Around here

Well, we took the day off yesterday.

Or, rather, the girls and I took the day off.

Kinda.

Sort of.

They had a school holiday – the last “inclement weather” day of the school year.  So, I took the day off of work to spend with them.  But it wasn’t really a day “off” for us – we were busy bees.

We spent the morning planting our garden – cucumbers, peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, radishes, etc.

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It’s not grand, but we’re pretty proud of it.  I’m hoping we get some yummy veggies out of it this summer.

While the girls were playing (school, no less!) I rigged up what I’m affectionately calling my “redneck irrigation system.”  I used a soaker hose and some random bits of flotsam to create a little irrigation track for the garden. I’m hoping we’ll actually remember to turn it on every day for a little while to keep things watered and growing.

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And then we spent a while spreading pine straw – 15 bales of it to be exact. And if that wasn’t enough, we went out to dinner and to a play that two of Big Girl’s friends were acting in.

And then we came home and collapsed. Literally.

Today is a little less ambitious although I have plans to catch up on the laundry and clean my floors… and maybe bake a cake… but that’s about it.

We got a new birdfeeder, too, today.  And we’ve been invaded by these cute birdies – a whole family of red breasted grosbeaks.

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Have you ever heard of them before? I’d never seen them until now but they apparently love this feed I’ve bought and they’re hanging around all the time nowadays.  They are a lively bunch ~ the only negative thing is that the smaller birds seem to be a bit intimidated by them and don’t come around as much. But I’ve got two feeders so hopefully they’ll all have a shot.

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Oh, and we’ve been battling the squirrels lately. I went to the feed & seed this morning and got some more of that habanero-coated birdseed. They don’t seem to like that too much.

Note to self: Don’t stir the habanero birdseed with your bare hands. Even if you wash them (twice) you’ll still end up sorry. Just sayin’

The girls saw this picture at the feed & seed and loved it –

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I told them I guess there’s always something to put our troubles in perspective, isn’t there?

And so now I’m off to do my baking and cleaning – and then tomorrow will be a day of rest for us.

I hope.

What’s up in your world?

Slowing down

I’m having one of those days today – one of those days when my body is telling me that I’ve overdone things in the past week or so – one of those days when my mind won’t focus and my body won’t go.  One of those days when overcoming the sludge that surrounds me, literally and figuratively, seems like more work that it is worth.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks – crazy month, actually. After a fun, but busy spring break week we came home to two weeks of testing for the girls, SuperMan working twelve hour days, three doctor visits and re-checks and me trying to work and take care of the home front, too.

There’s been baking

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and canning

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and hiking (although I didn’t go this time)

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It’s been three weeks of crazy busy days.  And I’m tired.

So, today, I’m taking it slow. Listening to my body.  Picking my battles. Taking it easier.

I’ll pick up steam tomorrow.  I’ll face the dragons then.  Today, I’m going to enjoy the little birdies on my bird feeder outside my office window and only do what I have to do.  The rest will wait.

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The dirty clothes will be there tomorrow.  The pollen dust will still be waiting to be dusted.  The errands can wait, too.

First I’m going to rest, recharge and renew.

What about you?  How’re you doing this Monday?

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By the numbers

My day by the numbers:

5am

5AM wake-up call
1 cup of tea
2 lunches made
2 more cups of tea for girlies
2 eggs
1 piece of toast with strawberry jam
1 trip to school
2 more eggs
1 more piece of toast with strawberry jam
1 breakfast for mommy
1 more trip to school
1 trip to the grocery store
2 loads of clothes
1 conference call
1 load of dishes
2 chicken breasts & 4 thighs in the pot
2 more conference calls
1 casserole
4 course descriptions
1 course release
2 more trips to schools
2 pairs of new glasses for girls
2 new lamps from Wal-Mart
30  minutes and 2 miles
4 ice cubes in 1 glass of water
1 bowl of chicken spaghetti
2 showers
2 more lunches
1 more load of dishes
2 more loads of clothes
1 more shower
1 book
1 pillow
1 tired girl

How was your day?

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Hooray for Friday!

Happy Friday, y’all!

I don’t know about you, but I am so happy Friday is here. It hasn’t been a bad week, but I am ready to sleep later than 5AM and to get a little craftiness on.  Bring on the weekend!!

Big Girl has a retreat with her church group this weekend.  She’ll only be 2.5 miles from home, but she is really looking forward to it – and I am so happy she has this opportunity.  Little Bit has a playdate scheduled tomorrow afternoon and SuperMan has to work – so guess what that means for Mama Bear?!?  You guessed it! CRAFTINESS!  Woo hoo!

Crafty Girl

I’m trying to decide between sitting in my rocking chair and watching Downton Abbey while I finish crocheting this:

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Or, sitting in my office and watching some Forsyte Saga on Amazon Prime while I catch up on some more of my Project Life pages.

Decisions, Decisions…

Have you watched (or heard of) The Forsyte Saga? I stumbled across the show while perusing titles on my Amazon Prime membership. It’s a Victorian-era drama (soap opera) set in London. The story follows the Forsyte family – the two brothers who are the heads of the family and their sons and daughters and grandchildren.  One of the main characters, Soames Forsyte is a lawyer and he longs for love and prestige and finds that his quest to possess these both lead him to find loneliness and disappointment. Money can’t buy you love, honey.  That’s what I keep wanting to shout at him when I am watching the show.

Soames marries Irene who does not love him but marries for the security and position he offers.  Soames is confident Irene will grow to love him but she does not and the marriage is a troubled one – especially when niece June brings up-and-coming architect Philip Boisnney to meet the family.   A love, um, square? ensues and occupies quite a bit of the story line for a few episodes.

I’m not finished with the first season but I am totally entranced.  Maybe even more so than I am with Downton Abbey.  Just as with Downton, there are characters you love, those you feel sorry for and those you just want to slap in the face!

If you have Amazon Prime and like Downton, I’d suggest you take a look at the show.

Let’s just Nap, shall we?

I’m off this morning to run errands, buy groceries, etc.  but truthfully all I really want to do is take a nap!  I think it is because of the rain we are getting. It’s gloomy and rainy and makes you want to hibernate.  (and maybe because I stayed up late hanging out with the Forsytes?)

I am thinking a pilgrimage to Starbucks might be in order – I may need to fortify myself with a shot of caffeine to make it through the day.

If I get some crafty done this weekend, I’ll share my progress with you…

 

I love Fall

I absolutely LOVE Fall.

It’s my favorite time of the year.  More so than any other season, Fall makes my soul sing and my heart happy. The crisp, sunny days, the beautiful leaves and all of the traditions that go along with Autumn – yes, it’s my favorite time of the year.img_0859

I love baking yummy goodies and making soups and stews.  I love changing my wardrobe from shorts and t-shirts to sweaters and jeans, swapping out sandals for boots and clogs. I love sleeping with the window open to hear the breeze and feel the changes in temperature (even if it does make me sneeze).

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I love walking in the woods and hearing the leaves crunch beneath my feet. I love riding in the mountains and being awed at the beauty. I love picking out pumpkins with the kids and watching them carve them under SuperMan’s watchful eyes.

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I love hosting our friends for Halloween fun and spending time with the ladies while the men take the kids around the neighborhood. We always freeze as we sit outside to hand out candy, but it is always one of my favorite nights of the year.

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I love gearing up for the holidays – starting to plan for Christmas and Thanksgiving.  I love thinking about the shopping and gifts to be purchased, food to cook and friends to spend time with.

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Fall, I love you.

I’m so glad you’re back.

Things I’m loving right now

I thought I’d share with you a few of the things I’m “into” right now – things that are making me happy –

First up on the list is my iPad.  Yes, I’ve gone over to the Borg, but you knew that already, didn’t you?  Early in the summer I got an iPad. I debated for a long, long time on getting one. I had an e-reader already (love my Nook) and did I really need an iPad?  Well, I have to say, I don’t know what I did without it before. It is so nice to use in lieu of my laptop and e-reader and relatively portable (even though it is heavier/bigger than my Nook) and I love the many apps I have on it. Forget my Bible at church? No problem. Need to look something up? No problem. Watch a movie on Netflix? No problem.

As a matter of fact, I wrote most of this blog post on my iPad while I was sitting in carpool line and then just uploaded it to post. I’m addicted, I tell you.  Best tech investment I’ve made in a long time.

Next would be somewhat directly related to my iPad and that is my newfound love for the Inspector Lewis series. I love the dialogue. I love the story lines. I love the fact that I almost never figure out “who done it” until almost the end of the show. It is well written, intelligent, and has great casting.  And I also love that I can watch all of the old episodes on my iPad via my Amazon Prime membership. LOVE that. I sit it on the counter and watch while I’m cooking dinner, I watch while SuperMan is watching something else I don’t care for on TV, I watch whenever and wherever I can.

And, adding to the list would be that Amazon Prime membership. I debated getting one, but it sure is nice to have my shipping covered for things from Amazon – and the streaming video is absolutely awesome. Well worth the membership fee.

What about some non-tech things on my list of things I love?

Well, I am hopelessly addicted to these granola bars from the Pioneer Woman’s website. I love the rich taste the addition of molasses gives them. Dipping them in chocolate is an added indulgence although not really necessary to me – they’re good all by themselves.

And I’m really enjoying my fruit – it’s apple season and I am eating at least one a day these days. (no doctor for me!) I’m putting them in my oatmeal in the mornings, eating them for an afternoon or before-bed snack. The Honey Crisp are my favorite and they’re back in season again (hooray!)  I’ve also made two apple cakes in the last week and I’m thinking of another apple-themed dessert for this weekend… I’ll share the recipe if it works out well.

What about you? What’s making you happy these days?

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Today

Good morning!

Grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and join me. I’m so glad you’re here!

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Today I’m…

…wondering about Big Girl’s not feeling well… if I need to call the doctor or let her rest and hope she feels better tomorrow.

…grateful for the leftovers in the fridge so that I don’t have to cook tonight.

…thinking about making some pizzelles but wondering if I should wait until the weekend.

…avoiding the laundry that is waiting to be washed, folded and put away.

…working on my to-do list for work.

…enjoying the cooler temperatures that came after the rains.

…hearing the re-runs of “Family Ties” in the other room – my sick girl entertaining herself.

…thinking about the reading I need to do for my Bible study tonight.

…enjoying the creation of this new shawl I started on Sunday. I can’t wait until it is finished and I can wear it.IMG_2142[1]

…looking forward to the fall – the decorations, the festivities, the food, and the fun. I can’t wait to go pick apples, pumpkins and walk in the woods with the colored leaves cascading down around me.

…contemplating whether or not I will “do” my hair today or just pull it up on my head and let the crazy curls do their thing.

…reading “The Secret Life of Bees” and really enjoying it. I just finished another book last night and will share the review with you soon.

…trying to focus on the positive and less on the negative.

Linking up with the Simple Woman’s Daybook today.

 

 

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Around Here: Success and not quite success in the kitchen

I love trying new recipes.

This is new for me as I used to be very hesitant to do that. If I went to the trouble of cooking something (and I was hungry) I wanted guaranteed success. I wanted to know my time, effort and ingredients were going to reward me with yumminess to enjoy.

I don’t know when this changed – maybe when I started baking more (years ago) or when – but it has changed indeed.

Now, it is fun to start with a base recipe as an “inspiration” for me and get in the kitchen and try to come up with something totally new for us to try.

Sometimes that yields delicious results.  Sometimes disasters. And sometimes things are just “meh” – they’re edible, they’re not terrible, but they aren’t necessarily things I’d repeat without some major reworking.

Yesterday was one of those days. I had this craving for some cheese tortellini in a vegetable soup. I had no set recipe in mind, but I knew what I wanted taste-wise.

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I ran out to the store in the morning after taking the girls to school because tortellini is not something I normally stock in my pantry.  After my dash to get supplies, I decided to try doing things in the slow cooker rather than on the stovetop.

So, in everything went… Chicken broth, some stewed tomatoes, a bag of frozen “Italian” veggies (which translates to zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, carrots, butter beans), some other random veggies that I had in the freezer (like some shredded spinach) a bouillon cube, some garlic, copious amounts of Italian seasoning, etc.

It simmered and bubbled all afternoon.  When it was close to time to eat I cooked the tortellini in a pot of simmering water. I wasn’t sure if the girls would like the soup or the tortellini so I figured I would not mix the two unless they chose to.

I also grilled some chicken strips I had marinated in balsamic vinaigrette to serve in the soup or alongside with a salad if the soup was a bust.

I have to say, I’m glad I did that.

The soup turned out to be one of those “meh” kind of meals. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either.  Sadly, the best part of it were the tortellini (and they were store bought so they shouldn’t have been the tastiest part as far as I was concerned)

SuperMan and I ate it.  The Big Girl said “NO” and the Little One ate the tortellini out of the soup and nothing else.

Oh well.

These type of nights I’m grateful for Velveeta Mac & Cheese and instant pancakes (yes, I serve those things, just not very often!)  At least I know everyone had something to eat for dinner – even if it wasn’t what I had planned.

Big Girl said it was the “weirdest dinner ever” because she ate grilled chicken with pancakes.

We also tried a new dessert, which, if you follow me on Facebook you saw the link to yesterday. It was about the same in terms of our liking it.  It wasn’t bad, but I probably wouldn’t make it again.

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It reminded me of the lava fields in Hawaii.

Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And it was only one meal…

However, I didn’t satisfy my craving for the soup I had in mind.  I may try something again one day (maybe a minestrone base?) but I’ll have to wait until the kids forget about last night’s experimental dinner first. Smile

Just hangin’ on for the ride

It has been a crazy couple of weeks.

Work is busy, kids are busy, home is busy.

Add to that a screaming headache for almost two weeks and a few other challenges thrown into the mix and maybe you will understand why the blog has been “light” lately.  I’m here, just so busy I can hardly think. And when I finally stop at the end of the day, I just collapse, take a big breath, and fall asleep.

And now it is Tuesday and I’m just getting around to figuring out what we’re going to be eating/doing this week. 

It’s OK, though, I know it is a busy time of year for us. It will be crazy like this until the holidays and then things will settle down a little after Christmas.  The trick is in maintaining whatever balance I can and in being very selective in what we say “yes” to doing and then not feeling guilty about saying no to everything else.  As my momma says, “You can’t do it all.”

So, I’m trying not to feel guilty that I haven’t worked on my Project Life album in I don’t know how long. I’m trying to remember that the most important things are clean clothes for my kids and SuperMan, healthy meals, a clean house and things like that.  The other stuff may be things I like to do, but they aren’t things I have to do.  Big difference.

And some days, remembering that is the difference between feeling good about what I’ve accomplished and feeling bad.  And I don’t know about you but I don’t want to feel bad.  At least not if I can help it!

So, last night, I took the “easy” route and we had grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup for dinner.  It was healthy, warm and filling – and EASY.  They loved it and it was a great reminder to me that I don’t have to fix a gourmet dinner every night to feed my family a healthy meal that they will love. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the best.

Actually, I’m thinking it might be a soup week – it’s rainy today (again) and then the rest of the week is supposed to cool down… so maybe I’ll fire up those crock pots and see how many different soups I can make.

So, that’s my mantra this week – I can’t do it all – and – Simple is Best.

What about you?

Out of Sorts

I’m feeling all kinds of weird today.

Totally discombobulated.

You see, last night I dropped off my Big Girl at church for a weekend retreat.  Her first multi-night sleep away without any family along with her.

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Now, don’t get me wrong… if she is going to be going away without me, there aren’t too many other places I’d rather her be. I know these folks; I know how serious our church is about the kids’ safety and well-being.  I know she is in good hands and I’m positive she is having a blast.

But still.

She’s my baby.

Okay, okay, maybe not technically a baby anymore, but to me, she will always be my baby.

And so today, I’m checking Facebook a thousand times looking for pictures that the church is posting of the kids’ retreat.  I’m checking my phone justincase she thinks to send me a text or a picture.

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My friend, whose son just left for his freshman year of college told me last week that she kind of felt like she did in eighth grade when she was waiting and hoping and obsessing about some boy calling her.

Yeah, that’s how I feel.

I kinda feel that way combined with feeling like someone took half of my heart and ran across the state with it and I’ve got this hole where it should be.

Thank goodness she is home tomorrow.  I’m also REALLY glad she’s not college age yet.  I am definitely not ready for that.

So, for once, I’m kind of looking forward to the drama and heavy sighs, stomping feet and slamming doors I have when she is around.

I’m sure that’ll change by next Friday, but for right now, I’m really missing my girl.

So, tonight, I’ve planned a little get-together with some friends – those same families whose boys have just gone off to college. I figured we can all be discombobulated together.

Here’s what I’m planning to serve – it’s a Mexican themed night:

 

I can’t wait for everyone to get here… just so my house will feel less empty.

Not ready for the fledglings to start flying out of my nest just yet, that’s for sure.