Friday, November 14, 2008

It'll make a hero out of a mouse it is that good.

"And as he leaned there, his heart pounding, his paws shaking, a small wonderful something occurred. A midnight breeze entered the kitchen and danced over to the stove and picked up the scent of the soup and then swirled across the floor and delivered the smell right directly to the mouse's nose.
Desereaux put his head up in the air. He sniffed. He sniffed some more. He had never in his life smelled anything so lovely, so inspiring. With each sniff he took, he felt himself growing stronger, braver."
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
One of the only things I like about winter is that it is the season for making soup. I love soup. Soup can warm you when you are cold, help you feel better when you are sick, and provide dinner when your budget is tight. This is one of my favorite recipes of all time. You make think that it makes too much, but trust me, you will go through more of it than you think, and it is just as good, if not better on the second day.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1/2 lb bell pepper - I use red

1 1/4 lb yellow onion

1/4 cup minced garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 sticks butter

1 cup flour

11 oz corn tortillas

1 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder

1 1/2 Tbsp cumin

Salt to taste

1/2 Tbsp black pepper

1 1/2 gallon + 1 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup chicken base

4 1/2 cups cooked chicken

Place onions and bell peppers in food processor and finely chop. Remove and set aside. Add garlc and finely chop. Heat olive oil in skillet, add minced vegetables and stir often. Saute until vegetables are transparent and slightly brown.
Add butter and allow it to melt.
While vegetables are sauteing, tear tortillas into large peieces and put into food processor. Chop until fine.
Add flour, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Process until very fine - the consistency of corn meal. If not the soup will be too thick.

Add tortilla meal to sauteed vegetales and mix together to form a roux. cook 4-5 mintues, constantly scraping sides and bottom of pan.

Add chicken base to chicken stock, and stir to blend. Slowly whip the stock into roux, one quart at a time, scraping bottom and sides of the pan.

When all of the stock is added, add chicken and cilantro. Bring to a slow simmer for 5 minutes (do not let soup come to a hard boil). Turn off heat and cool. Garnish with tortilla chips, sour cream, and/or cheese.

Monday, November 10, 2008

ABC, easy as 1,2,3

I've been tagged by my sis, so here goes -

A - Attached or Single? Attached, very attached.

B - Best Friend? Crazy Wixom women. My sisters and my mommy.

C - Cake or Pie? What a terrible question. I feel like I am making Sophie's Choice. They can both be made in chocolate, why should I have to choose?

D - Day of the week? If I say Sunday, does that make me sound super spiritual? 'Cause I am. But if I say Saturday, does that make me seem super lazy? 'Cause I am. If I say Monday, will you think I am crazy? 'Cause I am.

E - Essential items? My friends. I have a bunch that I can't do without.

F - Favorite Color? Red. I love red. Red roses, red dresses, but not blood. I know I told you all to donate, but, seeing it really grosses me out.

G - Gummy Bears or Worms? - I have negative feelings about both of these, but Gummy Bears got me an "F" my freshman year of High School in typing class, so I hate them worse. I'm not going to tell the story, because it is too long and you wouldn't really be interested. Oh, come now, you don't really want to hear it? Really? Okay. I was actually pretty good at typing, but really bored. We had really cool new typewriters. The kind with all the letters on the ball instead of individual keys. I got bored practicing the same letters that I already knew and became fascinated with the mechanics of that stupid ball. How are the letters arranged, I wondered? By upper and lower case? Tried that, no. Common vowel combinations? I typed ea, ou, ie, ey, ai. Nope. Consonant combos? Hmm, ck, tr, ch, sh, th, br. No. Before I could get to consonant vowel combinations, the bell rang and I had to hand in my typewritten sheet for grading. What about the Gummy Bears? I told you it was long, I'm getting there. Sheesh, telling the story was your idea in the first place. So, moving on. The teacher was not happy with what I handed in and since I kept trying day after day to figure it out she pulled out one of the old machines just for me and I was not allowed to use the new ones anymore. And on my way to class, someone handed me a GINORMOUS bag of gummy bears. I didn't want them. I explained that I don't even like the flavorless blobs of rubbery chewiness, but they passed them off on me anyway, saying I could share with my friends. So, there I was in the dark of the boring typing class, clacking away the letters, asdfghjkl, when suddenly a thought struck me. I wondered if I placed the gummy bear in just the right spot on the roller, would he stick to the key? Why yes he would. Hahaha, I thought to myself. He looks kind of funny there looking up at me all suprised. He also looks lonely, though. A friend give him I must. Oops, too close together, they are only going to fit every other key. Wouldn't it be clever if I lined them all up like a rainbow going across the keys? Yeah, that will be totally funny. The next person to type on this typewriter will totally think it is hysterically funny. And so I carefully arranged the bears going across the keys in rainbow formation. My little gummy bear parade. Only I forgot a few things. Like, it was So Cal. It was a hot day. There was no air conditioning on. Next period was lunch. And, nobody else uses this typewriter but me. There was also something that I didn't know about gummy bears. When they get hot, they sweat. Which makes them sticky. Which isn't very good for keys on typewriters. And High School teachers have this thing about destruction of property. When confronted, I tried to point out that it was illogical to be upset about the property that would have been thrown away anyway if it weren't for me, and there were still all the other old ones in the storeroom just waiting for me. Which didn't go over very well, because apparently that was not the point. The point was that I was not allowed to take the final, which is 50% percent of your grade. Which means you get an "F". Because of Gummy Bears. Which don't even taste good. Even if you change their shape into a fish.

H - Home? I grew up in Los Alamitos, Ca. Go Griffins!

I - favorite Indulgence? Reading a good book. Movies. Long Baths. Pedicures. Vacations. Eating out. Shopping. Naps.

January or July? July. There is icky white stuff on the ground in January.

K - Kids? Two. Aren't they good lookin'?

L - Life isn't complete without? My family.

M - Marriage date? July 30th. Right, hon? I am the one who forgets, not him.

N - Number of Brothers and Sisters? Two sisters. Two beautiful sisters. Too funny sisters.

O - Oranges or apples? Apples. Oranges on the East coast are not as good as on the west. But the apples are great. We like to pick our own. Apples.

P - Phobias or fears? Ladders. I hate getting on ladders. I really don't even like step stools after the second step. I made myself be brave when we repainted our living room, but I got dizzy with fear a few times. It really makes me feel sick to think about it.

Q - Quiet time, what do you like to do? Sew. Apparently I have no quiet time, because I never sew.

R - Reason to smile? My husband. He brought me some chocolate the other day because he won a bingo contest. He and his coworkers play during their weekly conference call with a particular client. This client uses unusual phrases a lot, things like, "that's a snake on a plane for us". So one of his computer techies made bingo boards of the most common uncommon phrases he uses. They change it up each week. My husband won. Lindor chocolate truffles. I am going to go eat one right now, just to check the spelling of Lindor. Mmmmm. He is responsible to provide the prize this week since he was the winner. What do you think he should bring?

S - Season of choice? Spring. It means I made it through the winter. Have I mentioned that I really don't like snow?

T - Ticklish? Don't touch my feet. Ever.

U - Unknown fact about me? I have a hole in my chest. My ribs don't meet together like they are supposed to. You know how your bra is supposed to be touching your chest in the middle of, well, in the middle? If I put my finger to touch my chest, my bra would be touching my second knuckle.

V - Vegetable? I like 'em. Most of 'em.

W - Worst habit? Hair twirling.

X - X-ray or Ultrasound? Um, neither?

Y - Your favorite food? Pizza

Z - Zodiac sign?
Horoscope for November 10, 2008
This is not the greatest time for action for you -- let someone else call the shots.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Got Blood?

I have been so busy lately, I have not been able to blog. My sister-in-law, who's ovarian cancer returned on her liver, has had a rough week and I have been spending all my spare time with her. I sure wish foot massage could cure cancer. I love her very much. She has been in the hospital since Thursday fighting an infection. When someone goes through something like this, you really see their true colors. She is beautiful. She has a great sense of humor, is kind to the nurses, patient, and brave. There is a chance she will get to come home today. She has three wonderful daughters to come home to. Her husband is a good man. He has been a terrific support for her.

Times like these are when I am most grateful that I am a stay-at-home mother. I know there are plenty of other women in my sister-in-law's life that would like to be there with her, but due to their schedule they can't. It is my privilege and blessing to be able to be with her. There are material things that my family and husband do without because of the loss of additional income, but it is such a blessing to be available in times of need.

I have found ways that I can be more productive and organized at home to find the time to spend with her each day. And it has helped reprioritize what is most important in my daily tasks. Right now, I get the essentials done, and let the rest worry about themselves. I learned that from my sister, who is a breast cancer survivor of thirteen years. Woohoo! She went to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner when she was not able to put that meal on for her family. She and her family made that a wonderful memory, and reduced a ton of stress that way. I take my cues from her whenever I can, she is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Someone once said to me something to the effect of, I can see that through the trial of cancer your sister became a really incredible person. No. She was already incredible. The trial of cancer just magnified it. Her family knew how incredible she was all along.

My sister-in-law goes by Bindi, and if you would like to add her to her prayers, I am sure she would appreciate it. We have come in contact with so many kind people that do creative things to relieve suffering. Yesterday, a woman playing a miniature harp came by her room. Someone came by with a black dog for pet therapy. I couldn't help think of my friend Pam. Read up about her contribution as a giggle therapist on the right side of her blog.

Doesn't it just make you want to be like that? For those of us who are looking for a way to benefit others, can I just encourage you to donate blood? It's easy, and not painless. I know, I was supposed to make it sound like no big deal, doesn't even hurt, but truthfully, donating blood is really hard for me. My veins roll and they are small and when I am cold it is even worse. Last time I donated blood I had to drink 3 bottles of juice and they had heated saline bags all over me to get my blood moving. I kind of felt like I wasn't sure it was worth all that. Watching a bag of blood save my sister-in-law's life has changed my tune. She has needed one transfusion so far. Last time she went through chemo she needed two. She truly wouldn't make it without it. I have become so grateful for those who consistently donate blood. It really does save lives and there is always a shortage of your blood type. I don't care what type you have, there is always a shortage of it. There are so many people that can't donate blood because of health, pregnancy, nursing, diabetes etc., it becomes even more important for those of us who can to donate. Sometimes it is so important for us to back up our prayers with action. Maybe we could all say a prayer while we donate blood? So consider this my blogblooddrive. For those of you who can donate, please comment after you have donated. Let's see how much we can accomplish. For those of you who are unable to donate blood, well wishes are welcome. How have you been blessed by blood donation?

Here are a few tips from me for donating. Eat a hearty breakfast and drink plenty of fluids before you go. They will have lots of yummy snacks for you afterward, so don't worry about bringing any. Wear comfortable clothing that gives easy access to your arm. For women, we often run low on iron depending on where we are in our menstrual cycle. For donation they need sufficient iron levels. If you are too low to donate, it does not mean you are anemic. I think they need your iron at something like 12 to donate and something like 4 is anemic. I find it helps to have red meat for dinner the night before I am going to donate and then I never have a problem with my iron level, no matter where I am in my cycle. I prefer to use it as an excuse to have steak, but since that isn't always an option, here is one of my favorite recipes for good old chuck roast. Easy, delicious, everybody loves it.

French Dip sandwiches

1 beef chuck roast (3 pounds)
2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp galic powder
1 bay leaf
3 to 4 whole peppercorns
8 french rolls split

Place roast in slow cooker. Add water, soy sauce and seasonings. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or until beef is tender. Remove meat from broth; shred with forks and keep warm. Strain broth; skim off fat. Pour broth into small cups for dipping. Serve beef on rolls.

I double the water through peppercorns. I like to leave extra juice on the meat to keep it moist and lots for dipping. It is great made overnight and then put in fridge. That way the fat in the juice rises to the top and hardens. Remove the fat, heat and serve. Your house is going to be filled with a wonderful smell. Leftovers freeze well.

1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543)

In honor of Bindi and survivors everywhere -
Donate first, comment later! Can't wait to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Writing style

I come from a family of comedians. When we are together, we laugh often, we laugh loud and we tend to garner some attention because we make a bit of a spectacle of ourselves. Funny thing is, we get so much of our sense of humor from the quietest member of our family, my dad.

Tomorrow would have been his 77th birthday. He passed away in 2004 from lung cancer. In honor of him, I would like to share just a few memories of his unique writing style. He didn't really love writing letters, but I loved getting them, because they were never ordinary.

He once sent me a letter at camp from the perspective of a fly.

He sent me a letter making different hash marks on the page to represent each member of the family's shopping style (he had all girls and complained that he should own stock in the mall to get some of his money back).

He sent me a letter complaining about how stupid it is that at the end of a letter on the left hand side people write the word over in parentheses even if it is mid-sentence which is stupid because what fool doesn't know that the letter is to continue on the other side? Some people continue to do this even if they have numbered their pages. Redundant. For the rest of the letter he wrote (over) mid-sentence and continued on the other side. Then he began another sentence and in the middle wrote (over) and finished on the other side and kept going. To read the letter I had to keep flipping the page, finding where he left off and keep going around.

Speaking of going around, he also wrote me a letter that started in the middle of the page and spiraled out so that I really did have to keep turning the paper around and around.

But the letter that wins the comedy prize was the newspaper clipping. I served a mission for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). We were encouraged not to read our mail until our day off and we didn't read the newspaper, listen to the radio or watch TV so that we could stay focused and not mentally going home every day. For a straight month, every time someone asked me where I was from and I told them they would tell me of some terrible disaster in the area my family lives and say "I hope your family is okay!" They were freaking me out! So I wrote home and asked my parents that if there was some big thing going on anywhere near them would they just send me a quick note telling me that they were okay and not involved, nothing else, and label the outside "Open immediately"? It was just a few weeks later that I got just such a letter with my dad's handwriting on the outside. Inside was a newspaper clipping from the Associated Press that detailed a domestic abuse incident that had occurred in my home town. Apparently, some man became enraged at his wife and killed her by beating her with a frozen squirrel. That's all the article said. Just 2 or 3 sentences. At the bottom, my dad added one sentence of his own. "Your mother and I were not involved. Love, Dad"

Thanks Dad, for making life beautiful, making your love for me abundantly clear, and teaching me how to find the humor in just about every situation.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Will it pass? Will it pass? Will it pass?

All this talk about Congress and Bailout Bill has got me thinking about kidney stones. Do you think there is a correlation? Like, painful, but necessary to pass? Or, somebody better get in there and lazer blast that thing in order to defeat the stones before the man dies trying to pass them? The man being man in general. Main Street Man, not Wall Street Man. What do you think? Bailout Bill - Pass or Blast? I am undecided and I don't get a vote. Neither do you. Except on my blog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A newbie hangin' with the cool blogging crowd

I have been tagged, by a favorite blogger and friend, Pam. It is pretty exciting for a newbie blogger like me to get included in the cool blogging crowd.

Here goes! 7 random or wierd facts about me.

1. I am a hair twirler. I have tried to stop, but I just haven't been able to. It is not nervousness, it is just that my curly hair (it is very curly!) winds perfectly around my finger and will flip back and forth from one finger to another. I am not trying to flirt or be coy, I am just wierd. So when you see me with my long hair down you will probably notice that there are two curls at the nape of my neck on either side that are perfect corkscrews. It is not because they grow that way. Maybe my screen name should be Noodlehead.

2. I had a perm once. I know, you just read about my naturally, very curly hair. My sister was in Beauty School and I wanted to look like Barbara Streisand in the Main Event. I didn't. Perming curly hair is not a good idea. Didn't talk to my sister for two weeks. Enough said.

Why, oh why, did I want this hair in the first place? I know, I am the one who posted enough said just moments ago, but I just couldn't go without saying it. There are some things that even being a child of the '80's is not enough of an excuse for.

3. I am a Boggle addict. I play often. I love unscrambling the letters and coming up with words. I have it on my computer and sometimes get caught up and waste large amounts of time. I hate Scrabble. My sisters and my mom always win and they laugh at me, too. I'll play Scrabble with my husband though. We are about even so it is a fair competition. Nobody wants to play Boggle with me.
4. Speaking of my guy, I am deeply in love with my husband. He is so very patient and kind with all my eccentricities, and I tend to be a little bit of a goofball. He is an incredible father and a great gift giver. Often, I am not initially happy with what he gives me. Mostly because he spends more than I have budgeted. Once he gave me a storm door for mother's day. A storm door? you ask. Yeah, that is what I thought too, until I could leave front door open to see the kids playing outside, get fresh air and more light in the room. He knows I love lots of natural sunlight. (I grew up in So Cal, and you can take the girl out of the valley, but you can't take the valley out of the girl! It is, like, so totallay true, okay.) It always ends up that what he gives me is what I really wanted and just didn't know it. He knows me better than I know myself.

5. Our marriage had an interesting start. Our wedding day didn't go exactly as planned. The story is too long and I will save it for blogging on my anniversary, but here is just a taste. The car broke down, I passed out, the caterer didn't show, we went on a double date that night with two men to see a play about homosexuality, got lost on the way to the hotel, when, of course, the car broke down again, a stranger gave us a ride to our hotel only to find out they had given our room away. Some people might have taken this as some kind of omen, but really, we are tremendously happily married.

6. I once ate green tomato pie. It tasted like apple, except the texture was different. I am not a very adventurous eater, so I had to keep mentally picturing an apple and saying to myself, yummy, yummy apple. But then my mental apple morphed into a tomato and I started to gag.

7. I like to cook and try new recipes (not exotic ones! See 6.). Hence, the name Cookingsherri. But when the fire alarm in our house goes off, my kids ask me what I am making for dinner. That thing is oversensitive, I'm telling you. My sister who is an awesome cook, is kitchenditcher. Funny, huh?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Unfortunate misuse of the CTR ring...

I hate the game of slug bug. You know the one where if you see the VW Bug first you get to punch someone in the arm and yell "slug bug, no slugs back". I hate that game so much (I am a black belt, but my kick is stronger than my punch) that I was thrilled when some CA cousins who shall remain nameless introduced us to Cruiser Bruisers. Same game, different car. Thanks. I had a friend who came up with hug bug instead, which I preferred, and it was working for our family, until Thing 1 became a teenager. It was irresistable to find a new wrestling avenue with Dad. It was irresistable to find out if he could punch hard enough to hurt Dad. Dad will not admit it to you, but he has admitted to me, Thing 1's punches are beginning to hurt. I let it go and chalked it up to a guy thing. As long as I am not involved, whatever.

Dad got home from work early, had the evening free, and so we decided to go on a family walk in beautiful fall weather. We even brought the dog, and the football. Cool, huh? Till thing one saw the P.T. Cruiser. Punched Dad in the back. I am not involved, whatever. Then I turn around to see Thing 2, my little girl, punch Thing 1 right in the chin!?!?!?! What are you doing? I missed? Missed what? His shoulder. By a long shot! In her defence Thing 1 is growing at an alarming rate. At the beginning of summer he had just barely become as tall as me. School has started. He is at least two inches taller than me. He is growing about 3/4" a month. So I thought, maybe it is hard to aim up. Maybe, she hit his arm and then it grazed off and accidentally hit his chin. Thing 1 states clearly that this was not the case.

Okay, Thing 2, my little girl, let me just give you some motherly wisdom. Dad and Thing 1 look like they are having fun playing this game. I can see how you think you might want to join in. Resist the urge. They are hurting each other. And laughing about it. This is a stupid game that boys play. Be smart. Do not play this game with them. If you do, you are opening yourself up and you will get nailed. 100 % dissatisfaction guaranteed.

Thing one is not satisfied with this lecture. He says it really hurt when Thing 2 popped him in the chin. Plus, you are supposed to hit in the arm. Yup, and she missed, and you hit Dad in the back and this game is stupid and if you don't want to get hurt don't play it. But it really hurt. Yeah, that is the nature of the stupid game. Buck up. You are big now. There is hair on your upper lip. She is a little girl. How bad could it be? Pretty bad. After mentioning his hairy upper lip, I now noticed the lip underneath it. It is bleeding. Not bad, but there are cuts on his chin. Oh my goodness!?!?! Didn't I start out on a Norman Rockwell painting like family walk? And it ends in bloodshed? Apparently it was her CTR that was the culprit. It stands for Choose the Right. I don't think that is how you are supposed to use those. I hope nobody in the neighborhood was watching. They might nominate us for a parenting award with the county's child protective services.

The bumper on my car is fixed. But the catalytic converter on the driver's side is not. And something is wrong with the steering wheel, and the passenger side mirror isn't doing the night dimming thing right anymore, and winter is coming and the back heater isn't working. So my car is in the shop. It has been there since Monday night. And it won't be done until Friday. That is the bad news. But, it is all under warranty and my warranty covers everything including a rental car. That is the good news. Until I see the rental car.

It is a P.T. Cruiser. The good news is now a little bit concerning for my family's welfare. I have got to get my car back before somebody in my family ends up looking like this:

"Cruiser Bruiser, no bruises back!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Domo arigato Mr. Bento!

My kids had not been eating their school lunches I was been packing for them and so I had been experimenting with different things to make lunch more fun for them. Problem is, they really prefer a hot lunch. So I tried these thermos type things from Target and you put the food in, microwave it and then screw on the lid. The kids loved it, but as the food cooled off it create a vacuum, the lid locked and neither of them could open it without a combination of 3-5 children and or adults helping to get it open. So....dah, dah, dah, dah...I began my search for a better alternative. With some expert internet sleuthing, I found it. The answer to all our school lunchtime woes is - Mr. Bento. It is made by Zojirushi, a Japanese company and is intended for a Japanese style lunch of soup, rice, meat and vegetable. There is an outer insulated canister into which four containers fit (they even give you a metal spork with a nifty cap like you would put on your toothbrush for traveling). The first is insulated and is intended for soup. The second is also insulated and intended for rice. The top two are not insulated and are for meat and vegetables. I boil hot water and pour it into the canister and two bottom containers and put the lids on to heat the containers. Then pour out the water from the containers, dry them out and put the food in the containers. It keeps it hot for hours! I don't have leftovers crowding the fridge, the kids love their lunch, they get a variety of foods, the thing is terrific! Check it out on Amazon, and don't be afraid to look on at a site called Mr. Bento Porn. I have no idea why this is the name, but it is just pictures of what people have put into their Mr. Bento for lunch. It is pricey, I admit it, but it is paying for itself quickly as we are not wasting leftovers and lunch food anymore. If you go to the website you will find their American website. If you search Mr.Bento they will give you names of places in your area that sell them, or you can order them online. I went to a very interesting Asian grocery store to get mine. I asked where they were, they pointed. I asked about their return policy, they pointed to the receipt, then the box, and held up one finger while repeating "week". I took that to mean you have one week to bring your receipt and all your packaging if you would like to return it. Thankfully we aren't returning it and I didn't have to pay any shipping charges. Thought some of you moms with school age children might want to look into it. The kids have had swedish meatballs and rice, green beans, apple slices and drink and some chocolate covered raisins (thank you grandma for spoiling us with treats from Costco) or Italian pot roast, noodles, peas, or chicken and rice, potato soup, you get the idea. It either keeps all the food hot or all the foods cold, but not hot and cold at the same time. I have even surprised the kids with pancakes, syrup, eggs, sausage one day. It is intended that the bottom is warmer than the top containers. I find that I can put a piece of cake or some other kind of treat in the top container and fruit in the second down, with the two hot containers at the bottom. If I don't have anything for the bottom soup container I just leave it filled with hot water to keep everything warm. It comes with a case to carry it all and there is even a pocket on the outside that is big enough to tuck in a drink. Thing one and thing two love it! They are totally bummed to get a regular lunch. They much prefer Mr. Bento. When the weather is warm I make salads, sandwich wraps, pudding, etc. Their all time favorite is in the winter I make hot cocoa for the bottom soup container and send in a straw. They slurp away and make all their school friends jealous.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Neutral is not always a safe place to be

There is a dent in my fender. A $750 dent. It wasn't my fault. This time. I wasn't even there. Plenty of people saw it happen. Except me. But I have seen the result. Luckily I don't have to pay for it. The poor girl whose fault it is will be paying or half of it. Her mother is paying the other half. She's had her license for two months, poor thing. Her mother was making dinner and needed shrimp and sent her daughter to the store. Daughter knew she needed to hurry, so she pulled up behind some parked cars, didn't bother using a parking space and ran in to get the shrimp. Only she forgot the to put on the emergency brake. It was a 5 gear and she left it in neutral. Nobody touched her car. It just started rolling. Okay somebody did touch her car. After it was rolling. He tried to stop it but the momentum was too strong and there was nothing he could do. Then, voila! Her car stopped rolling. Because it had just collided with mine. Oops! She was a good girl. She stayed to take responsibility. And she called her mother. First, before doing anything else. Her mother came immediately, and had a hard time controlling her anger and frustration. She told me later she didn't have the heart to tell her daughter that she had gotten the wrong kind of shrimp.

It made for a great family discussion. What is so dangerous about being neutral in our lives? Well, kind of like this car. If we don't make decisions ahead of time about what we will and won't do, what we want out of our lives, what we want to accomplish, we may very well end up someplace we don't want to be. And it won't be because we made any effort to get there. We will have just ended up there somehow. Pulled by gravity, or laziness, or lack of purpose, no clear set goals and standards. James describes it like this: James 1:6 - "For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." Just like nature pulled her car to where she never intended it to go, unchecked, our natures can pull us to where we never intended to go. Unless....we get it in gear. Apply the brakes. Figure out where we want to go and where we don't. Change our very nature. But how to get it in gear? James says it again. James 1:22 "Be ye doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."

I am so grateful for all the things I have learned by trying to follow my Savior. It gives me purpose, direction, comfort, joy and so much more. In short, it helps me get it in gear. Know when I need to apply the brakes. Get where I want to go.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of School

I was just reading a post on my husband's family website and one of his family members was saying how her kids came home from their first day of school and saw how clean the house was. They commented on how great their mom had done. She explained that there was probably a correlation to them not being home and the house being clean. They were making the mess!
I looked at my house when the kids got home from school and it was not so picture perfect. So, this is my dilemma. If the house was cleaner all summer when the kids were home, and the kids go to school and my house is more messy, does it really mean that I am the one who is a mess?

Please tell me it is just because I am getting back into gear after being at the lake this weekend. I have been doing laundry all day, and there are still many loads to go before I sleep.

The good news is that at 39 and after fifteen years, I was able to water ski. I was so proud of myself I could hardly stand it! At least my husband was impressed. I had told him I could ski, but he said it was way cooler to see it! I got in one semi-decent run after several failed attempts. I am so sore it hurts to sit down, stand up, bend over, cook dinner, do laundry, walk, reach for food on the top shelf, and move my eyes. Honestly, it is even a little painful to sit here and type. I think I need to get back in shape. The only video I have is of one of my failed attempts. Right after this I did much better, but the camera ran out of battery! I had a great time though!

So did the kids. Thing 1 caught a fish,

tried wakeboarding,

and swung from the awesome rope swing.

Thing 2 played in the sand,

jumped off the high dive,

rode on the Big Bertha,

and put on too much sunscreen.

Hubby did the best cannonball!

Aren't those good reasons for my house not to be clean?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to school breakfast

My kids go back to school next week and I am not ready. We have all the supplies neatly tucked in the backpacks, all the forms have been filled out, money paid, classroom assignments arranged, gym clothes purchased,but I am not ready. I enjoy summer with the kids so much it is one of the reasons I really don't want to get a job outside the home. One of the only and major drawbacks for me getting a job would be the loss of freedom to hang out with my terrific kids for the short amount of time I get to have them at home. I know I could get a job at the school part-time to keep with their school schedule, but I would still have the hassle of vacation time, volunteering in the classroom, field trips, and in short, I just don't want to.

One of our struggles about going back to school is breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day. I love all foods breakfast. In the summer we enjoy hearty breakfasts every day. If I ever skip a meal, and it is not often (I don't get it when people say they forgot to have lunch! I never forget a meal) it is not breakfast if I can help it. I like breakfast so much that during the school year I still get up early enough to cook a hot meal every morning. Sometimes I take Fridays off and we don't have time Sunday morning before church, so those are cold breakfast days, but other than that...

This is one of my recipes that we use about once a week or more during the school year and summer as well. I double it and either keep the extra batter in fridge, (it will keep for a week and a half or so) or I put it into muffin cups and freeze it. Then just pop them out of the freezer into muffin pan (no thawing required) and bake for about 25 minutes instead of the 18-20 minutes. It is a great healthy breakfast with a couple of slices of turkey bacon for some protein to start the day. Hope you enjoy! I like to use my stoneware muffin pan from my Pampered Chef consultant days. That way when you finish your yummy muffin and come back for more the stoneware keeps it warm.

Classic Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups wheat bran

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins (optional) - I don't add these, I like them, but I am the only one in the family who does.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners. - I use silicone cups. Love them. Easy to wash out. A tiny spritz of Pam and all you will have to do is turn them over and lightly squeeze, the muffin will fall right out. Easy clean-up.

Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes. - I don't wait ten minutes, Just however long it takes to get the other ingredients together.

Beat together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.

Bake for 15 to 20 mintues or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool and enjoy! - I eat mine warm, split in half with a little pat of butter or jam. They are great with fruit butters in the fall!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Subway sandwich made me cry once

Do you remember the first time someone asked for the last four digits of your social security number? If you are like me you did not just blurt it out immediately, you had to go through the whole thing. 449-60-2978. That's not my real SS#. I made that one up. Don't bother trying to steal my identity. Do you know how they come up with that number? The first three are area numbers. It depends on where you got your SS card. The next two numbers are group numbers. They are kind of random and just break things up. The last four are serial numbers. They just start at one and keep going. At least that is what I just read on wikipedia. My point is, it probably took you several times of being asked for the last four digits of you social security number to be able to just blurt it out without having to go through the whole thing.

Which brings me to Subway. I have a problem with the way they have things set up. I went in on a lovely day to pick up lunch for me and some friends. I was in a great mood. This particular Subway was a bit busy that day. I moved on down the line and when it was my turn I gave my order. One footlong turkey and bacon with extra mayo and everything, one 6" teriyaki chicken warm with dressing, lettuce, cucumber, green pepper, tomato, a 6" ham and cheese with everything but hot peppers. What kind of bread? Bread? Ah, white. He cuts and shoves it down to the next person. She asks me what kind of meat. Ah, Turkey and bacon. While she slaps that on, guy number one repeats what kind of bread? White, all of them white. He cuts and shoves. Meanwhile, girl two has the new white bread and asks what kind of meat. Um, the first was turkey and bacon the second is teriyaki chicken. Which one is this? Two. So far so good. Then guy three, who is now holding sandwich one asks what do you want on the turkey and bacon. Everything. Not bad. I am doing okay. Lady number two now has the bread for sandwich number three. What kind of meat? Okay so one was turkey and bacon, two was teriyaki chicken..... She interrupts me because quite a line is now forming behind me. I just need to know what you want on this one. But I am just not ready to blurt out, 2978. That is not how I rehearsed it in my head so that I would not forget. I rehearsed, One footlong turkey and bacon with extra mayo and everything, one 6" teriyaki chickien warm with dressing, lettuce, cucumber, green pepper, tomato, a 6" ham and cheese with everything but hot peppers. Nonetheless, I now silently run through the order in my head until I get to the part she wants and blurt out, ham. Guy three is now interested in what to put on sandwich two. Girl two wants to know what kind of cheese. American, or white whichever is easiest. But now, I have just remembered that sandwich one is supposed to have extra mayo. And he has already wrapped that one. I tell him anyway. Guy four steps in. He is the cash register guy. He hastily unwraps and mayo's sandwich one. Mr. Three is still asking about sandwich two. I have learned, I am silently going through my list 'til I get to his part, when lady two asks what do you want on the ham. I hold up a finger to silently tell her just a minute and blurt out guy three's necessary info, and then turn to girl three to ask what info she needs when guy four at the cash register is interested in what kind of sandwiches I am getting so he can ring it up before it is made. I don't even know what sandwich girl two is working on, and she is really agitated. Guy one has cut another piece of 6" white bread and wants to know what kind of meat I want. I am confused after giving the whole order to cash register guy and tell him ham and cheese. Girl two wants to know what veggies. Everything but hot peppers. Anyway, I ended up with four sandwiches instead of three, I wasn't sure what was in any of them, the staff was irritated with me, the line was piling up, and I was willing to buy the mystery sandwich just to get out of there.

Why can't they have an order sheet that moves along with the sandwich so you don't have four people asking you what to put on the sandwich all at the same time? It is just not nice. No other sandwich places do it that way and with good reason. I love their sandwiches, but that system is just enough to drive me crazy.

When you are feeling stupid, just say to yourself, "There are other things that I am good at, this just isn't one of them." I am not a great multi-tasker. I am easily distracted. And my memory is not so good. If you want a sandwich from Subway, you are going to have to get it yourself. I am not going to order for you. It was embarrassing wiping that tear from my face in front the cashier guy.

Would you like to share some of your own humorous shortcomings? I wish you would. It would make all us schlepps out here feel so much better to read about it. I wish this is the only embarrassing moment I have to share, but there are so many more available I will have to save them for future blogging days so as not to overwhelm you all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

She's 9!

I threw a small birthday party for my daughter. I offered to let her invite more friends, but she only invited 5 people and 3 of them were able to come. Here is what we did:

We started with a craft I found from Family Fun magazine several years ago. The girls had a little bit of a hard time with it, but they turned out great.

You get 20 guage wire and cut 2 1/2 feet. Make a loop at the top for hanging. Then thread beads on about 1" apart making a "z" shaped bend in the wire (bend in one direction at the top of the bead and the other direction at the bottom of the bead) to hold the bead in place. At the last bead wrap the wire around the bead two times to secure the end. Then wrap the wire about a thin spice bottle from your pantry. When you slide it of your spice bottle you will have a corkscrew shape suncatcher like this:

Then, we played games. I found this great game when surfing the internet for great outdoors games for the kids for summer. It is called Bucket Blast. The genius is in it's simplicity. They give instructions for 15 games to be played with buckets, beanbags, cones, and blindfolds, all of which are provided with a nifty little mesh bag to keep it all in. The games are great. At first I thought only my 9 year old would love it, but now see that my soon to be 13 yo would have fun with this with his friends. Perfect for family get togethers. Here is the link to their website:

Read the reviews on Amazon too.

I even baked and decorated the cake myself. I love Baker's Joy spray! Look for it in the grocery store near the Pam products. It is oil mixed with flour that you spray right into the pan! You don't have to grease and flour anymore. It is so easy and cakes come out of the pan easily every time. I took the picture from the top so you can't see how lopsided it is. After I did my goofy job of decorating I remembered I have the Pampered Chef cake decorating stencils, which would have been easier, but, oh well. On the inside it is pink and blue swirl party cake. The box said best if used by '06, but it was just fine in '08!

All in all, it was a simple success.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What got me started?

My sister started a blog. I was having so much fun thinking of creative responses to her posts! She gently nudged me out of her nest and politely invited me to get a blog of my own. My husband's cousin has a cooking blog. My sister's is kind of like a journal. I have seen sewing blogs. I wasn't sure what I should blog about...

And then I remembered - I have something I want to say.

At the end of the school year I was trying to arrange some meetings at my child's school. One day I got home to a message on my home phone. It was one of the school administrators. She was totally exasperated with me. "We had a meeting scheduled for this morning at 9 am! I left you a message on your cell phone to let you know the date and time. You missed it. Please call to reschedule."

I did call to reschedule. In fact, we were able to meet that day. She asked me what my schedule was. I told her it was open. Whatever time would work for her, I could work my schedule around it. Having a flexible schedule is one of the benefits of being a sahm.

I tried to kindly let this woman know that for future reference, my cell phone is not my primary number. I really don't even use it very often. It is best to leave messages on my home phone first and cell phone secondary. "REALLY?" she says.


"What do you do?"

"I am a stay-at-home mother."

"Both your kids are in school?"


"Oh, (Clearly this has taken her off guard and she is shocked. There is now an awkward pause while she thinks of what to say next)I wish I had time like that. It must be nice."

"It is." - I let it go at that. I may be oversensitive. But it seems to me that this lovely woman got the wrong impression of what my life is like.

Let me just say it from the start - I respect working mothers. In fact, I am in awe. You amazing women manage to do in a matter of hours what it takes me all day to do.

But, I don't just sit around with free time on my hands!

I remember being a kid and leaving for school. I remember coming home and asking mom what she did that day. I don't remember her answer. I do remember assuming it wasn't much. I am a mother now. I remember finding out that I was WRONG - PERIOD.

I am not June Cleaver, though I aspire to be like her, clean and organized house, well dressed, good cook, have all the answers and dish them out with kindness, patience and humor. I am nowhere close, but I do believe that good homemaking takes real skill. And I am truly passionate about things like sewing, cooking, (notice cleaning does not make the list) parenting and especially my wonderful husband.

So, this blog will be my answer to every child's question, what does my mother do all day? I intend to share some recipes, parenting tips and faux pas, what helps me stay in my budget, I think I'll let you know what is keeping me busy, I might do some product reviews (I love gadgets!), I'll probably share some rambling, random, humurous anecdotes, if I ever get to it, I will share my projects completed and it is entirely likely that I will do just whatever I feel like at that moment, on that day.

That is how my blog started.