Friday, January 29, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes

You know I'm really not a fan of a picture-less recipe, but that's what it's going to have to be today!  A pancake is not all that hard to imagine, is it?

I made a double batch of these last night and am freezing them individually (laid out on a parchment-lined baking sheet), then putting them into gallon zip-loc bags.  Then we can just grab out however many we need for a quick snack or breakfast and cook them in the toaster like an eggo waffle.

These would be a great breakfast for this weekend too!

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Whisk together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl just until well-combined.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat griddle to 350 and pour or ladle onto griddle.  Cook on one side until edges start to bubble, flip and cook until done.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You know the economy is bad when...

...even Edgar scans the ads looking for a deal:

Got a better caption??  I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bird Poo on My Purse

I know what you are thinking with the title of this post.  You think it's some clever reference, something that will make sense only if you read through a long, thought-provoking story that will have some sort of subtle meaning.

Sorry to disappoint, but this is literally a post about bird poo on my purse.  It's a simple story.  I ran into Safeway for a few things, needing to hustle home and finish up my on-line, riveting training on discrimination and safety and stuff.  As I was walking quickly back to my car, something caught the corner of my vision, just enough to make me wonder what it was.  In the same instant, as I'm having the "I wonder what..." thought, I heard a "splat."  A seagull.  A big, well-fed seagull.  Dropped one right over the top of me.  I didn't get to ask him what his target was.  My head?  My white jacket?  My big, turquoise bag?  If it was the bag, he is an accurate bird.  Two big splats right on the side of that bag.  Yuck.

I'm just not a fan of bird poo on my purse.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Blogger: Brenna!

***Here's the introduction to this post:  while I was gone on Saturday, the big fallen tree was being cut and removed.  There was an unavoidable incident that resulted in a broken fence post as the tree was coming down.  Brad said, "Go have your mom take pictures, this will be a great blog post!"  Well, I wasn't even there, so Brenna grabbed the camera and took pictures.  So, it's only fitting that she write this post and explain from her perspective what this day was like.  That being said, please welcome my guest blogger, Brenna!***

You have probably heard of the big section of the tree that fell during the really strong wind.  Well on Saturday afternoon, my dad went out to cut it up and take it away.  Mr. Arend, came over to help him do this hard project.  Along with Mr. Arend, Thomas also came to help out hauling limbs.  This was a cold, very bright and sunny day and they worked very hard.  Hopefully they were wearing ear plugs because the sound of the chainsaw was piercing.  I loved the smell of the tree limb branches that came greeting me in the gentle wind.  But that soon ended when the chainsaw's loud noises and smokey smell interfered with the wonderful smell of the tree sap.  Here are some of the pictures showing our day:

Thomas was working hard hauling limbs.

 Alex's first time using the chainsaw!

This is where the tree limb fell.

Mr. Arend was throwing the branches into a pile.

Go Thomas!

This is the pile in the woods of tree branches and sticks.

Lots of saw dust!


Archie had a great time snacking on the little twigs!

Archie wanted to play instead of work!

Thats a big pile!

Goodbye Fruit tree!

The big project is all done!

That would pretty much sum up that project!  There was only a problem with the fence, the tip of a post fell off they just set it on the top of the post but my dad will have to replace the post.  They tried to save it!  Other than that it was a very successful project!  Good job Mr. Arend, Thomas, Alex and Daddy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Remembering Grandma

**This is a post I wrote back in August, sharing some thoughts of my sweet Grandma Bryan.  Early this morning, she passed away very peacefully.  I thought this was a fitting time to re-post this, as a tribute to her.  I'm happy that she is living large in Heaven and not confined to her bed, and I'm so sad that our time here together is over.  Lots of mixed emotions today...lots of sweet memories:

This weekend I was able to see my sweet Grandma. For quite some time, every time I see her I am acutely aware that I could be seeing her for the last time. Now I find myself hoping, and I say this with more love for her than my heart can hold, that this last time was my last visit. I am hoping...for her sake, primarily...that her time to go Home is soon. She has deteriorated so much since this picture was taken, on her 90th birthday, in March. She struggles to put together a full sentence. She struggles to find words to express what she feels. She struggles to move from one room to another. She struggles to be awake when it's day and asleep when it's night. Her life is now, in many ways, a struggle.

It hasn't always been this way for her. All of my life, she has been a strong woman. She has survived a lot. She has buried 2 of her 4 children, that alone an unimaginable pain. She raised her 4 children on a farm, growing most all of the food her family ate. They also raised their own beef and chickens. She grew beautiful roses. On the hot summer days, she would "spray down the patio" to keep the house cool. She once painted her barn by herself because she grew impatient waiting for my Grandpa to get to it. And she bragged for years about how great it looked. She made fabulous Christmas candies and cookies. I remember clearly the anticipation of getting to her house to see the spread of treats on her kitchen counter. She drank one "swig" of Pepsi every night before bed. Every night. She drank coffee out of a pretty cup and saucer every morning. The clinking of her cup setting down on her saucer was what woke up all the grandkids sprawled out in sleeping bags on her living room floor. She loved when one of us would crawl our sleepy-eyed selves into her lap. She loved her perfume heavy. One hug from Grandma and you smelled like her for the rest of the day. She loved a clean car. Always swore it truly drove better clean. She told me one summer that bright red toenails made your legs look more tan. She had very strong political views. She had a very, very strong disgust for one particular politician. One particular blessing of her dementia was not realizing that particular politician actually ran for president this year. None of us could have endured the ranting that would have produced. She believed all the headlines on tabloid magazines in the grocery store were pretty near factual, especially in these later years. She wouldn't buy that "trash" but loved to read them in line at the grocery store. She loved to sit out on the patio, drinking iced tea, and visit. Never, ever a lull in conversation. She has volumes of photo albums full of so many family memories. One of her favorite expressions of frustration was "horse feathers." It still makes me grin to hear her say that in my mind. I always knew I was loved by her. She has filled a huge void in my life since my mom died. Hearing her tell me that my mom would have been proud of me and would have loved my children brings unspeakable joy and peace to my heart. She has been such a joy to me, and I've been so blessed to have her be my Grandma.

It hurts my heart to see her like this now. I'm positive she doesn't remember we were even there. The goodbye was slow this time. I wanted to just keep sitting there and holding her very frail hand. And yet another part of me wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could. I didn't want to allow any pictures to cement themselves in my mind, because this is not how I want to remember her. But I chose to make the goodbye slow, savor her touch knowing it could be the last. She told me again, as she has for a long time now, that she doesn't have much time left. I asked her if she was afraid. She said an emphatic no, although I'm sure there is some. I asked her if she was certain where she was going when she died. She said an emphatic yes. I told her I was fully counting on being with her forever someday in Heaven. She said she's planning on it, too. And I believe it.


So the slow goodbye is really a "see ya later", not a final goodbye. But it's still tough to say, and I will miss having her in my life in so many ways.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy National Pie Day ~ Reese's Pie

Remember that crazy list of "holidays" I posted awhile back?  The one that led to the Fig Newton catastrophe??  Well, in case you haven't checking in with your calendar, let me remind you that today is National Pie Day!!  (According to whatever.)

So in honor of this special day, I played around last night with a new pie.  I combine a couple recipes to make this, and I have to pat myself on the back.  This is a most spectacular pie.  So.  Good.  Very, very rich, even for me.  But good.  If you are a fan of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, you must try this pie.  A little piece goes a long way since it's so rich, so you can eat less and practically be healthy about it.  So it's almost like this is good for you.  So I'm almost giving you a health food for National Pie Day.  You're welcome.

Reese's Pie

Chocolate cookie crust (either store bought or homemade will work)

for peanut butter filling:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup peanut butter (use something good like Jiff, not the organic "I need to be stirred" kind.)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) carton Cool Whip

for chocolate ganache topping:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Prepare peanut butter filling:
Beat together softened cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.  Beat in powdered sugar (no need to sift) until smooth.  Add Cool Whip and beat again until well-combined.

Scoop into prepared chocolate crust, smooth to an even layer with a spatula or knife.  Refrigerate pie for at least 1 hour.

here's what it looks like at this step

For chocolate ganache:
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and cream.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir well.  Continue microwaving in 15 second intervals until the chocolate is well melted and warm.  Set aside to let cool, stirring occasionally.

When cool to the touch, pour over the top of peanut butter filling.  Sprinkle the top with chopped peanuts, if desired.  Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

the final, delicious product.  notice how over-flowing it was?  all the more yum...

If you use a store-bought chocolate crust, this pie will be very full and you may not be able to use all the chocolate without it running over.  A homemade crust will make a slightly bigger pie and hold it better.

This is a super fast pie to make, and very, very rich.  Serve in small slices.  Mmmm....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Time For Every Season

I've mentioned before what fabulous people watching is to be found at the gym.  So many entertaining people.  Well, today I went later than usual.  From the moment I stepped into the cardio room, I knew I had something extra special to watch.  There are 2 machines in my line of vision that are basically elliptical machines that you use sitting down.  Using one of those machines today was a very elderly lady.  So sweet.  She couldn't even reach to fully extend her arms with the handles, but she would work them part way.  Her legs were moving at a very slow pace, with what looked like the amount of pressure you'd use on your brake pedal in the car.  Gentle, slow movements.  She'd stop every now and then and just sit.  Then she'd start up again.  She was dressed in her long, black pants and a sweater.  Parked behind the machine was her wheelchair.  A few minutes after I started on the bike, an elderly man came in and shuffled over to her.  He put his hand on her back and said something to her.  She nodded and kept peddling, he shuffled away.  Good man to know to leave his wife alone when she's working it out!  For the next 25 minutes, he kept coming back and checking on her.  She kept nodding and peddling.  He was obviously so gentle with her, watching over but not hovering.  There, but giving her space.

About 25 minutes into my bike ride, he came to help her back into her wheelchair.  At this point, I am drenched in sweat and thankful for it, for it hid the tears that started to fall as I watched the sweet scene unfold.

The man was stooped over from age, looking quite frail himself.  He reached around his wife and took away a strap that had been around her seat like a seatbelt.  Then he swiveled her seat around and pulled the wheelchair as close as he could get it.  Then he bent his frail little body down as close to her level as he could, and she reached her arms up around his neck.  This is obviously an assisted lift that they have practiced for quite some time, as it went as smoothly as a choreographed dance.  He rocked a couple times to gain momentum and then pulled her up on her feet, turning her back to her wheelchair as he lifted.  He held her very closely, like they were slow dancing as he very, very slowly shuffle-stepped backwards.  Once she was backed up completely against the chair, he lowered her down.  Then her put her "seat belt" on and pulled her back a bit.  Then he takes his little towel and wipes down the machine for her.  Taking such care.  So thorough.

By this point, I had tears mixed in with the sweat on my cheeks.  I love watching the love people have for each other.  Especially people who obviously have a lifetime of love shared between them.

A few minutes later, I watched out the window as he wheeled her up to their car.  The same process began as he helped her into the car.  The slow dance.  And this time, before he lowered her down, he slid his hand up behind her head to make sure it got into the car without a bonk.  Just such pure tenderness from a man who loved his lady.

His bent body then shuffled to the back of the car to load up the wheelchair and they were off.  This process took 10 minutes.  Ten minutes of such tenderness, such patience.

I would have loved to have been able to talk to them.  I'd love to hear their story.  How did they meet?  How long have they been married?  What have been their greatest trials?  What have been their greatest joys?

As I finished my workout, I thought about my new little niece who just started her life with us yesterday.  Such a full circle to see such opposite ends of life.

Then I came home, feeling reflective of what I'd seen.  I had a message from my aunt...and called her back to find that my Gramma has had a stroke.  Her life has been slowly winding down for quite some time, but it appears that it is now much closer to the end.  Her frail body is tired.  She's in a hospital bed at home, sleeping most of the time, and not eating at all.  New life in our family yesterday, one leaving very soon.  Such contrast.

And so it goes...the life cycle so clearly displayed before me today.  My heart hurts for the goodbye.  The goodbye to what was and the special relationship we had.  She is not now who she was, and that part is not hard to say goodbye to.  But still a lot of emotions and love swell up...



I'm praying it comes quickly.  I know that the Lord is never early and never late and that He knows the moment my Gramma will take her final breath.  I just hope that moment is soon.

Beginnings and endings.  And a time for every season.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kaylee!

Today our family grew by one beautiful little girl! 

Welcome to the world little Kaylee Jean!

6 pounds, 11 oz. & 19.5 inches of cuteness!

(She has a pretty cool birthday, huh?  Think about it:  1-20-10.  Or 01-20-2010.  Just a cool look to it.  I'm a completely admitted weirdo with numbers.  I love numbers that some how make some sort of pattern or sense.  And these numbers just roll off your tongue pretty swiftly.  And just the simple fact that 10 is half of 20 makes all that make a cool date for me.)

Here's my prayer for little Miss Kaylee:

Lord, thank you for this sweet little package of promise that you have given to Ben and Stephanie.  Watch over and protect Kaylee.  Keep her body strong and her spirit gentle.  Weave into her a perfect combination of strength and gentleness.  I pray that she would be a peaceful and joyful presence in her home.  May she grow in the knowledge of her Creator every year of her life.  Give her a compassionate heart, a joyful temperament, and a love for people.  May she always know that she is deeply, deeply loved.  Help her be secure and confident.  And help her be a good sleeper!  You do all things well, God...thanks for doing such a great job making this sweet little girl.  Watch over her all the days of her life... amen, amen, amen!

Congratulations to Ben & Stephanie and big brothers Connor and Hunter!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tenacity & Determination

Beth discovered yesterday that a tooth was beginning to show signs of looseness.  Not loose, mind you.  Just giving a glimmer of being loose.  Now, just 24 hours later, it's just hanging on by one piece of a stubborn root.  This kid does not wiggle her teeth, she removes them.  One thing about Beth, she is a very persistent kid.  She has a tenacity that has served her very well in some areas and driven me to the brink in others.

Today, as soon as she was home from school, she went to work on that tooth.  About 15 minutes later, she came out of the bathroom a bit frustrated that it wasn't out yet and saying that her tummy was starting to hurt from swallowing blood.  Deterred?  Nope.  Just needing a snack to settle her tummy.  Half a pear later, she got right back to it.

I went down the hall shortly after she returned to her bathroom to find this:

She certainly was putting her whole self into it!  Trying to get the best visual angle to see exactly where to pull, and trying to get the best grip.  I imagine those frogs directly under her were a bit concerned at what might be happening.

Alas, she has finally decided that it's just not quite ready.  For now.  I'm sure she will try again after dinner.  And at bedtime.  And when she's in bed.  And as long as it takes to remove it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Mighty Wind...

Here's what our mighty wind did overnight at our house...

this picture makes it look like a twig, because you can't see how much yard it is covering.

look how it barely stopped short of the fence!

It took out two fruit trees as it fell, but missed both fences!  Hopefully one tree will recover, but the other is surely lost.  So thankful that it is just a temporary mess and not anything structural!  And also wondering how Brad is going to man a chainsaw in his state of healing rib-ness...

(I know I've been saying that I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things that I've told myself I can't do...but I do draw the line at running a chainsaw.  That would be just so unsafe.  And wrong.  And messy.  For all of us.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Floor and Renewed Old Dog

It has been a beautifully lazy afternoon sandwiched in between a jam-packed Saturday and a very full upcoming Monday.  Lots of good stuff going on around here...and I'm in the mood to blog a bit, so here are some unrelated happy highlights!

Brad is finally wrapping up a very slow-moving project.  He is not fond of leaving things actually drives him a bit crazy.  Once he starts something, he goes at a dizzying pace until it's done.  Well, about a month ago things were taken out of his hands and forced a project to come to a stand-still.  The cracked rib?  That happened the day he had begun the demo of the bathroom floor to replace it with tile.  He couldn't lift the boxes of tile, couldn't be down on the floor...lots of frustration for him.  So for about a month now, the bathroom has been in a state of in-between.  He's feeling well enough now to get it finished...and it's looking so great.  His attention to detail shines through in these projects!  Now it's my turn to pick the paint and get that room painted, which I hope to start and finish tomorrow.  Then baseboards and all the "little things" and it will be done.  Here's a peek:

On a totally unrelated topic, I'm amazed at what some doggie Advil can do for a fading pooch.  Archie's brother passed away recently from a nasty bout with cancer, so when some lumps and bumps showed up on Archie, and an eye began to get a very strange droop, we were thinking he was going the way of his brother.  As much as I complain about this dog, and the daily vacuuming he drives me to, I really had a knot in my stomach at the thought of saying goodbye so soon.  However, a trip to the vet and some x-rays revealed that the lumps are not the bone cancer we, including the vet, suspected.  And the droopy, ugly eye is just a droopy, ugly eye.  Horner's Syndrome, it turns out.  Still have to watch him to make sure there's nothing underlying causing that syndrome, but for now he is in no immediate danger.  Some strong doggie meds and this dog is downright perking up!  He's back to being annoying, I'm happy to report.  The eye even looks better!  This is a picture of his "good" side.  I tried to get one of his whole face, and it's just a bit too pathetic.  But the same could be said of myself, so I'll choose a flattering shot.  It's the least I can do.

And, in case you are itching to know, the running is going quite well!  I am being very good with a gentle re-entry, and so far only mild soreness.  I'm believing for more of the same!

Now I have a new Paula Deen magazine to enjoy.  Hoping to be drawn to some new recipes to help me crawl out of that disastrous Fig Newton debacle!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Relief, Running and Redemption

****Before I begin with all things that seem so very frivolous in light of all the devastation that is happening in Haiti, I thought I needed to say that I am not being shallow and ignoring the obvious.  Images that they are showing are impossible to imagine.  So very heart breaking.  We are so spoiled in all we have, and if all of us just shared a miniscule portion of our spoils, it would go so far to provide the basics to people who literally have nothing.  Just my two cents worth.  If you haven't had a chance to help and want to, here are some organizations that already have people in place in Haiti to offer help:

Compassion International
World Vision
Red Cross
World Concern

I'm going to be asking my kids to consider giving a small amount to one of these organizations.  I think it's a great opportunity for them to see that although this is a great big world, we still all need each other.  Imagine if every person who makes going to Starbucks a regular habit gave up just one and instead sent that money to help in Haiti.  Just something to think about.  All done.****

Now back to our regular programming:'s so very good to be back on that treadmill.  I couldn't help myself today, and went an extra quarter mile.  Just was feeling so good...  The longer I went without running the more I realized how much I need it for my mental health:  I am just a happier and calmer person when I get that workout in.  So thankful to be back at it.  Please, Lord, let this foot take it!!

And I'm needing some redemption here.  That could go many directions, but I'm talking specifically about that lousy recipe I posted with the FIg Newtons.  Awful.  Just awful.  Even my Brad, who will honestly eat just about anything, turned his nose up at that.  THAT is a testimonial not to be denied.  And Brenna really liked it until she tried it the second time.  Then she just couldn't bring herself to finish it.  So we are down to Alex and Beth singing its praises.  And you can take that for what it's worth. 

So I am out to redeem myself in some way.  It can be hard to crawl out of a hole, but I will do my best.  I'll start with this non-recipe "recipe" that I came up with for dinner last night.  Here is Brenna's review:

"Mommy, this is even better than McDonalds!!"

Now, to qualify, my kids really only eat McDonalds when we are traveling or some other "special occasion", so it is held in high, high esteem by them.  To be put on a level above McDonalds by my children is true praise.

So here's what I placed before them for dinner last night:

Chicken Ranch Burgers

chicken breasts
deli ham
cheese slices (I used Colby-Jack because it's what I had)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix
onion slices

pound chicken breasts between waxed paper until they are even in thickness, about 1/2 inch thick.  rub with ranch dip powder.  (I would have grilled these outside if it wasn't for the driving wind and rain...)  In a large skillet sprayed with non-stick spray, cook chicken on each side until just cooked through.  remove to cookie sheet or oven-safe plate and top each with 1 piece of deli ham and slice of cheese.  (I heated the ham in the microwave slightly first.)  put in oven at 350 just long enough to melt the cheese. 

meanwhile, add 1 TBSP butter to same skillet used to cook chicken.  after it melts, add the onion slices and saute just until beginning to caramelize. 

layer 'em up with chicken, avocado, onions, and lettuce.

Okay, I feel better now.  That's more like it.  More of "that's more like it" to come in the near future!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Figs, Fur and FINALLY!!!

First things first, HAPPY FIG NEWTON DAY!!!  If you happened to be reading a few posts ago, I alerted you all to some upcoming dates.  Of that whole list, the most unappealing one of all, to me, was Fig Newton Day.  Fig Newtons have never really done anything for me.  The look, shape, smell...all very unappetizing to me.  So I must be honest...until I bought them today for this recipe, I had never even tasted one!  That all changed today.  And I learned something.  My instinct for food is spot-on.  I didn't like them at all.  They taste like they look and smell.  Not a fan.  But, I forged ahead and made this recipe that sounded like a good way to disguise them.  As it turns out, these sad little cookies made a waste of perfectly good coffee and ice cream.  And whipped cream.  And vanilla.  And sugar.  Stop me now, or I'll just keep going.

BUT!!  I had my official taste-testing team give me their verdict, and they loved it.  If you give any credibility to a crew with a combined 35 years food-tasting experience (less if you are only counting solid foods), then you might want to try this.  Me?  No thank you.  And since I'm trying to avoid sugar, that's okay by me.  But to each his own:

Mocha Mousse
(taken from

18 Fig Newtons
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coffee
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
1 pt. heavy cream or 8 oz. Cool Whip
1 cup toasted nuts (I left these out.  Who needs all that fat??)
1 qt. chocolate ice cream

In a saucepan, combine crumbled Fig Newtons, evaporated milk, sugar and coffee.  Stir while heating and cook about 5 minutes.  (This recipe was painfully vague, and I didn't know what time to start timing the 5 min.  I just waited until it was well-heated and then started the timer.)  Remove from heat and add in cinnamon and vanilla.  Refrigerate until cool.  When cool, stir in whipped cream or Cool Whip, nuts, and softened ice cream.  Pour into mold or parfait glasses.  (I just used small ramekins.)  Freeze. 

For the fur part of this post, I'm very relieved to report that our dear old dog is not in immediate danger of seeing his last days.  It's a long story, and I'm feeling impatient because of my next topic...but suffice it to say there is no evidence right now of cancer, and we are going to "wait and see" on one suspicion.  In the meantime, he gets some doggie Advil and some extra TLC.

And, now for the FINALLY!!!  I have been waiting to type these words for so long now:  I have official clearance to RUN!!  Woot-Woot!  As soon as I finish this, I'm firing up the treadmill and going for a very controlled, experimental one-mile run!!  I'll take it.  I'm so hopeful and prayerful that this old foot responds as beautifully as I need it to.  I shudder to think of how much I'm going to labor through ONE mile, but it's a start, right?!  WOO-HOO!!

"I've Got a Feeling (WOO-HOO...) that tonight's gonna be a good night..." 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Contemplation & Change

My head...and heart...have been so full of contemplation for quite awhile now.  I don't think I've come to any solid resolve on everything, but I'm creeping closer. 

I'm not a girl that likes change.  Some people are thrilled and excited by change.  Not me.  I could go into a ton of self-analysis and lay out some really legitimate reasons that change is a scary thing to me.  But all that doesn't really matter or change that fact that I just don't care for change. 

Along with that, when faced with a choice, I will almost always choose the option with the greatest security.  I lean into jump into the camp of insecurity very easily.  Again, I have some very legitimate reasons for that.  Things that shaped me from very young make my natural tendency to be towards insecurity.  That, as most people can either relate or imagine, spills over into so many areas.  Stepping out is not easy.  Trying something new is not easy.  Making change is not easy.

And it's all pretty ridiculous.  I no longer am the child that heard "You can't..." or "You never will..."  Powerful words.  But just words.  And now I'm a grown woman who does not hear that anymore.  The ones that hurt me with it, I'm sure, have no idea how powerful their words were.  And how long the sting lasted. 

But now I am surrounded with people who are quick to say, "Yeah, you can do that!"  or, at least, "Give it a try, see what happens."  For whatever reason, those words sound like whispers to me, and if I let my mind go "there", I can still hear the shouts of the negative words.

So for...hmm, probably about a year, I've been very purposeful to not allow those words to hold any more power over me.  I've been purposeful to try new things.  I've run for a looooong time, but always at home on my treadmill.  With the exception of a couple months when I was between treadmills and was forced to run outside, I never ran where people could see me.  So ridiculous.  I know it when I say it, and especially now as I type it.  I'm tempted to hit that delete button and drive it all away.  But, this is all leading somewhere, and I want to be able to come back and read this when I need to.

In 2009, as I watched myself coming upon the big age of 29 40, I did what many people do at that age and took a good look at where I was and, more importantly, where I wanted to be.  I spoke a bit of "Oh, for Pete's sake!", complete with eye-rolling, in regards to myself.  Then I decided to just start stepping out in 2009.  I was careful about it, of course.  Cause, you know, insecurity makes you pretty careful.  But I did it.  In several areas, some more obvious than others.  And it felt really mostly great.  One of the big ways, for me, was running in the 5Ks.  It meant a lot to me, more than I admitted to anyone.  It was a big deal.

(Hooray!  I've finally found a post where I can use that line-through-the-word feature that I think is so great!)

SO when this stupid stress fracture started messing with me, I ignored it for a long time, knowing I would hear that I had to stop running.  One thing led to another, and here I am 3 months later waiting to get the all-clear to hit my stride.  I'm hoping to get that Tuesday.  I already have a raced picked out for February.  And March.  And May.

And in May.  A friend asked me awhile ago if I would be interested in running a half-marathon with her in May.  Ha!  I literally laughed and told her that there was no way I could do that.  I know it's a big mental hurdle, and I am the first to jump in and say that I don't have it mentally to do that.  Or even to prepare for that.  Why?  Fitness should be something you enjoy and feel better from doing, not something that punishes your body.  Right?  So I said all these reasons to her and told her there was no way. 

Then, later that night, I heard this little-bitty voice say, "What if?  What if you could do it?  Why not at least try?"  I first told that voice to shut up.  Then I tried to ignore it.  But, as Beth Moore is fond of saying, "My God is so bossy!!"  And I really believe it was my God whispering that to me.  He's pretty pushy about getting us where He wants us.  Does He really care if I cross a finish line of a half marathon?  I don't know.  But I know that He cares that I continue to listen to His truth in my life, and not the negative junk that I have used as my measuring stick for too long.  Can I do it?  I don't know.  Can I try?  Absolutely.

So there's the punch-line of this excruciatingly long and picture-less post:  I'm going to try to train for a half marathon. 

Will I run the whole thing?  Or will my goal be just to finish?  I don't know.  Will my foot even let me try the training?  I don't know.  But I'm going to step out and try something I've always told myself I could never do.

The other areas where I'm going after some change will pop out in this blog eventually.  Not big life changes to many, but significant to me.

Not many people in my life know how deeply this runs.  Probably only one person knows the depth of this.  And he's pretty great.

And if you are one of the very few who just read this all the way to the end, you are pretty great too.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Shortbread Day!

So I decided to be a good sport and celebrate Shortbread Day by making my favorite shortbread cookie.  And remember how I said one of my New Year's resolutions was to eat less sugar?  Well, good news!  These cookies only have 1/2 cup sugar in them!  So they are definitely less sugar than my normal cookie.  Almost healthy, if you are only counting the sugars.  But I really don't even know what I'm talking about in regards to "counting sugars", so I'll quit and just share with you a shortbread cookie recipe as my way of wishing you all a very happy Shortbread Day!!

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Sticks

1 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp. butter

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour just until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half.  Place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. 

Fold wrap over dough, flattening the dough as you go until you have a nice little flat disc of dough.  Repeat with other half of dough. 

Refrigerate dough for 2 hours or overnight.

Very lightly grease 2 cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.  Take small chunks of dough and roll into sticks, 3 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter.  Arrange 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Alex wanted to help, and since he needs to expand his culinary skills a bit beyond cereal and oatmeal and quesadillas, I let him roll the cookies for me.  He did a mighty fine job!

Place cookie sheet into freezer for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat oven to 350.

Bake frozen sticks for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are golden.  Let cool 2 minutes on pan, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

To make glaze, place chips and butter in small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave again in 15 second intervals until melted smooth (stirring well after each 15 seconds).

Dip each end of cookie in melted chocolate, place back on parchment to let chocolate set.

mmm mmm good!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Because I'm a Firm Believer in Giving Honor Where Honor Is Due...

...I give you a list of very important dates. 

Please transfer these to your calendar for the New Year!!

January 6 – Shortbread Day

January 12 – Fig Newton Day

January 23– National Pie Day

March 7-15 — Chocolate Chip Cookie Week (please note that this cookie gets a WEEK of honor!!)

March 18 – Oatmeal Cookie Day

May 31 – Macaroon Day

June 12 – Peanut Butter Cookie Day

July 1 – Gingersnap Day

July 3 – Chocolate Wafer Day

July 9 – Sugar Cookie Day

July 20 – Fortune Cookie Day

September 21 – Pecan Cookie Day

October — Whole month is National Cookie Month

December 4 – National Cookie Day

December 23 – National Pfeffernusse Day (I don't even know what that is.  It sounds like something that Ikea should sell.)

Stay tuned for these dates to be honored individually on this blog!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Anniversary To...

...My blog!!  Today is the one year anniversary of this silly little random outpouring of my life!

New look to the blog, since the Christmas decor needed to come down.  I did love that Christmas background, and could have persuaded myself to keep it until at least Spring, but figured this was a good occasion to give it a little fresh make-up!

So what does one do to celebrate an anniversary like this?  I have no idea.  It just occurred to me this evening, otherwise I would have prepared something dynamic and interesting.

Instead, I have a whole lot of not much to offer.  Let's see...maybe I'll give some random updates of frequent topics from the past year.

It all began with a discussion of r.a.t.s.  I still can't bring myself to say it.  If you must, you can refresh your memory here.  Or not.   But the update is all happy!  We are still thoroughly excluding those things, thanks to the exclusion work done by "to NASA standards" by Brad.  We have our regular check-up in a couple weeks...I expect nothing but continued happy news!

I also talk a lot about food and recipes.  I continue to love both!  Not sure if I'll keep up with the Monday Menu or not, can't quite decide that.  But it has been a great way to document a huge amount of great recipes into one place!

And the's a work in progress!  But, at least there is progress.  I am totally out of my boot, and hoping my doctor is happy about that when I see him in a couple weeks.  I am back on the bike trying to regain some degree of fitness.  Oh, it left me so very quickly.  It fled like Jack Bauer was chasing it down a dark alley, in fact.  But I'm now chasing it back.  I even got on my treadmill on New Year's Day since the gym was closed.  I mostly walked, but I did break into a run for only 4 minutes, just out of curiosity.  It felt...great and pathetic all at the same time.  Great to feel a stride, pathetic to feel all the shaking goin' on.  But I'm thankful, thankful, thankful that my foot is mostly handling this well. 

And the Flashback Fridays...those have been fun.  And I'm continually making new memories today that will be tomorrow's flashbacks.  Time is slipping by so quickly.  Again, not sure if I will keep this going or not.  It's hard to make any of those decisions at the end of this winter break.  Everything feels a bit out of sorts.  I am ready for school tomorrow just so that the routine can hit its groove.  I love the sleeping in and loose schedules, but now I'm ready for routine again.

So, I literally have nothing more exciting to offer today!  My mind is as empty as my sugar canister.  Hopefully after some grocery shopping tomorrow both will be refilled and ready for the new year!

Can you handle on recipe in celebration of this anniversary?  I mean, how could I not?  In honor of the name of the blog, I give you a replay of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Remember to stop and smell the bag of chocolate chips when you make these.  It's winter.  There are no roses.  So stop and smell the chocolate chips!!

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

1 cup unsalted butter
2-1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 TBSP milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Melt butter. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream with mixer on medium speed. Add egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Do not over mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours. (Dough should be very hard.) Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough onto sheets, 6 or 8 per sheet only. (Too many on the sheet for this recipe and the heat won't circulate well enough around them to bake evenly. I tried.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheets for 2-3 minutes, then remove onto wire racks. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
I just may have to make some of these to celebrate my little anniversary!!