Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Black Jelly Beans


When I get an idea in my head, I HAVE to see it through.

A few days ago, I got this idea to put some black jelly beans in a glass container to use in my Halloween decorating.  Cute idea, right?

So I ran to Wallyworld yesterday morning to pick up a package or two of the beans.  But they didn't have any.  So I ran to Target.  No dice.

I had a lunch date with a friend later that afternoon and figured that I would stop at a couple of stores while I was out just to check and see if they had any.  Albertsons, Harmons, Shopko, Macey's, another WalMart, a couple of dollar stores, a craft store, even a Halloween store- NOTHING!  

I could not believe it!  Many of the stores were selling bags of black and orange jelly beans and I can't deny that the thought didn't cross my mind a time or two of buying a whole bunch of those and picking out the orange ones.  But that would be silly, wouldn't it?

So I went to school last night and discussed the matter with my lab partner.  I gave her an accounting all of the stores I had been to that day, and shared my frustrations with her.  "Why not just choose another type of candy.  Or use black pebbles or something like that.", she lovingly offered.  I could tell she thought I was loosing my mind.

"Just promise me that you will keep your eye out for black jelly beans and text me if you see any, ok?", I begged.  She promised that if she came across any she would text me and stand guard until I could get there.  I think she was mocking me just a bit.

On the way home from school, I decided to stop at Smith's.  And what do you know.  Black jelly beans.  They were in the bulk candy.  I grabbed a bag and opened the spout.  The bag filled in an instant.  I tied it off and held my precious, and very heavy, bag of jelly beans in my arms and went to check out.

The cashier looked at me, looked at my bag of beans, and said, "You must REALLY like black jelly beans." 

"They're for a Halloween decoration.", I mumbled quietly.  I almost shared with him how many stores I had been to that day looking for the black licorice beauties that were now mine.  I thought he would be proud to know that HIS store had been the store where my search had ended.  But the look on his face told me to keep it to myself.

I may be crazy, and I may have spent $50 in gas, several more dollars to buy the jelly beans, and be suffering from a strained hip today from all the running into and out of stores I did, but I have the cutest jar of black jellybeans I have ever seen.  And I think it was worth it.  

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thanks again!

Here is another recipe that was sent in that I wanted to share with you!  Sounds yummy and easy!  I love crock pots!!

Creamy Chicken
by Liz

Place 2-4 chicken breasts in pot
Poor a packet (or half of one) of italian dressing mix over chicken
Poor in a can of chicken broth
cook on low for 3-4 hrs

Shred chicken and add 1 pkg cream cheese and half a can of cream of chicken soup. cook on low an additional 30 min.

You can omit some cream cheese and some cream of chicken soup. Depending on how much chicken you use you might not need a whole can of broth. 

Serve over rice

I'm gonna soak up the sun....


I am sitting on my front porch, listening to the soft sounds of piano music as my daughter plays in the house.  It's so peaceful and quiet, and warm.  It's the sunshine and the warmth that have brought me out here today.

I know it's not going to be around much longer and so I feel guilty sitting inside when there's good sunshine to be had.  And I need sunshine.  I just need it.

I was shopping in my happy place the other day when the reality of it all hit me.  Christmas decorations were everywhere.  (I am ashamed to say that I even bought a few.) Summer is over.

Next weekend is conference weekend.  For me, that always marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall, which is always too short for my likings.  Winter is on its way.  And that makes me just a little bit sad.  No, it makes me a lot sad.  It has been a good summer.  It never seems to be long enough.  And winter seems to last forever.

So I am not going to waste a minute of what's left.  I am going to sit on this front porch everyday for the next 2 days- for then it hits.  The dreaded 50's.  And it looks like they will be here to stay for awhile.

Dang it.

photo courtesy of Nicole

Monday, September 21, 2009

Have I told you, I play soccer now?


Ian started soccer this past week.  It's the first team sport that he has participated in.  
 
He has spent countless weekday evenings and Saturday mornings sitting on the sidelines watching Isaac play sports over the years.  So this is pretty huge for him.  Only, we had no idea how huge it would be.

I signed him up a couple of weeks before practice would actually start, and every morning when he woke up, he would ask, "Is it soccer today?".  The night before his first practice, he could hardly sleep.  It reminded me of my kids on Christmas Eve.  

The day of his first game, he could hardly think or talk about anything else.  Unfortunately, because of school, I was unable to be there for his first game, so when I walked in the door that night, he came running up to me, with his sweaty little head and yelled all the details of the game at me while I put the car keys and my backpack away.  "We won mom!  And I scored a goal!  I play soccer now!  And we won!"  

Well, ever since that day, whenever he has a comment to make, it always includes, "I play soccer now."  For example,  Ian still wants his behind wiped after visiting the porcelain throne, and the other night as he was getting ready for bed, I reminded him to go potty.  He said, "I already did, and I went poo."  "Who wiped you?", I asked.  "I did.  I play soccer now.  And I won."  Simple as that.  

If only I had known that putting my son on a team would mature him to the point that he would feel like a man.  Wiping his own butt, talking in a slightly deeper voice, he even started shaving and wearing deodorant. 

In all actuality, the butt wiping only lasted for a day, no deodorant or shaving, but he really does sweat like a man.  And if you ask him about playing soccer, his chest puffs up just a bit.

Here's to a great soccer season that only lasts for 4 weeks!   And here's to my little man, who seems to be a lot older these days.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You are so good to me- and now I return the favor!

Ok friends!  Here are the wonderful recipes that you sent in to me- as promised I have typed them up for you to print off and enjoy!  Thank you so much for participating and helping a poor girl out!  If you would like me to email them to you in a word document, I would be happy to do that too!  Just let me know!

Love to you all!

Homemade Mac-n-cheese

By Tiffany

 

Preheat oven to 350. Boil water and cook 2 cups of dry elbow macaroni.

Saute one small diced onion (if you like onion)

Add one can of Cream of Anything (I like Celery or Mushroom)

Fill the empty can with milk and add that. Stir all together until mixed.

Add two cups of shredded cheddar cheese (I like it sharp).

Drain noodles and pour them in a sprayed 9x13 pan. Add your cheese mixture and stir until mixed well. Sprinkle crushed Ritz crackers on top if you like a little crunch.

Bake covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 5 minutes.

 

Pulled Pork Enchiladas

By Christy

1 pork roast

1 jar salsa

2 cups brown sugar

8-10 flour tortillas

2 cups cheddar or favorite mixed cheeses, grated

2 cups lettuce, shredded

1 cup sour cream

Combine roast, salsa and brown sugar in slow cooker and cook on low 8 hours or on high 5 hours. Shred with fork. Serve in tortillas with cheese, lettuce, and sour cream as toppings.

 

Mediterranean Chicken & Mushrooms

By Amber

 

3 Tbsp. Butter

1 onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic smashed

1 bag frozen chicken (3 lbs)

1 box mushrooms cut in thick slices

1 box cream cheese

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Dressing

salt and pepper to taste

 

Saute onion in butter of medium heat. Add garlic to onions during the last 5 minutes stirring constantly.

Place remaining ingredients in a large crock pot (leave chicken frozen) and top with onions. Cook on high 6 hours stir occassionally.

Serve over rice.

 

Chicken Broccoli

By Julie

 

I just put frozen chicken (already cooked)

like the strips from sams club...

cooked broccoli

chicken gravy over that

then box stuffing over the top...

bake until cooked thru..


Crock-Pot Baked Potatoes  (this is a great idea I found!)

By Becky

 

6-12 potatoes

tinfoil

 

Wash potatoes -Prick each potato with a fork.  Wrap the potato in foil.  Fill Crock-Pot with 6-12 potatoes, cover.  Cook on low 8-10 hours (high 2 ½ to 4 hours).  DO NOT ADD WATER!   Garnish with whatever you like, sour cream, cheese, chives, bacon, broccoli, green onions, ham, chili, tomatoes, etc.

 

Easy peasy!

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Blessings

I took a walk with my little Ian this morning, who isn't so little anymore.  

With his chubby, sweaty hand in mine, we talked about a myriad of things as we walked up and down the sidewalks of our neighborhood.

I love that boy.  He makes me smile.  He makes me chuckle every single day.  He just started soccer yesterday and his first game is tonight.  He can hardly contain his excitement.  In fact, his soccer uniform has been lovingly laid out on his bed- by him- and I am sure it's the first thing he will put on when he gets home from school this afternoon.  I love how excited he gets about things.  

Isaac is a trooper- plugging away at piles of homework every day- but rarely does he complain.  I complain about it more than he does.  He is so good.

Nicole amazes me each time I am in her presence.  Her good strong spirit is just bursting out of her skin.  People look up to her and want to be with her more than I have ever noticed in a person before.  She is bound to do something amazing with her life. 

Erik is such a support to me.  He comes running whenever I need him.  He stands tall where I fall short.  He is accomplishing great things and helping many people. 

And then there's my friends and extended family.  They are never more than a phone call, a text or an email away.

My friends and family are the greatest blessings in my life.  My never ending support system.  They are such good people- and I am blessed.

Life is good.  Life is hard, and tiring, and yes, sometimes even painful.  But life is good.


Friday, September 11, 2009

The Front Porch

I'm not sure why, but every once in awhile, I get this oh so crafty feeling.  It hasn't hit me in quite some time.  But the other day, the feeling hit with a vengeance.  

I decided to take it out on my front porch this time.  It needed a little sprucing up.  So here's what I came up with after perusing a few magazines.

Welcome!

Now isn't this monogram wreath the cutest thing ever?  I thought so to.
And thanks to my friend Tiffany, I have become quite obsessed with having a chalkboard or two around my house.  I think this is the perfect place to have one- you can put a cute quote on it for your guests to read while they are waiting for you to put yourself together before you answer the door- or you could just write "go away" on it if you don't want anyone to visit.  :) You could announce a birthday, or share some gossip with the neighborhood.  The possibilities are endless here.  Be creative.
So come on by- you're sure to feel welcome as you wait out on my porch....that is unless the sign says "I don't answer the door on days that end with 'y'. "
Little did I know that when I married this man, that I was marrying the World Champion Wac-a-Mole King.  He has never lost a game.  No, not ever.

The sad part about this is the poor unsuspecting little person he plays against.

video
But the reward is worth it every time-  really?  His face says it all.

video
If only you all could be so lucky!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Help Wanted


I hesitate to do this because I don't want to pressure anyone who doesn't feel comfortable leaving a comment to do so, but I'm desperate!

I am back in school- another grueling semester- and when mom's in school, the meals at my home suffer.  Or should I say my family suffers?  Either way, I leave around 4:30 p.m. on school days and haven't been so good (in the past) at leaving my family something wonderful cooking in the oven.  But that is all about to change my friends!  You know why?  Read on....this is where you come in.  (don't be afraid!)

I just know that every one of you out there has at least one fast, easy, yummy, family-favorite, tried and true, standby that you could share with someone as desperate as I am.  

Please, please, I-beg-on-my-knees, share your recipes with me.  Do you realize what this could mean?  I could have five or six new recipes to try (that is if ALL of you comment! ) But wait!  Here's the exciting part!  This is what I'll do for you....

After all of the comments with your wonderful recipes have been read, I will put them all together and post them on a blog so they can be printed out- really soon- so that you can enjoy them too!  Do you see how great this could be?  Oh dear, this is starting to sound like one of those awful chain mail letters.  I hate those things!

I promise- one recipe is all you have to do.  Just one tiny one.  I'll do the rest.  See how easy it will be?

So pull out your recipe cards and send your favorite one my way!  And my family thanks you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Do Over

I should have known that it wouldn't matter that today isn't Monday.  It was going to be one anyway.

It all started when my alarm went off at 5:40 a.m.  Uggggg.  It's hard waking up that early when just the day before, my eyelids didn't crack open until after 8:00 a.m.- a rare thing for me.

I went into the bathroom all squinty eyed and peeked at myself in the mirror.  OH!

I got a hair cut and color this past week and my walking buddy hadn't seen me yet.  And because I am so vain, I wanted her to see the new me all cute-like and not the scary monster that looked back at me in my bathroom mirror.

So I hurried and got to work.  A brush here, a spray there, a little gel here, a bobby pin there.  

I rushed out the door a minute or two late.  I hurried down the road to meet her....but no one was there.  I walked to her house, no lights were on.  I walked back home and got into bed.  

Minutes later Nicole came into my room and went into my bathroom.  She turned on the light and shut the door.  From past experience, I know that this is never a good sign, when at this time in the morning she is "shopping" in my closet.   It can only mean one thing.  She is having a bad clothes day- and a bad clothes day for her means a bad morning for me.

I got up and got myself ready (after she left the room!) and moments later, she reappeared.  "I look horrible today!  I look fat and my hair sucks!".  Here we go.  

Even though I have been her mother for over 15 years, and I KNOW without a doubt that nothing I say when she is in this mood will make it better- in fact it usually only makes it worse, I tried my best to reassure her that she didn't look fat, nor did her hair look like a cone.  She argued back, I offered hair spray, she yelled that it was too much, I asked if I could drive her to school.

One down.

Next, Isaac made his entrance.  His nose was stuffy, he complained that his head was hurting.  I medicated him and continued on with my marching orders to "get your clothes on and meet me in my bathroom so I can do your hair".  Things went pretty smoothly until moments before we were to walk out the door to take him to school, he asked if he had a home lunch today.  I told him no.  He looked at the menu.  Popcorn chicken bowl.  

I should have known this would happen when I talked him in to trying something new on the school lunch menu last week.  He is a child that is content to eat PB and honey sandwiches every day of his life.  I, on the other hand, get a little tired of making a lunch for him every single day.  So every once in awhile I try to talk him into trying a school lunch- giving me a day off.

"I'm NOT eating that!", he yelled.  "Yes you are!", I yelled back.  I grabbed my keys and went to the car.

He slammed the door to the house, and the door to the car just to emphasise that he really wasn't going to eat that nasty popcorn chicken bowl for lunch!  We drove to school in silence.

As I pulled up to the school, he asked in a tiny voice if I would make him a lunch and bring it to him.  "No, sweetie", I said.  "You will be fine, this may end up being one of your favorites!"  He got out of the car, and before slamming the door he yelled, "I AM NOT EATING THAT!".

I drove home, drove into the garage, turned off the car, shut the garage door and sat there in the dark and silence.  

I hate mornings that start out this way.  When my kids are grumpy, unfortunately, I get grumpy too.

Determined for that not to happen today, I went into the house, put my purse and keys away, climbed the stairs and crawled back into bed.  I thought that if I could just wake up again, things would be better.

I never do that.

But, I have to say that I am feeling better.  I guess there is something to starting your day over again  after all.  If they had a "Fan of Starting Your Day Over" on Facebook, I'd be a fan, for sure.

Now I'm off to make some cookies to chase the last of the grumpies away when the kids get home.  Here's to do overs, and to a better day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bring on the Bridal Showers!

Bridal showers.  Let's see.  How do I put this nicely?  

I don't enjoy them.  

I do not like playing the little games, I don't enjoy watching the bride open her presents- because she is usually a young girl, who feels very uncomfortable being the center of attention, having no idea what to say when she opens another electric can opener.  I feel her pain.  It takes all of the enjoyment out of it for me.  

But what I dislike most, is when the advice book is sent around.  "Write down some advice you have about marriage for the new bride and groom."  You know those?

I panic when the book gets to me.  I never know what to say.  I read what everyone else has said, and it is always something perfect, and I panic.  So, I always end up saying something dumb like-  "Always feed him before giving him bad news."  Or, "Don't forget why it was that you married each other."  What?  Seriously? 

Today as I was sitting in my back yard, eating those amazing grapes, something inspirational and new came to me!  And I don't even have a bridal shower coming up in the near future.  So, I'll give my advice to you, my blog friends, instead.  Here goes....

Never stop dating each other.  

That's it.  It's so simple, but so true.

You know how it is when you are dating.  You say sweet things to each other, think of each other first, always try to look your best, think of fun things to do together, and you don't fart or burp in each other's presence.  You flirt, you smile, you tease just a bit.  All of it is good.  And most of it is gone by the time you reach your first anniversary or two.   

Some people manage to keep the magic alive long after the first anniversary, but more often than not, couples forget.  They get too comfortable with each other.  I have seen some husbands treat their buddies better than their wives.  

So that's my advice for what it's worth.  Never stop dating each other.  Do cute little things for your significant other like you did when you were dating.  Put their needs first as often as you can.  Show some enthusiasm when they call, compliment them on how they look or smell.  Flirt a bit.

That's my advice from one who has been married for 17 years- and hasn't been so good at remembering to do this.  But I am going to try to do better and take my own advice.

Now go and take your sweetie on a date!  Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A memory



I know that it was not too long ago that I was complaining of my missing childhood memories. 

So today, I wanted to share that one came back!   And it was because of one tiny purple grape.

My Memory

It is a hot summer day.  There are smells of farmlands in the air- fresh cut hay, cow manure.  There are sounds of horses neighing and cows mooing in the background.  

I am 8 years old and wandering through my great-grandparents farm in Neola, UT.  

I love coming here.  My great-grandmother is one of the most loving, dear women I have ever been around in my life.  The instant I walk into her modest home, aromas of baked goods hit my nostrils.   Grandma, wearing an apron, spreads her arms open and gives me a hug that envelops me and makes me feel safe and loved and welcome and cherished all at once.

She has a smile that brings tears to my eyes today just thinking about it. 

We didn't visit their home often, but when we did- it was like we had never left.  There were wonderful conversations to be had- she always wanted to know exactly what I was up to.  There were new pictures to look at on her family tree, painted for her by one of her grandchildren on her kitchen wall.  Everyone was on the tree.  Everyone accounted for.  And her family was large.  But she knew everyone's name, age, and what they were doing.  They were her 'dear ones', as she called us.

One summer day, as I wandered through my grandparents yard on my way to one of the weather-worn barns, hoping to find baby kittens hiding under the old tractors stored there, I passed by their garden.  

Grandma was a canner.  She bottled anything that could possibly be put in a mason jar.  Pickled cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, apple sauce, beets, pears, and apricots.  She also made her own grape juice.  It was such a beautiful purple color- and so delicious on a hot day.  

As I passed by their overgrown garden, I noticed some vines, hanging heavy with deep purple grapes growing next to a  nearby fence.  I had never eaten these kind of grapes before and they looked so delicious!

I remember squeezing the inside of the grape- all slimy and warm, into my mouth, and then fishing through it to get the seeds out.  I was instantly hooked!  I spent the next few minutes eating as many as I could, throwing the skins on the ground and spitting the seeds into the dirt.

How My Memory Came About

Erik bought some grape plants last year.  This year they are producing- and I have been patiently waiting for them to turn purple.  Today as I walked past them, I noticed that a few have ripened- so I picked one off the vine, gave the skin a squeeze, popped the slimy insides into my mouth and BAM!

I was instantly back on my great-grandparents farm!  I could smell the smells, hear the sounds, and feel my grandmothers hug.  I haven't felt that for years.  I can't remember how long it has been.  Grandma had a stroke years before she passed away, and her ability to communicate or do anything for herself left her.  No more hugs.  I missed her even before she physically left us.

But today, she paid me a visit.  Today, I know she is watching me.  She knew I needed one of her hugs.  

And I got one, as well as a cherished memory back.  All because of a little purple grape.