Sunday, January 29, 2012

Simple Pleasures

video
Do you know what one of the simple pleasures of life is?  Kids doing jumping jacks.  It will never get old.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

WHAT'S FOR DINNER (and the winner of the 3M Strips)



Thank you so much to those of you who gave me meal suggestions for this upcoming week!  The ones I chose  and will be making this week are:

Turkey Bagel Burgers
Hearty Lentil Soup
Asian Chicken Salad
Well Dressed Chicken


I put these suggestions, as well as those I chose last week, into a hat (well, actually, a bowl), and Jane drew the winner:


Well Dressed Chicken (which, by the way, sounds like a perfect meal for Amelia Bedelia to make :) )
Congratulations, Laura!  I hope you love the 3M strips as much as I have.  Please email me at lac1107@aol.com to give me your address and I'll get them on their way.  I love that after all these years, food is bringing us together again!





WHATS FOR DINNER?!    The winner this month will receive an Airwick Scented Oil Warmer and 2 Refills

Friday, January 27, 2012

My New Year's Resolution

My New Year's Resolution is nothing impressive, but I am super hopeful about it.  This year I am going to...........GET ORGANIZED!  It's so funny to me that I've had so many people just assume that I am really organized.  Who told them that?  It wasn't me, and it isn't true.  I wish it were true.  And with any luck, it will be at least partly true after this year.  And don't worry.  I'm smart enough to know that if my goal is simply just to "get organized", I will surely fail.  It's not, though.  I have specific, obtainable goals that I'm working on.

First, I am going to be better at keeping up with the laundry.  I finally accepted the fact recently that it isn't  impossible for me to keep up on the laundry (meaning I don't constantly have a gigantic pile of clean clothes overwhelming my laundry room), it's just that I have never made doing so a priority.   I keep a pretty good grasp on my dish situation, but only because that has been my priority.  You know what I mean?  So, thanks to my friend Erin, I have developed a better system for my laundry:  I bought four cute rectangular baskets to put on my teeny little laundry table (I would have bought more if I had more room on that table).  And every time I take a load of the kids' laundry out of the dryer, I immediately sort it into the four baskets.  Then, when the baskets are full, the kids (minus Skip) come and take their baskets to their rooms and put their clothes away.  I don't even fold their clothes.  Why would I?  They just get messed up in their drawers the very next second...I still fold the linens and roll Brian's G's, and hang all the church clothes, but still---just doing the basket thing with the kids' clothes has given me just the help i need to keep things in control.   I started this system the day after Christmas, and so far, I have kept up with the laundry.  (As long as I hurry in there right now to take care of the last load.  Yikes.)  That's FOUR weeks--a serious all-time, never-thought-it-could-ever-be-done record!  I'm so proud of myself.

Second, Brian and I are reorganizing our business.  Brian has often (and I mean often) lamented the fact that he can't just swing his hammer and make a little money.  He has to constantly worry about all the paper work/taxes/insurance/workman's compensation/licenses/permits/payroll stuff.  And I'm not exaggerating when I say he HATES it--probably more than anything else in the world.  And that stuff has always been a major source of contention for us because we have had incredibly poor communication, understanding, and commitment to doing it all right.  And recently we hit a real low spot where we both felt like giving up.  We were up half the night and I thought that in the morning, we might wake up with Brian deciding to join the army or become a police officer.  And I would have been OK with that.  He would be great in either of those professions.  But the fact is, we woke up that next morning and Brian put his tool belt back on and went back to work.  Because he really does love to build, and he's super good at it.  He is very talented and very smart.   We just need major help with the business side of our business.  Sooooo, after all these years of fighting and not doing things right, we are really going to try harder.  We're stepping up our game.  We are going to communicate and learn and improve.  Thanks to many prayers and fasting in our behalf, we have begun to experience little miracles that will hopefully start us on our way to success in managing our business better.  We had a conversation about payroll.  I was talking and sharing my thoughts.  Brian was talking and sharing his thoughts.  We were talking--to each other--about payroll--without fighting.  M.I.R.A.C.L.E.  Sigh....so anyway.... WISH--US--LUCK.

Aaannnddd, I'm going to get out of debt....again.  Remember that day when I told you I had paid my last credit card bill?   I do too.  It was a very good day.  Unfortunately, that day is long gone, but the debt is back.  I'll spare you my excuses (because as you know, excuses are like armpits.  Everyone has them and they all stink).  Let's just suffice it to say that I am committed to getting back on track.  I really love spending money, but I hate having debt even more.  It gives me high blood pressure, I'm sure.  It really does make me shake inside.  For me, debt literally makes me feel insecure.  You know what I mean?   I just cannot handle it anymore--especially while being self-employed.  So, armed with the tools and the encouragement I gained from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (I'm a graduate, you know) We are going to pay off our debt once again.  It is going to be a long process and for right now, I'm not going to focus on our house or our (empty) lot, but we are going to start with the little debts and work our way up.  

So anyway...I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  Don't forget that today is the last day to give me dinner suggestions.  Again, I appreciate it SO much, and I will be drawing the winner of the 3M strips tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Ann

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yo Mama

I've had Yo Mama jokes running through my head lately for some reason.  Wait.  I know the reason.  It's because Brian has recently been responding to my every comment with "Your mom-----(fill in the blank). He thinks he's so funny.  He is pretty funny.  And he's welcome to talk about my mom all he wants because I'm not insecure about my mom.  I know she's the coolest.   But just in case one of you is insecure about your mama, I won't tell any of the "Yo mama's so ugly she couldn't turn on a lamp" jokes. Instead, I was thinking maybe we could share some real jokes about our kids' mamas.  Then we won't hurt any feelings and we'll just be laughing at ourselves.  Got it?  Here--I'll start us out.

Ahehehehehem...


Camp's moma's so cheap, she washes and reuses Ziploc bags!  Ooohhhhh!

O.K.  Now you think of some.

Oh, and by the way...THANK YOU for your continued help with dinners around here.  I am continuing to love your recipes.  So if you happen to be making dinner soon and want to tell me what your making, I'd love to hear.   Don't forget the drawing for the 3M strips will be this Saturday.   Yeah.  That's about it.

P.S.  Your mom goes to college.  (I couldn't help it.)


Saturday, January 21, 2012

And The Meals I Chose Are.....

French Dip Sandwiches
Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana
Salmon with Steamed Veggies
Spaghetti Squash with Sauteed Veggies and Grilled Chicken
Thai Pineapple Chicken Curry
Mango Quinoa Salad
White Chicken Enchiladas  (I had only ever made enchiladas with Cream of Chicken soup.  Then Sarah told me you should never eat anything that plops--i.e. "cream of crap" as she calls it--so I walked away from enchiladas (almost all together) with my tail between my legs.   So while this recipe still includes the other cheesy, buttery good stuff--it's still a step up :)

You can find these recipes (or links to the recipes) in the comments here.

Yum! 

So those who suggested these meals will be entered into the drawing for the 3M strips next Saturday, and they will receive double entries into December's drawing for my favorite shelf.    I must say-- ALL the meals sounded wonderful, and I reserve the right to later choose any of the meals not chosen this time.  Also, if you are willing and interested, you may suggest up to three meals a week.  This increases your chances of having a meal chosen, and it increases my repertoire of potential dinners.  Win, win.

Seriously, girls--Thank you SO much for doing this with me.  You really helped to de-stress my week. 



So, again--What's For Dinner? (Explanation given here. )

Also, this coming week I will be posting about things other than food--my New Year's Resolutions, Yo Mama Jokes,  and a litte miracle. So stay tuned!  



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On The Menu

Tonight we had the missionaries over for dinner and I decided to fix Katie's Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana.  Very good.  I was thinking I was going to have to be a little more careful with my portion size on this one, given all the good stuff in it--italian sausage, bacon, whipping cream....but no luck.  I'm sitting here at the computer desperately trying to suck in my overstuffed belly.  I hate when I do this.  But, man, that was some good soup.  Everyone but Camp ate it and loved it.  Camp didn't even try it.  Ugh.  That drives me crazy.   

But anyway...I love you guys.  Thanks so much for your help.  I'm sure my family appreciates it as well.  So keep helping me decide What's For Dinner, and I look forward to sharing some of my favorite things with you.

Oh, and did I tell you my mom gave me some fake eyelashes for Christmas?!  I'm pretty sure Laura had a hand in that.  I haven't worn those bad boys yet, but they are really cool.  I tried one on the other night and stared in the mirror, imagining myself as a long-eyelashed beauty.  When Sarah was visiting, we went to Target and the girl at the register had the longest eyelashes I think I have ever seen.  I couldn't even think about anything else--I was just so taken with those stinkin' lashes.  I just know my life would be perfect if I had long eyelashes. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Family Pictures, Christmas Letter and a Confession

In December, we had family pictures taken for the first time in over five years.  Stephanie was such a sport to oblige us and I'm so grateful to her.    I feel a little intimidated posting these pictures, because they don't look like all the other family pictures I see out there.  There are no fancy bows in our hair, I'm not wearing any fancy accessories, Camp's hair desperately needs to be (and has since been) cut, and on and on and on.  But the fact is--even though I do wish sometimes that it were different--if these pictures showed us in any other way--who would we be kidding?  (Heck, the fact that my hair is done, there are no stains on our shirts and our shoes are on the right feet makes me feel like we've got the wool pulled over your eyes a little.)  
It's funny because I remember feeling worried that it would come time for our pictures to be taken and we would be fighting and complaining and miserable and the smiles on our faces would be a complete misrepresentation of the way we were feeling in those moments--and I would feel dishonest.  I know.  Weird.  But you know what?  Those were actually a wonderful 20 minutes.  Despite my being late and Brian's being REALLy late (because of an errand he was on for me--doh!) and the sun quickly setting, those were good minutes for me.  Brian was so wonderful to make it a point to be happy and cheerful; and because Stephanie was so cool, the kids were happy and cheerful; and because everyone else was happy and cheerful, I was happy and cheerful, too.  So anyway....those smiles weren't lying. 







































































Aaaaaaannnnnd, just for documentation purposes, this was our 2011 Christmas letter.  I think I'm done with Christmas letters.
  


December 15, 2011

Dear Family and Friends, 
I have absolutely nothing to say this year.  Usually I think about the content of my Christmas letter all year long. Pathetic, I realize.   But this year?  Nothing.  Not a single idea.  
We welcomed Skip in January, and man, that kid is darling.  He really has only added joy to our family at this point.   We’re all very glad to have him. 
 And that’s pretty much it.
Things are going fine with us.  We have highs and lows like every family.  Brian and I have struggled to understand and like each other at times.  In October, after a tough couple  of months, I decided to ask for a day off--which Brian readily granted.  I drove to Portland and went shopping, and ever since then, things have been considerably better.  I’m not sure what made the difference--Brian and the kids having gotten a 14 hour break from me or my having gotten some new clothes and toss pillows, but whatever it was, it helped a lot.   I’m not trying to encourage anything--I’m just saying....And like I’ve said before, we all still love each other, despite our differences, and are in this thing for the long haul.  I really do love my husband and children more than anything else.  
And I love all of you, too.  Every one of you has made my life better, and I’m so thankful.
So have a wonderful Christmas.  I mean it.  
Love, 

Ann




Oh, and I have a confession.  I've already been reading your dinner suggestions...I just couldn't bear to wait.  I'm a little worried, though, that picking which meals to make is going to be a little tougher than I had imagined.  I already made Kat's french dip sandwiches.  I served them with asparagus and this cauliflower soup, and there was a party in my tummy  it was really good. So maybe I'll end up making every suggested meal you give me...Who knows... Just please continue to tell me What's For Dinner, because the suggestions so far have been PERfect.   Yeah, this is seriously going to be the best thing ever.  You guys are the best.  


Oh, and I have a question...how many times a week is some type of meat a part of your dinner?  Meat is expensive, but I just seem to have a hard time coming up with meals without it that are still filling and substantial.   Any thoughts?










Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Christmas Rug



As I've told you before, the only thing that gets me through taking down Christmas without sliding into depression is the excitement surrounding whatever decorating items I get.  This year Brian gave me the rug I had pinned on my Pinterest board a couple months ago.  I love it.  I also got a little money to go after-Christmas shopping and picked up a couple fun stars at Pier 1 (and a bunch of stuff from Target).  I'm going to enjoy the stars for a couple of weeks and then I'll pack them away with my Christmas stuff.  I  also kept a little holiday spirit by making a couple of holiday arrangements with Christmas tree branches, berries and pine cones.   I feel like they are neutral enough to just be winter decor.  What do you think?  Also, I never showed you the headboards I made for my girls' beds.  I was going to do tufting, but I forgot to buy button-covering kits and then I just got too impatient...So anyway...they are still a huge improvement just the way they are.  And a while back I did a little project on my bedroom walls with my kids' silhouettes.  I love them.  It's amazing how individual and unique the outline of each of their faces is and how much personality each shows. And any day now, I'm going to be painting again, so I'll show you how that looks when it happens.




I haven't done Skip's silhouette yet because he wouldn't hold still; but can you see where it will go when it's done?


And by the way, we had a wonderful Christmas.  Lots of relaxing, lots of candy, lots of watching movies, lots of messes, lots of fun.




My First Giveaway and What's For Dinner?!

You know how I've told you how much I love my favorite things party?  And you know how I've told you that I REALLY dislike having to think about what to cook for dinner?   Well, I've decided to do a new thing on my blog--a series called What's For Dinner.  The way it will work is this:  Every Saturday, I will post an entry called What's For Dinner? .  You will then have a week to post a comment on that entry giving me a suggestion as to what to cook for dinner.  That next Friday night, I will have my husband read off the suggestions and I will choose at least one to cook during the upcoming week.  Then on Saturday, I will post which meal(s) I chose and I will ask you again What's For Dinner for the next week, etc.  Now--each of the names of those whose suggested meals I choose will be put into a monthly drawing for one of my favorite things!  (I will tell you beforehand which of my favorite things it will be) Then, on the night of My Favorite Things Party in December, I will randomly draw one final entry from all of the dinner suggestions submitted throughout the year, and the winner will receive one of Brian's storage or entry shelves--valued at 229! (You can see Pottery Barn's here )  So even if you suggest that I make Tofu and olives for dinner, and I do not choose it (and I surely won't)  you will still get a chance at the shelf.  However, if I do make the meal you suggest, you will get double entries in the December giveaway.  Get it?  What do you think?  
The winner will choose this shelf in white or black and have a couple hook options.
So.....What's For Dinner?  Oh, and don't forget to tell me how to make it--this at least triples your chances of my choosing it :) (The winner of this month's drawing will receive a combo pack of 3M picture hanging strips that I mentioned here.  The winner will be drawn on Saturday, January 28th.  

P.S.  I prefer meals that are fairly well balanced and nutritious--whole grains, fresh veggies, etc., but don't get too crazy.  I'd probably feel overwhelmed by anything too extreme.  And as you may have guessed, I'm not super big on tofu or olives. :)  Thanks in advance for your help with dinner!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thank goodness

....and Mom and Dad could hardly wait for school to start again.   Amen to that.