Monday, February 28, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ Just a Few

Oh, I have written this list as I've gone through my week, and have looked forward to getting it on here.  Now it is nearing the end of the day and I haven't had a chance to get my fingers on the keyboard!  And this isn't something I choose to rush.  It isn't something I want to rush through for the sake of ritual.  These are really things that rattle my thoughts and put me in a place of awareness.  I want to always be in that place, to see the things all around me that are gifts.  To see things that I otherwise might miss.  To pause, even if only in my thoughts, to really be grateful for the gift I see.  Because truly there is so much to see, so much.  So in order to not rush through, I will just list a few tonight.  But my heart is much more full than this list shows.  It is full of awareness, full of thankfulness for these gifts that I continue to list...

221.  The unexpected drop-in of a friend.
222.  Finding truth that can help make a great thing even better.
223.  Staring up at the sky when snow is falling, trying to focus on just one single flake, and seeing the great rush of flakes in my peripheral vision.
224.  The absolute still and quiet when everything is coated in a thick layer of snow.
225.  An exciting idea that takes root, a vision that starts to grow from that.
226.  Quiet, vulnerable conversations in the dark.
227.  Complete acceptance.
228.  The way butter melts into an English muffin and settles into all those crooks and crannies.  (I had to include at least one food reference!)

That's all for tonight.  Now it's time to settle in and enjoy the day winding to a close!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What A Snow Day Means

Awww...a snow day.  TWO snow days!  There is so much to love about snow days.  And here's what these snow days have meant to me:

*being wakened with a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the tush and these words spoken gently into my ear:  "School's closed.  I'm turning off your alarm."  Oh, I don't think I would ever tire of being wakened this way!

*sister time.

*stillness, quietness, calm.  I love how quiet everything gets outside.  The world is all insulated and still.  Peace.

*clothes, clothes everywhere.  gloves laid out to dry while other's are pulled out.  boots propped over air vents to dry.  socks....socks everywhere.

*extra kids popping in and out all day. everywhere.  (I feel a bit like Alice from the Brady Bunch today!  all those kids make messes faster than I can clean!)

*the building of snowmen.  well, in this case a "Snow ET".  a one-eyed Snow ET.

*extra time to do extra things.  organizing stacks of stuff that I've been putting off.  filing away recipes.  giving the dog a bath.  cleaning.

*stepping into puddles of water left on the floor where boots were pulled off.

*a break from crazy homework schedules.

*listening to giggling teen girls.  I still can't believe I have a teenaged girl.  sheesh.

*staying up late to read a great book, willing to hedge my bets that I would sleep in a bit in the morning.

*turning off all the lights in the house, opening the blinds and staring out at the beautiful evening snow.

*running on my treadmill, staring out the window at the snow, loving the view while staying in a climate-controlled room!

*the extra time to run a little longer, cool-down longer without rushing to get ready, taking a long shower that felt so good I then took a bubble bath. 

*playing Words With Friends with Alex over and over until I finally beat him.

*feeling myself becoming very cat-like:  well, not in terms of reflexes or the bland diet or having to lick myself clean, but in terms of wanting to lay down in a sunny spot and stare out the window at the beautiful snow, napping, and then waking up to stare out the window a little longer.  I haven't been able to actually do that yet, but the snow makes me want to.

The coziness of baking.  Baking always feels cozy to me, but especially so when we are all home together and the air has that cold bite.

So now I've decided to do some baking.  I'm going to make my mom's Caramel Pecan Rolls.  I think this evening I will find myself sitting down with something hot to drink, a hot caramel pecan roll, a blanket over my lap....I might even start to purr.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My #1's Weekend Being #10

This last weekend was a big one for the little boy.  I don't think he'd take too kindly to me continuing to call him little boy, so I really should stop.  My firstborn, the #1 in the family, was the #10 bassoon out of both All-Northwest groups this past weekend!  The All-Northwest groups are formed from auditions submitted by kids from six states.  A pretty nice honor, whether he's my son or not. 

He left town on Thursday afternoon to spend a long weekend in Bellevue.  Long hours of rehearsals, buffets for every meal, the honor of performing with his high school group at a Friday morning exhibition concert, attending a Seattle Symphony concert, attending the All-Northwest Jazz Band concert, more buffets, hanging out with good friends, making new friends, sizing up potential competitors at the State Solo competition, being in a hotel room of 4 boys (3 of whom are named Alex!), and ending the weekend playing a concert in Benaroya Hall!  What a whirlwind, and from all accounts he was challenged, inspired, and had a blast. 

His high school group was the only high school band selected to perform at the conference, so that group traveled together Friday morning.  The All-State kids and Alex were already up there, but had to get to a different venue for the concert.  Long story:  but because Alex was the only one in a particular hotel, he had no transportation to the Westin.  So Brad and I drove to Bellevue Friday morning to drive our son a half mile for a concert.  And I'm so glad we did.  That son of ours will not let us bicker without turning it into a comedy schtick.  We almost always bicker when we are trying to find a new place.  Well, I guess maybe it's me who bickers.  But I think I'm entitled when, for example, Alex is insistent that "there's a room on the 3rd floor where I'm suppose to leave my case" and I say, "Yes, but that's on the third floor of the Westin, and right now we are in a mall," and they think I'M the one who's not making sense.  And, for the record, if I had followed them "to the theater, which is NOT the way to go!!!!", we would have walked right into the breezeway that led us right to the ballroom they were to perform in.  When I'm wrong, I'm wrong.  And I'm almost always wrong when it comes to directions and finding new places.  And yet I somehow still delude myself into thinking "I cannot imagine these two trying to find their way anywhere by themselves!".   Which I may or may not have said outloud to them.  Which may or may not have provided more material for Alex's comedic timing. 

Yes, if we had decided to let Alex find his own way uphill to the Westin, in his tux, carrying his bassoon, we would have missed all that.  So glad we didn't.

And the concert was really all worth it.  They played something crazy that had stressed out their director a bit and caused extra rehearsals and I hear was very ambitious...but they played it like champs.  It moved me to tears.  Again.  So proud of all those kids.

We then delivered him back to his hotel in time for the next buffet rehearsal, and then Brad and I went out to lunch ALL BY OURSELVES!  It was yummy.  The food, yes.  The company?  Yes.

The rest of the weekend was great for Alex.  I missed him.  He pretended to miss me.

Sunday we had the immense pleasure of hearing the All-Northwest Band and Orchestra play at Benaroya Hall.  Oh, my.  Really, I am at a loss for words to describe how beautiful it was.  The setting is gorgeous, the music was amazing...all of it was too much for words.

Two proud parents

Two proud sisters

Will, Alaina, Alex

After a dinner out with some friends, it was home again for all of us.  Alex had a great night's sleep back in his own bed, then up the next morning for:


He timed this very purposefully, waiting until after this weekend.  As immediately after this weekend as he could arrange, which turned out to be less than 12 hours after he arrived back home.

His one food request when the braces came off was a caramel apple.  He thinks he has never eaten one before.  I can't imagine that, but then again this kid knows his food.

Braces, no braces; bassoon, no're a fabulous young man!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Chicken Sausage Stir Fry

Okay here is another meal that is easy, easy, easy and fast and delicious.  The chicken/apple sausage?  Scrumptious.  Love it.  

This is another gem at Costco that you could easily overlook if you aren't there on a day they are sampling it.  I used one of their recipes suggested on the package, and it was a huge hit in this house for dinner, made good leftovers for lunch the next day, and is a perfect all-in-one meal for a busy evening.  So, you know, I would suggest this on any Sunday thru Saturday evening.  The busy ones.  You could even do all your chopping during all your free time, then just dump it in the pan when you are ready to cook.

Pick for yourself the amounts to use based on how many you are cooking for:

Chicken Sausage Stir Fry

Chicken & Apple sausages
red pepper
yellow pepper
Yoshida's gourmet sauce (or any Teriyaki sauce would do)

Slice sausages, cut broccoli into florets, slice red and yellow peppers.  Heat a large skillet or wok and add sausages and veggies.  Saute 'em all up together, not so much that you make the broccoli limpy-wimpy.  At the end, add in some Yoshida sauce, stir to coat.  Serve over hot cooked rice.

That's it!  Flavors galor. 

And speaking of apple in the sausages, here's another way to eat an apple:

Any guesses as to why Alex is feasting on a chocolate coated caramel apple?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Multitude on Mondays ~ Big Little Things

I love a long weekend.  I especially love one that is filled to the brim with a well-balanced assortment of busy, quiet, fun, stillness, laughter, quiet, music, missing and togetherness.  This weekend has had a little bit of everything.  And I wove my way through this weekend with a renewed awareness of how quickly this season of my life is moving.  And I made sure to notice the little things, knowing they are truly the big things...

I'm thankful, truly thankful, for these big little things that are such gifts:

201.  The way fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies packed up to send on a trip can speak L.O.V.E.
202.  The way my 10-year old can stretch and rub her eyes when I wake her up and look just like she did as a 2-year old.
203.  The combination of brisk wind and hot sun on my face.
204.  The feel of that first drink of cold water in the morning, how you can feel it go all the way down.
205.  Talking to my girls on the phone, and hearing how their voices sound so little...and so the same.
206.  Spooning.
207.  The brief moment when there are no dirty clothes waiting to be washed.
208.  A son calling, without being asked, to let me know he arrived.
209.  That my son will say "I miss you too," even if he really doesn't.
210.  Watching the careful selection of a new Bible, and the utter delight it brings.

211.  Watching a cat in the window chattering to the birds outside.  Spring's comin'!
212.  The thrill of the possibility of even a dusting of snow.
213.  An extra hour of sleep.
214.  The hum and whoosh of the dishwasher.  That, to me, is the sound of being done with the responsibility part of my day.
215.  The combination of a bright blue sky and the sound of a lawn mower.
216.  The feel of the cold tile on the bottom of my feet after a run.
217.  Being able to sit in a beautiful hall, close my eyes, and be surrounded with the sound of beautiful music from amazingly talented kids.  Fills my senses.
218.  Seeing un-jeweled teeth for the first time in two and a half years!
219.  Watching my child laugh so hard she can't catch her breath.
220.  Going to bed at night knowing that each of my kids is sound asleep at home.  Where they belong.  For now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

An Opportunity To Help Make a Girl's Dream Come True

You are each cordially invited to participate in the unfolding of a dream.  You get to be on the front line.  You get to be a trend setter.  You get to bring delight to a delightful girl.  What could be better than that?

My girl has a dream.  She has been working on this for about a year now.  So far, it's not spreading like the wild fire she thought she would see.  And I must admit that her father and I have let her down. Apparently, although I don't remember agreeing to this, I was sent on a mission to spread her vision, and I have failed to do so.  Tonight she called us on it.  Tonight she challenged us.  And I accepted the challenge.

I told her I would even post on my blog about it, and that the 2 of you who read this would surely help make this dream a reality.  It's a grassroots effort if ever there was one.


It began with a checker game.  A checker game in which it was noticed that the felt padding had come off the bottom of one checker.  With the felt padding gone, the checker made an icky scraping noise when sliding into its new position.

"Ugh," Brenna exclaimed, "that checker piece is all grally."

the inspiration for 'grally'. good one on the left, old, torn-up, and broken one on the right.

Grally.  Spoken with the emphasis on the gra, and the "a" sounding as in cat.  Grally.

That's where it began, and it spread quickly from there.  It has become a much-used adjective among three of the five Carlsons.  And from there, a dream was born.

Do you ever find yourself at a loss for the perfect adjective when you are trying to describe something that's old, torn-up, and broken?  Well, you need not be at a loss anymore.

Brenna has the answer for you.  Her dream is that this adjective would grab ahold of all people, and that grally would become a word added to the dictionary.  I guess Brad and I were to have been using this word abundantly at work.  I have not.  But when I go back to work on Tuesday, I will slip it into as many conversations as possible.  Brad has pledged to do the same.  Won't you please join us?  It can be used in a multitude of ways (as listed by Brenna):

"That chair is grally!"
"The bottom of the checker is piece is grally."
"The shed is looking grally."

And, as added by me:

"This road through the construction zone is so grally!!!"

Grally:  old, torn-up, and broken.

You heard it here first.  And my child would be delighted if you would help spread the word.  Literally.  Help spread the word.  Grally.

Grally.  Grally.  Grally. 

Kind of sticks, huh?!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Romance Is Not Dead, It's Just Running Down the Street

Valentine's Day is done for another year.  Buh-bye.  It's a funny day, isn't it?  In some ways it's actually a really dumb day.  There.  I said it. 

I think it's a fabulous day for being a first grader.  Remember scrawling the names of all your classmates and stuffing their construction-paper created envelope or boxes?  And then digging through your envelope and reading all the corny Valentines?  And eating all the waxy chocolate and heart-shaped sugar cookies with so many sprinkles on them that they could chip your teeth?  And having zero regret about all the chocolate you ate?  Yeah, good times.

We've had some great Valentine times over the years, my Valentine and I.  But the overwhelming majority of the years, it's pretty much a day that comes with all the demands of a typical day.  Then I want to make it special for the kids, so we get them their treats, make heart-shaped sandwiches and as many pink foods as I can come up with for their lunch and try to make a nice dinner.  (I skipped the heart-shaped cake this year so I wouldn't eat too much.)  And then the day comes to an end and I realize I'm wiped out from making the day special for everyone.  And then there's all the work of picking open those nasty assorted chocolates hoping to find the one caramel in the box that's not polluted with any kind of fruity flavor swirl.  Very rarely do we get any kind of Valentine date.  I get flowers, which I love.  But I rarely get time, which I hunger for.

Well, this year we had about an hour and a half on the day before Valentine's Day that we had decided we would squish in our Valentine date.  Let me re-phrase that for historical accuracy.  We had about an hour and a half on the day before Valentine's Day that I had decided he would squish into taking me on a Valentine date.  And the romance was raging as we headed over ourselves new running shoes!  Aw...isn't it romantic? 

I can honestly say that Brad's gift to me (actually I had a certificate for a free pair that I won in a drawing at a race this summer, which makes me a cheap date) makes my heart beat faster everytime I put them on.  Not many gifts can literally make your heart beat wildly.  Running shoes?  Yes. 

(And speaking of running...that half marathon is 3 months from today.  Can I do this?  My longest run yet was 7 miles on Saturday.  And it makes my stomach flip and my heart start speeding up to even imagine 13.1.  I'm just not sure about this.  Some days I feel confident about it, mostly the days I don't run.  Some days I feel like this is a pretty stupid thing to do.)

And back to Valentine's Day:  perhaps my sweetest gift came from a chubby-faced first grade boy at school.  He sweetly wished me a Happy Valentine's Day, then dug into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out this heart-shaped lollipop.  Unwrapped.  With pocket lint stuck all over it.  And he was quite proud to present it to me.  Sweetness.  See?  It really is a holiday meant for a child in the first grade.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ Gifts of Love

I have a lot of love in my life.  I love my God, I love my kids, I love my much to choose from on a day of love!  But, at the heart of it all, this day is a day meant for romantic love...the kind of love I have for only one. 

So I thought this would be the perfect day to shift things a bit and list only things about my Valentine.  I could easily make all 1000 about this man, but will keep it to but a few as I continue on with my 1000 Gifts:

169.  He loves me well.
170.  His patience.
171.  His kindness.
172.  His humility.
173.  His respectful attitude towards everyone.
174.  His trust in the Lord.
175.  His optimism.
176.  His gentleness.
177.  His strength.
178.  His work ethic.
179.  His willingness to learn and grow.
180.  The way he challenges me.
181.  The way he pushes me.
182.  The way he loves our children.
183.  The way he loves ice cream.
184.  The way he can raise both eyebrows, one at a time.
185.  His laugh.
186.  The way he looks into me, not just at me.
187.  The way our hands fit together perfectly when we hold hands.
188.  The way he encourages me.
189.  His enthusiasm.
190.  His discipline.
191.  The way he leaves me little notes before he leaves in the morning.
192.  That he calls me just to say he's thinking about me.
193.  That he will serve me cookies and milk.  As long as I make the cookies. :)
194.  That he is a gentleman.
195.  That he treats me like a lady.
196.  That he lets me tuck my cold feet under his legs to warm up when I get into bed.
197.  He tells me he loves me every day.
198.  He shows me he loves me every day.
199.  a gift worth noting twice:  #156
200.  His willingness to work hard and play hard to make what we have something truly special.

Happy Valentine's Day to my sweetheart....I love you so very much.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Notes On Judging My Little Boy

Yet another weekend of music, and yet another accomplishment for my little boy. 

(I'm choosing very purposefully to call him my little boy.  Because there is not much left in him that is little or boy, and it makes me feel better to delude myself into thinking that's not true.  I know he is a young man who is taller than his father, and I would have it no other way, but it is still a bit shocking to my heart.  And so, for the foreseeable future, I shall refer to this 6'1" young man as "little boy".)

Back to the purpose of this post:  little boy had his regional solo/ensemble competition this weekend, and it was finally time to play that crazy solo for an adjudicator.  After a not-so-hot final run-through with his accompanist the night before, I was wondering....but this little boy pulled it off quite masterfully!  It's not "mastered" by any means, but he is playing an ambitious solo that has the craziest last page.  I'm not musical enough to put it into the "right" words, but let's just say that this momma holds her breath for a good 6 minutes of his 13 minute performance. 

And you know what's hard?  To see your kid give it everything they have, to the point of seeing facial contortions and neck veins bulging, and knowing that there is someone sitting there with a pen in her hand, writing notes and making page notations and evaluating.  She's a professional musician, has a doctor title and all, and she is evaluating my little boy.  And I, having very little idea from a musical perspective of whether it's great, good, fair or terrible, have no idea what she's thinking.  It's all just so judgemental.  Even though he's there by his own choosing, he's being judged.  I know that's why they give them the fancy title of 'adjudicator', so it sounds less judgemental.  But however you phrase it, my little boy is being judged.  And that is hard for me to watch.  Not because I think he's perfect.  Not at all.  But it's one thing for me to see his faults.  It's another thing entirely for someone else to point them out.  Unless of course we are talking about his bassoon playing, and then I guess I would really have no idea how to be constructive about his faults. 

And when the song was finally done, she was wonderful.  She was very complimentary, very constructive, and had some fabulous suggestions for taking his playing to another level.  Exactly what this whole thing is designed to be.  And I know that.  I have been through plenty of these to know that.  But put me in that room, staying totally silent and watching this unfold, and I fight my feelings.  This is such a mush of words, a complete reflection of how tired my brain is this evening.  But all this to say, these solo performances are hard for me.  The ensembles?  Not so much.  But solos...eeek.

And my little boy?  Cool as a cucumber.  A cucumber that has been sitting on a glass patio table in the direct sun on a hot summer day, perhaps.  But pretty cool.

And he did it again.  He qualified for the State Solo competition.  Which means he now performs his solo (Oh, goody...we get to listen to that for several more weeks!) in front of three judgemental adjudicators who give no verbal feedback when you are done.  Play, bow, exit room, await judging sheets and scores. 

And these two beautiful girls?  I'm so proud of how they support their brother.  They don't just come to his performances because we pile them into the van and make them go.  They show up in the truest sense.  The enthusiastically show up.  They are proud of him, and it shows.  And that makes me so proud.

So when it was all said and done, we went for the traditional Mexican meal.  The little boy is always very hungry after a day like this.  Well deserved, little boy.  Mommy loves you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Have So Little To Offer, But the Link At the End is Totally Worth It

Thursday night already??  I know, my keyboard is even in denial, as evidenced by the fact that it took me four tries to type that word correctly.  I'm sure it was the keyboard.

This has been a blurry-paced week, and yet I have so little to offer in trying to sum it up.  Let's see.  I have been a good girl with my running.  I'm not sure I'm getting anywhere, but I'm doing the work.  Last Saturday (have I said this here already??), Brad and I did a 6.5 mile run, and the end of the run was a crazy, mean-spirited, angry hill.  I slowed to a walk when the hill was in full view and told Brad I couldn't do it, there was no way, and I would have sat down and folded my arms across my chest and stuck my lip out, but we were on the side of a fairly busy road and that just wouldn't have been very dignified.  And this saying was never more true:

this is one of my t-shirts, and I literally say this to myself when I'm at least half-way done with a run.  "all I have to do is run home."

Later that day, when I drove a couple giggly teen girls to the mall, I took a detour just so I could drive up the hill and see it from the comfy seat of my van.  And to hear the van kick into a different gear as it labored up the hill??  I patted her dash and told her I knew exactly how she felt.  Here's a horrible picture taken through the window of the van.  Pretend it's impressive, won't you?  It does a big bloop up then a little section of flat, then another big bloop up.  Those bloops are big to me.

And let's see...this week I also had the pleasure of watching the oh-so-adorable first graders perform their Jammin' In the Jungle program.  There is not much cuter than a first grader.  Except maybe a first grader dressed as a monkey.  Especially when that monkey tries to scale the climbing wall (a horizontal climbing wall that he has needed help getting down from multiple times) and then grabs onto a brown construction paper tree vine, only to find that a quick way to "get down" from the climbing wall is to try to hang from a brown construction paper tree vine.  (No monkeys were injured in the production of the riveting Jammin' In the Jungle.)  It warmed my heart.

Hmmm...Oh!  One day this week was breakfast for lunch at school.  I'll be darned if those turkey sausage links didn't jump up and shout my name.  They looked so good to me.  And the way those kids were chowing down on them made me really think I needed one.  With the help of a friend, I was able to score one.  And it completely didn't live up to its look.  No.  Bad move.  And the spice?  Oh, the spice.  I still can't believe those little people enjoyed them.

And speaking of lunch:  on Monday, and exceptionally charming third grader called me over to his table to proudly show me his lunch:  it was all left-overs from his family's Super Bowl party!  He told me what each item was, and basically ranked their popularity among their guests.  I told him that I too had brought left-over Super Bowl food for my lunch.  He got a perplexed look on his face and asked, "They let you eat lunch here?  I thought they just made you walk around all day."  Perty sweet.

Now, as a reward for putting up with my nonsensical ramblings of utter nothingness, I leave you with this link to a dessert that is truly rising up and screaming my name.  And this time I believe, I BELIEVE, that I am not being misled.  I think I love it, and we haven't even officially met yet.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Crockpot Simplicity

You know what is striking me lately?  The older my kids get, the busier my life gets.  It is so true.  I remember other moms telling me this when my kids were toddling all over my house, and I thought they had whacked out memories and didn't know what they were talking about.  But now I'm there.  And it's so true.  It's a different kind of busy, but it is more busy for sure.  The demands on my emotional energy is greatly more than it was then.  The physical energy demands are different, but greater.  There are no nap times for any of us.  There are no early bedtimes so I can recharge my batteries before the next day.  The conversations require so much more of me.  Instead of short bursts of encouragement or correction or playing on the floor with legos or babies, now it's involved conversations about growing up and figuring out life and helping with homework and the encouragement and correction conversations are much looonnnnggggeeeerrrrrr. 

I know what your thinking right now, "Isn't this suppose to be a crockpot recipe?"  And yeah, I'm getting there.  Because the other thing I've noticed is that, proportional to my kids getting older and busier, they are eating more and I have much less time to cook.  And our window of time to have dinner on the table and eat together is getting smaller.  We still sit down at the table and eat together almost every night.  That's a story for another time, but I believe in that in a big way.  And I work hard to make it happen.

So, with the chillier weather here, my time in short supply, and food needing to be ready to go, I'm falling back in love with my crockpot.  I'm trying, anyway.  I've been looking through old cookbooks to find new things to do.  I've made a couple in the last couple weeks that I would make again, so I thought I would share them here.  Mainly so I can pop back on here and find the recipe...

The first is a creamy chicken recipe that you serve over pasta.  It was good enough for dinner, but was especially good as left overs in lunches.

Angel Crockpot Chicken

About 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup butter
2 (0.7 oz.) packages Italian salad dressing mix
2 (10 1/4 oz.) cans cream of mushroom soup (I used one "gold mushroom and one regular)
1 cup chicken stock
1 tub (8 oz.) cream cheese with chives and onion
hot cooked angel hair pasta

Place chicken in crockpot.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in Italian dressing mix.  Stir in mushroom soup, chicken stock, and cream cheese.  Combine well and pour over chicken.  Cover and cook on low setting for 6-8 hours or until chicken is done.  Serve chicken and sauce over pasta.

This next one could not be humanly easier.  I literally threw this in 5 minutes before I had to walk out the door for work, and it turned out really tasty.

Crockpot Beef

2 (or more) pounds stew meat
1 can French onion soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Throw all three in the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Serve over noodles or mashed potatoes.  (My vote is mashed potatoes!)

Yummy, trust me. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays ~ New Starts

Happy Monday!  You know what I love about Monday?  Doing it all over again.  True story.  It's a fresh start to a new week.  AND:  a new weekend is just around the corner.  Okay, maybe one lap around the block, but that practically is around a corner.

Last week is gone, and I'm not sorry to see it leave.   I'm glad to be on the new side of a new week...a looking forward to making it a good one!

152.  New starts.
153.  The way my dog throws his hips wildly back and forth just to wag his tail.
154.  Honey soaked into a warm piece of toast.
155.  Snugglin' on the couch.
157.  Gentle answers.
158.  The sound of my children laughing together.
159.  A sky so very bright blue.
160.  Looking up at a huge hill, saying "no way!" and then doing it anyway.
161.  Heart-shaped cookies.
162.  The smell of vanilla.
163.  Gentle wake-ups.
164.  My littlest's peaceful face and rosy cheeks when I'm waking her up.
165.  The frantic-paced conversation of two teenage girls.
166.  The silence in the house as I'm going to bed.
167.  Crisp, clean sheets.
168.  A sleeping cat.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Have Sore Jaw Muscles Because Patience is Overrated

A couple or more posts ago, I shared the recipe for Scotcheroos that I had been craving so much.  I finally was able to make them earlier this week.  They looked so lovely, just as I so fondly remembered them.  The love had not faded with our separation.

The first piece?  Delicious.  They were still warm, the chocolate was melty and drippy and gooey and stuck in my cheeks in the most delightful way.  Then a big glass of cold milk chased it down, and my tastebuds were livin' like they were back in the teenage days.

Then the next day.  The bars had set.  I cut one square.  Let me be clear:  I used a knife to saw one square.  It was quite...firm.  Brick-ish.  I, with great reluctance, gave one to my two kids who are walking around with thousands of dollars of hardware in their mouths.  Fortunately, no hardware was damaged in the consumption.  Can you even imagine having to explain that???  That I gave my children a rice krispie treat that broke their brackets???  I'm not sure I ever would have lived that one down.

True to who I am, I did not let the texture hold me back from the flavor.  They were helping me get through my week.  I needed them.  I discovered that if I chipped off a piece and then microwaved that piece for 7 seconds, it was very bite-able.  A little chewy, but bite-able.  After a couple squares days of eating, I woke up yesterday morning with a strange headache-y feeling.  And I noticed my jaw muscles were sore.  Oh, yes they were.  Sore to the touch.  Sore if I moved my teeth in just the right (wrong?) way.  I'll be darned if I didn't chew myself through those bars to the point of injuring myself.

I know what happened, too.  It's all the fault of patience, which I'm always being told I need more of.  Oh really?  Well, I used my patience when I was making the peanut butter part of this recipe.  I stood there spacing out carefully watching the pot, stirring until the sugar was melted in all nicely.  I kept my mind sharply focused on whatever I was spacing out about, tried to solve all my problems, and make my mental calendar for the week ahead.  Perhaps I should have been sharply focused on how long the sugar had been cooking instead of melting.  Perhaps.  But I, for whatever strange reason, found myself in no particular hurry to move along with the recipe.  In short, I cooked it too long.  But the short version is so boring.  And it sounds like I did something wrong, when in reality I was practicing patience, which should be right.  Patience jumped up and bit me in the jaw muscles on this occasion.

I truly am not one to be deterred easily.  Or at least I'm not one to let a little toughness stand in my way of a perfectly delicious Scotcheroo.  And I survived the week with all my teeth unchipped.  And the sore muscles quickly healed with the help of some ibuprofen.  And yet I suppose if I have progressed to the point of treating myself with ibuprofen because of a food eating issue, perhaps its time to reconsider the whole patience thing.  I think it may be highly overrated.

And I think that's about all I have to say about that.