Monday, June 27, 2011

Responding to drama

I recently had the experience of getting into a confrontation with someone who was really angry at me.  What I did wasn't really so bad - even by this person's admission - but it apparently was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

What developed was an hour-long tirade of a couple of years' worth of my sins against this person.

I was in shock.  I had no clue.  The poison and the venom just kept coming....... along with statements like 'I know you didn't mean it'...... and 'I'm glad we cleared the air'.

Honestly I doubt that my friend's 'air is clear'....   and I know for a fact that mine isn't :-)

I am left in a quandary knowing that whatever I do next will be wrong.  Because everything I thought was RIGHT apparently wasn't.

So my choices are to close the door and nurse my wounds or proceed like nothing happened.


Man, I hate drama.

First - fight fair.   If time has passed and you haven't dealt with something that upset you... well... too bad.  By allowing time to pass, you have made a decision.  And that decision is to NOT DEAL WITH IT.  There is no way you can fix the past..... and there is no way that the person you are angry with can fix it either.  The only thing you can do is get over it..... limit your exposure to the person OR realize that moving forward means YOU need to let go of whatever it is.

Soo.... If it is important, deal with it NOW.  If it isn't, LET IT GO.  Don't resurrect old stuff that should be gone.

In my case..... I am not going to spend a lot of time justifying things I can't even remember.  I will take this person's word that I screwed up and apologize.  That's all I have and all I can do. Because I am indeed sorry that they are hurting and I may be the cause.

Second - whether it looks like it or not - most likely you are not the personal focus of a vendetta.  Whoever you are dealing with is probably NOT targeting you for pain and sorrow.  Most people are not deliberately slighting you or ignoring you.

Soo.... if we are talking about someone you love and care about the relationship with.... let them have the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.  Life is busy and we are all neglectful.   We text and email instead of talk.... we assume that a group of friends will share info and we don't make 5 contacts when we can make one.  And we need to be kind to each other.   

In my case, even though I was obviously a target of anger...... it is equally obvious that I am not a villain.  Chances are really good that in this instance, I am a scapegoat for a whole lot of anger and upset.  This is not to say I am blameless.... it is clear I made mistakes (and will continue to do so).

Third - take the long-range view.  Do you want a relationship with this person or not?  Is it worth the effort?  Real relationships are messy and difficult sometimes.  You have to decide and go with it.

In my case it is definitely worth it.      

The sadness is that the 'straw that broke the camel's back' was my attempt to interface with this person and do what they asked.

The sadness is that by not 'fighting fair', we are not in a 'cleared air' position.  I am sitting in a swamp of ......"hmm..... what do I do now?"  And I sincerely doubt that my person feels much better.

The sadness is that I cannot trust my instincts with this person.  The sadness is that now my two choices..... limit my exposure or move forward like nothing happened.... are both difficult.  For me - the best of 2 unhappy choices is to act like nothing happened..... and see what happens next!

I am glad that I did not hang up the phone because I was very close to it :-)  I am glad that by throwing all this at me makes my friend feel better.  Being a 'safe' receptacle for anger is something I CAN do to help.  But that is MY decision and I will not bring that up again.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

To go to church or not

I am a very spiritual person..... I am even a fairly religious person (honestly, I do not think these are the same things!)  I belong to a church and have a church family.

By virtue of physical location, I am a minimum of 30 minutes away from most of the church members and do not see many of them in my every day life.  That is important to note.

I am also a family person.  I believe that my very first responsibility is to my immediate family, my husband & children.  This is the trust God placed in me.

Now here is the dilemma:

Sometimes I feel I have to choose between my family and my church.
The people I live with have brilliant, analytical minds.  They have their own spirituality but do not espouse organized religion.  Even their spirituality is laced with logic and facts.  They are NOT church-goers.

My husband and children occasionally accompany me to church - but it is a gift to me, not something they would choose.  Not that I mind, if a 'gift to me' ends up being a way for God to connect with them, well.... that's all good.

But they do not regularly go to church.  They do not feel the urge or responsibility to belong.  And, as adults, they have that right.... it is a God-given right to all of us.

I am okay with their choices.... I am not okay with my having to choose between them.  I want to be with my family.   On a Sunday morning, I get up, get dressed and go to church 30 minutes away.  If there is a class or a function afterwards, I do not get home until after lunchtime.  And family life is in full swing without me.  I miss my family.

If I miss Mass, I do miss my church family. I find myself volunteering for activities on Sunday morning simply because if I do not, I might not come!  Vacation Bible School is getting ready to start so I know that most Sundays this summer, I will be obligated to be present :-)

It seems like whichever choice I make, I am left with a sadness.

Perhaps what I need to do is analyze our weekend mornings a little bit.

Perhaps my husband does not HAVE to get up and buzz around on SATURDAY morning.... maybe THAT is the day we can share a lazy morning & I can fix breakfast for my men.   Maybe I can see if he will get up and do his stuff on SUNDAY since he doesn't want to go to church.

Maybe he will agree to accompany me once a month or so... in a way I can count on, not a random whim.

I will keep thinking and find a solution.... because what is happening now isn't right.

I shouldn't be sad every Sunday morning and I shouldn't have to choose. (Nor should my family feel responsible for MY emotions!  They have the right to make their own decisions whether I agree or not)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pantry Purge #2 ... Week 4

So here we go again..... what did I manage to use of my random list??

Monkey bread - my husband's favorite and I never made it before.  Frozen dough balls.... rolled in melted butter.. and then in brown sugar / cinnamon mixture..... then stacked in a bundt pan.... left overnight in the fridge to thaw... and then baked up for Father's Day breakfast!  Sweet!  I used about half the frozen dough balls.. and will use the other half in the same way - either with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture OR with a garlic butter mix... I think that will go very well here too!

I used half of those individual packets of Italian salad dressing as a marinade for a grilled chicken dinner we had last week.... SCORE!   I still had 3 of them left so I used one with some leftover pasta  and McCormick's Salad Supreme to make an individual pasta salad just for me :-)  That was one of my better ideas since my crew won't eat any cold salads and I like them.  I will use the other two in that very same way within the next few weeks.  Adding in some chopped veggies and olives & parmesan... I have a nice side dish just for one!

And then.... I had to hunt down a recipe to use some of that 'cream of' soup.  I used to do a lot of casseroles but don't any more.  And, with no kitchen sense... I don't remember what I did with it!  I love research though - so the hunting intrigues me :-)  I found a dish that supposedly has Amish origins... called yumazuti.  And, yes, the name made me smile so it was worth a second look!  I won't post the recipe because I did it my way using things I thought my family would eat :-)  And I was right this time.... basically I made a ground beef mixture (I use onions, celery, garlic and carrots... though I have been known to chop and hide almost any vegetable in there!) and mixed that up with the two soups - cream of chicken and cream of tomato.   I prepared egg noodles... and then did a layering thing with the meat, noodles and shredded cheese.  I used a monterey jack-cheddar mix because that is what I keep on hand.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.. and we had some pretty good comfort food!  I had one small container left for the freezer and one for the fridge... so that was good too :-)

Oh.... and a friend told me that Liquid Smoke was used to give meat a grilled kind of flavor.  I still don't remember why I bought it but I gave it to my friend since she uses the stuff.  I have a hard enough time simply grilling... I don't need extra things to think about :-)   So it's gone!

Soon this list will be mostly done.... and I can start a new month with a new list :-)  Many of these items are condiments that will have to be opened and used one at a time.  While they need to be used, they will have to sit on the shelf and be opened as I can use them.

I will give myself one more week to resolve what I will do with these items and then we can start over!

Used up:
frozen dough balls
individual packets of Italian dressing
can cream of chicken soup
can cream of tomato soup
Liquid Smoke

open container of mayo
1 pkg bacon pieces
1 container cottage cheese
2 containers sour cream
 jar roasted red peppers *used in salads
1 pkage sliced Swiss cheese
1 bags frozen blueberries
 1 banana
 1 cntr sweet gherkins


  3/4 jar wheat germ
  2 containers of Laughing Cow cheese
  frozen orange juice (not to drink)
   1 box of veggie bacon
   1 frozen banana
  1 bag frozen blueberries


      bag sundried tomatoes
       Spicy brown mustard *opened to use
       Bleu Cheese Dressing
       Green Salsa
       German chocolate cake mix & icing
       yellow cake mix
       brownie mix
      canned carrots
      3 different bottles of hot sauce
      1 pkgs bacon bits
      french-fried onions
     4 ind cntrs of berry flavored applesauce (didn't care for the flavor)
     1 ind cntrs of sweet gherkin pickles
     box chicken soup
     jar pepperoncini
     can water chestnuts
     jar szechuan sauce
     wasabi sandwich spread
     marinated artichokes

Friday, June 24, 2011

Starting an exercise program.... again :-)

oh my -

you know what it's like.....

when you are fit... no exercise is too much.   [If you don't know what that is like, you OWE it to yourself to find out!]

but let that fitness slip away......

and no exercise is achievable.

My random act of fitness last week was to order a new dvd :-)  

Okay, I started back to line dancing twice a week... a fun way to sneak in a couple of miles per session!

I decided that TODAY I would do the easy session on the dvd.

Wellllll... poo!

I made it through the warm-up  AND three more exercises.

THAT is three more exercises than I managed on my first exercise dvd ever..... in 2007 when I weighed my highest!

To my credit, I did use low weights and I DID hit the treadmill for an hour of walking after I quit the dvd.  So.... 3 miles done!  Tomorrow I will try again

Day 2 & 3... NO dvd.... lots of yardwork though!  My arms are TALKING to me :-)

Day 4... back to the abs dvd.... made it halfway this time with no weights..... am breathless and a little sore but will hit the treadmill and try again tomorrow....  I am pleased with this one Jillian Michaels 6 Weeks 6-pack for two reasons - there are a lot of modifications to help you get started with no injury AND there is a good bit of cardio and all over conditioning :-)  It's not just crunches!

Day 5... no dvd happening despite good intentions... hit the treadmill for 3 miles in and around the rest of life happening today!

Day 6.... hit the ground running!  Had great intentions to get to exercising... but alas..... no dvd... no treadmill...

Day 7... I KNEW I had to turn on the dvd player!  I started playing it in my head the night before... first thing, I will do the dvd... first thing I will do the dvd...  So on Day 7, first thing... I headed for my coffee.... and ate a bowl of cereal.... and finished the coffee.... and THEN went to the dvd. with a BIG SIGH...    That said..... I did it!  I felt strong during the warm-up, so I used a weight for the first couple of exercises.... and got rid of them when I started feeling like quitting.  During the last bit, I had to sit out a couple of exercises BUT, most important here... I did finish the dvd to the end.  And then, I hopped on the treadmonster for a recorded episode of Castle.

For now..... I feel tired and a little sore... but I feel like we've made some progress this week in creating a a new healthy habit....  will keep you posted on next week :-)

I have to say that I have never been a fan of Jillian Michaels... when I watched the Biggest Loser Show and lost my weight before, I was all about Bob Harper.. mostly because he was kind and she was..... well, if you've seen the show, you know how she is portrayed.

But time has passed on and I bought Bob's new series and injured myself on Day 1, workout 1... probably pushing too hard, of course (so I am NOT saying bad things about the series).  BUT I have to say that Jillian's dvd (at least THIS one) is all about injury prevention.  There is a LOT about pushinf your personal limits while tailoring the workout to your current abilities... so I am good :-)  I sincerely doubt that I will have a visible 6-pack in 6 weeks... but I will be a lot healthier and stronger and have good habits and that is really the point, isn't it?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bread Adventures (Batch 4 - Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

Baking my way through - Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Yay!  Finally located some rye flour so I can go back to the beginning of Chapter 2.  Funny story... I asked a friend of mine if she had any idea where I could find rye flour.... her response?  I don't know.... I grind my own!

Needless to say, I kept hunting... so now I know of ONE store within a reasonable distance that carries it!

I will have to find some friends to share with .... my men are already fussing about how much they don't like rye bread :-)  Of course, freshly baked from my kitchen might taste a little different than what they remember!

Chapter 2 is called Peasant Loaves.  The first dough is mostly white flour but adds in some rye and whole wheat.  It has a bit of rye flavor to it but not enough to notice :-)  (Even the family rye haters didn't notice :-) 

Tuscan Bread Salad was the next recipe.... and my family had a thumbs down to trying it so I made my own individual one!  I added the bread as a topping and nixxed the anchovies.  It is definitely a different twist to a salad.... though the addition of fresh-baked bread doesn't seem to hurt the flavor of ANYTHING! 

Pan Bagna (Provencal Tuna and Vegetable Sandwich) is next in the line-up.  We are the 'no fish' bunch so I was glad there was an alternate recipe (New Orleans muffaletta)  that uses sliced ham, salami and mortadella - whatever that is - and an olive salad from New Orleans...  hmm.....  thank goodness for search engines... Mortadella, I learned, is an Italian sausage (as opposed to portabella - mushroom - which is what I was thinking of).   For my finicky crew, I am thinking I will make a meat & cheese combo (like a basic Italian sub sandwich) that they will enjoy!  Olive spread optional for me only :-)

Olive Bread - I KNOW they won't touch the olive bread so I will use the rye dough for this one and plan on giving most of it away!

I absolutely LOVED this one.... I ended up making two loaves because it turns out so pretty and is a super potluck addition or a gift!  I LOVE this book... I am getting all kinds of credit for skills I simply do not have :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dishcloth Challenge # 71 through #77

It's been an interesting week... Monday and today are my errand days as usual because they co-incide with my son's martial arts classes.  I am having a blast shopping at CVS... saving TONS of money and beginning to collect enough items that I should be able donate plenty in the months ahead.

Today I am going to add another drugstore and see how long it takes me to figure out their policies :-)

I started back to serious exercising & food focus again this week and am tracking it to see how it goes...  still working on file shredding and photo scanning while I am down here at the computer.  By the end of the month, I will have temporarily re-located my cyber-workspace so that we can do some work on the office... so there is another project in the works!

As for crochet... my focus at the moment is to 'catch up' with the challenge project :-)  Since there is a new one posted every day this year, it will probably take me another month to catch up with crocheting them.  I have kept up with the daily projects since I got back from Boston.. working on 2-3 dishcloths every day... so I have done #161 forward.... and now need to wind up the ones in between...  but it is getting there! 

There hasn't been much time for other projects... so I am pushing hard on this one!  Anyway - below are this week's offerings!

We've already seen #71 - it was the Easter Egg pictured below on the left:-)

Maggie Weldon's Dishcloth Challenge

As for this week, #72 on the bottom left is the Rose Swirl Dishcloth.  Great instructions on this one made it fairly easy to follow - though it did require a bit of concentration to get the placement correct.  It really looks pretty and unusual though - I really like it

#73 - bottom center - is the Diamond Dishcloth.  This one was really different in the way it was done... it is crocheted in two segments and then joined and edged.  While I like the end product, I don't LOVE it... so I probably won't do it again!

#74 Sunny Square Dishcloth - I loved this one - but, of course, I really like the cotton yarn colors!  It's one of my favorite variegated yarns for the kitchen!  This one turned out pretty and lacy and was quick to do.... I couldn't ask for much more :-)

On the upper left row is #75 - th 3-D Crochet Dishcloth.  I had fun figuring this one out... it is the stitch and color combinations that give it the 3-D effect!

Top center - #76 - Easy Crossover Dishcloth - another quick and pretty dishcloth that will be a great complement to a gift set.

And, last of all, in the upper right hand corner - is my favorite of the week - #77 Pineapple Dishcloth. This was a little challenging for me because it was one of the projects I took when I traveled and I forgot to print the chart!  I did it in the hotel room working off the computer :-)  But one of the skills I have picked up in this project is following a charted pattern - and I am still tickled with the results.  My own kitchen has a color pallette of golds and burgundy and greens.... so I know right where THIS one will end up :-)

I do have a favor to ask.... IF you have read this far.... let me know which dishcloths you like best from all the dishcloth blogs....   Have a great week!                                                           

Monday, June 20, 2011

When is too nice not nice? Confrontations

I like to think of myself as a nice person.

For the most part, I give others the benefit of the doubt.

I don't like confrontations.

I don't like to make people mad.... or upset them.  I care about what other people think and feel.

Or do I?

If I avoid a topic that MIGHT be a problem for you, what does that say about the way I feel about you?  Does it say that I care about you and don't want to hurt your feelings?

Or does it say that I don't trust your mood or reaction?

If I don't tell you how I feel about something, what does that say about our relationship?  Does it say that my feelings don't matter and yours do?

Or does it say that I'd rather simmer in my own disappointment than deal with you?

Doesn't it also set you up?  I mean, if YOU don't know how I feel.... isn't it likely that you will accidentally hurt me?  You have no clue.  Unknowingly, unnecessarily, you will cause me pain..... and I orchestrated the situation by not being honest.


NOT telling you how I feel..... NOT confronting you when I disagree..... puts a rift in our relationship.

I don't think that's very nice of me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day :-)

To all the great guys out there who are super role models for our young people

    and to all the great ladies who fill in when it's needed...

Never underestimate your importance in a young person's life... they are watching even when you aren't paying attention :-)

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pantry Purge #2 - Week 3

    It's been a LONG week.... being gone last week left me with a lot of chores!   The yard is overgrown.... the house needs attention.... and my son needed his annual homeschool testing done.  I am late with that one - I've been pre-occupied with son #1 and graduation / college stuff and completely forgot the testing for son #2.

Anyway - on to the PURGE!

This is a weird list of food - not an interesting list - just weird!  I'll be glad when I have PURGED it and can come up with a new list! 

Many are loose items, bought for my grazing... so using them up will be virtuous, but not creative :-)  I can't think of much to do with an individual container of sweet gherkin pickles... except eat them, of course!  I could throw them in a cold salad (which no one in my house will eat except me!) but I have an open jar of homemade relish for that so I may as well just eat the things...

All the fruit makes me think of smoothies.... I ran across a recipe for a Blueberry-Ginger Smoothie
at Money-Saving Mom , one of my favorite "GO TO' sites.

It wasn't bad.... I like both blueberry AND ginger.. but am not wild about the combo.... great to try though! I think I prefer my own version.... blueberries, 1/2 banana, a bit of vanilla, protein powder & almond milk.... yum :-)

By merging a store special on Vidalia onions, the bread project and my frozen Swiss cheese, we had a super supper of Crockpot Onion Soup with homemade bread & melted Swiss.  SO easy and so good!  I will have to put this on our menu more often!

I am starting to eat the Laughing Cow cheeses with Wasa bread.... one at a time.  I had purchased a couple of these on sale just before I was advised to give up all 'cow products'.  They used to be a 'go to' crunch snack - 3 Wasa crackers and a little cheese wedge - less than 150 calories and reasonably healthy food.  Now they will be again until they are gone.  Apparently 'cow products' aggravate my allergies - and while I have no evidence to dispute it, I have learned that a little won't bother me too much one way or the other.... AT this point in time!  So, I will work my way through those.

That's it for this week...  but am planning to make a bigger DENT next week :-)

Used up:
open container of mayo
1 pkg bacon pieces
1 container cottage cheese
2 containers sour cream
jar roasted red peppers *used in salads
1 pkage sliced Swiss cheese
1 bags frozen blueberries
 1 banana
 1 cntr sweet gherkins

  Last Month Leftovers: 
3/4 jar wheat germ

  2 containers of Laughing Cow cheese
  Last Month Leftovers:
  frozen orange juice (not to drink)
   1 bag of dough balls (for rolls or monkey bread)
   1 box of veggie bacon
   1 frozen banana
 1 bags frozen blueberries

    Last Month Leftovers:
   bag sundried tomatoes

       Spicy brown mustard *opened to use
       Bleu Cheese Dressing
       Green Salsa
       German chocolate cake mix & icing
       yellow cake mix
       brownie mix
       Liquid Smoke (what is this, why do I have it and what do I do with it?  LOL!!)
       individual envelopes of Italian dressing
      cream of chicken soup
      canned carrots
      3 different bottles of hot sauce
      1 pkgs bacon bits
      french-fried onions
     4 ind cntrs of berry flavored applesauce (didn't care for the flavor)
     1 ind cntrs of sweet gherkin pickles
     box chicken soup
     jar pepperoncini
     tomato soup
     can water chestnuts
     jar szechuan sauce
     wasabi sandwich spread
     marinated artichokes

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bread Adventures (Batch 3 Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

For any new readers. I am attempting to bake my way through Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Herzog and Zoe Francois,   It's a GREAT book for anyone who would like to try baking bread - especially for those a little bit intimidated in the kitchen!

I ran into a snag with Chapter 2.  The breads in this chapter call for Rye flour and I am having a little difficulty locating it.  I went to 3 stores the other day and had no luck.  I did have corn meal, however so I skipped around and found a corn bread recipe.

Broa - Portuguese Corn Bread - had to make 2 loaves because the first one disappeared before I got a photo :-)   The recipe is mostly regular flour with a cup of corn meal so there is  just a hint of corn bread flavor.  The added flavor is really good and it was a great side to add to our Chicken Barley Vegetable Soup.

Spicy Pork Buns - I had some leftover pork loin roast so this recipe came right on time!  Unfortunately I am remedial about recipes... so the night I decided to put it together, I went into the kitchen in time to bake the bread... but had misread the meat sauce instructions!  It was supposed to simmer for THREE HOURS!  Okay, well that wasn't going to happen!

Quick recovery though!  I had some regular dough in the fridge too - skimmed the chapters ahead and found a stromboli.  This was a great looking recipe with some ingredients I didn't have... but I figured that I could use basic marinara, the pepperoni in the fridge and some shredded cheese and create something that would feed the men in my life!

I will make another one when I reach that chapter and use the ingredients in the book and use what I learned this time around!

And while I was working on that, I put the pork ingredients in my crockpot.  The cooking can happen tonight and I will make the Spicy Pork Buns tomorrow night :-)

Spicy pork buns saga continues :-)  Again ME with the assumptions and not reading the directions!  Spicy pork buns.... I am thinking.... hamburger buns with a spicy pork meat filling.... kind of like a sloppy joe or a barbeque...  Not so much!  If they had named it EMPANADA, I would have had a better idea if what I was going to do... or maybe a picture would have been a good idea :-)

At any rate, once again, I set up to put them together and discovered that the meat & sauce were supposed to be refrigerated separately and the process was not what I had envisioned.  Okay - whatever -)  I used what I had.... and made them.....

Messy, I know... I was making BUNS in my head... it was hard to regroup :-)  And that one with the holes... I followed instructions on the amount of filling... and it was too much.. but I learned and the others look better :-)

But no worries, they tasted fine :-)    I do want to do them again... only this time I will probably make them half the size.

I am beginning to think that this book is not exactly idiot-proof.... but all is still pretty tasty and I am having fun learning.  Certainly I am not intimidated by it any more :-)  I just don't have good kitchen sense...

Thursday, June 16, 2011, 90 Days to Better Health

Like most of you, I have grand plans.....

   and then life happens.....

..and then the next day....

..and so on...

until I allow the grand plans fall apart.

Last year, about this time, I went on a strict eating & exercise plan & lost 20 pounds.... got so lethargic and unhappy that I ended up going to a doctor (nothing wrong!) and then a naturopath...   I learned a LOT about eating clean... and that I need more meat (I already KNEW I need fewer carbs!)  I am not sure about the whole meat/grain thing even yet.... BUT I know that I am healthier AND FATTER!


So I set up a FB group to work with a few friends and try to slim down / tone up before my dance recital..... not a smart move!  If anything sets me to emotional eating, it's thinking about how I NEED to lose weight for an 'occasion'   Just thinking about how I WISH I was thinner for a specific occasion makes me freak out... and grab the nearest loose food item!  It doesn't make sense - worry about how you ar going to look in a leotard.... and then go eat something unhealthy!  Crazy backwards sabotage.... but I don't think I'm the only out there with this terrible response!

60 Days later, dance recital past... I am at least 5 pounds heavier with a floofy tummy to go with it.  At this stage of the game, most of my excess is attached firmly (loosely?) to my mid-section!

I'm not the only one..... my group has begged for a 90 Day Challenge to carry them through the summer.  It's no problem changing the name of the group.... but we need to succeed.... heck I need to succeed!

Exercise is planned.... nothing major.. just walking and upper body stuff.. that's enough.  Food is my main issue!

So I try again.... but I don't want to log food.  I mean, I really don't.   I want to "just eat like a normal person".  But I need to be careful... I mean, what is normal anyway?   Normal is average.... and average Americans are overweight.

Maybe I need to log my food ONE week out of the month.... while trying to keep good habits for all of them.  I DO need to drop that 20 AGAIN....

So.... NO More MAYBEs..... I deserve to be a healthy weight!   And I begin again... TODAY.. to follow my own food rules.... and  will pledge to log my food THIS week.  Just this week.... and see how it goes..... because maybe, just maybe.... logging food isn't all that big a deal.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crochet Dishcloth Challenge #65 thru #70

    Being back home and getting in the groove again!  Monday was running errands... doing my coupon work and getting one son to martial arts & one son to register for college classes...  Tuesday was a day at home spent doing paperwork and messing around in the kitchen!  My younger son needed his annual testing done (for homeschooling requirements) and I worked on financial things & baked bread and made a new batch of Kombucha (details on this particular project in another blog soon :-)

    A little time in the yard and some energy & time put into Vacation Bible School planning pretty much filled both days!

  But of course, I had time to crochet!  I posted a picture below with the 6 pretties I will share this week :-)

# 65 Round Sunshine Crochet Dishcloth - Bottom Left - Done in yellow, this is a pretty sunny cloth.  Lacy but still a tight enough weave to use for washing up, it will make the job a lot more fun!

#66 - Tangerine Dream Crochet Dishcloth - This one can be done in any two tones (note that I used the 'right' color this time :-)

#67 - Sunshine and Cool Breeze Crochet Dishcloth - I LOVED the color choices on this one.  It was a lot of fun watching how it turned out.  The 'spokes' of the wheel are done in a front post stitch and look really unique!

#68 - Little Blue Schoolhouse Crochet Dishcloth - Top left.  This is another of the single crochet cloths done using a chart for color changing.  Not my favorite to make because of the concentration it required, but I really DO love creating things that look like quilts and it turned out superb!

#69 - Nine-Patch Crochet Dishcloth.  Top Center Another really pretty quilt-like one that used a unique way of changing colors.  I thought it was a bit awkward to do and will do it differently if I repeat this pattern.  Great result though and I really liked the colors!

#70 - Shaded Shells Crochet Dishcloth - Top right - The pattern calls for a pretty variegated pink and that would probably have been prettier but I just used it in the Nine-Patch :-)  The shell pattern is a bit offset to give it a little lacier look and was fairly simple to do.

So there you go.... hope your summer days are happy ones!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

May Resolution Evaluation & Goals for June

Sooo.. I am back home and getting back to business!  I am a week or so late with my evaluation of May - so I will present it here...   it's long - so you are totally forgiven if you stop reading now :-)

As I move forward into June, I am struck by the fact that we will soon reach the halfway point of 2011I have to say that I look forward to recounting my accomplishments.  With your help, I have made a lot of headway on my goals this year.  I will spend some time this month reviewing my 2011 goals.  My thoughts and dreams have changed a bit as this year has progressed and new goals need to be formulated to reflect that!


1.      Weight, weight, weight!  Maintain loss and lose a little more.  Tighten and tone…. Develop a daily regimen to stay fit for life!  Learn to eat like a thin healthy person.

   A) EAT
     I have relaxed about food this month (and have the extra pounds to show for it :-(  That said, I FEEL better and need to let this sort itself out.  I truly do not want to log all my food.. or fix special meals for myself.  I'd rather work on 'eating clean' and portion control  and manage my eating within the food preparation for my family.  My biggest problem is NOT what I eat for meals - but what I GRAZE upon....  still on the journey

   B) MOVE:
       Dance recital is over and I decided to take a couple of months off.  My foot has been bothering me a little and I think I need to get back to simply walking and see where that leads.  Aerobic / strength dvds are another exercise I enjoy so getting those in a few days per week will be another good idea.  The foot thing is a neuroma - scar tissue - that can be treated with cortisone (which does not work on me) or surgery.  I know in my heart that surgery is the final analysis but I want to see how I do with 'just plain walking' before I go down that road.  The last time I had foot surgery, I avoided it longer than most people would - and that was a mistake.  I am not going to let fear of surgery immobilize me again!

     I HAVE made the decision NOT to do the Cleveland Breast Cancer 3Day Walk in July.  Raising the money for the pledges and the travel - and putting the time into training has just been more than I can deal with this year. 

My naturopathic doctor prescribed an herbal remedy for my depression that seems to be working... I am glad to see my attitude/energy improve!

              LIFE BETTERMENT

              2..   Financial betterment - reduce debt, reduce consumer spending, increase savings, increase giving, property improvement 

   Still working on learning about using coupons - I am not sure yet if we are actually saving money.... Definitely more product is coming into the house!  The goal is to buy 6-8 weeks of a product at a time - when you find the sale & have the coupons.... so far we are doing pretty well... buying items at the best price.... but I'm not convinced yet that we are actually saving money in the long run.  I'll play this out for another month or so and see.  I do NOT want a huge stockpile of stuff.... 

We are working on a specific room by room list for home improvement.  In the next 5 years, we will be making retirement decisions about selling or remaining in our home... so it's a good time to go room by room and do maintenance and re-decorate.

So far, our tithe is actually higher this year than last year which isn't the right balance.  I need to look at those numbers and pull them back into line.  My pledge to US this year was to SAVE as much as I GIVE and that has not been the case.

              3. Life simplification: Organize, unclutter, streamline, purge!  

Life simplification..... hmm.... that is always a tough one to pin down.  

*With the dance recital over, a little stress and excitement is finished.... my evenings are my own now... (though I will miss the classes)  I wish, wish, WISH they had something I could help with in the afternoons when I can drive myself.   It's always hard to make a commitment when you are committing someone else's time!

*I have kept current with shredding documents but did not make headway into the file cabinets. So that is still waiting for me!  I will double up in June.  My May goal was to dispose of 4 folders out of the file cabinet... I'll double that for June so that the project will keep moving...

*I started a new Pantry Purge blog... I still like the concept but didn't do a good job of choosing weird items this time around :-) [to make an interesting blog entry]  It HAS helped me to be more pro-active about menu planning and a little more frugal in using the food in the house.

A HUGE May accomplishment was the emptying of the extra cottage on our property.  It still will need a lot of work to be livable BUT the flotsam and jetsam all those renters left behind is GONE.


4.  Cards  
  Still on track with the birthday cards... not so good with sympathy or other cards.... but working on it :-)

5. Read a minimum of one book per week
    My favorite resolution :-)  I am going to move 8. Spiritual reading over here since I seem to combine the two.  I usually have a spiritual book or two on my reading list!

May reading was:

The King in the Window by Adam Gropnik
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Women Food and God by Geneen Roth
Rakkety Tam by Brian Jacques
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
168 Hours You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

Still doing lots of reading :-)  I will have a pretty interesting line-up of books by the end of the year... fairly eclectic taste :-)

6. Crochet for charity & gifts

I have completed over 75 dishcloths so far in the dishcloth challenge ..... 365 for the year so I am nowhere near caught up!  I think the challenge is somewhere in the 140s now.

        I way surpassed my monthly goal for lovies for Operation Christmas Child.... I pledged 40 - but actually made 70.... that's okay though because for my annual goal of 5 lovies per week.... I should have 105.. and I am at 104!  Oh well..... 21 lovies and I should be all caught up for mid-year by the end of June!

  When I get tired of making them, I stop.... only joy and happiness will be around the work I do!

     Several other longer term projects are in the works... including some random gifts I promised at the beginning of the year... I will post as I finish but they will take a while...

            7.  Quilt projects and mending

            Funny - as much as I WANT to quilt, I am still not doing it.  I did bring the ONE strip on vacation with me and am determined to get it stitched - or at least STARTED this week.  I really enjoyed the lap quilt project while I took the class and kept current with it... I NEED to finish that project!

9.   Photo project

           I am still scanning away!
I am 3/4 through the original container.. and have started looking at the messed up one.  I am sure that many of the photos are destroyed but I am hoping THIS month to be able to get into it and see what I can salvage.  I worked on a few photos in May but they are mostly ruined :-(

June Focus:

1.  Back to basics.... WALK as exercise!
2.  Continue to spend some time outdoors each day.
3.  Finances - a) determine what tithe & savings should be & pull them back into line
                    b) determine what coupon savings have been
                    c) continue menu planning 
4.  Continue daily shredding and purge 8 folders from the file cabinet.
5.  Quilt one strip on the quilt I am making AND mend 2 quilts (MAY)
6.  Make 20 crocheted lovies  (21!)
7.  Continue with photo scanning project
8.  Start room by room decluttering / redecorating.  Formulate a master plan. (MAY)


Monday, June 13, 2011

A Special Day..

Pentecost Sunday....

The Sunday where we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.... or the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to us that he would not leave us ALONE!

I was blessed to be part of the Confirmation of a wonderful young woman in my church.  I always love this sacrament.... where we celebrate the vibrant spirit that our young people already possess!

With prayers from different nations.... and so many of us attending from such different situations and walks of life... and then celebrating this young friend of mine... wow! it was a powerful service!  ANd then afterwards... on this day.. my church held its annual International Food Festival.  YUM!!  So I got to round out my week of culinary exploration with Irish soda bread and Filipino pancit :-)  What fun!

I can honestly say that the Spirit is alive and well in my small community!  I am blessed to be a part of it... the day was just what I needed spiritually :-)

On another note.... my face didn't hurt too much and was only slightly red & puffy.... pretty much looked like a slight sunburn.  I hope I remember this next time I travel!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Home Again, Home Again....

We crashed late last night... and were up early to be on the road by 7am.  That last leg of any trip is the longest.. and the best :-)  I was so tickled to be heading home!

We arrived home around 10 am... one of my guys was walking the dog and the other was still asleep :-)  The dogs were crazy to see us... and my boys were too!  I think they are glad to relinquish responsibility for the animals :-)

At any rate.. we spent the day quietly... me nesting around... handling laundry, unpacking, a little vacuuming.  The house was in fine shape... but the guys don't really notice dust bunnies and dog hair like I do.. so I felt better after I putzed around a bit :-)

I have an engagement tomorrow morning - Sunday - so need to get a few things together for that... but all in all... a happy homecoming...  except for my poor puffy itchy face and neck :-(  I sure hope that it eases up by tomorrow.  I have a church function and would hate to be all red-faced in photos!  It's been a LONG time since I have reacted this badly.... poo! 

I spent the afternoon with cold compresses on and off my neck / chin area where the itching and swelling is the worst.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Road Trip .. Day 7... on the road again

My last morning in a hotel room for a while!  While I love the Hampton Inn.... I am ready to do something else with my day!

I have enjoyed having no distractions in the morning... to write, to do my office stuff...  I will have to see what I can do to re-create this schedule when I get home.  You'd think as a home manager that I would be able to set any schedule I choose - but not so much!  Somehow I have more interruptions than ever!  But maybe it's ME getting distracted..... I'll have to think on that...

BUT..... with everything packed & in my husband's car except the laptop & my book.... it was an interesting few hours.... no crocheting, no office work :-)   Whatever shall I do?  LOL!!  I am sure it is good for me! 

The plans for the day are to meet with a friend at the local mall around noon for lunch.... and a joy that turned out to be!   We've 'known' each other online for several years but this was a first time meeting in person!  It is so much fun to travel to places and end up meeting friends you've known for a long time already... and I continued my culinary adventures.... I am such a small town kid!

This mall had a HUGE food court (huge to me!)   All the usual fast food suspects..... but also Japanese, Thai and Indian.  I've tried some different Japanese and Thai foods recently so..... Indian, it was...  Thank goodness they had a catering menu there that explained what the foods were!  Chicken Tandoori, I've tried before.. this was good, but not what I expected.... chana masala.. a slightly spicy chickpea dish.. I LOVED that one :-),,, fresh nan (like a pita - hot and puffy - who can complain about fresh bread?).. sweet jasmine rice.... and vegetable samosas, which were my favorite, I think.  They are spicy little turnovers filled with potatoes and peas...  Anyway.... lunch with a friend and new food for today's adventure!

 My husband ducked out of his class early and joined us... took one look at my tray and got his usual steak and cheese.  His mind was on hitting the road and heading home!   I can't  blame him.... adventures are fun.. but home... well, home is best!

My friend and I parted a bit reluctantly, she to go back to work and I to hit the road.... but we share the fun memory and maybe fates will conspire to help us do it again!

 So.... we got back in the car and started driving... traffic was pretty nasty for a but but soon evened out.... one thing I forgot to mention... my face & eyes had been itchy and stinging for the last day or so.  I didn't pay too much attention because I DID sit in the sun and had a little bit of a burn.... but as we drove, my neck started itching..... enough that I put cool water on it at rest stops... and pulled out some lotion for the whole area as we drove along.

The more I thought about it, the weirder it seemed until finally it hit me!  Couldn't be food allergies... not JUST on my face and neck....  There are two products that absolutely drive my skin nuts.... Tide and Olay (sorry, but true).  And my FACE is what gets the most exposure to linens in a hotel.  It didn't show up until late because I use my own pillow and for the first part of the trip - my own face cloth.  But I started using their clean cloths on Wednesday.... I settled on the cause while I was washing my face!  I am careful and use my own products but forgot about the dumb towels....  so now my poor face is puffy and my neck is itchy... BOO!  It will be fine in a day or so.... but it is aggravating!

At any rate... we drove until about 10:30pm.... and I was crashing hard!  My husband is a dear and stopped for the night.... and tomorrow.. we should make it home well before lunch.  I can't wait to see my family and pets and be home again, puffy face and all!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Road Trip... Day 6 in Boston

Today was supposed to be sunny and record-breakingly hot..... but we woke to a bit of rain!  

Laundry first thing for me this morning.... and a long chat with my daughter.... man, I miss my kids!  A wonderful chat with one of my girls & grandgirl yesterday.... what a lot of fun!  The little one doesn't even form words yet but LOVES to talk on the phone.... so grandmom happily obliged.   And keeping up with my boys at home.... texting with my oldest...  I'm a lucky mom to be so connected with my gang!

Then to pack up a bit....  gathering the things I won't need for the rest of the trip..  we start driving tomorrow afternoon... so there is quite a bit that I am finished with.

With the rain gone... it was sunbathing by the pool again... reading the novel my son wrote.... fast and furious texting back and forth with thoughts & ideas...not so much with the grammar and the spelling... his work is great!  I'm going home pretty tan, too :-)

Severe thunderstorms later on.... the news channel was full of concerns about them.  Apparently the freak tornadoes that went through the Boston area last week have everyone's nerves on edge!  But it turned out to be just thunder & lightning.... much like we see all the time at home.

We had plans to revisit the Flatbread Company but by the time we got there.... there was a 30 minute wait.. and we didn't want to wait!  So we headed to the nearby mall.... and spotted a little hole-in-the-wall pizzaria along the way.  It was perfect... we just ordered a gooey cheesy pizza.... ate most of it and headed back to our room for our final night.  Nice and quiet :-)

I discovered that another internet buddy of mine lives near and we have tentative plans to get together tomorrow before I leave..... we'll have to see how that goes!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Road Trip... Day 5 in Boston

So I got up early - as usual :-)  I almost rolled over but then I remembered that I am my husband's alarm clock and didn't want to take the chance that I would oversleep by being too lazy!

We had breakfast together and then I saw him off to class!  One of the many things I like about Hampton Inns is that they usually have a great breakfast selection (and FREE :-)... they all feature a fitness center and pool too... I think they are one of the best hotel values.  The first day I snagged enough 'breakfast' to cover lunch but since then I have had tons of leftovers from dinner the night before!

I planned to catch a shuttle for the 10:30 train to Boston... so had a couple of hours to spend working on writing... and I took the time to BEGIN the hand quilting on that infamous quilt strip.  Go ME!  It's not hard.... and there are only 4 small areas to cover before I can attach it to the rest of the quilt... I just need to DO IT!  So, this morning..... I did ONE of the four.... a start :-)  Hmm... if I do another one tomorrow morning.... I'll be half done with this portion....   

I am excited about catching the train - and nervous too... I am still not used to doing things by myself.  Somehow I had a lot more courage when I was dragging little people to educational sites.... now it's just me wandering around with no agenda.   Kind of strange!

But it's a little like riding a roller coaster.... ALL I had to do was get on the shuttle to take me to the train..... anything after that was as much trouble to go backward as forward.... so it kept me moving FORWARD!

I'm really not an adventurous soul... I mean, I have an adventurous MIND... but my emotional self is a big chicken... a SEVERE homebody... I can as easily sit in a corner watching people and taking notes as I can breathe.... Actually doing something new... getting involved in an a little bit harder :-)

At any rate, there I was... on a train..

I found it!  And it was going in the right direction... I DO worry too much...

So I got on...... bought a ticket.... and went to Boston!

I arrived at the North Station and used a generic tourist map to wander my way to the Boston Common and the Public Gardens - my favorite spot of all!

What was fun was the Bruin fever!  Of course, those of you who know me, know that I know nothing much at all about sports... I mean zip.... zilch.... NADA!  I had caught a little about the Bruins (okay - that is hockey) but I only know that from the news last night.  Even George Washington in the middle of the Boston Public Gardens caught the fever....

Hard to see in the photo but George is dressed in a Bruins shirt...

My friend's train was late so I had some time to wander a bit & enjoy the beautiful sunshine.  I really liked listening to everyone complain about the heat.... even with the gorgeous breeze in the gardens.  I think that someone from Boston would get the same enjoyment listening to me complain about snow!

I mean, it WAS hot..... but I've never seen a Virginia squirrel need to chill out on the brick walk...

When my friend arrived, we had a great lunch at the Boston library, an incredibly beautiful building and enjoyed a super Civil War exhibit composed of period maps.... I do like maps!  A bit of a nerd, I know...  but they were absolutely fantastic!

Initially my husband thought his class would end early and he would join me in the city.... but two obstacles.... his class ran late AND the station we were using is also the hockey stadium..... with the 4th game of the Stanley Cup happening tonight!  Hmm..... change of plans!

My friend put me on the right train before she went to work.... and I headed back to the hotel...  An evening in the city with my husband was a great idea.... but not this time :-)  I was pretty tired anyway from all the walking - but feeling virtuous about the exercise...

Another quiet evening.... we re-visited the Asian restaurant and let our not-so-adventurous souls bask in the intrepid tasting of a new food :-)  Gyoza... a Japanese appetizer.... little meat ravioli-like pastries with a sesame-soy sauce...  enough adventure for me for the day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Road Trip.... Day 4 in Boston

Woke early and saw hubby off to class.....

Good intentions of exercising. early.. but since we returned to the room after breakfast... I sat down to the computer and started to work AND play. 

A few weeks ago, I gave up a game I had been playing to see how much I missed it.  While I DID miss it, and I made friends there (as you do in the internet world), I am finding that it still takes up too much time for me to really enjoy.  If I do not figure out a way to manage the time I spend on it.. I will have to give it up altogether. 

I did spend 45 min on the treadmonster and then a couple of hours at the pool... laying out and swimming!   AND reading my son's manuscript... bless him, I've read so many versions of it..... but it's really pretty good (if I am a judge!)  At any rate, reading it all the way through if one of the tasks I set for myself on this trip - since I have so much reading time.

Hmm.. what else did I do?  A bit of financial planning work.... a charted dishcloth (I brought the yarn & instructions but somehow didn't print out the chart... so had to do it at the computer!).. and worked a little bit on a couple of other projects.  The good part about driving is that you CAN bring projects with you :-)

When Don came back, we went to a nearby Latin restaurant - Pedros Latin Cuisine (thinking Mexican) but were pleasantly surprised at South American food!  Neither of us was very familiar.. and carefully chose things that were a little different (but not TOO much - we are a little adventurous - but not a lot!).... I did enjoy discovering yucca root (much more like potato than I imagined) and fried plaintain (as much like banana as I thought)  So far, we have been lucky with our restaurant choices - they have been great!

We came back for a quiet evening.... Don had work to do both for his job and for his class... and I curled up with an afghan I've been working on..

Tomorrow - I navigate the transit system on my own and go to Boston to meet a friend for lunch.... Don's class is supposed to let out early and he plans to join me.  I can't wait to go there - even if all I do is sit in the gardens... the Boston Public Gardens are incredibly beautiful!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Road Trip .. Day 3 in Boston

It is so weird to have nothing pressing to do for hours and hours at a time!  You know things are off when you are cleaning your hotel room :-)  My daily habits are definitely becoming ingrained...

My husband has a class - and is really enjoying it :-)  I am happy to see him excited.. it's been a long time since he has had work that he enjoyed.   He left at 7:45 and returned around 6pm.

I spent the day reading.... sweet bliss!    I spent a couple of hours wrangling one of my crocheted dishcloths into submission... the last few sets of instructions have been pretty difficult.... I'll have to let them know.  I even gave up on one and did it my way :-)

A couple of hours sunning at the pool finishing off a novel... another thing I enjoy a LOT that I rarely get to do.  I guess that is probably a GOOD thing for my skin.. but I do like sunbathing :-)

By the time that my husband was able to join me, I was ready to go somewhere - ANYwhere.... we decided to try an Asian restaurant near the Flatbread Company we enjoyed last night

The Bamboo was incredible!  The food was amazing..... I had Pad Thai & some incredible spring rolls.

I had to try some new drinks because it is so much fun... a Purple Geisha (blueberry - one of my favorites)... I had no idea there was a blueberry vodka!  And a Blue Mermaid.. with all kinds of rum & fruit (which can never be bad :-)

The other thing that I loved so much was an exquisite Japanese quilt used to make a screen..... I'm going to have to think about that.. I wish I had taken a photo...  it would look really good in my living room!

After that, we wandered around the Burlington mall for a little while and I got my CVS fix..... funny, I am hooked on getting CVS values :-)  I did bring my coupons with me so I will prob create a "CVS shopping" package and go there again tomorrow night.  I am definitely finding deals by regular drugstore shopping!  Nice to be travelling in a car so I can still shop :-)

My main focus for this trip is to hang out... relax.... read and crochet.. catch up on paperwork.... have my own silent retreat, if you will.  And to be available for my husband.  It was so nice of him to ask me to tag along!

I thought about figuring out the train schedule and visiting Boston... I will do that for one day - but for the rest of them, I think I will putz around and catch up on some of the mental work and paperwork that I keep putting off.  One of the blessings (or curses?) of working for yourself is that your work is pretty portable!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Road Trip... Day 2....

8 hours of driving yesterday... 4 hours ahead today... riding - not driving - for me :-)

Lots of talking and dreaming and planning... thinking of the next 5, 10, 20 years.... thinking about which direction we want our lives to go....  what fun!  Though we are in our mid-50s, with luck, we have at least another good 30 years together... that's a LOT :-)   And, God willing, we will be able to do the work to keep active and healthy.... sooo... what do we WANT for this next chapter? 

We haven't taken the time to really think about the decisions we will need to make about the next years.... do we stay in our home.... do we look for a home that will be easier for us to manage as we age ... what will we need to fix or renovate in order to sell.... (or to enjoy ourselves!)...   where would we like to travel...   how long to continue working....  what to do NOW for residual income later...  how much money do we need AFTER we get the last children through college and settled....  what health issues do we think we will be facing... It's a new thing for us to have the time to actually get specific about what is coming next!

What a blessing to have a partner to dream with and a chunk of uninterrupted time to do it!

In yesterday's post, I talked about the trouble I had LEAVING home... and got myself sidetracked into talking about the difference in packing and planning between the time when my kids were younger and now....  but what I DIDN'T say is that when I get myself out of the house....  with that last item packed...  just as soon as I lock the door.... and get in the car... playtime begins!  I feel the stress of daily living roll off my back....

There is a freedom in leaving the daily habits behind... it's a great time to reconnect (both with my husband and MYSELF!)  I am looking forward to some serious dreaming :-)

What do you want for the next 30 years?   What can you do today to get there?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Road Trip!

I LOVE road trips!  My husband has a business trip and asked me to tag along.... and, as an almost empty-nester..... why not?

I detest the LEAVING part... with all the preparations.. and the worries about food that will go bad... and taking care of the pets.... and the plants..... what to bring... what to leave.... it used to take me FOREVER to get ready.

But now?

Hmm.... my life has changed....  still plenty of preparation.... but some of it is just habit, I think.

I mean.. I'm only packing for me.....  my kids are grown and staying home.

It's Mom and Dad who are taking off ... shaking off the household responsibilities and heading out to play.

Who cares if I forget something?   No favorite stuffed toy to remember....  no bags of toys to keep little people occupied in the car.... no need for a cooler full of food (though I WILL be taking the last few items that I KNOW my guys will let DIE in the refrigerator :-)

It's kind of weird actually..... I am so accustomed to packing entire environments to move along with us.... and now I feel kind of footloose.

Okay - you would laugh if you saw my bag of work and my bag of crochet projects.  But I also took the time to pack some bubble bath and spa items that I own but never, ever use....

The week stretches before me.... an empty slate...

My entire agenda today is to leave the house and get in the car..... and ride... (and crochet a dishcloth or two, of course!)

How WILL I manage?

Friday, June 3, 2011

100th Post :-)

Wow!  I never thought I'd get this far!

I have been writing most of my life... off and on.... but somewhere early this year decided to try and be more consistent with it.  Writing has been like weight loss and other personal projects..... life heats up and I let go of the habit!

And now is no exception!  With your love and forebearance, I am learning to be more consistent!

You have helped me to continue to focus on personal goals... whether I reach the goals or not - at this point is irrelevant.  What matters most is the journey :-)  And writing this blog has helped me keep focus... so I am selfish in writing!

For the 100th post, I think an evaluation of the blog is in order....

    First... the premise... following me as I work on annual resolutions / goals......  seriously, this was chosen to a) keep me focused on the goals so they don't slip away and b) to give me something consistent to write about, and c) to give my brain free rein to wander in the hopes that I could settle on a specific blogging topic.

   Looking at these reasons, I am still moving toward personal annual goals..... I am still writing about them....  but I haven't found a specific topic.... I am still journeying and learning how to write most days.

 Second - the format....  being concise - creating short sound bites is best - but a little tricky.  This is easy with some subjects.... hard for an evaluation... but good to learn!

                  .....adding pictures makes more interesting reading!  But it takes longer to figure out what to post.... so more learning!

 Third - the subjects!  This has been the biggest struggle for me!  I like to use events that happen in my life because I think the struggles and triumphs I face are the same for all of us.  All of us middle-aged female semi-empty nesters, that is!  I think we all struggle with balancing our family needs and expectations with our own sense of growing freedom and possibilities.  And I think we feel pretty alone in it & selfish about it most of the time.

     But I insist on two things... maintaining privacy for the people around me and keeping a positive tone.  These two things make writing about personal things a challenge sometimes!  I am hoping to develop better technique as time goes on so that I can do a better job!

     Sharing projects has been fun!  And it allows me to share pictures and progress (or lack of it!)  And the projects are a way that I can write posts ahead of time and have them ready for those times in life when you feel like a hamster on a wheel.

     Ultimately I would like to post most days of the week..... and come up with a topic for each day.... right now I post crochet on Wednesdays and pantry progress on Saturdays (though I am not really happy with the way that one is turning out right now.... I like the concept but I'm not sure I'm accomplishing what I wanted to).  And I still want to do more of a spiritual nature but in the interest of consistency.... I want to have several posts written ahead so that I don't drop it when life heats up!

    Please feel free to comment here or on my Facebook page and let me know what you think!  While I am being a selfish writer..... if you have read this far... I want my writing to be a help to you too!

Soo.... here's to 100 posts!  Let's see what we can do with the next 100!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bread Adventures (Batch 2 Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

  Working our way through Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Herzog and Zoe Francois

  So far, we've done four loaves..... but now, writing with the book in front of me, I apparently went out of order :-)  I am sure that you've come to expect that of me anyway...... so I will make up for it by trying the ciabatta (ciabatta meand slipper in English... really?)

     I forgot to share that the book calls for a pizza peel and a baking stone..  I had to do a bit of research to figure out what a pizza peel was!  In case you don't know, it's that wooden paddle thing that you see on tv that is used to slide pizzas in the big ovens.  But I am using the equipment in my poor under-nourished kitchen.... a flat cookie sheet... and so far, it is working.  Of course, if I end up being a decent baker who ENJOYS baking.... I may be able to justify the cost of new toys... but for now, I keep allocating that extra money to books and Starbucks :-)

I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like :-) but there was a warning that if I made it too thin it would POOF like a pita

I'm not sure it was thin enough - but it certainly wasn't TOO thin :-)

Also - this second batch of dough, I ran out of white flour and substituted whole wheat....  I don't live anywhere that I can run out and get replacement stuff so substitutes are a way of life around here.
There are some suggestions for herbs to use in the basic dough to give a different flavor but I'll wait for another batch!

Taste was fine.... I still get excited when the bread looks good and the family will eat it....

I really had fun with the next one.... Pain D'Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread)

Pain D'Epi

The pan d'epi is made by using scissors and snipping a baguette shaped bread diagonally before baking.  My baguette was still a little fat but it's all about the taste, right?

   My next one will be better.  I will take the time to make the baguette thinner so the "stalks" are more dinner roll sized and also place them a little closer together so that you can actually break them off each other.

The last bread in this chapter is a sandwich loaf.  Okay - that doesn't sound too hard..... But the day I pulled it out to make, I was in a time crunch.  This is the first loaf that needs more than 30 minutes to rest.   So... making assumptions and not reading directions got me into trouble!

 Another day went by before I had a chance to bake this one..... I forgot to slash the top - so the bread vented on the side.  I am not sure this will work for sandwiches for us..... but I see that I can do a couple of things differently next time.  First I will use a bit more dough to make it larger.... and second, I won't forget to slash the top (uh.... read ALL the instructions) again :-)

This is definitely a FUN adventure - and EASY!  It feels good to have a high success rate baking something everyone thinks is HARD.... shhhh!!   Come enjoy my secret with me :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crochet Post :-) Dishcloth Challenge #59 through #64 & more lovies!

Okay - it is getting scary how many dishcloths I have made!  Right now I have them and their instructions in a large tote box.  The other day I bought some clothesline to hang on the wall in the family room to show them off :-)  I will probably give most of them away but I still want to look at them for a while!

One of the things I need to do is pick my favorites and create a binder of the instructions I like best so I can make them again.  I am positive I will NEVER remember on my own!

#59 Climbing Violet on the bottom left - I think this might be another favorite!  It was quick and easy to do and when it is done in a variegated and a coordinating solid, it turns out really nice.

#60 Colorful Journey Dishcloth pictured on the bottom row in the center is another one that I might do again.  Quick and easy and looks impressive!

#61  Denim Daze Dishcloth on the bottom left - This looks kind of basic.... but has a little change in the pattern that gives the stripes an offset look. 

#62 Strawberries in a Row Dishcloth on the top left - This one was a little more challenging.  Not really hard but not one I particularly want to do again :-) 

# 63 Lava Lamp Dishcloth - center top row... this one is done in a simple V-stitch.  I think what I liked best about this one is the weird yarn I chose!

#64 Polka Dots Dishcloth - this one is similar to #46  The stitch pattern is the same but the color placement is different.  The two would make a great set!  Both use small amounts of yarn so they are good choices for using up scraps!

And I am still working on lovies for Operation Christmas Child :-)