any cooking or dishes to wash."

Maybe he just wasn't excited about my menu plan. I prefer to think that he was just trying to relieve some pressure from my To Do List. Yeah, I'm sure that it's the latter - & that's why I love him!

Yep, It's True!

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23
This time yesterday there was something that had come up in my life that I was struggling with. I just wasn't sure how serious it was, what it really meant, how it should be handled, or even when it should be handled. It was something that I didn't feel like I could talk to anyone about. It was a weight on my soul. So I spent much of my day in prayer, reflecting on the power of God (the focus of my Bible study this week - imagine that!), & rejoicing in the fact that although I will endure difficulty in this life, I do not endure it alone. The Lord is my help, just like Psalm 121 promises. The Lord helped me calm my emotions, He helped me choose my words wisely, He helped the other person involved to have a humble & understanding heart. His help is the best help to be found. And I'm so grateful His help is available to me.
Otherwise you would find me hiding in a closet under a cozy blanket.
I'm just being honest, people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just in case...

anyone out there needs this today
as much as I have needed it today:

Psalm 121
My Help Comes from the LORD
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out
and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wanna Help?

I am in need of a little inspiration.

This Friday night the Ladies' Group at my church is having their Annual Tasting Party.
You guessed it - the theme is Crock Pot Recipes.
Or Salad Recipes.
But I'd rather do a crock pot recipe.
Crock pots speak to me.
Except for right now because I have no inspiration for a recipe to make.
It has to be a recipe I've never made before.
Nothing sounds good.
Could be food hangover from the weekend.
I'm just not hungry, you know?
Anyway, help me out & send me your most fabulous crock pot recipes!
Please don't leave me hanging. Give me something...anything!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cooking Up Something New & Different

A few weeks ago I was wandering around the produce department of the grocery store thinking about trying something new. When I was a kid I pretty much hated most fruits & vegetables. My parents operated on a tight budget so there wasn't a lot of fresh stuff around anyway. We had home canned green beans (that I will always love with a fervent love), canned peas, & potatoes. As far as fruit goes, we always had bananas (which I will never willingly eat unless they could cure me of a fatal disease) & apples. We didn't have a lot of variety & I didn't like much anyway. As I've gotten older I have discovered that I was way too narrow minded. Take fruit for instance. I used to say that I wouldn't eat anything fuzzy. No fuzzy fruit for me! That obviously rules out peaches, kiwi, & strawberries. I still don't care much for kiwi or peaches but I could literally eat my weight in strawberries. To think of all the strawberries I could have eaten!
I think I've gotten off track...
Back to the produce section. I was walking around looking at things I have never bought before. I have already experimented with some different pears, some different lettuces, & every color of pepper. This particular evening I was thinking it was time to try some squash. So I picked up a spaghetti squash. Not too expensive, not too big & not too hard to work with.
I got online & looked around for a method to prepare the little yellow guy. I read that you could put heat to a spaghetti squash any way you want - roasting, microwaving, boiling in water, etc. I decided I would roast him.
First things first, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then wash your squash, get a big knife & cut him open.
I was surprised to find that some people roast the squash whole. I decided that was a bad idea because it would be really difficult to handle it when it comes out of the oven. I would have had to try to cut him open while he was super hot. Not a good idea for me to use a knife under those kinds of circumstances.
After you cut him open, scoop all the seeds out with a spoon. I thought this might be a little difficult, like scooping the seeds out of a pumpkin but it was really quite easy.
Get out your roasting pan. Why yes, this is a Pampered Chef stone ware baker. I *heart* it. Drizzle some olive oil around the bottom of the baker & then drizzle some over the spaghetti squash & rub it all over. Try not to notice the overflowing crock of dirty dish towels in the background of my photo. I'm not really into staging. Can you tell?Kind of rub the olive oil all round on the squash & then salt & pepper, oregano, garlic, & spice it up to your heart's content.
Put him in the oven & roast until tender. I think my guy was in there for about 40 minutes. He smelled so good & was making a lovely sizzling sound when I pulled him out.
Let the squash rest for a couple of minutes. I left them face down but when I do this again I think I will turn them over. That should allow the steam to escape & hopefully your squash will not have a lot of extra moisture.
After a couple minutes passed, I grabbed a fork & went to town shredding the squash. It is amazing how it looks just like spaghetti. Perhaps I am easily amazed?
I topped it off with some spaghetti sauce & some shredded mozzarella. I was a little unsure if I would like the texture but I really did like the spaghetti squash. I think it is definitely a great way to cut some carbs & add a new veggie to my diet. Yeah, I said 'my diet' & not 'our diet'. Mike wasn't interested in spaghetti squash & didn't even take a trial bite. He had Bean with Bacon soup & was quite content.
Have you tried any new foods lately?

Friday, February 11, 2011

You Are My Sunshine...

With Valentine's Day fast approaching I've been thinking lately a lot about how people are just dear to me. Of course I think of my husband. But I also think of my family, my friends, my church family (who I missed very much after missing one whole week's worth of services as a result of Icezilla). The Lord has blessed me by surrounding me with a lot of loving people.

As I've been mulling this over, I began to think through all of the different terms of endearment we use for one another. It's kind of funny when you consciously think about how seldom we actually call one another by our names. For instance, Mike almost always calls me 'babe'. I do the same with him. My sister & her husband call each other 'dear' (when we were in high school they called each other 'poodle' but you did NOT hear that from me). The G's call each other 'daddy' & 'momma'. I think that is left over from when they had kids at home...way long time ago left over. Mike's mom calls all of her children 'doll'. It's so sweet. It reminds me of my great Uncle Wayne who used to grab me in a big hug & say "Well, hello baby doll!" whenever he saw me. Sometimes she calls me 'doll' too & it makes me feel like I belong to her & her family. I love that. My Aunt Ruth refers to loved ones as 'dear heart' & my friend Becky calls her husband 'love'.

All this thinking got me to thinking about all of the different ways others have referred to me. My parents used to call me 'pumpkin baby' or 'Mary Annie'. My great Aunt Dottie always called me 'My Mary Ann'. In high school my sister finally succeeded in labeling me 'Mare'. *sigh* Who doesn't want to be referred to as a female horse? Then when my nephew started talking he began calling me 'MeeMee' & that is what all the nieces & nephews & most of the family call me now.

It's funny how we all do it - make up endearments for one another & yet we all do it differently. There are so many little names we can assign to one another. Let's not forget 'sweetie', 'sweetheart', 'honey', 'darling', & 'schnookums'. We are limited only by our imaginations, I suppose.

So what do you call your dear ones & what do they call you?
It's time to bust loose with all of your nick-naming secrets!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

O Happy Day!

Have you ever been dreading something & thought, "Surely the anticipation of this thing is far worse than the actual thing will be." I think that is often true for me; I am a worrier/fretter of Olympic ability. However, the opposite may be true for me today. Today, I am a very happy girl; I am anticipating some things that should be fun & relaxing. They may end up being less fun & less relaxing than I anticipate, but that's all right. I don't believe in disappointment. And since I don't believe in it, it doesn't exist. Right?
I knew you would agree with me.
Anyway, there are several reasons I am really in a bright mood today. It's not that I got a full eight hours of sleep or that I came into some money (but wouldn't all that be FUN?!). Actually, you might find my reasons kind of mundane or big no-brainers, but I'm sharing them anyway!
#1: I got up with Mike this morning & stayed up. I finished a Bible study lesson I've been doing about experiencing the love of Jesus. What a blessing! I was reminded of several important truths: the Lord is on my side (if God be for us, who can be against us?), the Lord loves me so much He let His Son die for my sin, He did not save me to live a life of worry or fretting, & His love for me is unconditional & I can never be separated from it.
That kind of truth can really change a girl's attitude, if you know what I mean.
#2: I woke up this morning. Yep, I'm plain old grateful to God that I have another day. I'm still upright & breathing. This is nothing to take for granted.
#3: Today is my Friday. Back at the beginning of January Mike & I picked a random Friday to take off from work for a little Winter Break. That random Friday is tomorrow! I have all sorts of ideas running around in my head about what we can do & what we won't have to do (because we aren't at work!) & where we can go & how long we can sleep! I am expecting great, good times!
#4: I get to visit with the G's today. My grandparents have been having a hard time lately. My g-ma has a fractured vertebra & is not a good candidate for surgery to fix it. My g-pa also has some back pain thing going on. I have been setting aside some time on Thursdays to go visit with them & help them get some chores done. Last week I missed out because of the Icezilla that came through town so I'm very much looking forward to today. Really all I do is chat with them & make up their bed. Thursday is laundry day so I get to put warm April fresh sheets on their bed, help g-ma fold kitchen towels, & put clothes away. It's one of the highlights of my week. It takes me back to the days when my mom when back to work & we spent our out of school hours at the G's house. My g-ma taught me so much about taking care of a home during those times. Now I can't wait to hug my g-ma!
#5: It's been a somewhat busy work day. The one project that kind of got thrown to me that I didn't know how to handle was kind of handled for me. I love it when God works things out that way. I was sitting at my desk staring at it, I asked my boss a question, & he took it from there. He is a good guy.
#6: The sun is shining today. Bright & full & wonderful! It may only be 14 degrees right now, but that's ok. They are predicting highs in the 40's & 50's over the next week. It makes me almost giddy with excitement! Maybe, just maybe I'll be able to run outside sometime next week!
#7: My sister told me last night that she has been sleeping really well. This has been a struggle for her for quite some time now. When you don't sleep well for an extended period of time it begins to show up all over your face & mind & body. We need sleep. We need good quality sleep. And we need a good quantity of sleep. That is what Beth has been able to get lately. This makes me very happy. And very, very grateful.
#8: My nephew asked me for my email address last night because he had something he wanted to send me. I cannot explain to you why, but that just thrilled me. When he was little it was easy to impress him & see that he liked spending time with me. As he gets older it's obvious & natural that he makes friends & likes spending time with them. It just made me smile a little bit to know that he still thinks of Aunt MeeMee. His sister Madison was not to be outdone. She told me that her teacher (whom I have never met) loves to read my facebook page because she thinks I am a very funny writer. I have no idea what she was trying to say or what she could have been talking about but it was funny!
#9: I just had a really good (although odd) lunch - leftover pasta, vanilla yogurt, & raisins. A weird, yet satisfying combo!
#10: I only have to run two miles today & I'm deep enough into my training that it is beginning to feel good, not exhausting. I have actually followed the directions for some speed training lately & that has made it more fun than ever. Treadmills are great for timing yourself & pushing yourself a little bit harder. I hear that they are also good for hills. I don't do hills. The Indy Mini is a basically flat course so I don't need hills. Right?
And for one last smiley thought, I'm happy because I found this pic online:

There is just something hilarious to me about the Disney princesses posing for a silly picture. Maybe it's just me, but I laughed right out loud - especially at Snow White, hello nose!
What is making you happy or making you laugh today?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An International Craft Swap!

Disclaimer: This is supposed to be a 'button'. I am not savvy enough to figure out how to get a functioning button from her blog onto my blog. Therefore, I just saved & uploaded the graphic. There is a link to Zoe's blog below.

I have been a reader on My Girl Thursday's blog for awhile. Thursday is the girl that I did a little crafting swap with a while back. I did a little cross stitching for her; she sewed an apron for me. You can read about that here.

Today as I was reading over at Thursday's blog I discovered she was hosting a giveaway for Zoe from A Giraffe in a Scarf. Zoe is also organizing an international craft swap. When you sign up she will match you with someone (hopefully) from another country. You will craft a little something for them & ship it off. Then you should receive something from someone else. You have six months to complete your work & get it sent out. I figured I could definitely get something done in six months time.

So I signed up! I just had to send a brief email to Zoe (who lives in Australia, by the way) to give her some information like my name & address, blog address & a few interests or 'likes'. That way she can pass that info on to whoever I get matched with in the swap.

I think she has a great idea with this little swap deal! I'm super excited & a little nervous about what I can make that will be worth passing on. Hopefully my swap receiver won't have super high expectations!

I know some of you are super good crafters.
Head on over to check it out.
If you decide to sign up, let me know!
Every morning I give myself a stern lecture. Today I said, "Self, you will not go back to sleep after Mike leaves for work! You will stay alive, alert, awake, & enthusiastic to read your Ladies' Bible Study lesson!" However, I set an alarm clock just in case.
And it was a good thing because yeah, I feel back to sleep. I know that I should sit at the dining room table or on the couch instead of sitting in bed. It's just that I cannot possibly stay warm without blankets. So why not crawl back into bed to read? Because I fall asleep, that's why.
Anyway, the falling back to sleep thing isn't that big of a deal. I can finish my Bible study lesson later (I already did, by the way). I set the alarm so I wasn't really running super horribly late for work (but I was having to keep very focused because there was The problem with my little 20-25 minute nap is that I have these incredible, colorful, wild, over-active dreams. Every time I fall back to sleep this happens. This morning I had FOUR dreams during that little window of sleep. And they were humdingers!

Dream #1: I dreamt that I was here at work & one of my college roommates, Sonia was visiting. She was in the Northern Lights when we were in school & I have always adored her singing voice. In my dream she was sitting in the break room & singing for all of my coworkers. She was going right through all of the songs on "A Heart to Praise." Remember that cd? It's the one with the fall foliage on the cd liner. It was sitting on the table in front of her & all the guys that I work with were fully tuned in & listening like it was Siren song.

Blip! Dream #1 is abruptly over & now...

Dream #2: I dreamt that there was this large desert. Sand dunes piled so high you couldn't see over them! I was there with my sister & her whole family. Over to our far left you could see my mom sitting in her office at work, phone to her ear. We decided that we would go hiking in the desert because none of us had ever been to a desert before (which is true for me & the kids but not true for Beth & Brennan). We went hiking over a large dune, waving at mom over our shoulders.

Blip! Dream #2 is over & now...

Dream #3: I dreamt that I was at church with a bunch of ladies, perhaps for some sort of ladies' retreat? I was there with a group of girls from college that I get together with every year or so, Adele, Diana, Stephanie, Rachel, Christie, Angie, & Rebecca. We were enjoying our visit & one of the girls was in the midst of adopting a baby girl & she had a picture for us all to see. We were all huddled around a snapshot of the cutest little baby girl when...

Blip! Dream #3 is over & now...

Dream #4: I dreamt that Mike & I were living in a very tropical place. Lush vegetation, somewhat primitive roadways & vehicles, lots of red mud, & a massive rainstorm were all in the scenery. We were trying to get Mike to work on time. I was driving a red beater car of some sort & he was standing on the roadside layering on a sweatshirt & his Carhart jacket (just like he wears to work in real life). For some strange reason this seemed like the right thing for him to wear to work even though it was warm enough for me to be wearing shorts & flip flops. Then Mike got on a bike & followed me while I was driving. I was all in a tizzy because I couldn't remember which road to take to get to where we were going. I kept saying to myself, "I would call Mike but he's riding a bike! He can't answer & be safe!" So I just kept driving & ended up in this small town that was having a street festival. There were bags of cotton candy as tall as me for sale. Mike was nowhere in sight.

And then, thank God!, the alarm clock rang & woke me up. I was exhausted!

Any dream interpreters out there? What do you think all of this means?

Aren't you glad you got a glimpse into my crazy subconscious?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Poll Question

Yesterday I had a little visit to the doctor. And not just any regular family practice doctor. It was the Ear, Nose, & Throat guy, or otolaryngologist if you want to be technical. I had been to visit him before but it's been a long time & I had completely forgotten that he was an older, balding man with a ponytail. I wonder if he has a Harley?
Anyway, I paid a visit to the Doc because I have this ongoing problem. I won't get too detailed or technical because I don't want to gross anyone out. The problem is this: I have enlarged tonsils. They are rather monstrous. They are also pitted or scarred. That means that they have lots of rough spots & even a hole or two that are the legacy of infections past. Because I have this pitting & scarring my tonsils catch lots of debris. Some of the debris is food particles & some of it is tissue that sloughs off from the mouth in it's natural cycle of cell growth & shedding (just like your skin does). The gross thing is that this debris inflames my tonsils & causes all sorts of irritation. I am much more susceptible to infection & sore throats (my throat hurts - although not unbearably by any means - probably 4 days out of 7). I routinely gargle & flush & try to clean my tonsils. But I was having so much irritation I made the doctor's appointment. I was hoping he had some magic trick that would help me out. He didn't. He gave me two options: keep doing what I'm doing or have my tonsils removed. It's entirely up to me; he thought either option was reasonable. So my question is this:
How many of you have had your tonsils removed? How many of your children have had their tonsils removed? How long was your/their recovery? On a scale of 1-10 (1 being you would never do it again & 10 being super happy every day since your surgery) where would you rate your tonsillectomy?
At this point I have no intention of signing up for another surgery, although like the gall bladder situation, this won't get better & will probably only get more bothersome. My goal of dying with all the body parts I was born with is really just crushed, crushed, crushed.
Leave me a comment & let me know all about your tonsil health!
Yeah, I realize that was a really super weird way to sign off of this post...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Reclaimed Treasure

I mentioned a while back that Mike & I spent some quality time in our basement, unpacking, reorganizing, pitching, & donating. We actually worked as a team together very well. There were only one or two sticking points when I thought he should pitch/donate & he didn't or where he thought I should pitch/donate & I didn't.
Just another growth opportunity for our marriage, right?
The contents of this harmless looking box is one of those sticking points. Mike was exasperated. He even got red in the face. He said, these have been packed up in a box in the basement for two years & you haven't missed them! Why do you need them? I said that I had indeed missed them! And that I do indeed need them!
It's my cassette tape collection!
I was so excited!
Here are some homemade edited tapes that were Northland music standard approved. One of them is Disney tunes, one of them is bluegrassy type stuff & the other one is still unknown because I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet & there is no label. I really hope it is one of the tapes that we made when we were little. My brother, sister & I would do game shows & commercials & record them. We.Had.Such.Fun.

I have listened to the Christmas piano one so many times that I think it's a miracle that it still works. Ditto for the Mac & Beth Lynch tape in the middle. The one on the end is a Christmas tape my dad made for me when I was about 8 years old. It's a FABULOUS mix tape with the soundtrack for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as well as a bunch of stuff from The New Christy Minstrels. Way before my time but way good stuff!

I have a boom box in the kitchen & I've been jamming away while I cook & wash dishes. There's nothing like baking a Rustic Apple Pie while dancing along with "Kiss the Girl" from Little Mermaid! And let's not forget the joy that can be found in drying dishes while "I'll Be Your Candle on the Water" from Pete's Dragon serenades you!
Mike just didn't understand that what we found in the basement that day was a lost treasure!
And as he watches me jam in the kitchen he's not likely to be convinced any time soon - HA!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow...I mean...Ice Day!

Unless you have been hibernating in a cave I'm sure you are well aware of the massive winter storm that ripped it's way across the country this week. I have enjoyed saying things like, "This is the worst winter storm we've had in my lifetime!" & "This is the most ice we've ever had in one storm in my entire life!" It really will be a storm that I remember well. My sister's family was without electricity (thus without heat & water) for 48 hours. That's pretty rough stuff for spoiled people like us. Thankfully my brother in law's grandparents (who hadn't lost their power) lived close enough that they could get there in the storm. Crazy business, this ice stuff!
I took a vacation day on Wednesday. We only had 17 doses on the schedule & I just couldn't see any point in making the effort to get to work if there was no work to do. Mike's work shift was cancelled so we had a whole day at home together! It was great until I got a little cabin feverish. Then I went outside & took a couple pics of our little Maggie Magnolia.
She is totally encrusted with ice. I was so excited this fall when she set several bloom buds.
Here's one wearing his winter coat of ice. We will see how she does this spring. Hopefully this awful weather will just make her heartier & stronger!
We decided that we would use our day off to work on some projects. I haven't really done anything crafty since Christmas so I made the choice to whip out a project that has been hanging around for years...literally, years. Like maybe 8 or 9? I don't even remember anymore. I got the sewing machine out. Got the project out & spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out where I was & what needed to be done next. That's always the biggest hurdle when you work on a project only maybe one day a year. Shameful, I know.

The super ironic part is that I had chosen (8 or 9 years ago) to make a quilt out of this book.

Yeah, I know it's entitled, "The Weekend Quilt." Who knew a weekend could span years???
And let me just say, if you can do one of these
quilts in a weekend, you are Wonder Woman.
Just sayin'.

I finished sewing the strips together & then cutting them. This was the hard part of figuring out where I was. Did I need more strips that were ABA or more strips that were BAB? Oy...

I finally got it figured out & I even got a few squares sewn together! I absolutely refuse to take a clearer, better focused, more up close picture because then you will without a doubt see that this quilt (should it EVER get finished) will not be pretty. I don't think a single corner will meet up. Ugh. Precision is just not one of my strong suits. I'm just going to have to deal with it. Oh, & I'm pretty sure that I will end up with birds flying all different directions because it just didn't occur to me to double check & plan to make them all fly the same direction. Obviously details aren't my strong suit, either!

What IS my strong suit?
Perhaps that's a question for another post...

Another project I got done was to roll up all of our change from the change jar. I don't know why, but this little job gives me intense satisfaction. I even used to hoard change as a kid. Then I'd count it all out & make my mom bring me coin wrappers home from her work (at a credit union). My dad used to laugh & say I looked just like Ebenezer Scrooge.
Do I look like a cold hearted curmudgeon?
I hope not...

While I was sewing & using the seam ripper & counting change, Mike was working on this set of bookshelves for our dining room. I think they are going to be fabulous! And yes, your eyes are not deceiving you - they are quite tall. Eight feet tall, to be exact. That may seem a little wacky but we have 9 1/2 foot ceilings & I think they are going to look great & hold a ton of stuff!

They have lovely Craftsman details & when they are finished I will post some more pics. The only sad fact about them being eight feet tall? They cannot be built in the basement & then brought upstairs. Our basement stairs have a turn in them & the shelves just can't clear the space. Therefore, the shelves are being built in the dining room. Yep, the sawdust is taking over & Mike is getting in shape running upstairs to the shelves & downstairs to his workshop.
What have you all been doing to keep busy during your snow/ice days?
Can you keep a secret? I'm thinking I need to look for a job with the school corporation so I can get more of these days off! They are so fun!