Friday, January 27, 2012

What Would You Do?

As I drive for work making deliveries hither & yon, I see a lot of interesting things.  Believe me, I see a lot.  I see nose-pickers, texters, broken down vehicles, hitchhikers, divas singing their hearts out, & truck drivers who honk & wave at every female.  It can be quite a show, let me tell you!

Today I took a little 145 mile round trip & I saw several things.

I saw the bottom of my coffee cup WAY before I wanted to.  I think I was only about 20 minutes into the drive.  So very sad...

Then I saw this.  The contents of a truck strewn all over the median.  It must have been a couple pallets of copy paper.  I could see the pallets, the paper, & the broken cases.  This is definitely the evidence of someone's bad day.

Then I saw these two lovelies.  You know the day is a stinker when your truck is twisted up or just mudded into the median.  Bad day, bad day, bad day...I'm ever grateful that the vehicle I drive for work is just a Pontiac Vibe.  I don't think I could handle one of these big mamas.  I would end up in the median A LOT!

But the most perplexing thing I saw today I couldn't get a picture of.  It happened too fast & I would have had to pick my jaw up off of the floor.  I was tooling along, minding my own business when I glimpsed a black conversion van coming up on my left side to pass.  I glanced up as the van drew even with me & saw an Amish woman in the passenger seat holding a baby.  Yep, I said she was HOLDING a baby.  She was reading the child a book.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  They drove right on by & I wondered if there was anything I should do?  I checked my speedometer & I had my cruise control set on 71 mph.  The speed limit was 65.  That van passed me in a matter of seconds so I'm going to guess that he had to be going at least 10 miles per hour over the limit.  I called my mom because that's what moms are for.  I asked, "Should I call 911?  What would the police do?"  We discussed it & decided that there really wasn't anything we could do.  I was afraid that if I did call the police that they would call social services or something & I don't want to be responsible for anything crazy going down.  But my conscience was really troubled because that baby was definitely in a dangerous position.  The van had Ohio plates so they had already covered some major ground today because they passed me in Illinois.  The whole situation just left me feeling *ugh*

What would you have done?  Anything or nothing?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Never Boring In Our Neighborhood!

I love our house.  I even love where our house is situated in our town.  We are about two blocks from my parents & only about 5 minutes away from Mike's parents.  Unless there is a train.  Then it's a whole different story, but either way, I love where we live.

There are a couple of drawbacks, though.  Our house is situated in a funny way on our block.  We are the only house that faces the side street so we kind of don't really have next door neighbors.  The front of our house faces the side of the house across the street.  The houses to the east & north face the back & side of our house.  It's just kind of strange & as a result we haven't gotten to know our neighbors well.  

In the course of our almost three years in our little house we have had two neighbors with pit bulls.  The first pit has moved away & the other pit is still a puppy (but he sure doesn't look like one!).  Our neighbors got this new pit just a few months ago.  Since then we have noticed a lot more barking & growling, mostly done when this pit bull plays with the other dog that the neighbor family already had.  Most of the time we try not to pay any attention to the noise.  However, I got home from work on Monday & the noise was hard to ignore.  We looked out of the kitchen window & this is what we saw:

Ever heard the expression 'tiny but mighty'?  This little chihuahua really had no fear of those bigger dogs.  The pit is the brown dog in the forefront.  He had been barking so much that he had gone totally hoarse.  And the was disgusting.  He was foaming at the mouth he was so agitated!
 And little chihuahua man put these guys through their paces!  
He was running back & forth...
 and then back & forth again!  
His little snarly barks could hardly be heard over the big dogs.
 I wish I was this fearless!
 And then he did the unthinkable.  
Mr. Chihuahua marked his territory on that telephone pole.  
He hiked his little leg & I thought that the pit bull was going to have convulsions.  
 That little convulsive fit was all it took for him to figure out he could do this.  He climbed up the corner of that fence & was outside of his yard before he knew he'd done it.  It made me laugh right out loud because he hit the ground & then looked over both shoulders really quickly almost like he was thinking, "How did I get out here?  Did anyone see how I did that?"  Thankfully, Mr. Chihuahua was already gone.  
Mike & I ran from the kitchen window to the front door so we could see what would happen next.  Mike kept saying, "That pit will have him down in one bite!"  I was pretty sure I didn't want to see that happen but I couldn't help myself from peeking out the windows!

This is our view from the front door right now.  Remember how I said that our house faces the side of another house?  This is the little driveway area they have behind their house.  I'm not sure who is living there right now (if anyone).  All I know is that just about every day a man in carharts, toting Mr. Chihuahua, drives this tractor & flatbed trailer to the house.  He lets Mr. Chihuahua roam around while he loads furniture onto the trailer & then they drive away.  I don't think it's slow motion burglary but who knows?!  It's the oddest thing, for sure.

Anyway, when we got to the front of the house to see what was happening with the dogs, we saw the tractor driver just pulling out with a fresh load.  He scooped Mr. Chihuahua up, zipped him into his carharts, hollered at the pit & drove away.  We were so glad that Mr. Chihuahua did not become Big Doggie Dinner!

But now we have this pit roaming around free.  He didn't seem to be a runner.  He kept sniffing around within a one block radius.  I thought our neighbors were home & I wanted to go over & tell them their dog was out but I couldn't get out of our house without him running at me rehearsing his barking & growling routine.  I ended up calling animal control (where I was sent directly to voicemail, go figure) because it was right at the time when all of the neighborhood kids were getting off of the bus & walking home.  We only have one or two kids in the neighborhood that we regularly see walking home from the bus.  We camped out on the porch until we could see that they got home safely & then we called it a day on dog watch detail.  

Later as I was fixing dinner I looked out of the kitchen window just in time to see our neighbor lead the dog back into their yard & then on in the house.  It's funny, but I saw her look over both shoulders, too...almost as if she was thinking, "How did he get out?  Did anyone see how he did that?"

Like I said, it's never boring in our neighborhood!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Countdown To Christmas!

I'm not sure if you noticed the date, but Christmas is exactly 11 months from today!  Yeehaw!  
I'm not really all that excited about Christmas yet.  I'm just forcing it a bit so that maybe, just maybe I'll remember that one of my 12 goals for 2012 is to have all of our Christmas gifts purchased & wrapped by December 1st.  This year I really want the gift giving thing to take a backseat to what should truly be in the spotlight, the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Who knew you could buy Christmas butter sculptures?
Evidently not many grocery shoppers because I found a bunch of
them displayed at a clearance price after Christmas!

Here's what I need from you all to help me reach my Christmas shopping goal - tell me all about your favorite etsy shops, your favorite DIY gift idea blogs, suggest your favorite people for me to follow on pinterest for inspiration...I need ideas for the young & old, the ones who have everything & those who need a little bit of everything.  I love to choose gifts with intention & I love to give homemade gifts (that don't necessarily need to be homemade by me, therefore the request for etsy shops).

So unleash your vast treasures of shopping knowledge!  I'm ready to get started!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wintry Weather Blessings

I tend to undervalue the winter season.  I get my nose all out of joint because it gets cold, snowy, & icy.  I can get downright pouty about it.  But this weekend was a little different.  Friday afternoon they were calling for a blast of wintry mix - cold winds, freezing rain, sleet, maybe some snow.  That's not the type of stuff I like to mess with.  Plus, I was feeling kind of not like myself with my messed up ribs.  I got home from work, shut the front door, & didn't open it again until Saturday mid morning to check the mail.  Mike & I totally hibernated in the house & I actually didn't get restless.  It was wonderful.  I should let myself enjoy down time like that a lot more often.  

Friday night I spent a lot of time working on my quilt top.  I have been working on this sucker for longer than I can even remember.  It's downright embarrassing how long I have been messing with it.  And I say 'messing' because what usually happens is I work on it, I make a huge mistake, I stuff it back in the cabinet for a year or so.  Then I drag it back out.  Rip out the mistake & fix it.  Stuff it back in the cabinet.  Repeat cycle.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who does these kinds of things...  
 I determined Friday night that I was going to stick with it & get the top done.  I hung in there & did get the whole thing sewn together.  I was on row six or so when I realized why my quilt top did not look like the quilt top in the book.  You see my squares with the red blocks?  It's a little hard to tell from the picture because it's at an angle, but that is a nine square block.  It's exactly the opposite of how it should be.  The red should be the five squares & the white/red should be the four squares.  Since I have it flipped there isn't actually a chain in my Irish Chain quilt.  Huh.  Perhaps I should pay more attention to detail?  Mike says he likes it better this way anyway.  He's a sweetheart.  Then he promptly said it needs a red border.  I slugged him.  And then I agreed with him so that's my next step.
 When I had done enough sewing that my eyes were starting to cross I dragged out one of Mike's spare plywood slabs (one perk of a wood working husband - there are always odds & ends of plywood lying around!) & I laid out a jigsaw puzzle.  I'm not sure why, but puzzling has been kind of fun for me lately (insert old fogey joke here).  I know that my nerd status has now been confirmed, as if there was ever any doubt!  Over the course of the rest of the weekend I put this 500 piece bad boy together.  It was nice looking at a springy scene while we were drenched in icy wetness.  And I had to have something to do while Mike watched football!
Mike was not to be outdone by my craftiness & while I was sewing he finished up this Baby Bear Puzzle.  Isn't he the cutest?  This puzzle is exactly like one he made for our nephew for Christmas except it is much smaller.  He has made three now that are all varying sizes; I call them the Papa, Mama, & Baby Bears.  All we need now is a Goldilocks!
I'm thinking that these quiet tasks are really good for us right now.  Especially me.  I tend to hurry through everything, not at all taking the time to savor what I am doing.  Puzzling & sewing cannot be hurried through.  Not unless you want to make a lot of mistakes & I am hoping to be done with the sewing mistakes!  And I'm supposed to be taking it easy so my ribs can heal.  It's so hard for me to sit still but right now just toting laundry & pushing a grocery cart can make me uncomfortable.  I'm glad I've found a couple of things to do that will keep my hands busy, keep my pace calmed, stimulate my brain waves, & fight off cabin fever.  

What kinds of things do you do to keep yourself busy during the winter hours?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Young (At Heart) Love

Yesterday I was privileged to attend a lovely wedding.

It was a little bit different that your typical wedding.
First of all, it was held at 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, sandwiched tightly between the morning service, nursing home service, & evening service.  
Secondly, there was no large wedding party, just one best man & one best lady.
Third, the couple getting married belong to my grandparent's generation.
Fourth, it was simple, super sweet, & absolutely lovely.

And let's not forget - there was the obligatory 'oh no!' moment.  They were lighting the unity candle & it simply refused to catch.  They worked & worked at it while the musical number went from verse one into verse two.  Then they just blew all the candles out & gave up while the audience tried not chuckle.  

Isn't it true that no matter how thoroughly you plan, there will always be something that doesn't go quite right?!

Anyway, in the end they were still married up good!

There's the bride, Norma & the groom, John.  The best lady is my second momma, Janet.  She's the sweetest & looked super pretty in her sparkly red suit!  The best man is no other than my handsome G-pa.  I told him he looked handsome up there & his response was, "I just tried to look natural, you know, just being who I am."  He's adorable.

Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. John!
I love stories like this.  Sometimes I think we get into a habit of thinking where we are at is where we will always be.  When John & Norma lost their spouses in the last few years the Lord wasn't done with their love lives!  The Lord is a long range planner & He is full of good ideas!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead

No, that title is not a personal testimony.

It's the title of a documentary film about this guy from Australia:

Joe Cross

I don't know if you have ever heard the term 'reboot' in relation to your health & your diet.  It was a new one on me until about a week ago.  One of my friends on instagram posted a pic of all this beautiful looking fruits & veggies & said that it was all for her 'reboot'.  When I inquired what she meant she referred me to this documentary film.

Basically the story goes like this:  Mr. Cross is overweight, has high blood pressure & an autoimmune disease of the skin that is driving him nuts.  He takes scads of prescription drugs, doesn't feel good, & is mired in bad eating habits.  He decides something has to change & under the direction of a doctor he undergoes 60 days of 'rebooting'.  During the reboot all he has to eat is fruit & vegetable juice.  Other than that all he has to drink is water.  After the sixty days was up he had lost a considerable amount of weight (if I recall correctly it was in the neighborhood of 100 pounds), his health problems were resolved and his autoimmune disease was in remission as well.  He no longer needed the prescription drugs & of course, his energy level was higher & he felt better.  During his reboot he traveled all around the United States & Australia talking with people about health & diet.  A couple of other people reboot along with him & share their experiences.  I found it very interesting that whoever he talked to that was overweight took full responsibility for their weight problems - not one of them blamed their extra pounds on the stress of their job or lack of time to exercise, etc.  No excuses were offered.  I thought that it was really interesting that there wasn't any blame shifting going on!

I find this rebooting notion to be very interesting.  So many of us struggle with weight issues & wanting to reset our eating habits.  I wonder if taking time from regular eating by doing a reboot of fruit & vegetable juicing could be the extra boost some of us need to tame our sweet tooth or retrain our taste buds - you know, truly change our habits.  I don't think there is any way I would participate in a sixty day reboot.  But I find myself pondering a week to 10 days kind of deal.  It makes sense to me that it would be a good vacation for my digestive system as well.  I've done a little bit of looking around at the cost of a seems that it would require about $150.  That's a little (or let's be honest, way) out of budget right now, but it might be something to save for.

What do you think?  Do you think it's a wacky idea?  Do you think it's interesting?  Would you ever consider a juice fast?  Have you already done one?

I'm dying to know what you think!  This film is on Netflix if it strikes you as interesting enough to watch.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Breathing A Sigh of Relief

Yesterday I had to go to the doctor.  I had finally reached the point.

I had suffered though a really bad round of upper respiratory/sinus infection plus laryngitis plus a cough.  I took my antibiotics according to the directions, used my sinus wash stuff, tried to get some extra sleep, & only worked out with Jillian once so that I could get some extra rest.

And things seemed pretty good.  I felt like it was taking a long time to get back to normal (especially with my voice) but I felt like I was getting there.  Until about a week ago when something completely different flared up.

I don't remember exactly when it started but I think it was shortly after the Jillian Encounter.  I had the requisite soreness of trying a new workout but there was something else.  I had this persistent pain in my right side at the base of my ribs.  At the same time I was kind of having a stomach flare up with some massive acid reflux/heartburn issues.  I was feeling a little uncomfortable & thinking maybe I had just super colossal gas (I know...I shouldn't mention it, but we all have it! so I'm not afraid to bring it up *burp*).  Anyway, I dosed myself with some Gas*X, cut out the gum chewing, raw vegetables, & soda.  To no avail.  The pain just stayed with me & I was getting frustrated.

Yesterday morning I had a worse frog in my throat so I was doing more coughing & throat clearing.  It all made my side really cranky & achy.  I decided I'd had enough pain, enough screaming when Mike hugged me, & enough not being able to sleep on my right side so I called the doctor.  The secretary asked me what I needed & explained that I had a pain in my right side.  She asked if I still had my appendix.  I do.  Had I been nauseous?  Yes, I had due to the reflux.  Had I been running a fever?  No.  Did I still have my gall bladder?  No, it's been gone almost two years.

It was obvious that she was worried about my appendix so I got a call back with an appointment within 15 minutes.  This left me a little nervous.  I hadn't even thought about my appendix!

So then the mental Olympics began.  You know the drill...there's a rational voice in your mind.  In this case it was saying, Seriously?  You're not really sick.  There's no way you have appendicitis!  Then there's the crazy lady voice.  She's the one who says, It's probably not appendicitis, but what if IT IS?  You'll have to have surgery TONIGHT!  You won't be able to go home & get your "Fear Not" book of Bible verses that you used on the day of your gall bladder surgery!  You'd better check your desk & make sure you have everything caught up or you'll get in trouble at work because if you have surgery you'll be gone for at least a week.  Think of all that paid time off you're going to blow through!

That crazy voice lady sure has a lot to say.  She has major problems.

But I hope you understand what I's so easy to let the possibilities of a situation just run away with you & steal all of your joy & peace.

So I prayed & let the Lord shut her up.

And it turns out that I just have strained/sprained/possibly cracked ribs.  No biggie.  I just need to wait it out, take some steroids to help them heal, & lay off the exercise until the pain is gone.

*Whew*  Sometimes it's just no biggie, nothing to worry about!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting My Soup On!

 You guys already know I've been itching to try my hand at some homemade soup.  I'm so thankful for the comments you all left on my last soup-themed post.  They helped me realize this is not rocket science; it's soup making.  So, I did a little internet poking & along with the hints you gave me I spent a very productive afternoon in the kitchen yesterday.
Small confession: part of the reason I was really wanting to make some soup is that Mike got me a super nice stock pot & I was dying to use it!  He is so funny; he is such a good gift giver.  I mentioned to him after Christmas that I would like a stock pot & I didn't even have a super concrete reason for wanting it.  I think I said something like, 'you know, I could make soup or something.'  Maybe a week later a box got delivered in the mail & what did I find inside but a lovely stock pot.  I guess he likes to eat so he's going to do whatever he can to keep me cooking!
We had invited our friend Autumn over for dinner last night.  She purchased an antique wardrobe almost two years ago and Mike was supposed to help her rework part of it.  I figured the wardrobe work called for a hearty dinner beforehand & I quickly decided that it would be the perfect night to roll out a pot of hot homemade chicken noodle soup!  Autumn is a champ; she didn't mind being a guinea pig in the least.

When I got home from work I pulled out my package of chicken necks & backs (from Joyce's farm!), some carrots, celery, a big white onion, a whole head of garlic (can you ever have too much?!), thyme, rosemary, sage, & black peppercorns.  I also threw in several chicken breasts.  We (aka Mike) are a bit picky & won't eat dark meat or meat off of the bones.  I was going to need the chicken breasts for the soup so I just threw them in here to cook.  I covered it all up with water, threw the lid on, & let it simmer for just over an hour.

While the pot was simmering away I took that hour to make some noodles.  If you have never tried to make homemade noodles before, you must try it as soon as possible!  It's so easy.  And they are so.good.  My G-ma taught me to make noodles when I was like 12 years old, so believe me, you can totally learn how to do it!  This was my first experience making them with white hard wheat whole wheat flour.  They were a little different but we liked them.  
I also took that time to whip out my other super gifts from Mike (this was kinda sorta part of my Christmas).  I really wanted a glass bowl for my KitchenAid.  I really wanted to be able to stick the bowl in the microwave to soften butter, etc.  Also, I thought it would be really handy to have an extra bowl for the mixer on busy baking/cooking days.  Mike also got me this paddle attachment that has a spatula-like scraper on one side.  It's super handy!  And they both worked like a champ to help me whip up a batch of granola bars.
 And then we sat down to eat a bowl of soup.  I was a little nervous.  Truthfully, I'm not a huge chicken noodle soup fan (it has something to do with being sick in college & being fed chicken noodle soup daily for days on end).  And Autumn had confessed that she didn't love it much either but most of her experience had been with canned chicken noodle soup.  At least it looked pretty in the bowl!  And Autumn had brought fabulous yeast rolls so we knew we wouldn't go completely hungry.
And I'm thankful to report that it was a success!  Mike really liked it & Autumn & I were surprised by how much we liked it, too.  I even ate some of the leftovers for lunch today; I think it was even yummier than last night.  And I have three packages of leftover stock in the freezer just waiting for an opportunity to be used.  Definitely cooking time well spent!

Thanks again for all of your tips & encouragement.  Now I'm doing a little thinking about a beef vegetable soup...any thoughts? :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reflections On Humiliation

Whatcha Gonna Do?

I have been that girl.  You know the one - she doesn't realize she just made an inappropriate joke, or she has a huge bright red zit on the tip of her nose, or while playing her clarinet she let out a squawk that sounded like a goose, or she ran into the doorway on her way out of the room - yep, I have been that girl.  MANY times.  You would think that each time such a silly screw up occurs that I would get less bothered by it.  But you know what, I still get bothered.  I'm pretty sure it's not something I'm going to grow out of.  That's why I try to think before I speak (and think & think & think), it's why I use expensive skin care, practice my clarinet, & really try hard to watch where I'm going.

I finally figured something out.  The reason why these little glitches bother me is because they leave me feeling humiliated.  
 the state or feeling of being humiliated mortification

Synonyms include degradation & dishonor.

These are not good feelings, my friend.

Except for one little thing.  These feelings hit when my pride has been stomped.  Huh.  As a child of God I'm supposed to be laying aside my pride at every opportunity.  Dying to myself & choosing to endure some discomfort if that's what it takes.

Well, let me tell you, the dear Lord finds all sorts of ways to slip these opportunities into my life. I'm extremely grateful that He lays some ground work in my heart (most of the time) so that although my pride will be stung, my heart will be drawn closer to Him.

Just such an occasion took place this past Sunday morning.  My momma & I were supposed to sing a duet in the morning worship service.  You all know I've been struggling with laryngitis & the vocal snack, crackle, pops lately.  I was hopeful that my voice would hold together for us to be able to sing.  We practiced a simple but beloved hymn, Be Still My Soul, & prayed for the best.  Momma had a short solo to sing in the choir selection too so she had a lot to get right.  
*Tiny disclaimer: I enjoy singing.  Singing in front of the church is a bit of a stretch for me though.  Most of all, I want to serve the Lord.  I sing because it's a way for me to serve Him.
Choir number is over, the offering is taken & it's our cue to sing before the sermon.  We get about halfway through the first verse & I've only warbled a little but Momma opens her mouth & nothing comes out.  I panicked a bit.  I had enough voice to sing the lower alto part but I had nothing to give in the higher registers.  If I had a really good ear I suppose I could have sung the melody an octave lower but I don't have a really good ear.  Suffice it to say we struggled through three verses with her voice fading in & out & some warbles & cracks from me.  As we walked back to our seats the church was quiet as a tomb.
And I felt a little humiliated.  And Momma was very upset.  We still don't really know what happened to her voice.  You know, it doesn't really matter.  When we prayed about what to sing & considered the words to the hymn that's what was really important.  The lyrics - they were strong words of love, encouragement, & peace.  As I reflected on that truth quietly whispered to my cringing heart I felt the humiliation fade away.  We had given our best, our desire was to encourage & uplift those who were listening & offer a sacrifice of praise & service to the Lord.  Did we do it perfectly?  Oh, no way Jose'.  But I don't think that is the point, do you?  And isn't there such freedom in that truth?

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; 
break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 
Psalm 98:4

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Guess I'm Not Too Highly Principled After All

My Mason Money Jars of Motivation!
I like to think of myself as one who esteems the values of honesty, trustworthiness, decency... all those good morals that our parents tried to instill in us.

But I have this problem with laziness occasionally.  Sometimes I even let busyness creep in & keep me from being diligent & disciplined about things that I should be diligent & disciplined about - like some of my 12 for 2012.

We are now two weeks into the new year.  I have to say that I am doing fairly well with my exercise goals.  I would like to say that I doing just as well with my eating habits but I am trying to quit lying this year.  It's my trade off because I now accept bribes.  Yep, bribes in the form of cold hard cash have found a way into my life.  Now you understand why I have no room in my life for lying.  Only one vice at a time, thank you very much.

Via Pinterest, I found a little blip from that suggested setting yourself up a little jar for bribery payment.  You see, every time I work out for 15 minutes I get a quarter.  All that moola goes into the jar on the right.  After I set that jar up & saw the cash laying in there I got to thinking that maybe I need to add another jar...the jar on the left is for house cleaning.  I kinda hate to spend my free time dusting, sweeping, doing dishes, mopping, etc.  But it has to be done & it should be done regularly.  As in at least a full go of it every two weeks (I hope you don't think we're dirty).  Anyway, I decided that each house cleaning earned me $1 (my sister says I should get a lot more; I like the way she thinks!).  I've also been toying with the idea of paying myself $1 into that jar every time I get eight hours of sleep.  It's another area I struggle with & cash is a powerful motivator!

I'm not sure what I'll do with the money or when I'll do it...suggestions are welcome!  Also, share if you have other ways of tricking yourself into doing things that should be done.  After all, we're all here to help each other, right? :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You Wanna Know What I Think?

This is what is going on right now outside my window.  Yep, winter has arrived.  I'm trying to comfort myself with some positive thoughts.  Here's what I think about snow:
Snow is supposed to happen in January.  We have enjoyed some freakishly warm days recently.  But it has been a bit freakish.  I do like things to be the way they are supposed to be.  It helps allay my fears of a zombie apocalypse.
Snow can be pretty.  In that short maybe two hour long span before it gets all muddied up by cars it's actually kind of pretty.  I love how the whiteness of it steals the darkness from the night.  I love how the fluffiness of it puts a muffler on the noise of the world.
But as you all know, I hate driving in it.  And I just found out that I will be making a two hour run first thing in the morning.  Boo.

You also wanna know what I think about Thursdays?  They are the second Monday of the week.  If there is a day during the week when I will oversleep & not even have time to do my hair, it's most likely a Thursday.  If there is a day of the week when I feel like I've been hit by a truck, it's either Monday or his cousin, the second Monday, a.k.a. Thursday.  I'm not sure if it's because it's toward the end of the week or because I'm always out late on Wednesday night for Bible Study & choir practice or what, but Thursdays can be a little rough in these parts.

Speaking of rough, I invited Jillian Michaels over to my house yesterday.  I thought it might be fun to work out together.  Yeah, not so much.  When I wasn't looking she must have been hitting me with a stick because I am all kinds of sore today like I've been beaten up.  That probably means I got a good work out, but I'm not sure that I want to be friends with her.  She's mean.

And you wanna know what I think about the awful respiratory infection/sinus infection/laryngitis that I've had?  It totally stinks.  My body still wants about nine hours of sleep every night (ain't gonna happen), my voice still squeaks & pops like crazy, & I'm still snotty (sorry I had to say that).  

But I have graduated from this mess of therapy to just using a little sinus rinse thing that is like a neti pot.  Have any of you ever used one?  I was so miserable with congestion that I went looking for anything that I thought might help.  Yes, I know that some people in Louisiana died from a soft tissue eating bacterial infection from using this type of thing.  But they were also using tap water & I use distilled water.  Evidently that's a big deal, huh?

I'm praying I can over this residual yuckiness before Sunday.  My mom & I are supposed to sing & it's going to be funny if I snap, crackle, pop my way through the song!

So, that's what I think...what's on your mind?

*Think you all so much for your soup making tips!  I think I will have a chance to do some experimenting this weekend.  If  I do, I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


This was my yummy lunch today.
Winter is here.  It's gray.  It's wet.  It's cold.  It's blustery.

Perfect soup eating weather!

Can you tell I'm trying to look for the positives in this winter situation we have?!

I tried a new soup for lunch today.  It's far healthier than my usual Campbell's kind of soup. I checked out the label before I bought it & was happy to see that it contained no weird things I couldn't understand, all the ingredients were organic, & there was no added sugar or salt.  Win!  Then as I compulsively placed it in my grocery cart I checked the price.  Fail!  So my pantry still holds several of those red & white cans.  When I read the labels I'm just blown away by the sodium & the sugar.  But the convenience is so fabulous...& their soups have the flavor my palette is accustomed to...their soup is fairly inexpensive & widely available...

But all those excuses do not really make up for the fact that these processed soups do not meet up with my intentions for this year.  I need to remember my 12 for 2012!  I was thinking that in pursuit of my goals regarding eating more healthful, unprocessed foods I need to try making my own soup.

I have tried soup making in the past with moderate success.  I make a mean chili (with pumpkin!), creamy vegetable chowder, & beef stew.  The problem is, all of these recipes make a huge batch & I know for certain that the vegetable chowder does not freeze well (you can take my word on it *shudder*).  I'm mostly interested in some soups that I can make a smallish batch (hopefully in the crock pot), portion out & then take to work for my lunch.

I am also interested in making my own stock for the soups.  I have a package of local free range chicken necks & backs in my freezer right now.  Doesn't that just sound awful - necks & backs?!  Anyway, I was assured they were great for making chicken soup.  Problem is, I don't really know what to do with it & what to add to it & how to do it...

And to take things even one step further into unknown territory for me, I would like to start using dried beans instead of canned beans.  Once again, I'm just not sure how to approach it.

I know that I can probably find all the answers I'm looking for plus a whole lot more if I just did a big swagbucks search & waded through the plethora of information out there on the internet.

But before I do that, I kinda just want to ask you guys instead *grin*
So hit me!  Tell me all that you know about soup making!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wrapping It Up!

 Sometimes I know I'm bad about not giving you the rest of the story...wrapping up all the loose ends.  A long time ago I signed up for an international craft swap.  I told you all about how you could sign up, too.  Then I asked you what I should make & then I told you what I made & then I sent it off without showing you a single pic because Mike had it all packaged up & ready to go before I could blink.  He's handy like that.
Anyway, I never showed you what I received.  And it was such an exciting package - all the way from Australia!
 Zoe was the organizer of the swap & she ended up sending a package to me because my original swapper had to drop out of the swap due to some extenuating circumstances.  Zoe did not disappoint me!  She made me a wonderful colorful zipper pouch & an adorable, delicate cross stitch heart brooch.  The pouch happily resides in the new purse I got for Christmas & the brooch is on the collar of my coat.
I love the color on my gray coat.  I think it really pops.  And since Valentine's Day is coming right up, the hearts are in perfect season!

*Here's a link to Zoe's Etsy shop. In case you have any shopping to do :-)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year, everybody!

I know, I'm a little late getting this greeting out.  You know, I just struggle with New Year's every year.  It's a little weird, I suppose.

The holidays this year were rough.  I had laryngitis, a sinus infection, a chest cold, & a generally cranky disposition which stubbornly refused to allow me to go to the doctor until January 1st when our health insurance benefits renewed.  One course of antibiotics later I'm feeling better but I'm still having a lot of trouble with my voice.  On Christmas Eve all I could do was whisper & even that wasn't comfortable (my brother kept saying, "It's a Christmas miracle!" ha.ha.).  I've come a long way since then but I still squeak, squawk, & cannot sing a note.  On nights when I don't get 8-9 hours of sleep I feel like a Mack truck has hit me.  Thankfully we were on vacation the week between Christmas & New Year's & didn't really have big plans.  We went to bed when we wanted, got up without an alarm & just enjoyed the time off as best as we could with me hicking, hacking, squeaking, & squawking!

On New Year's Eve I didn't even stay up until midnight.  I feel asleep & then was awoken by neighbors shooting off fireworks at about five til midnight.  I woke up long enough to give Mike a squeeze, a Happy New Year! & then I went right back to sleep.

I've never been a big fan of New Year's.  I'm not usually a pessimistic person, but even when I was a kid I struggled with New Year's being a time to reflect on all the things that were NOT accomplished, the goals NOT reached, the time LOST.  I was a real Debbie Downer.  And if I'm not careful, I fall into that trap year after year.  This year I did fairly well, not really fussing over resolutions or being overly sensitive about the time going by...after all January 1st is just another day on the calendar.  But I did have a small panic attack on Monday, January 2nd.  Mike & I were trying to make the most of our last vacay day.  I was picking up the house since I had neglected most chores over our time off & my illness.  I just had this cold wave come over me while I was sorting laundry...2012 could be the year that my job goes away, that my precious G's move on from this world, that other major health issues in my family could flare, that Mike & I somehow fall's a whole new year of whatever bad could happen.
I know this is NOT how I'm supposed to be thinking.  I am so grateful Mike was there & that he had all the wise, godly things to say to me - the Lord is in control, He always works for our good, He always strengthens us for the circumstances He gives us, God can be trusted - even with those that we love.
And so since my little meltdown I've been trying to refocus my mind on some of the positive, wonderful things that 2012 can bring.  And I've been praying for the Lord to direct my goal setting.  After all, it's so not about me & what I want to accomplish.

I'm so clever I've come up with 12 for 2012!
*I've been praying about a focus word.  A word that will help me in my spiritual growth.  This year for me the Lord has made it clear that I need to focus on obedience.  I more than a little bit addicted to my own comfort & I have been more than willing to allow my fears to keep from from obeying.  It's going to be an interesting year.
*Last year I started reading my Bible through following the chronological schedule.  It's been interesting & given me a different perspective on Bible history.  I'm loving it & this year I want to finish it - get the whole thing read!
*This year's holiday scene was a little hectic & harried.  Last minute shopping, gift wrapping, illness, the whole gamut of little stresses.  So Mike & I decided that we wanted to have Christmas all wrapped up by December 1st.  Every gift selected, purchased, & wrapped.  I think we can do it.  We also want to incorporate more handmade gifts & more etsy purchased gifts.
*Last Friday night we had my sister's family & a couple of friends over for dinner & fun.  It had been a very long time since we had opened our home up for hospitality.  I feel like we need to do this on a regular basis.  My little brain is already spinning with ideas for who to invite, menus to fix, & activities to take part in.  I'm hoping that we can do this at least monthly.
*Since we so enjoyed our accidental tomato plants this past summer, I really want to put in a small garden this year.  It's going to take some sweet talking on my part to get Mike fully on board but I think we can handle tomatoes, green beans, & zucchini at least.
*I need to strengthen my sewing skills.  Years ago I started this quilt.  I work on it little by little & yet I still don't have the top pieced.  And it's a pattern from a book of 'weekend quilts' HA!  Anyway, I want to finish that bad boy this year.
*I want to expand my reading horizons.  I'm a big reader; I don't think there is any better way to fall asleep than to drift off while reading a book.  So I usually read a little bit every day.  But I get in ruts of fiction.  I do love a good story.  But I'm thinking it could be very beneficial for me to take some time reading some nonfiction.  I am curious about many things & you're never too old to learn something new, right?
*I would like to continue making changes in our diet so that we are consuming fewer processed foods.  I need to get back into the habit of making more things myself - like granola bars for example.  Also, I would like to learn more about soaking grains.  Any of my readers know about the process?  Any of you do it on a regular basis?  It's one of those things I'm curious about...
*Of course we have financial goals.  We are almost out of the debt black hole.  Once we are in the clear there we need to make some concrete goals for saving.  We also need to be intentional with our spending & track the money as it flies out of our account.
*And of course there are some fitness goals I'd like to reach.  I've found some extra weight since we got married (it's a normal thing to do but I am not sure I like being so normal!).  Also, I'm not training for the Indy Mini this year so I'm going to have to be very dedicated to working out.  I am thinking over several tactics to keep my hiney in gear.  I'm thinking that will be another post where you all can leave me tips for how you keep yourself in gear!  And it's not just going to be accomplished with exercise.  I seriously need to tame my sweet tooth & my inner snacker.  They have become vicious monsters.
*I would like to have a little less tv/computer/iphone time.  All that screen time tends to make me a bit inattentive to the people around me.  Mike & I are not big tv watchers but the computer & definitely the iphones get a little too much love.  Instead of the screen time I'd like to have more play time, more sleep, more conversation...doesn't that sound great?
*And of course I'd like to blog more regularly.  It seems that most of the time I have something I want to say or something I want to post so that I can remember it.  This is a wonderful life the Lord has given me & I so want to document His goodness to me.  And the funny stuff.  Because there always seems to be some funny stuff :-)

So there you have it!  My short, concise list of 12 goals for 2012!

If you made it all the way through this long, pictureless, rambling post - bless.your.heart.