I Should Be Ashamed of This, but Instead I’m Proud

28 09 2009

I try to be a good housekeeper, I really try.  But this weekend was a crazy one, and I found myself stopping at home just long enough to drop something off, pick something else up, and head straight back out the door again.  By the end of the weekend, my bedroom looked like a bomb had gone off.  I walked in there last night and was so overwhelmed I didn’t know where to begin.  So I took a picture.   Or two or three.  My husband is deeply ashamed by the state of our bedroom and is horrified that I am posting pictures for all to see, but I had to show you just how bad it really is:




And here’s a wedding picture just to whet your appetite:


More to come next time. . .


Wedding No. 2 and Yummy Soup!

24 09 2009

I am gearing up for another big wedding weekend!  My very dear friend, Christa Keim, is getting married this weekend and I am one of two matrons of honor!  What fun!  Christa, with all her talents in fine arts, has put together a dinner theater style wedding.   We are in for a fun and original wedding ceremony and I can’t wait to see it all come together!

Yesterday I stayed at home to get my laundry done and my house under control.  Today and the rest of the weekend are devoted to helping Christa out however I can.

One of my responsibilities for today is to take lunch to everyone working at setting up the church.  I made a huge batch of  my favorite soup:

Veg for Soup

Italian Vegetable Soup:

1 lb.  ground beef

1 cup diced onion

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup sliced carrots

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (16 oz.) tomatoes

1 can (16 oz. ) tomato sauce

1 can (16 ox.) red kidneys beans, undrained

2 cups water

5 tsp. beef bouillon granules

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. salt, optional

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup macaroni

Brown Beef and drain.  Add the next 14 ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Add cabbage, beans and macaroni, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer until vegetables are tender.  Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.  Serves about 12.

My notes:  I use whole wheat pasta, I leave out the garlic and sometimes I leave out the green beans.  The recipe card says that one serving is 152 calories and 4 gm fat, if anyone is interested in that.

Who wouldn’t want to dig into a steaming hot bowl of this on a crisp fall evening?

veg soup

Fall, Glorious Fall!

24 09 2009

Yesterday marked the first day of Fall.  Normally I love Fall, but this year I’m a little sad to see summer go.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that  Summer didn’t make much of an appearance around here.

So to celebrate the beginning of Fall, I am making my favorite soup.  And I am changing what is hanging on my front door.

Good-bye summer lemons:

lemon wreath.

Hello Fall Pumpkin:

pumpkin on door

A Note About Usborne

22 09 2009

I love Usborne books!  In fact, I love them so much that a year ago I became a consultant for them.  100% of my profit goes into a separate checking account and I use it to pay for piano lessons for my girls.

It just occurred to me that I should put a link on my blog to my Usborne site in case anyone wants to take a look.  So right over there on the right is a link that you can click on and browse the store if you want.

At the risk of being obnoxious, let me point out some of my favorite things:

The thing that first attracted me to Usborne was its huge variety of art books.  They range in level from kindergarten on up and they are set up in a step-by-step way for kids to easily follow.  I recommend this one for really little kids.  This one and this one are some of the favorites in our household.

This one is new and I think it’s adorable!  Kinda like paper dolls only the clothes are magnetic!  What little girl wouldn’t go crazy over it?

How smart is this? Dry-erase flash cards full of fun activities for a trip (or a long wait in a restaurant, or to keep them entertained in a waiting room, etc.).  I think this is my all-time favorite Usborne product for the shear genius of it!

I could go on and on and on. . .Usborne’s current catalog has 1400 titles in it and I have yet to find one that I don’t love!!  Some of them are just plain fun, and others are very educational.  Lots of homeschooling families use them as part of their curriculum.

Okay.  I think maybe I’ve crossed the line into obnoxious salesmanship!  I can’t help myself!!  But here’s the real clincher:  if you are interested in ordering you can do so by clicking onto any of the links on this page or the link that is now permanent on my sidebar under “Friends and Family”.  Feel free to just browse the site and if you have any questions, you can leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Thoughts on Christmas

19 09 2009

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.  Not a love/hate relationship with it’s meaning, just the holiday itself.

I love Christmas music, gingerbread houses, molasses cookies, wrapping gifts after the kids are in bed, getting out my favorite decorations, shopping with my husband for just the right thing for each of the girls, and the general anticipation of it all.

I hate the stress that accompanies it, and the way I feel rushed from one thing to the next.  I hate how I am forever checking off a mental list of things to get done before that next Christmas party or family gathering.  I hate how every year, I find myself asking, “Jesus, are you really being honored in all of this?  Are you being recognized in this hustle and bustle? or is worshiping you just one more thing on my never-ending ‘to-do’ list?”

The last several years have been completely overwhelming and I definitely find that the hate side far outweighs the love side in my attitude toward Christmas.  So I’ve been evaluating all of this and I’ve decided that several things need to change:

1.  I am taking a different approach to gift-giving.  I am not going to ask for a list from anyone (with possibly one exception, but that’s too complicated to address here).  I have been irritated the last several years with the idea of exchanging lists (we do it with both sides of our family plus our own children). How impersonal to look at someone’s list, click a few buttons on the computer, and then scratch that name off and declare, “Finished with that one!”!!  AHHH!  What about that is gift giving??  We might as well be transferring money from our bank account to the accounts of the people on our lists and call it good.  This year I am going with my heart.  If I come across something that makes me stop and say, “ooooh, wouldn’t Candace (or Kim, or Tera, or Chad, or Cara, etc.) love that?” then that’s what I’m buying!  Don’t care if it’s on someone’s list or not!!  It just feels like a more personal approach to giving.

2.  I am shopping early.  And I mean E.A.R.L.Y.  I’ve already begun, and I am hoping to have every single item done by the first week of November.  Yup.  The closer we get to Christmas, the crazier shopping is and I’m trying to steer clear of crazy!

3.  I will listen to more Christmas music.  I love music.  Always have, always will.   It soothes my soul.  Christmas music does that and it puts a little extra bounce in my step.

4.  I will focus more on Jesus.  It’s so cliche’, but He is the reason for the season!  Without Jesus, there would be no reason to celebrate at all!  I hope to honor him more, worship him more, thank him more, and recognize him more amidst the chaos that is sure to accompany the next several months, no matter how much I plan ahead.

It’s only September and the first snow flake is yet to fall.  But I deeply desire to have a different experience with Christmas this year, and I hope that these changes will help me accomplish that.  I would love to hear from any of you reading this, what you do to keep Christmas special.  Not just family traditions, and special memory-making times.  But how do you prepare your heart for the celebration of Jesus?

The New Workout

17 09 2009

I am not an athlete.  Never have been.  I carry around a few extra pounds on me (mostly due to Dove Dark Chocolate, chocolate chips cookies, brownies, my sister’s creme brulee, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, Schuller’s donuts, and an occasional margarita).  All things in moderation, you know.

We’ve been members of the local gym almost as long as we’ve lived here.  We aren’t the kind of people that just pay our dues every month either.  We actually go to the gym.  We take advantage of the swimming pool, the weight room, the numerous cardio options, etc.  But despite all of those options, I felt myself getting into a rut and needing a new challenge.

When my friend, Kelly, asked me if I was interested in taking a new class with her, I turned her down.  No thanks.  I have no desire to be anywhere other than my comfy bed at 5:30 in the morning.  Thank you anyway.  Appreciate the offer.

A few days went by.  And I started thinking about it again.  Maybe I should step it up a bit and take on the challenge.  So I emailed her again and said, “Sure.  Count me in.”

They say hindsight is 20/20.  Looking back on it, I should have weighed this decision a bit more carefully.  Some really obvious things were staring me in the face, and I didn’t recognize them.  For example: people who are at the gym by 5:30 in the morning are not just casual meet-you-at-the-gym-we’ll-walk-the-treadmills-for-a-while-and-go-out-for-lattes-afterward kind of people.  Nope.  These people are hard-core.  That should have been my first clue.

If that wasn’t obvious enough, I found out who was teaching the class and I still didn’t get scared.  Don’t know how I missed that one.  Here’s a picture of my instructor:

muscle man2

No. Not really.

Actually, the instructor is a woman and she has dark curly hair, but other than that, the resemblance is remarkable.

The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:15 a.m.  I have officially survived my first week.  I am proud of myself for getting there on time and for the most part I am even keeping up with the class.

But here’s the catch:  I can’t walk.  Every muscle in my body is screaming in agony over what I have just put myself through.  Twice. And the crazy thing?  I plan to go back for more!!  What??  Yes, that’s right.  My stubborn streak is coming out and I am going to finish this class even if it kills me.

Considering the way I feel right now, that’s a very real possibility.

muscle man

My Newest Addiction

15 09 2009

Etsy.  Yes, Etsy.  I love that website!  I have wasted an enormous amount of time sitting at my computer and browsing away.  I’ve never actually bought anything, although I’m thinking about doing a lot of my Christmas shopping on there this year.

Here’s a few of my favorites (Warning:  If you haven’t already spent time on this site, you are about to plunge into a new form of shopping which may lead to your own addictions, for which I will not be held responsible.  I thought it was only fair to give you the heads up on this.):

Cool Belt Buckles:

belt buckle

Fun Paper Projects:

paper hang tags

Glass Jewelry:

glass necklace big



And don’t even get me started on the kid’s clothes!!  So many cute things and way too many links. . .I couldn’t begin to narrow it down!  You’ll just have to go and see for yourself!!