Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Monday: Well, Sort of...Not Really

I worked today, and I don't usually work on Mondays, so I didn't have my normal weekly menu planning time. And, I am feeling a little uninspired when it comes to our dinners this week. So, I will give you today and tomorrow because that's as far as I've gotten...I will give you the rest later in the week...pinky promise...maybe.

Monday: Bow-tie "Lasagna," and I followed Kate's instructions for making it a casserole. I also used the Barilla Plus pasta (they didn't have whole wheat bow tie) and low fat sour cream to make it a little better for us. It was delicious -- everyone in the fam went back for seconds, and Tyler has requested it for her lunch at school tomorrow.

Tuesday: Turkey paninis made with dill mayo and avocado -- really anything that sounds good on a turkey sandwich when I get to making them tomorrow night.

And that's where the wind gets out of my sails...

And now for some randomness:

1. This weekend was beautiful. I got outside for two nice walks around the field where our house is, and it felt great. I got really excited about spring.

And now we're back to our regularly scheduled program: cold and rainy. Blech.

2. I am in search of an eye cream. I need something that is going to make my eyes say "ahhhhhh, much better." Something really thick and goopy that I can put on them at night that will take away the dark circles and puffiness. Oh, and something to make me look younger and less wrinkly -- might as well start now, right? Anyone know of such a miracle?

3. My hair is falling out and my nails are breaking off. This is really a problem. I have always had really thick hair (although you can't really tell by looking at it) and really strong nails. And suddenly things have changed. My mom told me that I need to take Biotin, so I have been taking it like a madwoman, but so far it isn't helping. I. am. not. happy.

Okay, that's it. Peace out...

Friday, January 28, 2011


I got to hold some good friends' sweet new baby yesterday. I just love babies. Their new baby smell. Their teeny tiny-ness. The fact that they just let you hold them and love on them for hours and don't complain about it one bit.

It is so hard for me to believe that it was over three years ago that my baby was a new baby.

(Gibson at five weeks -- isn't he the cutest?!?!)

(His birth announcement photo)

(Gibson and Sanders, age 2)

I was talking to Margaret earlier today about how you forget how teeny newborn babies are and how holding a newborn makes you want one sooooo badly. But, we are pretty sure that our family is complete (okay, I am pretty sure, and Brad is 100% sure!).

But, it is hard to think about not having any more new babies in our house. No more new baby smell. No more babies to hold and look at all day. No babies to dress in sweet new baby clothes. No more new babies to kiss all over. Or at least, no more in our house to do all of that...

On the other hand, our life is really easy. It is nice to have no diapers. It is nice to have no middle-of-the-night feedings. It is nice to be able to pretty much pick up and go whenever we want. It is nice for my baby to be able to dress himself for the most part (although he still wants me to do it for him...oh, and to tote around his 40 pound self like a baby!). It is nice to be able to carry on conversations in plain English with all of my children (most of the time, that is!). It is nice to not have my arms full of baby stuff at all times or to smell like baby puke! It is nice to have my body back to myself. And the list goes on...

I know this is another one of those "grass is greener" posts, and I think holding a new baby will always make me want one. I am just a baby person. I will just have to enjoy my friends' babies and my nieces and nephews -- and I have plenty of those to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don't Worry, Mom, I'm Not Gonna Do This


I have this problem with my hair. Well, okay, it isn't really a problem. I just like to fluctuate between hairstyles, and the problem is that the two hairstyles that I like are extremely different from one another. I either like my hair really, really long or really, really short. And the bigger problem is that I usually end up somewhere in the middle (which I hate) because I am completely impatient with the growing out process.

Are you bored yet? Do you want to go watch paint dry...grass grow...something?

Anyway, I have finally, after 3 painful years, gotten my hair to the really, really long stage.

(Exhibit A)

And, I have been happy with my hair. In fact, I never had a wistful thought about short hair. That is, I never had a wistful thought about short hair until this picture was posted on Pinot After Playdates of Ashley Simpson's new pixie:

And, well, that just got the old ball rolling. Since then, I have seen a ton of cute pixie haircuts that make me want to chop all of my hair off. Carey Mulligan has one of the cutest ones:

(pictures via

The thing is, I have had my hair that short twice. The first time was when I was in college (wish I had a picture to scan), and I looooovvvvved it. It was short for several years, and the only reason that I grew it out was because I met Brad and I knew I would want it long for me wedding (and, yes, I made that decision pretty much as soon as I met him).

The second time I had it that short was when I was pregnant with Gibson. And you know what they say -- never cut your hair when pregnant. And they are right, whoever they are. It was awful. I was fat, my face was round, and my hair just made me look terrible. Okay, it probably wasn't my hair that made me look terrible. It was probably the fact that I was really fat and my face was round, but my hair just didn't help -- short hair looked much better on me when I was a skinny minnie in college.

The fact is, that second time really scarred me (someone call Dr. Phil), so I would have to think looooong and hard about cutting all of my hair off again. Chances are pretty darn good it won't happen, but it is still fun to look at all the cute haircuts and think "what if."

The grass is always greener, right?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'd Rather Be....


My throat hurts.

I am tired of rain.

I am tired of cold.

I am just tired.

Hurry up spring and summer!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Monday

It's that time again...

Monday: I changed my menu around last week once I posted it, so tonight I finally got around to making Chicken Divan, Lightened Up (all of my recipes from last week were soooo good, and we had lots of leftovers, so I was playing catch-up from last week's post). Yum, yum, YUM!!! I have made it before, and you can read some things that I did differently from the actual recipe here.

Tuesday: Panko chicken with a steamed veggie.

Panko chicken is one of my favorite recipes, and it isn't an official recipe -- it is more of "a little of this, a little of that." And, it is not low-fat, although there are things that you can do to make it more or less fat it you would like. You will need chicken tenders (or breasts or whatevs), ranch dressing (I like to use Naturally Fresh Classic Ranch -- it is the best in my opinion), butter, and panko crumbs. So, here is the gist: marinate the chicken in the ranch dressing for as little or as long as you like (see, really scientific here!). Then, dredge the chicken in melted butter, and then in panko crumbs. And bake. Baking time depends on the type of chicken, obviously, but chicken tenders take around 20-ish minutes, and I bake them at 375.

Since I am trying to not be a fatty, I will most likely do away with the butter step. It is just as good without that step (she tells herself). I guess you could also do a low-fat ranch, but I think life is too short for such nonsense as low-fat salad dressing (blech.).

Wednesday: Marinated pork tenderloin and green beans that Margaret keeps talking about. I just have to get the recipe from her. I am marinating the pork in 1 cup each of soy sauce, brown sugar, and bourbon. I like to give the kids a good shot of liquor before they go to bed. It helps them sleep better.

Oh, I kid.

Thursday: Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas with tortillas and other burrito fixin's.

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: We have a wedding party, so we will be eating out

Sunday: hopefully some more leftovers


Last week was a pretty awesome week food-wise in our household. There was not one meal that the kids didn't like, and that is really saying something. We give five thumbs up to all of my recipes from last week's Menu Monday (where you can find the links to all of the recipes below)!

For the Southwest Pasta Salad, I made two batches of the dressing, and I marinated some chicken tenders in the second batch. I wanted Brad to grill the chicken, but he was running late getting home from work, so I ended up broiling them, and they were fabulous on top of the pasta. I made the pasta a day ahead, and it soaked up most of the dressing, so I added the dressing that I cooked the chicken in (it was cooked, so it wouldn't give us salmonella or anything...) on top of the pasta and chicken. That was a little too much dressing. So, when I make it again, I will just make the pasta the same day.

I served the Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika once over rice and once with the crusty french bread that the Pioneer Woman suggests. It was delicious both ways, and the kids thought they were getting something new since we changed it up the second time!

The Taco Soup was really, really good as well. I used garbanzo beans rather than kidney beans because I am not a huge fan of kidney beans, but I love a good garbanzo. ;-) It also makes a ton, so make it when you plan on feeding guests or when you want to have a lot of leftovers. We ate it for dinner, and lunch...and dinner...and lunch...and there is still some left! And there are five of us in this house -- granted three of us are children who may or may not eat very much depending on the day or mood, but still...

I will be adding all three of those recipes to my regular rotation! I love finding good new recipes!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

House Building: Finally Underway

Our house is finally being built! Finally, finally, finally!! I hope that I can say that the process was a fun one when it was all said and done, but, so far, it has been pretty darn stressful. I had a long post all typed out last night to tell y'all all about it, but when I pushed "Publish," the whole darn thing disappeared.

So, today, I will try to hit the highlights (lowlights, really):

1. We started on the house back in November and immediately had a stop order placed on the house.

2. We had to have our plans completely redrawn to show a more beefed up foundation -- one that is earthquake proof. And we don't live in an earthquake zone.

3. Brad had meeting after meeting with our building inspector and the building inspector of a neighboring county who acts as a consultant -- and makes all of the decisions, evidently -- for our county. A lot of frustration ensued.

4. We finally got somewhere when we realized that the new, beefed up foundation was going to cost us many, many thousands of dollars and Brad went in, with maps, and showed the building inspector exactly where our house is going to be compared to the earthquake zones. Thankfully we got some leniency.

5. We finally got to start on January 5th! So far we have gotten the trenches for the foundation dug, the rebar started, the well in, and power to the site.

6. We had our first inspection yesterday, the 19th. And we passed! Robert, our contractor, was completely prepared to fail because of all of our previous dealings with the inspector, so he had today set aside to redo whatever the inspector wanted redone. When he found out that we passed he sent Brad a text that was pure shock: "we passed! Thank God!" My thoughts, exactly!

7. Brad just texted me a picture of the concrete truck at the house. They are pouring the concrete for the foundation!

The Lord is definitely trying to teach me some patience with this house project, and I hate to admit that I have been kicking and screaming about it. I just have felt like this house was never going to get off the ground, but it finally has. I just can't wait (though I will have to for a loooonnnggg time!) to see the finished product!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Losing Some LBs.

I had a request to share with y'all how I lost weight last year. And, after the overindulging I did over Christmas (really since Halloween!), I figure I could use a refresher course, too.

I didn't do anything scientific. In fact, I failed big time at all diets that I tried -- Weight Watchers, South Beach, etc. I always, always cheated when I was on a diet, and I hated having some diet tell me what I could and couldn't eat or how much I could eat. I know that is how you lose weight, but I just couldn't ever follow the rules!

I finally found something that worked for me, so here is what I did...

1. I ate (still do) one of my smoothies for breakfast every morning, and I have a cup of regular coffee with Splenda and fat free half and half. Then I don't eat again until lunch.

2. For lunch, I kind of eat whatever. I don't really stress over what I eat during this meal, and it has to last me most of the day because I don't eat again until almost supper time. Sometimes it is leftovers from the night before, sometimes a sandwich, sometimes I go by Chick-fil-A. But, if I do that, I only get a sandwich and a water or diet lemonade -- no fries.

3. I do not snack in the afternoon until around 4 or later if I can stand it. I do have a snack, or else I would be stuffing my face the entire time I am cooking dinner. I usually try to eat something like the 100 calorie pack chocolate covered pretzels, or an energy bar, or sometimes some cheese and crackers.

4. For dinner, I usually cook something from, Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast, or just a meat and a veggie. I used to cook a big meal with at least one starch every night, but my kids don't really eat rice, and they don't like macaroni (there is something seriously wrong with them...), so I realized that I was just doing that for Brad and me. So, I stopped cooking starches altogether, and it made a huge difference. I also started doing a lot of the veggies that you steam in the microwaveable bag -- some of them can taste kind of watery (like the green beans), but they are quick, easy, and very healthy!

5. I walk. And walk. And walk. I do not believe in running. I don't live near a gym. I am on the outs with the elliptical machine. So, I walk. Outside. This weather lately has not been conducive to walking, and I can definitely tell a difference in my thighs -- and I am not talking in a good way -- so I am ready to get back out there!

6. Things I cut out: eating every 2 or so hours, eating dessert every night, drinking milk, weeknight wine/beer (and I try to cut back on the weekend, too), grazing at parties.

Mmmmm...I think that's it! I hope some of it is helpful. Like I said, nothing scientific, but it is what worked for me. Now I just have to get back at it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Monday

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope yours hasn't been as yucky and rainy as ours has. Onto our menu for the week...It definitely has a Southwest vibe for the most part!

Monday: Homemade spaghetti

Thursday: Taco Soup

Saturday: we will be out, so no cooking

Sunday: leftovers


The Asiago-Crusted Pork Chops from last week were really, really good. I baked them rather than cooking them on the stove top as the recipe calls for you to do. Basically I did this because the last time I burned them when I tried to cook them on the stove; live and learn. The baking took a little longer, but nothing too long -- and I need quick dinners when I get home from work at 6 and have to get the kids in bed by 8!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nine Years

Nine years ago tonight, these two yahoos got married (some pics here -- don't get too excited; they're of the scanned variety):

We were just babies, and I thought we were so grown up! And now here we are, nine years later, with three babies of our own. Time sure flies...

During the homily that night, our beloved Father Frank told us that the real test during marriage was to love one another even when we didn't deserve it, even when we were unlovable -- just as Christ loved His church and gave His life for it. It is easy to love each other when we are lovable. It is easy to love each other when things are going well, but it is much harder to love each other when things get tough. It is much harder to love each other when one of us is being a real pain in the you-know-what.

Thankfully, both Brad and I took the homily to heart, and in the past nine years we have done a pretty good (but by no means perfect) job of loving each other when we are unlovable. I could point out many times when he has been that way (he is, after all, a man!), but if I am honest, I will say that there are many when I have been unlovable, too. We are, after all, imperfect human beings living in a fallen world, but, thanks be to God, we are saved by the grace of God and the blood of His Son -- and because of that we can give each other grace.

I don't tell you all of this to make you think that Brad and I are two unlovable people dealing with a bad marriage. In fact, we have a very happy marriage that has only gotten better since we moved to Brad's farm. But we all have our moments. Luckily for us, we started our marriage where I always hope we will be -- looking toward the Cross.

To my husband, here is to ninety-nine more years together when we love each other through the good times and through the unlovable times. I love you. Thank you for loving me.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails...1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cute Ballerinas

I think I mentioned waaaayyyy back in 2010 that the girls had a dance recital right before Christmas. They both had a ballet and a tap number, and both girls did great the first night...that's right, the first night. We had to dance two nights in a row (I say that as if I was up there tapping away)! The second night, it was like they both forgot everything they ever knew -- but it was cute anyway.

I love to watch Sanders' age group. They are all up there, each doing her own thing. Their dances were really cute! Sanders had trouble staying "in a window," so I didn't get a good view of her for the most part, but here are some pictures...

Tyler's group, on the other hand, is just starting to get the whole dancing thing. They don't quite know all of the steps or remember exactly what move they should be doing next, but they definitely have it more together than the 4- and 5-year-olds. Ty was very smiley the whole time she was up there dancing -- she looked like a natural!

For Tyler's tap dance, they danced to "Run, Run Rudolph" and each girl wore antlers. Poor Ty's antlers fell off as soon as she ran on stage, but it didn't phase her. She just kept right on with her dance, and she smiled the entire time.

During the finale, the instructor had snow fall on the stage as a surprise for the dancers. All of the girls loved it. All, that is, except Sanders:

She was just ready to go by that point! And when we asked her a little later what she thought about the snow, she said "That wasn't snow! That was soap!"

The recital was really cute if not perfect ballet or tap form. I will be excited to see how much the girls have learned by the spring recital -- I am sure they will have improved greatly over the course of the next several months. However, I always think the most fun part of these recitals is to see the little girls standing up there looking clueless. As long as they are dressed up in their costumes and up on stage, they look pretty darn cute, no matter what.

Menu Monday

Well, I hate to say that my Menu Monday is going to be kind of lame again this week. I have a lot going on, so I am not doing a lot of cooking...again. I really usually cook a lot more than this!!

Monday: Dinner at the in-laws'. We don't usually eat with them weekly, but my MIL was cooking soup, and it was great for such a cold, dreary day like today; so, I finally changed out of my pjs, chipped the ice off of my car, and loaded up the kids for a little trip across town. We have had an ice/winter weather day off from school today, so we have been very lazy. And I just learned that we have ice/winter weather day again tomorrow!

Tuesday: Asiago-Crusted Pork Chops and Broccoli with Sour Cream Sauce (take two!). Hopefully I will get the right thing out of the freezer to thaw this time!

Wednesday: Brad and I are tentatively planning on going out to dinner -- it is our 9th anniversary!!!! The kids will get leftovers or something...

Friday: I have a birthday dinner, and Brad will be gone for the second weekend in a row -- this time it is our state's watermelon convention.

Saturday: I have an engagement party, and Brad will still be out of town.

Sunday: Spinach Lasagna Rolls and a salad


I can't really comment on any hits or misses from last week because I didn't do much actual cooking. I will hopefully have some feedback next week. I will say, however, that if you don't know, then you need to get to know that site. I cook from it a lot, and it is chock full of great recipes that are lower in fat and calories without scrimping on taste.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Merry, Merry!

I am great at doing things late, but I wanted to share our Christmas card -- complete with real names!
I didn't take my pictures until after Brad and I got back from Tortola, and I was so worried that I was going to have to send my cards out late this year. I got them out before Christmas -- not much before, but still before -- and the kids cooperated pretty well the day that we went out to get pictures. I was thankful that they came together pretty well (forgive the bad scan quality!)!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Menu Monday (on Wednesday!)

I am going to start posting my weekly menus so that I can look back and see what I have or haven't cooked in a while -- I feel like I always get in a cooking rut in the winter. I am also always looking for new things to cook, so I love when other people post their menus to give me ideas -- so maybe I can help some of you by posting some recipes you've never tried!

I had my dinners all planned out for this week, but plans changed, and I haven't actually cooked until tonight. Monday night Brad and I ended up having a late meeting with our contractor, so my mother-in-law fed the kids and we ate leftovers. Last night was my MIL's birthday, so we had dinner at the in-laws' house. So, that leaves the rest of the week...

Tonight: We were supposed to have Asiago-Crusted Pork Chops and Broccoli with Sour Cream Sauce from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast, but in my haste to get to bed last night, I moved the wrong meat to the fridge to thaw -- cube steak rather than boneless pork chops (in my defense, I had them both still in a grocery bag!). So, we improvised and had Tomato Gravy Steak.

Tomato Gravy Steak is a family recipe, and I have never, ever had it anywhere else. To make it, salt and pepper the cube steak, dredge in flour, then brown on both sides. Drain the grease from the frying pan, leaving a bit of drippings and add 2 cans of tomato soup (I know -- it sounds so weird). Put the cube steak back in the gravy, and let it cook until the meat is tender, around 45 minutes or so. Serve with rice. I usually also serve peas with this meal, but tonight we had broccoli -- it was what I had on hand!

Friday: White Chicken chili (recipe from a friend)

Saturday: Brad has a vegetable conference this weekend, so it will probably be leftovers for the kids and me.

Sunday: pizza using the Pioneer Woman's pizza crust

So, that's our menu if things go as planned -- which they haven't so far (as evidenced by tonight's last minute menu change!). Next week I will let you know if we had any hits or misses from this week's menu, but I have cooked everything on here before with the exception of the Pioneer Woman's pizza crust, so I feel pretty confident that things will go well...but that just may be the kiss of death!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Let's Just Start Over, Shall We?

Well. December just passed by in a blur, did it not? And now it is 2011. How did we get here?

And doesn't 2011 just sound weird?

So now we are back to the time when we are all promising ourselves something -- whether it is to lose weight, or to spend more time with the kids, or to keep the house cleaner, or whatever.

One of my resolutions is always to be more organized. I feel like I am a ball of stress and disorganization by the time Christmas rolls around, and I am always running around trying to get bills paid and gifts bought at the last possible minute. (Not to mention feeling totally unorganized in every other part of my life, too.) Then Christmas is over, and I always promise myself not next year -- next year I am going to take control of my life and be more organized so that I can enjoy my Christmas!

And then it never seems to happen.

So, that's resolution #1: Be more organized!

Resolution #2 is to be a better blogger. Let's face it: I really stunk it up in 2010. I know it; you know it (if you're still reading, that is!). I'm already off to a bad start to this resolution because I planned to do this post on January 1, but life got in the way...but here's to starting today. So let's just start over, okay?

Resolution #3 is the obligatory eat better/exercise more resolution. I was doing pretty well with this, but it got cold, so I stopped exercising outside (I hate the cold). Then Halloween, Tortola, and Christmas all came around along with lots of good food, so the eating well has also fallen by the wayside. I am perfectly happy with my size at the moment, but I am always up for some toning up -- and I sure don't want to end up back where I was this time last year...

Look at the roundness of that face! SCARY!

So, that's that. I plan on seeing a lot more of you in 2011. Here's to a great year!

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