Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are…
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect Tomorrow.
One day I shall dig my nails into the earth,
or bury my face in my pillow,
or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky
and want, more than all the world, your return.
- Mary Jean Iron

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's Been a While

I can not believe I haven't blogged since February.  What the what?  Then again, it's been quite a year.  Let's see, when we left off I was trying to put all the pegs back in their places after my dad had a heart attack, my mom had a mini stroke and our dog died.  Since then, my mom is doing very well, we've gotten two puppies, and my dad passed away.  Still struggling with that one.  Even just writing it makes me tear up, I haven't seemed to reach the milestone where I can talk about it without crying.  As I get back in the bloggy swing of things I'll probably write about it, but all I'll say here is that he started going down hill this summer, at the end of July he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and two weeks to the day later, he died.

I'm not young, my dad and I were close, but still it surprises me that I am having a horrible time trying to cope with it.  I miss my dad.  I feel like I don't know who I am without my dad in my life.  My dad was my biggest cheerleader, my biggest fan, a person who generously gave unconditional love, and it's shaken my foundation to lose that.  However, in life we don't get a choice, we have to sort of figure out how to pick up the pieces and move forward, so that's what I'm trying to do.

I discovered that I miss blogging.  I miss the connections to people that I made, though a lot of those may be long gone.  I hope not, but if they are I understand.  I also miss the written record, so, I'm trying to begin again.

I'll start nice and easy, with a meal plan.  That sounds like me, doesn't it?  The week ahead is busy, though tomorrow, gloriously, I have the day off.  Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Thursday (piano, Julianna home):  Crockpot chicken sandwiches, funeral potatoes, veggies
Friday (no school, band):  Flank steak, baked potatoes, asparagus
Saturday lunch:  Crockpot chicken sandwiches
Saturday dinner:  Apricot and Cheddar Chicken Melt, chips
Sunday lunch:  Mustard chicken, wild rice, fall salad or this fall salad
Sunday dinner (Nutcracker):  chili/coney dogs
Monday (boot camp, Julianna art):  Chicken Divan Casserole, salad, pumpkin rolls
Tuesday (mom, boot camp, dance):  Wedding soup, bread or this bread
Wednesday (boot camp, sax, dance):  leftovers or pot luck
Thursday (boot camp, girl scouts):  crockpot pepper steak, rice

I've missed you.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you've been up to.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Meal Plan Feb. 27, 2014

Hello.  Finding it hard to blog.  Not enough time, but also struggling with where the lines are. What stories are mine to tell, what stories could inadvertently hurt someone I care about?  So, for now, we'll keep it nice and generic.  I do love being able to go back and look up what I was cooking, what recipes I used, so I thought I'd get my meal plan down. 

Thursday (robotics club, GS):  Pork chops, cheddar chive baked potatoes, "pot-stuck" Brussels sprouts
Friday:  Homemade pizza--I'll keep it simple, probably, though this fig, caramelized onion and sausage one is definitely calling my name.  
Saturday:  Cheesecake Factory Cashew Chicken*, rice, szechwan green beans
Sunday:  Vegetarian (I've always left out the meat, you never miss it) Lasagna-style Baked Ziti, bread, salad
Monday:  Grilled Chicken Club Panini, chips, cut up veggies
Tuesday (sax, dance, Mardi Gras):  Individual King Cakes for breakfast
Jambalaya, cornbread or make ahead garlic bread
Wednesday (Ash Wednesday):  Ice cream  (Julianna's having 2 teeth pulled.  I promised ice cream for dinner.  There'll be leftovers to have just in case.  :)
Thursday (Band concert):  Garlic Herb Oven-Fried Halibut, garlicky parslied new potatoes, skillet green beans

I might also make these fun pinwheel cookies in honor of Dr. Suess' birthday, March 2. 

**scaled down:  Cheesecake Factory Cashew Chicken--here's the scaled down sauce: 2 cups soy sauce (1c)* 24 oz hoisin (12)* 1/2c + 2T chili garlic sauce (1/4c + 1T)* 1 3/4 c sugar (3/4c +2T)* 1 c rice vinegar (1/2c)* 2c garlic (1c)* 1 1/2 c sherry (3/4c)* 1/4 oz chili flakes (1/8 oz)*

Hope you have a good week full of good things.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm Here

I'm here.  I promise.  It's been a roller coaster of a few weeks, but things are getting back on an even keel now.  My dad had a heart attack at the end of December and we spent almost a week hanging out with them, praying, waiting, hoping for the best.  On January 3 he had a quadruple bypass and he came home from the hospital the following week.  Things have been a little crazy, but my dad and mom are doing well and we're thankful for that.

I'm working on changing some things about my life and our lives, little changes that add up to big changes, and that on top of trying to keep all the balls in the air means even less time than normal for anything "extra".  I'm updating another blog about the lifestyle journey that I'm on, leave a comment or shoot me an email if you're interested in the link, it's not private, you can easily find it, anyone that's not related to me and is interested is welcome to check it out.

So, in summary.  Life is challenging, but good.  Life is busy.  Changes are happening. 

Hope all is well with your new year.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Trying to Find My Voice Again

Thanksgiving.  Wonderful.  A blur.  Honestly it was all just a little lost to me this year.  I definitely enjoyed having family here.  I think the meal was okay.  (Yes, truly "okay" though I hope it was better than that).  With Hanukkah here the night before it was all just a lot squeezed into a very short time span.  I'm not sad that that will never happen again.

Today, I've had turkey carcasses simmering all day long in preparation for stone soup.  Okay, the name around here is definitely "cream de carcass" no matter how much I loathe it, but no matter what you call it, it's absolutely wonderful.  Rich, full bodied and full-flavored turkey stock, half and half, wild rice, carrots, celery and turkey.  Awesome.  Paired up with an excellent loaf of bread tomorrow it will be the perfect dinner.  It will also be nice to have turkey stock waiting in the freezer for the next time the craving hits.  If you haven't tried it yet, you really should.  It still makes me sad when I think of all the years we just tossed the turkey when we thought we were done with it.

Looking ahead to the week I think we'll be trying some Tetrazzini and perhaps a turkey pot pie.  I'm craving Eggs Benedict, that might work itself into the menu.  Honestly I'm not sure what else.  The freezer is stocked so I'm sure we'll be eating yummy stuff.  Probably tomorrow or Tuesday I'll get serious about creating an actual plan.

Trite, I know, but I cannot believe it's actually December.  It must be though, the candles in the menorahs are burning, the elf needs moved, ready or not the holidays approach.  I'm going to try very hard to find the balance this year between being too relaxed and zen (read: nothing gets done) and being so obsessed that I don't find the time to enjoy things.  I have not done anywhere near the shopping that I normally would have by this time, honestly, I'm struggling to come up with ideas for the kids, not a position I find myself in often.  My mom's having surgery just before Christmas, that's going to require lots of flexibility as well as lots of planning, ideally we'll have all our traditions done by then, so I can go see her or be on call if she or my dad need me, yet that only gives us two weekends to get things done which takes my breath away a bit.  Beginning of January Mark and I are going away, our kids have gifted us with a weekend away, so there's lots to look forward to there as well.  I have a feeling it's going to be a ying/yang kind of month and I'm going to do my best to prioritize, let go of what doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, fight to make happen the things that do matter and most of all try to keep the balance.  Wish me luck.

Hope your holidays were all that you'd wish them to be, surrounded by friends and family that you'd choose to surround yourself with.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Meal Plan Monday on a Tuesday!

Julianna's birthday week which is a very, very big deal to my little girl.  Eleven!  Wow!  I'm afraid I officially have no babies left.  We're all very excited that Rebekah's coming home to help celebrate Julianna's birthday, and, I have to say, there's going to be lots of good eats around here.

Here's what's in the works for the week:

Monday (gluten free!):  Plum chicken, rice, sugar snap peas--I cut up the chicken into bite size pieces, use breasts instead of thighs because that's what the picky eaters I live with demand prefer.  Also, not sure how much difference it makes, but I always use Bonne Maman preserves in this.  They just seem perfect for this recipe.  Have you made this yet?  Do it!  Delicious!  Easy to keep ingredients in the pantry or freezer for a quick (less than 30 minute) meal.  Definitely a keeper around here.

Tuesday:  Pork chops, Tyler Florence's roasted acorn squash, Brussels sprouts  (Try the acorn squash.  Delicious!  Brushed with Amaretto, brown sugar, butter, filled with little crushed Italian cookies, they are wonderful.)

Wednesday:  Wedding Soup and Italian bread  (All right, I know I'm gushing, but seriously this week is full of things that if you're not making you should give a try.  The wedding soup by Ina Garten is awesome, the star of the soup is the meatballs made from ground chicken and chicken Italian sausage.  Really, really good.)

Thursday (Halloween):  Grilled cheese/peanut butter, apples, cut up veggies

Friday (Julianna's birthday!!!)  Ina Garten's Chicken Pot Pie

Saturday lunch w/family:  Sloppy Joes, Veggie Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots, cut up veggies, apples, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice cream cake

Saturday dinner:  Beef Stew, biscuits

Sunday lunch:  Cracker Barrel

Sunday dinner:  Pita pizzas

Welp, that's our week.  It's going to be full, full, full of good things.  Hoping Jacob and Julianna have lots of fun trick or treating Thursday night and that Julianna's birthday makes her heart happy.  Have a good week!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Monday Recap (on a Sunday!) and a Meal Plan

How was your weekend?  Ours was lovely, ugly, busy, slow, emotional, exhausting.  In other words, it was real life.  I'm sad to see the potential of the weekend over, (is there anything more beautiful than Friday at 4:30 with all the possibilities of a wonderful weekend stretched out before you?), but ready to be back on an even keel.  Unbelievably, we had ice cream for dinner twice (!!) this weekend with potato skins and Asian wings on the other night.  I'd count it as a parenting fail, but you know what? sometimes it's just okay to break all the rules.  Sometimes it really is.

It's finally supposed to get a little more fall-like in our temps, so for dinners sometime in the near future we'll be eating:

Chili w/cornbread
Chili spaghetti (spaghetti topped w/chili, onions and cheddar) w/garlic bread
Dutch baby or Belgian waffles w/ham and sauteed apples
Meatloaf w/parsley potatoes, roasted carrots
Grandma's chicken and rice** w/broccoli and wheat rolls
Pork chops w/baked sweet potatoes and brown sugar butter and green beans
Chicken Noodle Soup, grilled cheese
Tacos, refried beans, corn cake

A little farther out I've had Chicken and Dumplings and Chicken Pot Pie requested, I'll have to fit those in soon.  I've also got Halibut, and Paiche [make fish tacos--1 lb. paiche, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1 lime, juiced, 1 tablespoons ancho chili powder--marinate for a bit, grill, flake and serve in tortillas with cabbage tossed with salt, lime juice and cilantro.  Delicious!] in the freezer and City Chicken will have to make an appearance soon.

I'm also hoping to make some banana bread, cranberry orange bread and pumpkin bread, as well as make applesauce an apple pie, some popcorn balls and some kind of cookies for the cookie jar.  No, I don't have the week off work, so we'll see how that goes.

I made the best veggie dish I think I've ever made last week.  I got it from My Recipes.  Delicious!  Heat a medium skillet over high heat until very hot. Combine 2 cups sugar snap peas,1/2 cup sliced  shallots, and 1/4 cup pine nuts in a small bowl; add 1 tablespoon oil, tossing to coat. Add pea mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until peas are bright green and blackened in spots and nuts are lightly toasted, stirring frequently.  Awesome!  I'm hoping to make that again soon.

Another good one to pass on.  Jacob and Julianna have been taking wraps to school for lunch.  I start with a multi-grain wrap (12g of fiber!), grilled chicken, romaine for Julianna, spinach for Jacob, goat cheese, carrots and apples for Julianna and a little bit of vinaigrette on hers as well.  Roll it all up, wrap it in parchment and it's good to go.  Yes, sometimes I wish my little darlings would just eat a PB&J already or, I'd settle for Mac & Cheese too, that recently has made the "will not eat at school" list, but I also must admit that it's nice to see them make such healthy choices.  They take lunch every day, it gets challenging coming up with ideas they'll eat.  These wraps were a big hit.

Well, that's about all I've got.  I'm working on getting my cooking mojo back.  These temps that have gone on and on and on have rendered me mute cooking-wise.  This week is supposed to be cooler, and I'm hoping I'll be able to get back in the game.  It's time.

I'm also hoping that this week brings a calmness that we all need.  It's time for that too.

I hope you have a good week.  I hope we all have a good week.

**Grandma's Chicken and Rice
Meaty Chicken parts
2 cans cream of chicken soup (healthy version is fine)
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 cans Golden Mushroom soup
1 can water
11/2 cups long grain rice
Combine soups, water and rice. Put in bottom of 13x9" casserole. Top with chicken parts. Bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday, Monday

Oh my goodness is it a Monday around here...
  • something disgusting in our sheets this morning, no idea what it is but I don't like to think too much about the fact that we slept on them that way.  Good thing it was on Mark's side.  ;)  (and by his feet.)  Good thing too it was already on my to-do list to wash our sheets.
  • Speaking of to-do lists, mine's so long I'd want to go back to bed, pull up the covers and hide, you know, if the covers weren't so gross.
  • I went downstairs to throw the sheets in the washer and discovered a load sitting in there from Friday.  Ever since I got my front loader I have been fanatical about never, and I mean never, leaving a load in the washer for even a few hours.  Now, I've not only broken that, I left them in for days.  They stunk!  Hoping my washer doesn't stink too.
  • We never wear shoes in the house.  However, I may be making an exception.  There's so much sad and grit and just plain dirt on my floors it's driving me crazy to walk on them.  Donning shoes sounds much easier than sweeping, right?
  • No idea what I'm going to make for dinner because I didn't defrost the chicken and marinate it like I had planned.  
  • I need to be home all day doing laundry, seriously, yet I also need to get a couple of errands run, including buying and shipping a birthday present to my friend, whose birthday is today.  
Hope your Monday's off to a better start.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What Works For You Freezer Edition

Does your freezer look like this?  Or, more importantly, does it not look like this?  How do you keep a freezer so it's not an act of courage to open it, let alone actually take something out of it?  I'm about at the end of my rope.  Help!

I'm embarrassed to add that we have another fridge/freezer and full size freezer in the garage, but this is the one that gets used day in/day out and it's a MESS.  If you have any tips, I'm all ears.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is It Friday Yet?

Resorting to bullet points.  Sorry.
  • We're all still alive and I'm even well (knocking furiously on wood).  Trying to adjust to being back to school and work, which is a bit tougher of an adjustment than I anticipated. Jacob started middle school and he doesn't get home until 4:15.  So far, that makes it difficult to practice 2 instruments, do homework, do chores, spend time with family, take private lessons, and do the myriad of other things we all have to do.  We're working on it.  Eventually, hopefully, it will all come together.
  • Big storm tonight.  Loss of power, old news for our neighborhood, you can pretty much count on that.  Unfortunately, we lost a limb in a maple tree close to our house and it got caught in the tree.  So we have a good sized limb dangling over our deck (my grill, gah! I need to cook on my grill!), close to the house and power lines. I'm afraid of 1. how much it will cost to get it cleared, 2. when we'll be able to get someone out to do it.  The first company told me it would be weeks.  Ugh!
  • Meal plan's done. Woot!  Busy times up ahead, for sure.  Date night, quick trip to see Rebekah, endless errands and grocery shopping (hardest part of working full-time for me, I think), a camping trip (cross your fingers the weather cooperates), doctor appointments, and even a weekend away for Mark and I (which I also have mixed feelings about.  *sigh*)
  • Extra long meal plan as I'm trying to avoid grocery shopping next weekend.
  • I love my new washer.  Our water bill has gone from $350/ quarter to $261.  Wow!  Go front loaders!
  • After realizing that I had not bought undies, bras or socks in honestly years, I've been correcting that.  Feels wonderful.  I've moved on to replacing dying nightgowns and amping up my wardrobe.  Long overdue. 
  •  Julianna graduated to hard shoes in her Irish dance class.  A very big deal indeed that is making her little heart sing.  So happy for her.
Welp, that's it.  All I've got.  Just checking in to update a little of what's going on around here.  Hope you have a good week.  Inching, and I do mean inching, along to Friday.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


First, Happy Birthday to my dad!  We saw him on Sunday and sadly I won't get to see him today, but he'll be in my thoughts and prayers as always, and I hope he has a really good day.

Everything else is pretty random...hope that doesn't turn you off.

The issue that I alluded to last week is looking up.  I feel more optimistic than I have in months and it's hard to live life joyfully when you're apprehensive, stressed and scared.  Knocking on wood that we've found the solution and growing more confident day by day that we have.  Ironically, the solution was extremely simple, so I'm giving thanks for that too.  Thank you for keeping me in your prayers and if things continue to improve as I'm hopeful they will I'll update with the full story eventually.  If we're on the right track it could help someone else someday.

I find the beginning of a new school year more motivating than the beginning of a calendar year.  The holidays wear me out!  Julianna's birthday, my grandkids' birthdays, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Mark's birthday, our anniversary, who has time to figure out how to fix what needs fixing, let alone what's realistic to work on?  Oh sure, sometimes I set resolutions, but my heart is much more into them and my motivation is higher at the beginning of the school year. 

So...changes.  I'm back to work full-time next week and determined to be on top of the game this year.  Figure out a schedule that works for grocery shopping, working out, making time for the things we think are important but maybe no one would ever know that by the way our schedule really looks.  I want to eat healthier.  For dinner I'd like to institute a meatless meal every week, we've been doing that gradually but I'd like to give it a little more structure.  I'd like to build fish into our meal plan 6x a month, a challenge because it's expensive, and I prefer to shop for and serve fish in a short time span; again, organization.

I need help with some ideas for healthy and portable breakfast ideas for Mark.  The microwave at his company is far from where he works so it's not convenient for him to warm something up or microwave some water for oatmeal.  He has no refrigeration so cereal's out.  Help!  Right now he subsists on skipping it, not good when you get up at 5:30, his energy level definitely dives and he finds it hard to get through his day, or he eats Pop-Tarts, Fig Newtons and granola bars.  We've got to be able to figure out something better. 

I need help too on figuring out yummy, easy, satisfying lunches.  If I eat something I don't really like then I find myself wanting to eat all afternoon, seeking out that satisfaction that was missing.  It needs to be easy to prepare because I have lots of little people here to feed at lunchtime and making something complicated just isn't going to happen.  Oh yes, I loathe leftovers.  There.  That's not so hard, right?  Anyway, if you have any strokes of brilliance I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you for the help, hope your last bit of time before school starts is good for you and for us.  We're painting the girls' room this weekend.  Dreading that!  One wall's going to be raspberry, one wall lime, one wall raspberry with lime polka dots and one wall lime with raspberry polka dots.  Should be interesting!


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