Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fall has...fallen?

Monday the high was 83. Tuesday the high was 59. We reached that high at midnight and the temperature just fell all day. And it rained. And rained. And rained. It was wonderful! I got to wear a brand new sweater to work and felt so proud and wonderful in it! :) Then for dinner, we had homemade chili and homemade pumpkin bread. I ate them all while curled up in flannel pajama pants and an oversized long sleeve shirt. The warmth from the chili spread from my nose to my toes!
After dinner, I got a chance to lay on the floor and play with my dogs! I laughed and laughed as they ran laps around our dinning room table and played with balls and socks and a random glove they found on the floor.
Now, I'm sitting in the recliner watching my favorite show with my two favorite puppies snoring in my lap. I feel wonderful and fantastic and snuggly warm through and through! Snoozing puppies are such wonderful stress-relief!
I just realized I used a lot of exclamation marks in those paragraphs. However, after a rough day at work I am just so excited to have a heart full of peace and a lap full of dog! :) Oh how I love fall!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meanwhile on the job front...

Life around these parts have not been fun lately. Way too many deaths and drama and heart ache. My eyes are still raw from the crying...

However, yesterday felt like a sucker punch to the gut. After only 11 weeks teaching in a dream classroom, things are going to change. A new student is enrolling and I cannot teach him at this time in life. So on Monday, I will switch classes with another pre-k teacher. She will teach my class of two students and I will take her very busy class of 14 four year olds! In the end, I know I'll love teaching this class. However, right now I'm sad to leave the class I've fallen in love with...

There are two songs that continue to echo through my heart right now. One we stumbled upon when flipping through radio stations last night...

Born To Climb
Right now you feel like you'd rather be anywhere else
Than here where you are
Cause life has a way of arranging your plans
And the journey you're on is so hard

Oh the mountain is high
And the road up the side is much steeper than you thought it'd be
You're out of breath and scared half to death
You won't have the faith to believe
But grace, sweet grace has strengthened you time after time
So don't be afraid of the mountain
Cause friend, you were born to climb

God has not given a spirit of fear
Or a burden that you cannot bear
And just at the moment you feel hope is fading
Behold the Lord standing right there

You have been called to be more
Than you were before
Just set your sights
On Heavenly heights
And trust in the Lord

The other song that echos through my heart is a new release from Amy Grant...
 
Better Than a Hallelujah
God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves a drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out,singing out.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I need gift ideas!!!!

I know... It's not even Halloween yet... It's too early to think about Christmas... Normally I'd agree with you... I'm a huge fan of Thanksgiving and usually want to fully celebrate that holiday before Christmas sneaks around... HOWEVER...

We fly out for my brother's wedding a week before Christmas, thus cutting my shopping time by a week.
We have a thousand things to do for the wedding and we really want to get Christmas shopping out of the way.
We have no money because we're spending it all on travel for the wedding.

So... I need help! What should I get for the following people? Please feel free to offer any and all suggestions! (Especially if you ARE one of the following people.)

Mother and Father-in-law
Sister-in-law
16 year old nephew (I also need a birthday present for him.)
13 year old niece
11 year old niece (I also need a birthday present for her.)
10 year old nephew
7 year old niece
7 year old nephew
5 year old nephew (I also need a birthday present for him.)
My grandmother (Who loves the hubsters way more than she loves me.)

I also need a whole host of stocking stuffer ideas! Please throw any and all ideas out there - even the ridiculous!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Chicken in Cream Sauce

Dinner tonight was AMAZING! I just knew I had to share... It was super easy to make, but seemed like a super fancy meal.

Here's the original recipe:
2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
1 can (14 oz) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
6 Ritz crackers, finely crushed
2T Parmesan cheese
4 small boneless chicken breast halves (1 lb)
2t oil
1/3 cup Philadelphia chive and onion 1/3 less fat than cream cheese
3/4 lb asparagus spears, trimmed, steamed

Cook rice as directed on package, using 1-1/4 cups of the broth and 1/2 cup water.
Meanwhile, mix cracker crumbs and Parmesan on plate. Rinse chicken with cold water; gently shake off excess. Dip chicken in crumb mixture, turning to evenly coat both sides of each breast. Discard any remaining crumb mixture.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5-6 min on each side or until done. Transfer to plate; cover to keep warm. Add remaining broth and reduced-fat cream cheese to skillet; bring just to boil, stirring constantly. Cook 3 min or until thickened, stirring frequently; spoon over chicken. Serve with rice and asparagus.

The problems:
1. We don't like asparagus.
2. I wasn't crazy about the idea of chive and onion cream cheese.
3. 2 cups of rice is an entire box and there's only two of us.
4. I didn't have 4 small chicken breast. I had 2 giant, mammoth chicken breast.
5. Six Ritz crackers was not very much breading. We like more breading.
6. I've never rinsed chicken in water and it seemed like extra work because I was going to have to clean my sink so I just didn't rinse it. Then the breading didn't stick and it burned onto the bottom of the skillet. While this created some tasty crunchies to top the chicken, it wasn't what we wanted. (We also ended up using a ton of olive oil!!)
7. We didn't have enough room in the skillet for all the chicken so we had to cook it in two batches. This created lots more burning on the bottom of the skillet.
8. The recipe only calls for a little bit of cream cheese. We ate every bit of cream and licked the skillet clean. We still have chicken and rice left over.

The solutions:
1. We didn't make asparagus.
2. We used regular 1/3 fat cream cheese.
3. We used the same amount of liquid and half the amount of rice. It was perfect!!
4. I knew the chicken wouldn't cook evenly if I left them 18 inches thick, so I tried cutting them into strips. This didn't work so well. Next time I'll cut it into bites or pound some chicken breasts thinner.
5. We used 15 Ritz crackers and 5T of Parmesan cheese. I threw very little crumb mixture away.
6. We must investigate this breading thing. Maybe some milk? Or I should follow the recipe and rinse them in water? I found a website that said to dry the chicken, dip it in flour, then egg, then your breading. That seems like a lot of extra dishes and calories and work and all of that. It also said the breaded chicken should rest for 5 min before cooking.
7. Don't really have a solution for this one.
8. I guess I'll have to make more cream sauce! That's ok! It was easy, fantastic, and all over yummy! I just might make it on a regular basis to put on random chicken and such... Or to drink with my meal. :)

The new recipe:

2 cups instant brown rice
1 can chicken broth, divided
15 Ritz crackers
5T Parmesan cheese
About a pound of chicken, cut into bite size pieces or pounded into submission
Oil for cooking (way more than 2t)
1/3 cup cream cheese

Mix cracker crumbs and Parmesan. Dip chicken in milk or egg, dip in breading. Let sit for 5 min.
Cook rice using 1-1/4 cup of broth and 1/2 cup water.
Cook in skillet, trying not to knock off too much breading.
Make the most amazing sauce on the planet and try not to eat it while it's still boiling in the skillet. Lick splatters off of stove.
Serve chicken with cream sauce over a beautiful bed of rice.
Be thankful that you're eating at home and not in public. Moan loudly. Continue eating. Moan some more. Steal the chicken from your spouse's plate. Lick your plate clean.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fiona - a love story

Once upon a time, a poor college student had a car that was lovingly given to her by her grandmother. One day, that car died in the middle of the road. The girl got it running again and the engine raced and shot the car into an intersection. This was not the first time it had happened and so the girl was fed up (and a little terrified). She called her parents to inform them that she was going car shopping!

She shopped for cars at several places, but when she saw Fiona - she knew it was a match made in heaven. The little 2002 Ford Escort was practically perfect in every way and the girl fell in love. She wheeled and dealed her way through the sale and drove away with an amazing bargain (and her first tank of gas)! The girl and the car loved each other dearly and had many great adventures. But sadly, all love stories must come to an end...

On Monday, September 27, 2010 the girl was celebrating her first pay check at her new teaching job with a quick lunch at Subway. When she left the parking lot, she wasn't paying attention and smacked little Fiona into a very large pole. Fiona's bumper crumbled and both Fiona and the girl had to cry a little bit. This was the beginning of the end.

The rest of the week, the girl kept noticing that Fiona was having more and more trouble starting up. She shivered and shook all over and she threw a full-blown temper-tantrum when she had to stop at a light. Fiona knew what was coming and was trying to tell the girl good-bye. The girl knew something was wrong and spoke loving words of encouragement but thought it was nothing more than needing an oil change.

On Friday, October 1, 2010 the girl and her family climbed in to begin the two hour drive to see the girl's parents. Fiona kicked and screamed that she did not want to make this trip, but the girl and her husband didn't hear her. They gave her a little more oil, a tender pat on the hood, and urged her down the road. On the trip, they discussed how they were going to afford the repair to the bumper, the four new tires, the oil change, and the new ABS system that needed to be installed. They knew Fiona was in the fight of her life and they were determined to fight by her side.

Two blocks from her parent's house, the girl watched Fiona breathe her last. In the middle of a busy road, Fiona gave up her fight and died. Many strangers stopped to help the stranded family, but Fiona had given the girl her everything and was gone. The next day, a tow truck took her to her final resting place while the girl cried. She was thankful that she had hit the pole because she knew she had at least a little cash coming from the insurance, but she was very sad that Fiona was no more.

Now the girl and her husband only have one car. They are thankful that the girl is only working part time and can drop the husband off at work each morning long before her day must begin. They are thankful that cooler weather has finally crept to Texas because the one car has no a/c. They are thankful that Fiona did not have new tires, a new ABS, or a new bumper when she died. They are so very thankful that the girl's parents were close by when Fiona took her last breath and were able to come to the rescue. And, they are a little bit thankful that they get to go car shopping on Saturday! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things I'm loving

These are the things I'm loving these days.

This man...













This picture...









This memory...












This girl on the far right...









This girl too...
This reminder that fall is here and cooler weather is on it's way...


This blanket - especially with this little head peeking out...









This toe nail polish...












This new addition to our home... (It still needs a few pictures!)












This invitation...












This group of friends (and the missing spouses)...
















Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My cup runneth over

WARNING: This blog post contains items of a personal, intimate, female nature. Male blog readers might want to avert their eyes. :- )
BRITTANY: This post contains bridesmaid's drama. If you're feeling stressed about the wedding, please read it later. If you're not stressed - just know that this problem will be resolved and we are making every effort to get it fixed ASAP! We will get it taken care of before the wedding!

As you know, I'm a bridesmaid in my brother's wedding. As with almost every bridesmaid's dress, I must wear a strapless bra. I started the bra search way back in June. I went to my favorite bra store and they told me about a fantastic new style that was so comfortable most women made it their regular bra. However, they didn't have any in the store and I would have to order on-line. I was thrilled with the idea so I quickly told the sales lady my bra size and happily went on my way. When the bra arrived in the mail, I immediately tried it on! In my mind, this was going to be the miracle bra and would fit my curves perfectly. I was shocked to see that the cup of the bra didn't fit my curves at all - it came up from underneath and stuck straight up in the air! (Sorry guys - no pictures for this post!!!) In order for the bra to lay flat across the top half of my boob, it had to be folded over by several inches!

DJ doesn't have a lot of experience with strapless bras and was quite confused by the way it stuck straight up in the air. He suggested that we try on my bridesmaid's dress just to see if the bra would lay down the right way. No luck! Now my dress was sticking straight up in the air! After a hearty laugh, we agreed that the bra had to be returned.

This weekend, I returned to the store I ordered the bra from and explained my problem. The sales lady said she would be happy to help, but she needed to SEE the problem. So I tried on the bra, called her into my dressing room, and showed her just how bad the problem really was. She looked extremely confused and, after a few attempts to make the bra fit, finally suggested we try a different style of strapless bra. I put the new style on, hopeful that this one would work. It stuck straight up in the air just like the one I ordered originally. I tried on bra after bra, each with various degrees of success. Some stuck up in the air, one was about 6 inches from hooking, and each created some level of snickering from my mom and sister. Each time I put on a new bra, I called the sales lady into my dressing room so she could examine my deformed looking "girls". Mom kept saying, "Allison! What is wrong with your boobs???"

After going down four cup sizes (WOW!) I finally found a bra that didn't stick up in the air. However, it squished my girls into the oddest shape I've ever seen. They were lifted all the way up to my chin, spilling over the top of the bra, and leaking out the sides into my arm pits. I literally couldn't put my arms down! My mom and sister were rolling with laughter and close to tears. (Not to mention a serious case of wet pants!) I looked at the sales lady and, in my most exasperated tone, said, "My cups runneth over!" She didn't even crack a smile - just stared at my misshapen boobies! She told me several times to put my arms down so we could look at the way the bra fit. It took several attempts to explain that I couldn't put my arms down because I had boobs in the way. I couldn't stop thinking, "I'm standing up-right and my boobs are in my arm pits. This is ridiculous! I'm just going to forget it all and duct tape those suckers down!!!"

After 45 minutes, 16 bras, and literally covering the dressing room floor with bras that didn't fit, I walked away with the bra I came with, and a completely depleted sense of self-esteem. There's a store about an hour away from our house that hopefully has more styles in stock. So DJ and I will head that way for the next round of bra shopping. Let's just hope the girls stay where they should and we find something to strap those suckers down under my dress! I don't think my self esteem (or my girls) can take much more of this!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The best laid plans of mice and men...

My brother is getting married a week before Christmas. He's been engaged for almost a year so we've been planning and talking about it for a while now. However, we've now reached the point where there's less than 100 days until The Big Day and plans are really taking off! It's been fun to listen to my future sister-in-law talk about the things she's planned and always dreamed of - especially since I was in her shoes not too long ago! (I also just learned that she reads this blog! Hi Brittany!) My sister and I are both bridesmaids, DJ is a groomsman.

The big hitch in all of our plans has been that DJ and I started new jobs this year and the last day of the semester is the day before the wedding. Generally, teacher's aren't allowed to take off the day before or the day after a vacation. It's really frowned upon to take off the day before Christmas break. The last day of the semester. The day grades are due. The day of several finals for DJ's students. So we were both extremely nervous to approach our brand new principals about taking off so we could be in Indiana in time for the rehearsal.

Yesterday, we got the final word from the principal - family comes first!!! We were thrilled! In a furry of phone calls, texts, and a few internet searches we found a cheap flight that will get us there in time to actually help out before the rehearsal begins! I'm so excited about the whole thing I could come right out of my skin. I'm not too thrilled about boarding a plane that takes off at 6:20am, but I'm excited that we'll get to be a part of all the wedding activities and that we won't be rushing to the rehearsal straight from the plane!

So the plan looks something like this:
Wednesday - My sister and dad start the 23 hour drive to Indiana with all of the dresses in the backseat.
Thursday - My mom comes to our house and spends the night.
Friday - We wake up at roughly 3:30 in the morning and head to the airport. I promise I will sleep on the plane. We land at 10:20 and meet up with my dad and sister. We then drive to my brother's city and check into the hotel.
Saturday - My brother gets married!!!!!!!
Sunday - We pack up all our junk, my brother's four children, and a car FULL of games and start driving back to Texas in my brother's van and whatever car my dad and sister drove to Indiana in. When we get back to our neck of the woods, we will head to our house to pick up our car and luggage for the rest of the trip. DJ and I will go get our dogs from wherever we have stashed them while the rest of the caravan goes to the airport to get my mom's car. All four vehicles will then head to Waco to anxiously await the arrival of Santa Claus and Christmas!

Just looking at it all makes me exhausted! But I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! And now, I have to go to the gym. I'm determined to make that bridesmaid's dress fit...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Laundry Delima

So right now, our schedule looks something like this:

5:00am - Roll out of bed, scrape crusties out of our eyes
5:30am - Hubsy leaves for work and has morning practice with the JV team
8:00am - Hubsy showers at the school and puts on khakis, dress shirt, and a tie
3:30pm - Hubsy changes out of dress clothes and puts on a second set of tennis clothes for afternoon practice with the Varsity team
5:30pm - Hubsy drives home in a car with no A/C
5:50pm - Hubsy arrives home to a wife who kisses him with a clothes pin on her nose and shoos him off to the shower

So this is the delima I have here... On average, Hubsy goes through four sets of clothes a day. Two of those sets are soaked with sweat. Within 24 hours, our laundry room begins to have an odor which words can't quite describe. By days two, three, and four I can hardly stand to walk in the room without my stomach churning.

So what do I do? How do I clear the stench in the laundry room without doing a load of laundry every day? Well, it would actually require two or three loads of laundry because of the colors he has to wear. Any suggestions on making our laundry room a little less smelly and a lot more pleasant to walk by?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The classroom!

After countless hours through the middle of the night, I got my classroom finished just in time for Meet the Teacher night! Here's a peek into my world:

I've had this alphabet strip since I started teaching and absolutely love it! When we put it up, it felt like coming home...


More of my favorite things - my color bears and Winnie the Pooh pillows.


This picture makes my heart smile with glee! I needed a way to organize my large book collection, so the sweet hubster built me a custom bookcase! He spent long hours, worked late into the night, and gave up time in his room just to make sure this got done. Isn't he fantastic?!?!


Two shots of the room! It's been moved around 16 times since school started, but this is the original arrangement and still my favorite...


My meeting board that already needs updating! :)

My desk, a work table, and my sassy red purse!


This isn't my school at all. It's DJ's! Isn't it beautiful? And huge? His classroom is in the very last hallway way down on the right. I was standing about halfway down the hall when I took this picture. And that's just the new wing! :) You should see the hike he has to take just to get to the tennis office. He's lost over 10 pounds the first week of school.


So there's a glimpse into our life as it stands right now. I need to finish my coffee and eat my breakfast so I can get moving on the day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School

It's official! It's that time of year again. Today, DJ starts inservice and mine starts tomorrow. Last week was new teacher orientation and it completely wore us both out! We spent nearly every night working in my classroom in order to get it ready for the new year. As soon as we finish, I'll post pictures. This is officially the craziest time of the year for us (way busier than the Christmas season!) and we will continue to stay busy for weeks to come. I'll update when I can, but no promises. Until then, enjoy this glorious time of year and go smell a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils or brand new crayons. There's nothing else quite like it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Where we've been!

In the last few months, life has been a little crazy in our house! My head is still spinning from all of it... Here are the highlights of life as we know it:
  • On the last day of school in June, DJ was hired as the new math teacher and tennis coach at a nearby high school. We danced and cheered because we knew we wouldn't be living in a cardboard box!
  • On June 27, 2010 we celebrated our very first anniversary! It was a wonderful time to enjoy being together. We took an overnight trip to a teeny little town called Jefferson, TX. It is a sweet little town that time seems to have forgotten. We loved it and have every intention of going back next summer!
  • While we were in Jefferson, we decided to take a side trip to Uncertain, TX. On the way to Uncertain, we got stuck in a blinding rain storm with no cell phone reception or GPS. (We decided we would have been horrible pioneers!) We almost ran out of gas and got horribly lost while having a good laugh over signs reading, "Uncertain Church". We also picked up several nails in one tire.
  • Once we filled up the car with gas, we made a short trip over the state line just so we could say we went to Louisiana. We decided that my allergies do NOT like Louisiana. I have no plans of returning any time soon. :)
  • A few weeks ago, I got a call that I got a teaching job as well! I'll be teaching Pre-K special ed at an elementary school only about 15 min away! I only have one student, an aide, and the biggest classroom you can imagine! (Check out Facebook for the pictures!) This week, I will join the other pre-k teachers at a conference and I'm thrilled! I can't wait to be a part of team again!!
  • I have offically turned in my two weeks notice at Chick-Fil-A. I have a very busy August and won't be able to work at all. Therfore, my last day will be June 30th. I'm happy and sad all at once!
That's the summary from our neck of the woods. I will do my best to keep the blog updated, but the next month and a half will be super busy so I'm making no promises! Thanks for sticking with us in the crazy times...

Monday, July 5, 2010

We're still here!

I know it's been over a month since my last post and I'm sorry. We're still here and doing really well! I have lots to post about - from job news to our first anniversary to friends getting married to a wonderful fourth of July. It'll have to wait until I have time to download pics and make sense of everything. Just wanted to let you know that we're alive and well! And, just for fun, here's a random picture I found somewhere on my computer:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Coming Home

Last night I cried. I know, shocking news! DJ was outside with the dogs and I curled up in the bed, feeling very alone, and cried. When he came back in and saw me there (looking quite pathetic, I'm sure) he set down his water glass, crawled into bed next to me, and held me close. I rolled over and sobbed into his chest - soaking his shirt and my pillowcase.
At first, I was mad that he didn't say a word. He didn't ask what was wrong. I felt like he was annoyed by my tears and was just doing his duty as the husband of a crazy lady. But as I cried more, I realized something powerful.
I was home.
Laying there in his arms, crying out my emotions of the day, I'd come home. So I cried because I missed my Waco family and friends so much it hurt inside. I cried because babies were growing up and I wasn't there to watch. I cried because it takes four years to build the friendships I had back in Waco and we'd only been up here for a year. I cried because of a rude comment a random stranger made about my current job. I cried because my husband has to work graduation on Sunday - our one day together as a family. And then I cried because I was home. Because there in my sweet husband's arms was all I needed for that moment. He didn't need to speak. He didn't need to ask me what was wrong. He just needed to let me cry. And somehow, without any words spoken, he told me everything I needed to hear.
"Welcome home."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, the irony!

Yesterday, I shared with you my complete lack of gardening skills. Yesterday afternoon, when the mail arrived I had a letter that made me literally laugh out loud! Let me share with you the highlights...

"Congratulations on your nomination!" My nomination to what, you ask? The National Home Gardening Club. Specifically, the Minnetonka, Minnesota Club.

"It's no secret among your friends and neighbors that you are an outstanding gardener. As someone who is passionately devoted to your hobby, you're exactly the kind of person our Club is always looking for."

"[The Club] is not for beginners! Only serious gardeners are nominated."

I swear folks, I am not making this up. I got a free pack of seeds and timed release all purpose plant food. It feeds up to 4 months! (Then it says 14-14-14 underneath. As the experienced, master gardener that I am - I have no clue what that mean!) The best part is, if I return the RSVP card, I get to be a member of the club and get free seeds. That I have no clue what to do with! Do flowers grow in a yard full of dandelions, buttercups, and dirt so dry it's literally cracked? We also have our very own puppy-sized sink hole. Can I put the seeds there? :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Can I just say?

I've inherited a lot of traits from my mom. Some of them I am thrilled that the Lord passed them onto me! Like my mom's ability to talk to any child at any time anywhere. Or her passion for family and education. Or her smile. Other traits, I could have passed on. Like the small bladder that I'm sure will be an added "blessing" during pregnancy! And the complete lack of any musical talent whatsoever. At the moment, I'm really wishing I hadn't inherited her complete lack of a green thumb. She always said it was a black thumb. At least she can grow ivy. I quickly killed the ivy I tried to grow...
DJ inherited several traits from his mom. Like her passion for teaching and family. And, luckily, her green thumb. It is DJ's loving care that has coaxed fruit out of our little fruit plants in the backyard. (Even though all three of our raspberries have been eaten by the birds!) I am trying my best to learn from him. Therefore, I am super duper discouraged to look out the window and see this:
The dandelions and buttercups are in full bloom and spreading like wildfire. The grass is dead. This is after TWO applications of weed and feed. It's a sad sight to see. And then there's the geranium. Just two posts ago I was telling you how wonderful and beautiful it was. Now the blooms are gone and it's full of dead sticks and smelly leaves. Can I just say that my black thumb from my mom is just not my favorite trait today?


Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm loving it!

I have recently fallen in love with sewing. I'm seriously addicted. Now I know why my mom wanted me to learn so badly. It's wonderful! I keep showing the hubs all these projects I want to make and his response usually involves something like the following: "That's cute! I know you can do it! Can you find a coupon?" He's really very supportive of my new-found addiction! :)

A favorite blog of mine is hosting a giveaway for a hand-sewn table runner. I get an extra entry if I blog about the giveaway. I'm going to leave you the link but I'll beg you not to follow it simply because I want to win! :) HA! If you do follow the link, tell Melanie that if you win, you'd like to send the prize to me! Is that allowed? Go here for the seriously cute table runner! (But know that if you win, I'll totally steal it from you!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spring

God is so creative! I'm always in awe of His creative genius! About the time we get tired of one season, He surprises us with a new one. When we simply cannot stand the death and desolate winter months, life springs out of nowhere and flowers appear. Plants produce color and food that nourish the body and the soul. It makes my heart soar to think of what the Lord does for us each spring. On top of the world around us springing forth life, three of my friends gave birth to absolutely beautiful babies in three days time. Two of them have the same birthday and gave birth to babies on the same day. It was a delightful surprise! So, before I go any further - congrats to Leslie, Brandi, and Rachel! Riggins, Jacob, and Caitlyn are precious and amazing and a beautiful example of God's grace! Enjoy your new blessings as your family grows by two feet! :)

Do you remember the post where we went to the farmers market and then bought several fruit plants? We planted them in the backyard and I have been faithfully watering them daily. This weekend, we discovered something new. I won't bore you with words - I'd rather show you pictures!

Our geranium is growing and still blooming! Given my lack of a green thumb (it's really more black than anything else) this is really quite impressive!


Here is our blueberry bush. It's looking more like a bush every day. The internet says when it's fully grown it'll be 8x10 feet! I hope there's enough room in this corner of the yard.


This is the most important (and exciting) part of the blueberry bush. If you look closely you can see that there are little bulging blueberries. They're more green than blue right now, but that's not the point. We have blueberries!!

And this? This is a raspberry. It's actually turning pink and looking like it should. I'm just praying the birds will leave it alone so we can eat it.

Look - more raspberries are growing! It'll be a great summer in the Hammond Home!

Our grapevine started as a twig with three pink blooms. It was around 8 inches tall. It has already outgrown the first trellis and will soon outgrow the one we bought on Saturday!

I'd never seen a grapevine in person. The leaves are huge! The best part is that they appear out of nowhere and grow to this size within a day or two. We have loved watching the grapevine grow!

This is, by far, my favorite part of the entire grapevine. It literally reaches out and grabs onto the trellis. Within an hour of us putting this trellis up, the grapevine had already wrapped itself around several times. We are continually amazed at the Lord's creativity! And do you see that little red stick with the green spikey things coming off of it?

Those, my friend, are teeny tiny grapes. We're still placing bets on what color they'll be when they're ripe.

In keeping with our spring theme, here are the Hammonds on date night after getting caught in a surprise spring thunderstorm! Isn't my husband a handsome hunk? We had a fantastic night at Olive Garden...

And these gorgeous tulips? These were waiting for me when I came home from work on Saturday. My table looks like the very definition of spring! My heart smiles every time I see my sweet spring surprise. (Thanks sweetheart!)

Monday, April 26, 2010

The next chapter

So here's how it all unfolded... A friend of ours is the general manager at Chick-Fil-A. He said they needed cashiers. After much debate, we decided I should apply so that we could have a little extra cash for an anniversary trip and my brother's upcoming wedding. That was several weeks ago. When we didn't hear anything from the owner of the store, we decided God was telling us to wait some more. So we waited. We knew God had a plan so we just waited like we've been doing for a year now!

On Friday, our friend called to set up an interview. I went in later that afternoon to interview with him and the owner. I went in and talked with the owner. As we talked, he began to express the fact that I was over-qualified for a cashier job and that he'd much rather hire me as his director of marketing. I'd never considered anything in marketing so I was shocked. He told me to go home and think about it and discuss it with the hubs.

It didn't take much discussing to realize that we both had a huge amount of peace about the position and that we were very very excited! Saturday morning, I texted our friend and told him I was interested in the job despite the lack of experience and would love to be considered for the position. That afternoon, I met him at Chick-Fil-A to fill out tax papers. I start work tomorrow!

We are thrilled about the position and I can't wait to work for such an incredible company! The more I've read my orientation papers, the more I love Chick-Fil-A. I will continue to actively seek a teaching position in the area. Then in August I can walk away with no strings attached. Or, if I don't have a teaching position I can stay on at Chick-Fil-A.

And thus begins a new chapter in the life of the Hammonds!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Being productive

Yesterday, I finally finished my first major sewing project all by myself! I'm really very proud of it! I worked through mistakes without getting frustrated and fell head over heels in love with sewing. However, I can't post pictures because it's a gift for a friend and I think she just might be a blog reader. But after I surprise her, I'll put the pictures here to show off my new-found "talent". (Let's just hope she finds the imprefections charming and not a major drawback.)

I'm already on the hunt for my next project. I'm currently limited to the pieces I've stolen from my mom's fabric pile but I fully intend to stock up on all those fabric sales I keep finding! I want to sew non-stop now!! (I just hate the cutting parts...)

Yesterday, DJ trimmed the bushes out front. They had suddenly sprouted to the height of DJ's chin and were horribly unruly. They're now neat and trim and tidy. We discovered a birds nest in one bush and a tree behind another. Yes, a tree. DJ knew it was there - he'd attempted to cut it out about 4 years ago and hadn't gotten all of the roots so the hardy little booger grew back. It was literally right next to the foundation of the house, so we knew it had to go. We were able to dig up pieces of the root and keep some of the stem in tact. Therefore, in honor of Earth Day we were able to plant TWO trees in our back yard! (We cut the root in half.) We didn't have any stakes or wire that we should use, so we used plant ties to attach it to two (unlit) tiki torches. It's quite amusing to see! I was going to post pictures, but it's raining outside. I was also going to post pictures of our blossoming fruit plants, but again the rain is falling at a steady rate.

So, no pictures today. Sorry. I think I'm going to go attack that scraps pile to see what I can create! Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hammond Hurricane

The past few weeks have been a hurricane of activities and fun here in the Hammond House. We have about 30 seconds of down time before we gear up for the next event. Here's a summary of life as we know it:
  • A few weeks ago D.J. took his tennis team to the district tennis tournament. Amazingly, he had three teams qualify for the regional competition - a first in the school's history! WOW! I was so proud of him I though I just might burst. (The administration at his school was quite proud of him as well!)
  • With only a few weeks to prepare for regionals, D.J. started extended after school practices with his qualifiers. He came home exhausted every day!
  • On top of preparing for regionals, the final TAKS test of the year is only days away. His 18 remaining students have one more chance to pass or they won't graduate. It's do or die time!
  • I have spent several Saturdays at job fairs with very few positive results. We know of several reasons for the discouraging results: There are a fresh slew of college grads at these fairs and I look younger than all of them - despite being 5 years their senior! The economy is resulting in more and more unemployment. These businessmen are now looking to the field of education as a steady form of employment. Also because of the economy, the government has cut back their funding and therefore school districts aren't able to hire as many people. And while we're on the economy, teachers who are hoping to move to a new district won't quit their current job until they have a new one lined up. Therefore, there's no openings and principals haven't caught wind of any openings they might have in the future. Yeah, I feel super optimistic!
  • The regional tennis tournament was earlier this week. Because it was an overnight trip, D.J. needed a female chaperone. That means I got to tag along and get a free night in a hotel and free meals out! It was wonderful! We had a great time and for a few minutes I actually caught myself enjoying the crazy teenagers. :) Unfortunately, we live in Region II. In the past 20 some odd years there has never been a state tennis champion that didn't come from Region II. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the nation, therefore our region is considered the most competitve one in the country. Therefore, D.J.'s kids didn't do too well... But we had a good time!
  • Now that the tennis season is over, D.J. is focused on getting his kids through the TAKS next week. After that we have the student/faculty tennis tournament and then preparing for the end of the year. Like I said 30 seconds of down time before the next wave of the hurricane hits!
  • On the way home from the tennis tournament, my sore throat felt like someone set it on fire. We called and begged for the last doctor appointment of the day and heard what we already knew - strep throat! So I've spent the last few days parked on the couch. I've enjoyed the chance to rest, but the bags are still packed and the laundry is piled up. However, today I'm feeling my energy return and I think I can swallow again.
  • On Saturday, I'm going to a Beth Moore simulcast with my mother-in-law. I'm really excited about it - I love Beth Moore!
So that's the update from the Hammond's! I'm off to attempt swallowing again... Maybe I'll actually get to eat today! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm loving it!

I was going to post pictures from our fantastic April Fool's Day dinner, but that's going to have to wait... We're in charge of dinner for our community group tonight and I need to get started chopping up all those yummy veggies! Before I get moving on that, I wanted to share something with you all.

One of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman, recently posted some office supplies that she found on her last shopping trip. I fell head over heels in love with the items she purchased and with the company itself. I'm not sure if it's because the humor reminds me of my brother or if it's because I love Post-Its and office supplies so very much - I just know they're fantabulous! I told my husband (and my mom) (and my sister) (and my best friend) that these items were on my official Christmas wish list. And my "Because you love Alli" wish list. And my "Alli had a bad day and needs a pick-me-up" wish list. And my "Mad Money" wish list. And my "Alli did something fantastic and needs a little reward" wish list. And my... I'll spare you the rest of my lists. (I'm a list maker, can you tell? Maybe that's another reason I love these items so much!) So without further ado, slip over to The Pioneer Woman and check out these fantastic items. And while you're at it, buy a few things and mail them to me! :)
The most wonderful office supplies in the world!

While we're talking about items on my wish lists, I also love these cards (also from The Pioneer Woman). I assume they're also from the aforementioned shopping trip, but I'm not sure. I just know I want one of everything!
Hilarious cards!

Thank you for indulging me! I just love the sarcasm. The wit. The bold colors. The fact that someone else finally admits the truth on paper. Fantastic! Simply fantastic!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A new discovery!

Let me preface this post by saying that I hate spinach. I take that back - "hate" isn't strong enough. Loathe. Despise. Abhor. Gag on sight. Strictly avoid like the plague.

That being said, I feel completely opposite about pasta. I live on pasta. I thrive on all forms! I devour on sight. I was clearly meant to be Italian. However, because of my feelings towards spinach I've always avoided pasta with any kind of (or hint of) spinach anywhere near it.

Therefore, for dinner last night I was completely shocked that I made the following recipe. I was even more amazed that I loved it! I am shocked beyond all reasoning that I am currently devouring the left overs.

We took a large pile of home-made, preservative free basil and garlic linguini fresh from the Farmer's Market. We tossed it in a large pot of boiling water (with just a splash of olive oil) and let that cook itself into a frenzy.
Meanwhile, we rubbed basil and garlic powder into some chicken and tossed them onto the grill in the back. As they cooked, we added more of the spices, a little onion powder, and a dash of olive oil to make it all stick together.
While all of those dishes were cooking themselves into a yummy goodness we took two large handfulls of spinach and a bunch of basil for spin in a food processor. The mixture was a little dry so we added water and olive oil.
When everything was done we drained the pasta and tossed it with the spinach and a good amount of parmesan. We piled it on a plate and put the chicken on top. (I flipped the chicken over a few times so there was some green on the chicken and it looked all pretty.)

We devoured it! It was absolutely delicious! We named it Leprechaun Pasta (because that was more fun than spinach pasta) and plan on making it over and over and over again! I tried to take pictures but the pasta just looked moldy. It didn't taste moldy and I loved it! Me, the gal who avoids spinach at all costs, loves spinach and wants to cook it again! Who knew?

Tonight for dinner? Left overs!

(And training for the race is going really well! Last night D.J. and I did a kilometer in 9 minutes. I was huffing and puffing and D.J. had to drag me the last block but I made it. I worked hard and did it! I'm so very proud!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

A weekend of fruit!

What a weekend! It was busy and wonderful! Here's just a small glimpse...

Saturday was the Forney job fair. In an effort to look slightly closer to my new age (I turned 27 on Wednesday!) I got a hair cut. This is the first time I've had my hair cut by someone other than the person who has cut it since I was in 7th grade. I was very nervous, but I loved the end result!
D.J.'s tennis team did extremely well in their tournament on Friday and he was super late coming home. So I stood on a chair in my bedroom and texted pictures to my mom, sister, best friend, and another friend in Waco. This was the final decision for the job fair. My favorite part was standing on the chair! And texting a thousand pictures while standing on the chair. Do you see Marley peeking over the ottoman? He was very confused by my actions!
After choosing the perfect outfit, it took us 20 minutes to choose shoes. I wore the one on my left foot. It was the most comfortable option I owned!

After the job fair, we bought a hanging pot of geraniums. I liked the fact that I knew the soil was right and it would be free of weeds and grub worms!

On Sunday, D.J. and I celebrated my birthday in style! We began with a trip to the Dallas Farmer's Market. I'd never been to a Farmer's Market. It was so much fun! We had a great time and bought just a few things...
From left to right, that's corn, pineapple, cantelope, spinach, home made pasta, onions, tomatoes, pears, oranges, strawberries, blackberries, plums, local honey, green beans, broccoli, and blueberries. YUM! Let's look a little closer...

My fridge looks so pretty! I've busted into that fruit drawer no fewer than 16 times today...

Do you see the size of that cantelope? Seriously huge size and seriously heavy! It's going to be a large part of my dinner.

These blueberries are the primary reason for my fridge raids. I can't remember ever eating fresh blueberries but now I can't stop eating them. I put them on my oatmeal and have snacked on them all day. So seriously in love!

These beautiful green beans? They're destined for a crock pot and some Italian dressing! I think. Any recipe suggestions would be most welcome! (Same with spinach. I've never owned a bag of spinach and don't know what to do with it other than put it on the pasta for dinner.)

After the Farmer's Market, we headed off to Home Depot and Lowes to buy my birthday present: a new kitchen faucet! Whlie we were there we spied these little beauties:

They were on sale so we snagged four of them! We don't know what we've gotten ourselves into, but sometime this week we will begin the first season of the Hammond Fruit Orchard.

We might even get blueberries this summer! The internet says a blueberry bush can grow 8 feet tall and produce 18 pounds of berries in a season. Our bush is only a few sticks at the moment, but she's already over a foot tall - pushing that 2 foot mark. This makes me happy. Her name is Gwendolyn.

D.J. picked out a blackberry vine. It reminded him of childhood summers at his grandparent's house. This plant hasn't been named yet. Once again, suggestions are welcome!

We have a beautiful, long raspberry vine named Elaine. Did you know raspberry vines have little bitty thorns? They don't hurt that much but they are a little prickly. We're still trying to figure out how to grow raspberries but we think they can grow side by side with blackberries!

And finally, here's our grape vine! It has three blooms, no leaves, and no name. I'm not sure what to do with this one but we're excited about the possibilities.

Now we need to decide where in the back yard to plant all our little plants. We're going to plant a plum tree back here somewhere as well. I'd love to have a big shade tree somewhere and another tree way back in that far corner but trees cost a good chunk of change so for now we're going to stick to our fruit plants!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Creative Passion


"Find something you're interested about and keep tremendously interested in it."

Julia Child

A revelation, a decision, and some contemplation

If you asked my friends to describe me, none of them would use the words "athletic" or "fit". I never have been coordinated, graceful, or capable of any sort of athletic task. I realized and embraced this fact at the age of 10 when I finished a summer full of tennis lessons actually worse than when I started. My lack of athletic ability didn't mean I was less of a person - my talents just lay in things like crafting and teaching. To each his own.

Since that fateful summer I've used my lack of athletic ability as an excuse to not be active. Combine that with an intense propensity to emotional eating, and you find the person that sits in front of you today. In the months before I met my sweet husband, I was determined to change my life. I lost 45 pounds and felt fantastic! Then we started dating and I suddenly cared more about spending time with him than doing something that was so very difficult for me. (I feel so very awkward on the recovery boards at Curves. My lack of athletic ability is matched only by my lack of musical awareness. I can't follow a beat and I can't march in place. I look like a fool at Curves!)

During the school year we dated and planned our wedding, I had a horrific set of circumstances combine at work to create a nightmare beyond description. I left that position broken and withered. When I didn't get a job at the beginning of this school year, I crawled further into my hole and convinced myself I could do nothing and was a large waste of a person. It was an ugly time for me but I hid it all behind my standard smile. For months, I faked the joy everyone knew me for. It is only in the past few months that the clouds have started to part and I can see the sun again. I'm finally "me" again and it feels good!

In those nasty months, I attempted to loose weight again as proof to myself that I wasn't worthless. Because of complications with some of my medications I couldn't lose no matter what I did. This further reinforced the lies I heard in my head and I completely gave up any attempt at health.

On Tuesday, I finally convinced myself to go for a walk. While I was walking I realized that I would benefit from a good, hearty competition among friends. And thus, an idea was born...

At the end of May, my little sister, my best friend, my husband, and I will complete a walking 5K. We are going to train for the next two and a half months and then pick a date and race blind against each other. We're in three seperate cities so we'll have a buddy time us as we do our best to haul tooshie for a solid 5K. Everyone will put $5 in the pot and the fastest time wins it all! While I would love to win, the biggest reason I want to race is to prove to myself that I can do it - that I can work hard at something in the athletic realm and succeed. I'm so excited about the possibilities and so proud of myself for being so determined. I know I can do this and I can't wait to cross the finish line in May - no matter what my time is!

I apologize for the length of the post but I needed to pull the skeletons out of the closet. It's time to move on with a fresh start. Thanks for loving me through it all!

Training days down: 2
Days until the race: 59

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Perceived Reality

In my head, I am confident the puppies will be able to share the bones on the floor.
In reality, they snap and bite each other as they fight.

In my head, Marley will wait patiently for me to scoop food into his bowl.
In reality, he runs in circles and bites my toes.

In my head, I planned on being up and dressed before DJ left for work this morning.
In reality, I didn't even make it out of bed.

In my head, the puppies playing in the snow are cute and adorable.
In reality, the snow clumps around their paws and they come in shivering and wet.

In my head, I wanted to spend the whole day yesterday sewing.
In reality, I spent the day untangling fabric and thread and attempting to take my antique little machine apart to clean it.

In my head, I will have a beautiful garden this summer.
In reality, our yard is full of more weeds than anything else - like dirt.

In my head, I'll lose 100 pounds by working out once.
In reality, I ate 100 pounds of spaghetti last night for dinner.

In my head, I will sell my crafts on Etsy and make thousands of dollars.
In reality, I haven't even figured out how to work the website.

In my head, laundry folds itself and everything stays clean.
In reality, my husband had to take a shower without a bath mat because it's sitting in the washer, forgotten.

In my head, my children will be absolutely perfect and will never talk back or draw on walls.
In reality, they'll probably come up with stunts I can't even begin to dream of.

In my head, coffee is good for me.
In reality, I take a legal addictive stimulant and pump it full of sugar and preservatives and suck it down like it was my life blood.

In my head, Post-It notes are the best things in the world.
In reality, FREE Post-It notes are the best things in the world.

In my head , I can cut my hair short for spring and have it long by winter.
In reality, acutally I might be able to do this. I'll have to mull this one over!

In my head, the first day of spring is a sign that you're safe to pack away your heavy winter gear.
In reality, we got 3 inches of snow on the first day of spring and were in desperate need of the thicker gloves!

Disclaimers:
1. No, I'm not pregnant or trying to get pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant any time in the foreseeable future. I have no idea what antics my children will attempt and I won't find out for SEVERAL years. I'm just offering my musings for the day.
2. I don't drink coffee that quickly. But I do drink it fast. And often. And in large volumes. (Did you hear that Starbucks is coming out with an even bigger iced coffee size? If I remember correctly it'll be half a quart. That's my kind of coffee! They created it specifically for people in the southern states who have to suffer through the worst heat known to man. They finally figured out that we need lots of cold stuff in the summer and those little venti sips weren't cutting it!)
3. Yes Marley bites toes. I have scabs. And scars. He barks too. (And he just slammed into the dinning room table and made an all new noise I've never heard before.)
4. There is only a small bit of truth in this post. Bonus points to those who can find it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Break

This week is D.J.'s spring break and I'm amazed that it's already Thursday! Where did the week go? We've had a blast! Marriage is layer upon layer of fantastic!! :) Here's a general over view of what's been going on lately:
  • Mom came to visit last week during her spring break. She was surprised by a nice, cleaned out guest room. And a mint on her pillow. Granted, the mint was several years old and she was strongly discouraged from actually eating it, but there was a mint on her pillow nonetheless!
  • For my birthday, mom bought me the cookbook I've been covetting since October. She also bought me new tennis shoes! I've been wearing my previous pair since is was about 15. It was time for some new kicks. They're comfy and cute and very white! They also have a good splash of purple. This makes everything better.
  • Once D.J. got home from his tournament on Friday, we headed to Waco. It was a wonderful, relaxing four days where we got to enjoy family and friends. And my sister bought a car! We got to be there with her when she signed the papers. I think I took about 150 pictures of the salesman and the paper work. Megan could create an entire scrapbook from that few hours of her life! :)
  • On Tuesday, we went to the grocery store and saved well over $100 on sales and coupons. It was almost 60% of our total bill. We also got two gift cards to spend on our next trip!
  • On Wednesday, we took the dogs to the dog park. It was way more fun than we ever imagined! We plan on returning often!
  • The dog park included a section of lake where dogs were encouraged to swim. Marley jumped right in next to the huge chocolate labs. Cua took a little more encouragement (read: we threw her in against her will) but we actually got a few pictures of them swimming side by side. It was adorable!
  • When we got home, the dogs were nasty from the mud at the lake so we filled the bathtub to the top and let them swim in the tub. My arms are still covered in scratches from Cua's protests.
  • When D.J. attempted to hop in the shower to rinse the soap off the dogs, he discovered the hot water heater had gone out and he was standing in ice cold water.
  • D.J. drained the hot water heater and attempted to pull out the defective heating elements. Of course, this didn't go as smoothly planned. We ended up eating cold fast food at around 9:30 Wednesday night. I don't suggest you try to re-create our evening!
  • D.J. is outside mowing the weeds while the cinnamon roll dough rises on the oven. I'm attempting to catch up on the laundry and not peek at the dough too often.
I'm thrilled to see the sun once more and am madly in love with the little colorful blooms popping up all over town. My heart loves flowers! I'll post pictures soon of the craft projects and decorating we've done recently. The Hammonds have been busy little bees!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

News

I don't know why I chose that title for the post. I avoid the news at all costs. I cry too much. Regardless, here we are with a newsy update from my corner of the world.

1. I have been attempting to follow the Fly Lady's baby steps. So far, I'm doing okay. I'm discovering that changing habits is a long process but I'm doing much better.

2. Since I've been staying home I haven't been wearing make up very often. It felt like a waste of time and make up if no one was going to see me but the dogs. The past week or so I've been wearing make up daily and have been loving it!

3. As a part of that "changing habits is a long process" ordeal, I've never been good at washing my face at night. Since I've started birth control I haven't had any pimples and haven't even attempted to wash my face at the end of the day (unless that happens to be when I'm finally getting in the shower). I'm on a lower hormone level now and I've noticed my skin and hair have changed. Now that I'm wearing make up again, my face has returned to the status of an adolescent. I look even more like a teenager now. It's sad.

4. I've also developed an odd red patch on my forehead. I have crazy odd allergies, so this isn't an unusual occurance for me. It'll go away in a few days. But until then, I have a perfect red heart smack in the middle of my face. It makes me smile.

5. Yesterday, a friend came over and helped me get my sewing machine in working order. We marveled at the knobs that we had no clue what to do with and had major fits trying to thread the bobbin. After about 20 minutes of fiddling and getting covered in sewing machine oil, we were successful. Now I just need something to sew!

6. D.J. has a uniquely special relationship with my grandmother. No one else in the family relates to her quite the way D.J. does. I don't understand why she loves him so much more than she loves me, but I know he happily returns the affection. As a part of that affection, he was extremely excited to see the sewing machine (a hand me down from that grandmother) set up and ready to use. He was much more excited than I expected him to be and promised to find me fabric for a sewing project ASAP.

7. We are not gardeners. We are not excellent on the lawn maintenance side of things. We don't let the yard grow out of control, but it's covered in weeds. One of the dandelions had grown so large I decided to name it Walter. I was sure the freezing temperature and the foot of snow would kill it. No such luck! He had set up shop very close to the house and was protected from the snow by the roof overhang. The snow only watered him. Yesterday, I got fed up and we killed Walter. Well, we attempted to kill Walter. At ground level, the stalk had grown to a whopping 1 inch diameter. (That's a big weed! I kept expecting it to talk and spread rumors. I was totally prepared to call in Larry Boy!) The solution? Cut the dirt out around the tap root until he slides out of the ground. Then soak the area with vinegar. Amazing, huh? I was reluctant to kill it with chemicals because of the dogs but vinegar is cheap and non-toxic to puppies! I'm loving it!

8. Today my plan is to clean the bathrooms, wash the towels, do some painting, dig up more weeds in the hopes of planting a garden, and teach myself how to sew again! I'll let you know how it all goes... (I also need to grade papers for a friend. I should get moving, huh?) I think my skin just might be begging for a break from make up. So I'll cover my pimples with toothpaste and call it a day! :- )

What's the news in your corner of the world?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Confessions of a suburban housewife...

I've learned two things about myself recently.
1. I'm a slight perfectionist.
2. Most of my life is all or nothing.

Here's what this looks like... I wanted to lose weight. I knew I needed to live healthier for a million different reasons. I worked at it, I threw out the junk food, and I worked out daily. Because of complications with my birth control, I couldn't lose weight. Not a pound. I was frustrated and gave up. Now I don't work out and I eat whatever I want.
I want my house to be clean tidy perfect. So I tend to spend an entire day killing myself to make it spotless. Then I get frustrated when the dogs track grass indoors and give up for several days. Then I clean like mad for eight to ten hours. Yes, I realize this is not a healthy cycle.
On the flip side, this cycle has some huge positive aspects. For example, I'm passionate about loving D.J. and making our marriage a long term success. So I pour my entire heart into daily loving him in a way he's never been loved before.

Last week, I spoke with a high school friend who has maintained a monthly grocery budget of $100. She's kept this budget even when she was sick with a fibroid and now that there's a new little mouth to feed. Her budget was a small fraction of what mine was! I was inspired! We e-mailed back and forth about tips and strategies and I felt armed and ready to go. I was deteremined to bring our grocery bills under control and I was confident that I could slice the bill in a single month! So, despite the on-set of strep and a nasty cold, D.J. and I spent all day last weekend traveling to the various grocery stores in and around our little town. We had a list of every single item we purchase on a regular basis and compared the prices in 6 different stores. I then went through the list and figured out who offered the best price on each and every item. My conclusion? Target had the best every day prices. (Not Wal-Mart! Woo hoo!) They also have significant sales on a regular basis. Their toiletries and paper goods are also pretty much rock bottom prices! (Especially if you can get your hands on a coupon!) However, if you really wanted to save big, huge, mega bucks then Tom Thumb was the way to go! The prices were a bit high, but they had sales you wouldn't believe, AND they double and triple coupons. AND you can load coupons onto your store card and get the discount on the card, plus the paper coupons I'd clipped! But I digress...
So yesterday, I worked hard to work on a menu yesterday and carefully planned out two weeks of meals. I found coupons for every single item on my list and headed off to Tom Thumb. I was thrilled! I carefully selected the cheapest items on each shelf and refused to stray from my list. I was so proud of myself! And then I was devestated when the total rang up. It was almost twice what I'd planned on spending. (Dern me for not adding as I went!) My heart sank. I beat myself up all the way home and fought tears as I put the groceries away. Then I sat down and looked at the receipt with my sweet husband. We realized that I'd sliced our original grocery budget by more than half and I'd saved 23% on groceries in coupons alone, not to mention what I saved by buying store brand instead of name brand!

And that's when it hit me... I need to give myself more grace. I need to allow myself to not be perfect. My grocery trip was quite an accomplishment in a single day. It'll take time for me to master coupons and build up a stock pile. I'm getting there. I'm making progress. I just need to allow myself the grace to learn on a curve. So today my goal is to take baby steps. Put away the laundry, put away the clean dishes, shine the sink, and do a little painting to satisfy my creative side. I can bleach the bathrooms another day. For now, I need to learn to give myself grace and not attack life as an all or nothing event.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

As I see it...

Here's the world as I see it today:
--Carrots are nutrious and full of good for you vitamins, but they sure are an ugly vegetable! Granted, baby carrots are cute as could be - but a bag full of carrots? Not very pretty - just ugly and crooked and gross looking.
--It's snowing again. Do I still live in Texas?
--My husband is amazing! I've been sick with strep for the past few days and he's waited on me hand and foot. He even took off work on Monday so he could take me to the doctor because he knew I had no voice and felt too icky to figure out the directions to the new doctors office.
--Between the snow and the lack of excess funds, I didn't get any flowers on Valentine's Day. I wasn't upset with him - I understood why. But, this weekend we spotted some purple flowers at Target and he quickly put them in the cart. Purple hydrangea, purple daisies, and even purple roses! I happily arranged them in a clear vase full of water that immediately turned a beautiful, bright purple. Now they look like they're sitting in a perfectly matched purple vase! So fun...
--I love creating and modifying recipes. It fills my heart with a tiny bit of glee. I feel like I'm feeding my husband's heart - not just his tummy.
--This weekend (before the strep attacked in full force) we became super coupon savvy and snagged two boxes of Rolaids for free. We also got two boxes of cake mix for 28 cents - total! Auntie Anne's was giving away free pretzels so we snatched those up as well. We then enjoyed some treats from Sonic at a beautiful buy one, get one free price! Fantastic! It was a happy saving day!
--I won over $100 worth of scrapbooking stuff from Tatertots & Jello and Peachy Cheap. I haven't received my box of goodies yet (I just found out yesterday) but I'm thrilled to get it in the mail.
--I still get a thrill from signing my new last name. I got to sign it at the bank and at the doctor's office recently. It was so exciting to see it on the paper and know that it was me with the new last name!
--Marley had a birthday last week. He is no longer a puppy. I wish someone would tell him... He still has the energy of a puppy and still whines like a puppy. It's ridiculous! I love him though...
So that's the world as I see it today. If we get enough snow to be picture worthy, I'll let you know. Otherwise, I'm going to curl up with Pete the Penguin humidifier and a box of tissues.