Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ah, sweet nesting!

Only three times in my life have I had the privelege of enjoying "nesting". Being pregnant with our three children has brought out this wonderful urge to organize, declutter, and clean. Mind you, I'm still no Martha Stewart when it comes to housework. I ain't got nothin on June Cleaver, but I do tend to get some much-needed work done when I'm pregnant.

Yesterday, I finished the "toy purge" of the season, tossing out every broken/old toy I could find, putting some in bags to give away, and reorganizing what's left. I even got the wise idea of pulling out every baby toy that I could find and putting them in a toy basket in the living room to have them ready for Zachary.

Bryan, in his husband-wisdom, reminded me that he won't be playing with anything for about 7 months. Well, at least I won't have to go digging for them 7 months from now when he's ready to play. One less thing to worry about, eh?

A couple months back, I wrangled Bryan into helping me clean up downstairs. We fully cleaned out my little basement garage, the den and kitchen area, and got a bit done in the guest rooms. I've managed to stack up yard sale stuff (hopefully God will grant me energy to have a yard sale next spring) and the give-away toys and clothes (remember my closet purges?) in the little garage, so it's kinda back to being piled up again. But the stacks look much more organized!!

If you've been so lucky as to experience nesting, I hope you made the best of it. If you have yet to be preggers, I hope you get to experience nesting, because it makes you feel like you've really accomplished something.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Monday after Thanksgiving

It's been a dreary day weather-wise, and just a little dreary in my heart this time of year too. Mainly because it seems that the holiday season is just one blur of activities and "stuff". Then it's gone, and we're left with all the receipts and the cabin fever of a long winter.

The whole weekend was nice, but went by so fast. We traveled to the in-laws Wed. night and didn't get there until around 9:30 pm. Thanksgiving day was probably the most restful day. I slept in as much as I could and just pattered around the in-laws' house, playing with the girls, making my cranberry salad, until dinner, which was big and delicious! The girls and I took nice naps after the meal. The house was quiet all afternoon--it was nice.

Bryan and I were able to take in a movie that night--"The Mist"--not recommended, especially for young viewers. Thankfully, the girls stayed with my in-laws. It was rather gross and had a twisted ending--so much for my pick. Usually I like a good scary movie--this wasn't one of them.

Friday, dinner at my dad's house. It went smoothly, except for having to clean the house for an hour before I could start cooking anything. Poor man, he has no idea how to keep anything clean. He supposedly had someone come in to clean for him a few days prior. I don't know what they cleaned, but it wasn't anything I could see! Thankfully, Bryan took the girls to run some errands while I did that. Then, I was able to get the turkey warming in the oven, mix up my stuffing, and cook mashed potatoes, green beans, and crescent rolls. My ex-sister in law and my youngest niece were able to come. I was so glad to have them. It felt a little more like a normal family. No word from my brother that day.

Bryan and I left there and decided to drop off the girls with his parents again and take in another movie. This time, "Fred Claus"--Bryan's choice. Much better choice. It was funny and had that predictable "you know someone's going to save Christmas" story. Not a holiday classic, but cute nonetheless. After the movie, we ate in the local Taco Bell where I worked one summer back in college days. Nothing had changed, except they didn't have any heat for the poor teenagers working in there. The poor little guy that took our order was shivering. I wanted to go get him a turtleneck or something.

Saturday, Bryan and I went shopping in Bowling Green together. We were able to almost completely knock out our Christmas list. The crowds weren't super bad either. I just do not go shopping on Friday after Thanksgiving, escpecially lining up in the wee hours of the morning to get trampled so I MIGHT be able to buy a stapler or something. Not worth it to me. I'd rather pay full price than risk my life, thank you. :) We got in and out of each store easily. I even bought some maternity clothes rather quickly (odd for me--I'm so indecisive and cheap).

Sunday, slept in, showered and and headed for home. Stopped in Bowling Green again for lunch (Mancino's pizza-yum!) and back for some quick naps before church. Megan's children's choir sang one song in our Hanging of the Greens service. Nice service. Good Christmas music and messages. Zoe was distracting, but it was still good. Left there, Happy Meals for the girls, soup for Bryan and me, and bed!

Today, not much of anything except washing clothes that we wore over the holiday. Trying to get my mind into Christmas mode, wondering about planning child-care, pictures, etc. Hoping to actually enjoy the season more than stress about it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What to do with leftover pumpkin

I just had to post another post before the holiday begins. I made a couple of double layer pumpkin pies last night for our meals and had some leftover pumpkin mix and didn't want to throw it out. I looked up a recipe for pumpkin pancakes and used it for them this morning. They were delicious! Since my girls liked them, then you will too! :)

My pie mix had vanilla pudding in it, along with the regular spices. The pudding lent a unique, fluffy texture to the pancakes. If you've just got some leftover canned pumpkin or pie mix, this will work well. Since I had the pre-sweetened and flavored pie mix, I simply omitted the spices called for in the recipe and only used 1 tbsp of brown sugar. I also used 1 cup of buttermilk and rounded it off with 2% milk (I had to use a little more just to thin it out a bit, but not TOO thin, or you won't get fluffy pancakes). Since I used the buttermilk, I also omitted the vinegar.

Here's the recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar

In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt, stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan [my electric griddle worked super well with this--heat to 350 degrees] over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Thanks to for the recipe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two days until Thanksgiving!

I'm brining my lovely 10 pound fresh turkey for 6 hours today per Alton Brown's Good Eats recipe. I'll be cooking it up this afternoon, carving it, and taking it to my dad's for dinner on Friday. I hope it still tastes like a fresh turkey by then.

Also on the menu: dressing, cranberry salad (my mom's recipe), double layer pumpkin and chocolate pies for both my in-laws and my dad's house, and possibly homemade rolls, though I'm leaning toward the brown and serve to save me some time and energy. My dad and ex-sis in law are providing the other sides.

My brother will probably not be there. He has just not gotten his act together this year and has really made a mess of things. At least I can see his ex-wife and one of my nieces. She's only 6 months younger than Meg, so I love them to spend time together, though we don't get to that often. Just hoping for a peaceful, uneventful meal up there. Pray a quick prayer for my dysfunctional family, if you would.

Now, for some fun. I've gotten a lot of those "getting to know you" lists and they're kinda all the same. I thought I'd make my own Thanksgiving-y version of one and I'm tagging everybody who reads--so lurkers, come out of the closet and let us get to know you :)

1. What's your favorite way to eat/cook a turkey? I like the Good Eats recipe I mentioned above--brining it first, then roasting in the oven. Comes out juicy and very flavorful.

2. What's your favorite side dish(es)? I love good dressing like my MIL makes and cranberry salad like my mom (and now I) used to make.

3. Favorite Thanksgiving dessert(s)? Good ole pumpkin pie for me--I love to make the double layer ones--they're lighter and not as rich as your traditional ones.

4. What do you like to do after the big meal? I love to sit back and nap and chat with the family, getting up every so often to pick at the leftovers.

5. Friday after Thanksgiving--are you shopping or not? Not me--no way! I'm not much of a shopper anyway and crowds make me panicky. Though Bryan and I are going to get out Saturday for a bit of shopping--probably won't be much better....hmmm.
6. Kitchen appliance you can't live without? (Not really a Thanksgiving question, but it's a good question anyway) My KitchenAid stand mixer that hubby bought me a few years ago for Christmas--indispensible, I tell you!

7. Do you decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend or later? I usually wait until later--around the first/second week of December. I get kinda tired of looking at it if I do it too soon and we're usually out of town on Thankgiving weekend anyway.

8. Five people you're most thankful for this Thanksgiving (I'm sure you have more--feel free to list them): Well, let's just say Jesus right off the bat, then Bryan, Megan, Zoe, and little Zachary on the way. And all my family and friends that I love so dearly.

That's it for now. Hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Another "exotic" fruit you'll want to try

If you head out to your local Wal-Mart, Kroger, or other grocery chain, you'll now see these big bins of interesting red fruits--pomegranates. They've been enjoyed for centuries in arid places such as the middle east, and now is the season for them to show up here.

They have these lovely, bright red arils, or berries, inside of them. Now, the trick is to get to the berries without squirting the bright red, staining juice all over the place.

First, slice off a bit of each end. Then, score through the skin with your knife, forming sections (4-6). Then, immerse in a bowl of water and break apart the sections. Now you can gently scoop out the berries either into the water or a regular bowl and just eat em up. They taste sweeter the riper they are, and remind me of a cross between blueberries and cranberries. Delish!

I especially love them because they are jam-packed with healthy antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Check out a California based info site here: Try one and let me know what you think!

Good Morning America article

I've got two girls. Puberty is hitting young girls earlier than ever. One reason may be stress in the home. We're going to have to start meditating or chanting or burning incense or something--I don't want to buy any bras for my babies any time soon! ;)

Check out the article:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, Monday

Just checkin in here in Bloggity-ville. I've spent most of my computer time today just catching up on some posts on other folks' blogs. I'm doing catch-up cleaning and laundry too after a busy weekend.

And, I'm in the beginning stages of my first sinus infection for the season. I leaned over yesterday to chase our cat from under the bed and my left cheekbone felt like somebody hit me. Sinus pressure hit all at once. I'm keeping saline spray handy and will get my humidifier going tonight. I'm hoping and praying it will not ruin Thanksgiving for me. One year, I had a sinus infection on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. Not happy times.

We canned our first green tomato pickles on Saturday, the aftermath of which I'm dealing with today. I don't care for them, but they are one of hubby's favorite things to munch. It was my first experience canning ANYTHING, so it was fun to give it a go. Hubby used to help his mom can stuff when he was younger, so he knew a lot about what to expect.

I drove all over trying to find canning supplies. Kroger had jars and a canning funnel, but nobody else had anything. Wal-Mart puts their supplies up after summer, apparently. We made a makeshift rack for the bottom of my big stew pot to set the jars on. We tied jar rings together with twist ties and it worked well. I found a pair of tongs that worked reasonably well to lower and lift the jars out of the boiling water. A jar lifter would have been handy, but we made it work.

Well, I'm off to do some more cleaning and "mommy work". And blow my nose again.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

If God brings you to it...

Then He can bring you through it. I've heard that many times. I thought about that this morning as I thought of how many experiences I've been through as I've gotten older. So, I've compiled a bit of a list of what God has brought me to and through.

  1. Divorced parents
  2. Never knowing one of my parents (that's kind of an oddity)
  3. A live-in grandmother with Alzheimer's disease
  4. Deaths of grandparents
  5. The disablement of my stepfather
  6. 2 totaled car wrecks (1 while pregnant with Zoe)
  7. Working full-time while married and in college
  8. 2 all natural childbirths (wonderful, but hard and working on 3--cheer me on :D)
  9. The sickness and death of my mom
  10. A miscarriage
  11. Loss of pets
  12. Loss of friends and extended family members

I could go on, but these things have been some of the biggest hurdles of my life. This is not a post of "woe is me", but a post of Thanksgiving. Since the holiday IS approaching in a couple of weeks, I wanted to get into the mindset of being thankful. I thank God every day for all the blessings of joy and happiness He's given me, but I don't often think about how He's gotten me through the tough times and the lessons I've learned, the experience I've gotten just from going through it.

If we lived perfectly peaceful and enchanted lives, how could we minister with empathy toward those who are in turmoil? The hardships of life, if we let God teach us, give us the grace to understand each other's problems, to know where they are in their pain ...and hopefully know how to give advice or help when asked or needed.

What experiences are you thankful for this season? What has God brought you to and through? What is He teaching you now?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So what do you do...

When the kids are out of school for election day and you've no where to go?

Clean out closets of course!

Well, I'm doing seasonal clothing purges. I don't know how clean the closets will actually be, but I feel better having the proper clothes for the season in place. I have finished the girls' closets and need to start on mine.

It made me a little sad putting away some of Zoe's small clothes, knowing I'll never have another little girl of my own to wear them now. But, I'll be more than happy to pass them on to whoever will be having a little girl next. And I know some couples in our family that I'd LOVE to give them too! :)

The girls are just doing whatever pleases them today. Just a laid back day, except for the closet purges. School is back in session tomorrow, so back to the old routine. And back to cleaning up the tornado that happens when kids are home all day!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Not "Goodbye", just "See You Later"

We attended Joey's funeral today. It was both beautiful and heartwrenching at the same time. The sanctuary was filled. My hubby and a few others stayed until the wee morning hours last night running wire into the gym to show the service in there in case there wasn't enough room.

Joey's son Josh, our children's minister, gave the most touching and fitting eulogy for him. Our 3 other ministers spoke as well, each recounting their own special memories of him.

I kept thinking, "I'm just not ready to say goodbye." We lost our friend to a massive, sudden heart attack on Tuesday morning. This man, who ran at least 5 miles every day, who was in terrific physical shape for being 50 years old--we never expected that to happen.

But as the stories were told, the memories I had of him kept flooding in, as I'm sure they did for everyone there. I remembered our first night at our church back in November of 2002. They were practicing a Christmas cantata, and Bryan introduced me to Joey and his wife Marsha (he and Eric A. had invited us to church). Joey was guessed Jesus. I remember thinking what a great Jesus he portrayed. He and Marsha made us feel so welcomed right from the start.

I remembered other times too--seeing Joey running past our house early on many mornings. The mornings I didn't see him, he was running, but I was just sleeping in :)

I remember how he showed up at my door the evening after I totaled my car 3 years ago when I was pregnant with Zoe. He had two big trays of food that he and Marsha had prepared so that we wouldn't have to worry about dinner on that stressful (and sore!) night.

I remembered how he prepared food and washed dishes each Wednesday night, always smiling, happy to serve. How he loved all the kids in the church, and how the little ones were just drawn to him in the nursery. Hubby remembers all the times they spent working together, dining at the Mexican restaurant for lunch, how he could see right into Joey's office from his.

And something was said today that I won't forget--we're not saying "Goodbye", just "See you later". I'm so glad to have that promise today, and my prayer is that we can touch people's lives like Joey did--unselfishly, not looking for praise, so that we'll see many more faces there--faces of people who's lives were changed because of us.