Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Wandomness

I've been a somewhat flaky blogger lately, and I thought it was time to get some thoughts out on here.  And this is a great, quiet moment at the end of a great, loud day...perfect moment to regroup.  Here are some totally random wandom and wonderful tidbits for this Wednesday:

Alex's music year is done!  The last two weeks were a huge push to the finish, but it all came together quite nicely.  The last three concerts were full of beautiful music and inspiring, encouraging words.  We have one last concert for Brenna and then truly, officially done!  To celebrate, I made this cake:

Truth be told, I will embrace any occasion to make a cake.  So I can eat the cake.  This particular cake was much better to eat than to look at.  The last of it was eaten last night, while watching the season finale of The Biggest Loser.

And how about that Biggest Loser??  Such heart-warming characters this year!  I love that Sam and Sarah found each other.  I love that Daris now has a girlfriend.  I love that O'Neil was totally decked out feeling fine.  I love that the final 4 finished a marathon...a MARATHON!!  And I love that Michael has so completely turned his health around!  So inspiring, and I'm sad to not see them anymore.  They were just temporary friends, I guess.  I've got to stop getting so attached to them!

And a real-life friend that I love so much is moving far away, and I'm very sad about that.  I am so happy for her, truly happy.  But I'm going to miss her like crazy.

While I was making dinner last night, I put together a soup to simmer all evening, with the purpose of having it ready today when I got home.  Now it's heating up on the stove and I'm so thankful for an easy dinner tonight...and especially something so comforting as soup on this blustery day.

And I think I put this on Facebook but have never blogged about it, but I am in love...IN LOVE...with these:

They have moved ahead of the Peanut M&M's in my life.  I love them.  They are a perfect salt/sweet combo.  I've talked before about being a big believer in balance.  Keep it balanced, friends.  Everyone is happier when there is balance.  That's why I like to eat Peanut M&M's with my popcorn at the movie.  Little of this, little of that, and you have the perfect balance.  Well, now that the Pretzel M&M so beautifully stands alone in the balance thing, I may be able to do without the popcorn next time I go to the movie!  So that means I will be able to avoid all the real butter mysterious shiny-coated popcorn at the movie, thus saving myself lots of junk, thus making Pretzel M&M's practically a health food!  That's the sort of twisted logic I choose to embrace.  Don't judge me.

To wrap up this incredibly riveting read, I'll give you two gems from school today:

At lunch, one little boy...probably about 8 years old...says, "Do you know what you get when you stick two french fries up your nose?"  I wanted to give him a few words of wisdom about what would really happen if he stuck two french fries up his nose, but instead I faked a calm interest and asked, "What??"  (There was something about his disheveled hair, glasses slightly askew, crinkled nose to hold said glasses up, and large, unblinking eyes that made me very curious what he would say.)  He then proceeded to stick a french fry in each nostril and say, "Look!  You get a moustache!!"  Charming.

At recess, a cute-as-a-bug little kindergarten boy sauntered by me and casually said, "Hey, I kissed a gull." (aka: girl)  I said, "Really?  Did you do that just now?"  He gives a look that said, "Hey, I know you're new here and all, but puh-leez!"  He waved his hand and said, "Oh, not today...that was YEARS ago!"  I guess 6-year-olds cram a lot of livin' in those early years.

Happy Wednesday!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Turn...And A Winner!!!!

****I forgot to include the reason I chose this time for my give-away!!!  Although I loved Stephanie's guess, the real reason is much simpler:  it was my 250th post on this blog! :)

This has been so much fun...and so productive!  I have a great start to my reading list many good ones!  Thanks, everyone, for the tips!  And now the part I don't like...picking a winner.  Because I never like to pick just one.  I really wish I had a corporate sponsor or owned Starbucks or something, then I'd send you each a prize just for playing!  But I hope that you've had the "prize" of getting a few book ideas here.  Because really, what is a better gift than a great book? 

So, I wrote each name on it's own piece of paper, put them in a hat, stirred them all around, and presented the hat to Brad.  I even interrupted his dinner for this occasion.  Chili, if you must know.  And cornbread.

After a hand in the hat and a piece of paper pulled out, we have a winner!!!!  (But remember you are all winners.)

The winner-among-winners is................................

(this is my "Sunday-night-I-can't-believe-there's-a-two-hour-lost-recap-and-then-a-two-and-a-half-hour-series-finale-of-Lost-that-my-boys-are-so-crazy-excited-about-and-how-soon-can-I-escape-to-my-room" look.  that's why I look so tired.  Or so Lost.)

Can you read it???  It says, "JACK"!!!!!!  Congrats, Jack!  And doggone it if I didn't time this all wrong, because I do believe you have a birthday soon.  Can we be efficient and also call this your birthday gift???

Now it's my turn.  My book picks for you.  I also love, love, love "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers.  It is a book that really is beyond description.  Tough to read in the beginning.  Really tough.  But power through it, because the impact of this book is so worth it.  And I think anything by Francine Rivers is worth reading. 

I also love The Mitford Series by Jan Karon.  I consider all these "characters" real people.  I love them like friends.  I usually re-read at least a couple of them every summer.  I just can't help but wonder what that Dooley is up to these days.  It makes me want to live in a small town and get to know all the quirky people who live in it.

Too many!  Too many to list!

I do love that Anne of Greene Gables.  And Little House, of course.  And Little Women.  And Put Me In The Zoo.  And anything Winnie-the-Pooh.

At the time I first put this give-away up, I was half way through "Have A Little Faith" by Mitch Albom.  So.  Good.  I had downloaded it from the library for my electronic gizmo, but I'm actually going to buy this one.  I want to underline a few things in it.  I want my kids to read it.  The last page of the book says simply, "I am in love with hope."  How can you not love that?

And now I am not even a quarter of the way through "The Help".  And help me, but this book is laugh-out-loud funny.  And I'm sure something more than humor is coming, but this is so good.  I can confidently recommend it already.  Especially since Connie did.

And for some really light, fluffy reading, the Joanne Fluke books are fun.  She writes a series of "murder mysteries" along the lines of "Murder She Wrote", but there's always some kind of food theme, as the main character owns a bakery and always finds herself in the midst of some murder to solve that the town detective can't quite get on his own.  Of course I recommend you start with "The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder".  Fun recipes sprinkled throughout her books, too.

And, like Brenda, I do love to read cookbooks.  I really read them, not just look at the pretty pictures.  Although I do think it should be some kind of law that cookbooks have pictures. 

I'll stop here and let you rub the blur out of your eyes.

Thanks for playing!  And keep the book recommendations coming!!

Happy reading! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oooooh Boy! A Starbucks and Barnes & Noble Giveaway!!

I am so excited to do this!  I have been keeping my eye out for just the right time to do this giveaway.  (Call it a contest if you must, but it really is just a giveaway...nothing but a game of luck this time!)  And now is the perfect time.  Why?  In a game where points mean absolutely nothing, I'll give you 1,000 extra bonus points if you can guess what this giveaway is celebrating.

Here's what has been brewing in my brain lately:  I have been inching closer to being excited for summer.  So much craziness to take care of between now and then, and I think after about June 6th I will be wildly excited and ready for summer.  On his blog for English last week, Alex had to pick two books to profile for his summer reading.  I am currently reading a book that I LOVE.  I have had to stop and re-read several passages that were so thoughtful and touching...and I'll talk about it more when I'm done.  I'm only half-way through it, and I have a weirdness for recommending anything I haven't finished.  And the next book waiting for me has my curiosity running high. 

So Alex's blog made me start thinking about my summer reading list.  I have a couple in mind, but I want a LIST!  I want to go on vacation with a minimum of 6 books that I am excited to read so I can read whatever suits my mood then.  That just sounds so summery to me!

And the other "so summery" happiness is a venti iced-tea lemonade from Starbucks.  Or even just a Crystal Light lemon iced tea.  Or whatever, over ice.  In the sun.  With a good book.  (Or really any reading material that isn't a field trip permission slip, a fundraising pledge sheet, a health topic permission slip, 3rd grade spelling lists, practice records...those are not so much summery.)

So here's all it takes to enter the giveaway:  leave a comment with the best book you've ever read, the book you most want to read, or even a book that was good enough to spend some brain cells reading.  Or even your favorite book from when you were young or your favorite book to read to your kids.  Or all of the above for another extra 1,000 points.  And remember those bonus points for guessing the reason for this.  (Beyond my thinking towards summer, there is another something!)

Wanna win?  You gotta play.  If you don't live close, I'll mail it, but only if it doesn't leave this country.  And you have to comment here to play, not send me a separate email ~ although I do love those. 

So here we go:  give me your book choice and you could end up with this venti-sized double-walled cold drink cup from Starbucks, a $10 Starbucks card to get 'er filled, and a $10 Barnes & Noble card to get started on a book for your summer reading list!  The winner will be a totally random drawing conducted by the oh-so-honest Brad, who is ineligible to play.  Sorry, Brad.

You have until Sunday to enter ~ we'll pick a winner Sunday evening!

Good luck!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Inspiring Women

Today I had the awesome pleasure of being inspired by some pretty tough women!  Today was the Capitol City Marathon, and way back in January when I was set free from the boot, I had decided I would train for the half marathon and run today's event.  Ha!  Total proof that absence from running makes the heart & mind crazy!  I was in for a rude awakening when I realized that 1. I could not push myself that hard without hurting my foot all over again, and B. Once I labored through a 3-mile run I thought I was crazy for ever considering 13.1!!  Now that I'm running 5 miles at a time, at a slower pace and thoroughly enjoying it, I've begun to think again about the elusive "half".  And I've been listening to running stories from friends who were preparing for today.  And getting more and more intrigued.  And, most of all, bursting with admiration for all the work they have been putting in to prepare.  (Except for one man I know who "hasn't ran more than 6 miles in over 6 months" and still went out and beat his time from last year!!  That's why this title is "Inspiring Women".)

So today was the day to stand alongside the course and cheer on some friends!  I was right before the finish line, and saw some very inspiring runners...too many to recount.  The one I will remember all year is a sweet gal whose friends were standing right next to me.  They called out her name and waved, she looked over and BURST into tears, covering her face as she finished.  I got all teary-eyed, too.  I can imagine that being me.  I'd be crying for a multitude of reasons if I was finishing up over 13 miles.

But here are some of the most inspiring to me:

the beautiful Laura...

the amazing Marlece!

this picture cracked me up...before she realized it was me, she was looking at this crazy lady wildly waving one hand and trying to take pictures with the other!

Marlece and need to run together!  You finished so closely to each other, you are both moms of four... you would make a great team!!

Jen, with a smile, running towards the finish.  A SMILE, Jen?!

I think this is my favorite picture of the day!  Jen, with her arms raised, crossing the finish line!

I missed so many others, who ran by in a blur before I realized it was someone I should take a picture of.  But each one left me feeling so proud!  Big, big congrats to everyone who ran!  And I just may see ya out there next year!

Put your aching feet up and rest those muscles!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Beautiful Cinnamon Mountain

Hold onto your cowboy hat:

This post by The Pioneer Woman just made me smile so much when I read it, and I have thought about it at least once every day since then.

I'm so happy to live in a world where making a mountain out of a molehill is not always a bad thing.  This world would me mighty flat without any mountains.  And I love the great care that was taken to demonstrate the right and wrong way for this.  It's just how my brain works, and I felt so comforted that I am not alone in my own mountain making!

I just wanted to share the happiness and smiles. 

Life is good!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Think It Over, Baby

It was my honor (?) to recently be a grandmother for 15 hours.  Have you heard of the "Baby Think It Over"?  Oh, my.  For Alex's health class, they were required to be "parents" to a newborn baby for 15 hours.  I picked him up from school yesterday...and what a sight.  There he was, standing outside his school, backpack slung over his shoulder, and an infant carrier sitting beside him.  He looked thoroughly, completely uncomfortable.  Perfect.  Once he strapped the baby in the car, he asked me to drive carefully and not do a lot of bumps...because the baby is now in the car, you know.

He had a bracelet on with a chip, and whenever the baby cried he had to scan his bracelet over the baby so it would register that he was actually the one caring for it.  I'm sorry.  It's not an "it", but a "her".  He signed up for "Baby #4", who turned out to be a little girl.  So he would scan his bracelet, and then begin the task of figuring out what she needed.  Diaper?  Bottle?  Burp?  Rocking?  The baby has a recording of a real newborn, and it starts out just fussy and quickly progresses to an all-out wailing.

When he first got home, he had to fill out the baby's birth certificate.  He named her "Alexis", after himself, and her middle name?  Leanne!  Aw.  It's a good thing he pulled me into the loop with flattery, because this baby needed his momma to help him with his baby.

The first stumbling point was deciding how long the baby was on the birth certificate.  "Mom, how do I figure out how long the baby was?"  I told him he could guess or get out a measuring tape and measure head to toe.  "No, mom.  Not how tall, how long.  You know, how long it took the baby to be born."  He was serious.  He thought a baby's length was how long it took the baby to be born.  Add that to my list of things I didn't think I needed to explain.

All was quiet and peaceful with the baby until, of course, I was just under a mile into my run on the treadmill.  Baby screaming.  Alex freaking out trying to figure out what it needs.  "Oh, no!  Oh, no!!  Someone get me the diaper!!  Where's the diaper??!  Brenna, go get the bottle!  How do I know if it's hungry??  Where's that diaper?????"  As the freak-out heightened, I got off the treadmill to coach him through it a bit.  Baby changed, baby eating, all was quiet.  Back on the treadmill for me.

this is the look of complete discomfort

He settled down pretty nicely after that first episode.  Occasionally he would be journaling the feedings and say, "I just can't believe how much this baby is eating." 

As is pretty typical with a new baby, this little girl had a very fussy time from about 9:30 to 11:30.  I checked on him at 11:30, and he had carefully arranged the infant carrier on his bed with the baby sleeping in it so she would be right by his head when she woke up.  Interesting sight.

She then slept peacefully until 3:15 in the morning, when she howled for yet another bottle and burp.  In his sleep-deprived haze, he forgot to change the diaper.  I imagine that's a pretty realistic experience. 

Another round of feeding and changing right as he was leaving for school, and off he went.  He was able to turn the baby in first thing this morning and is back to being childless, as it should be.  Now he's back to acting his age, with 3 friends playing video games, eating enormous amounts of food.  Now I'm the one saying, "I can't believe how much these boys are eating!"  Some things never change.

bye bye, baby Alexis...

And I am back to being grandchild-less, and I'm quite happy about that.  15 hours with a plastic doll is plenty, thank you.  And after thinking it over?  I don't think anything has changed.  He still is thoroughly and completely not interested in babies.  Perfect.  For now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Picture of Hope

Most evenings when I'm getting dinner ready, this is my view from the kitchen:

This dog is 7 years old.  He's an old, wise 7-year old.  He was taken straight from his mother into our home.  He knows me pretty well.  He knows I'm not big into sharing.  (With a dog, anyway.)  It's few and far between when this old dog gets people-food from the kitchen.  Occasionally he'll be invited in to "vacuum" the kitchen floor when I make a mess.  It's certainly not a daily event.  But this dog clings daily to the hope.  The hope of dropped food.  The hope of an invitation to partake of even a morsel of people-food.  He makes those eyes look so innocent, so unaware of my ways, so pleading, so sweet, so hopeful.  Sometimes it even works, because...well, just look at those hopeful eyes.

So yesterday I took this picture of him when he showed me those hopeful eyes.  I rewarded those hopeful eyes with a blinding flash, that made him do this:

But he stayed there anyway.  That sweet boy just may have hit the sweet spot of my heart and he just may have been tossed a hunk of chicken.  And you know what that means:  it means that tonight hope will continue to spring eternal, and it means I will have this same view when I make dinner.

He is a knucklehead.  He sheds too much.  He stinks too often.  But I do love him.  And I love his illustration of hope.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Menu ~ Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza

This is another one of those things that may sound a bit questionable at first glance.  The taste is where it's at, so give it a try and you just might have a new favorite pizza.

For a long time, I made my own pizza crust using my trusty 'ole bread machine.  Now, however, Trader Joes has roared into my life and freed me from this laborious task.  Okay, not really a laborious task, but I'm happy to buy this dough ready to go and it's just a win-win.  My favorite is the herb dough, but you can do the plain or wheat.  It's in the refrigerated section, just $1.29, I believe.  I cut the one ball of dough into 4 pieces and let everyone make their own pizza.  We get a thinner crust, which I love.  You get the it with whatever, but for a zippy treat, try this chicken cordon bleu, which is a very loose interpretation of anything resembling the real dish.

this is a terrible, horrible picture of a fabulous, delicious pizza

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pizza

Bottled blue cheese dressing
grilled chicken breasts, seasoned with garlic, salt & pepper, and cut into strips
Canadian bacon
mozzarella cheese
freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
crumbled blue cheese, if you really want to emphasize the flavor

Shape the dough into whatever size pizza you are making.  Spread the blue cheese dressing as you would pizza sauce.  Top with remaining ingredients.

Bake as directed for the dough.

Another yummy combo at home is the BBQ Chicken Pizza.  BBQ sauce as the pizza sauce, grilled chicken, red onion, cheese, cilantro....mmm.  I could eat that right now.