Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Morning Make-Ahead Baked French Toast

This is my SIL's traditional breakfast for Christmas morning, and I'm getting the recipe down before her copy dissolves into tatters in her recipe box :)

Holiday Morning French Toast

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 tsp cinnamon (divided)
3 tart apples: peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1 loaf Italian or French bread, cut into 1 inch slices
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla

Combine brown sugar, butter and 1 tsp cinnamon in a 9x13" baking dish. Add apples and cranberries; toss to coat well. Spread apple mixture evenly over bottom of baking dish and arrange slices of bread on top.

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining 2 tsp cinnamon until well blended. Pour mixture over bread, soaking bread completely. Cover and refrigerate 4-24 hours.

Bake covered with aluminum foil at 375 for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Funny

Definitely not how Jesus' arrival went down :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sing it Saturday

No, this won't be a regular thing, but the title was catchy :) Go Fish has a great Christmas album, and this song in particular always gets me moving. I do indeed have the JOY - it has nothing to do with circumstances, and everything to do with my Savior! What an amazing gift.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Funny

Have a completely non-offensive and politically correct holiday! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Birthday Build: Done!


This makes me smile every time I walk by. And I like it so much more than those porcelain ones (especially since the reality is that things will get broken... no problem!) I would also like to add that I have an awesome hubby, who spent over 4 hours last night alone working on the toy shop... there are some very cool details on that set.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Celebrating!

Well, the Christmas season has descended upon us.

Last Wednesday, I decorated the outside of our house - you know, so at least the neighbors think we're festive :) I wired bows onto the lights by the garage, hung a wreath, and put out the Christmas doormat. All done! The next day, I purchased a nonfat cup of steamy goodness in a jolly cup, and headed out to purchase a few things. There's a reason I shop for gifts year-round: simply put, I despise fighting the holiday crowds. I'm not a fan of crowded aisles, screaming children, and poorly organized shelves. I think I'm done now, other than the things we're waiting to purchase until we arrive in Arizona. Thursday night I also went to a cookie exchange, which was loads of fun! The bad news is that I am unable to resist baked goods, and the scale showed the results of this on Monday... the number went up for the first time since I started my weight loss journey. A bit discouraging, but not unexpected. One the plus side, the kids have done a pretty good job of wiping out the aforementioned cookies!

In other news, we "opened" a few early family Christmas gifts. We'd been debating about purchasing a Wii for over a year now (especially since our summers are so ridiculously hot here!) and ended up taking the plunge on Black Friday, courtesy of Amazon. We also got the Balance Board, which I'd really been wanting. We've already had a lot of fun with it, and I get a great core workout from laughing hysterically at our daughter boxing - it's not the movements that get me, but the trash talk to her opponents. "You're going down, big guy!" is her most-used. I have no idea where she heard it, but it totally cracks me up. I've been using the Wii Fit Plus program, and am digging the rhythmic boxing... I also foresee the purchase of additional fitness games in my future.

Last night hubby and the kids put together my birthday present. Yes, I had requested Legos. I know it may seem bizarre, but I promise it will make sense when I post finished pictures - tomorrow perhaps?

We also got the tree up over the weekend. This is the first time that we haven't put up all our ornaments. They are definitely a colorful mishmash, but in the interest of simplicity this year we simply went with red & metallic ornaments, along with some white garland. I like the different look, but the kids have already requested that we put it *ALL* out next year. I did put out a few other things around the house - beaded garland draped around doorways, baskets of ornaments, and a few special ornaments hung on doorknobs, windows, etc. I do love this cross, and it's hanging in our entryway. Such a great reminder that while so many focus on the "magic" of Christmas, there is something much better that we can believe in...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Funny

It's Christmastime... which means attack of the overly embellished sweater!


More "beauties" here and here.


You're welcome :)

(I must admit that I actually sort of like this one :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eeek!

Tomorrow is December 1. How is that possible?!

We celebrated Thanksgiving with a couple other East Coast transplants, and had a lovely time. We supplied the turkey, stuffing & gravy, which thankfully means that I'm not staring at piles of desserts. In theory. You see, my hubby happens to love cheesecake, and our host graciously sent him home with an entire one that was left over. I watched him eat it for breakfast Sunday morning -- while I was measuring out my fiber cereal and skim milk. Grrr. That was one of those times that I kept chanting to myself, "I'm getting healthier, I'm getting healthier!"

Unfortunately we also have sickness circulating in our house. We'd all had a nasty cold a few weeks ago, and while it wasn't severe, it slowed us all down and was taking awhile to shake off entirely. Well, Saturday morning our little girl was not her normal perky self. Our son started showing symptoms yesterday, and both had slight fevers this morning. I kept them home from school, drug them to the doctor's office (where our son had great fun using the stirrups on the exam table as a ramp for his mini skateboards) and received the verdict: strep. Off to Walgreens for pink medicine!

Anyway, I am definitely behind on my normal holiday prep. The tree hasn't gone up - in fact, the fallish decor hasn't even been put away yet. Hoping to remedy the situation by this weekend. I also will be doing some baking, as I'm participating in a cookie exchange on Thursday night; I figure that this is a good way for my family to get some sweets, because there's no way I'm producing a bunch this year. I'm making chocolate crinkles - simple and easy!

Thankfully the gifts have all pretty much been purchased, but I need to get them wrapped up - and of course many need to be shipped. I had hoped to have that done this week, but the new goal is next Monday. We're heading off to Arizona again for Christmas, so at least that's one less package to be sent. Whew - that's a lot to get done in the next week or so. Why on earth am I sitting at the computer?! Toodles!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Scent of the Holidays...

Step 1: Feed kids a healthy breakfast to counteract the pile of sweets consumed last night. Yum, oranges!

Step 2: Rescue peels from trash, and throw into pan.

Step 3: Cut up shriveled apples that were mistakenly not thrown out earlier this week.

Step 4: Add cinnamon sticks and a few anise seeds. Cover with water and set to simmer.

Step 5: Pause every 3 minutes to sniff the air appreciatively. Somehow even washing dishes seems more festive now :)

Note: The blaring playing of Christmas music is also helpful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. ~Johannes A. Gaertner

"God's Word commands us to 'give thanks' about 135 times. How is giving thanks different from being thankful? Giving thanks is an action that implies specificity; feeling thankful is passive and deals in generalities. Giving thanks recognizes the One who is the source of our blessings; feeling thankful may not even acknowledge our Source. Giving thanks ultimately gives glory to God; feeling thankful only makes us feel good about ourselves." ~David Self (from First Place 4 Health)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Belated Friday Funny

I've had the grocery ad sitting on my kitchen counter for the past week so I could snap a picture. Back in Philly suburbia, our Thanksgiving ads promised kosher turkeys, Italian sausage, and a variey of other delights.

Now, I can pick up pig heads & cow stomach for my family's enjoyment :)

BTW, this is the ad from the main supermarket chain, not some tiny specialty meat market.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Weight Loss Journey (Part 1)

I posted this photo on FB last week - me, 25 pounds lighter and holding a 25 pound bucket o' lard. I have never gotten so many comments on any posting, photo, etc. Obviously it struck a chord.

I've had many people ask, "Oh, what are you doing?" I know I've asked others the same question, hoping they've stumbled upon some magical insight.

Here's my insight: "It's hard work."

I'll be writing this up and my book will be available next year ;)

If I've learned anything in the past 30-odd years, it's that shortcuts seldom work out. I've never been one to eat crazy foods or pop pills in an effort to lose weight, and while I have made half-hearted efforts at altering my diet/lifestyle, I never stuck with it. I had joined Weight Watchers back in 2000 and lost a good chunk, but it crept back on after 2 babies and a variety of other reasons excuses. And while I don't think Weight Watchers is a terrible program, I think that there's too much focus on the whole points system and not enough emphasis on nutrition. I've been using sparkpeople's nutrition tracker, and I've found it to be hugely educational as well as motivating. If you set up a profile and enter your weight goals, it will recommend a calorie range, and you can even use their suggested menus. I pretty much knew where I should be calorically (even though I wasn't actually doing it) but the big thing for me has been seeing actual amounts broken down on carbs, protein, fat & fiber. I know low carb is super trendy and low fat was all the rage 20 years ago, but our bodies are designed to use all those things, and it's so important to provide balance! In one sense, I've actually found it liberating to take control of my food consumption. Let me explain. In the past, if I ate a doughnut I'd usually feel guilty (and of course I'd try to "bury" that guilt by eating more. Sheesh!) Since I've been "dieting" I've eaten 2 doughnuts. Each time I chose to indulge my sweet tooth, but I knew that I was balancing that choice with the other food I was eating that day. Same goes with the occasional fast food burger. I'm making serious, life-long changes... and I'm not about to eat only salad and baked fish every day :)

Another insight: It's not just about the weight. I just finished the Begin With Christ Bible study, and God definitely used that to shake me up. Am I really leaning on Him? Really, truly trusting Him with every aspect of my life? I know God loves me, but for some reason I just felt like He didn't need to be bothered with the physical stuff. I mean, does He really care whether I choose to munch on an apple versus a bag of chips? Can putting down a candy bar be an act of worship? Whose voice am I listening to when I continue eating after I'm no longer hungry? This body may only be a temporary vessel, but I still need to honor Him with it while it's entrusted to me. There are *SO* many verses that I've read in the past couple months that have hit me in a completely different way. The study itself was pretty good, but the time spent discussing it with our group was where I was really encouraged. How awesome to share in the struggles and triumphs with a group of women who are earnestly seeking God! We laughed a lot and shed some tears, too. We've wrapped up this book, but will be starting another in the First Place 4 Health series in January, and I am really looking forward to it. To go along with that, I've had several people remark that they just don't have the willpower. Well, I can unequivocally state that I DON'T EITHER!!! But it's not about me - it's about HIM. I can't do this by myself - but He doesn't expect me to. My Loving Father is there to hold me up when I'm weak, and guide me back when I make a bad decision. I'm so grateful for His grace and mercies that are new every morning...

I have a lot further to go. My clothes are fitting differently, but I don't see a big difference when I look in the mirror. It's not like I've gone from a size 8 to a size 4, know what I mean?! And while I've dropped a substantial amount in the past 12 weeks, I also know that realistically the weight loss will probably not continue at this rate. Logically I'm OK with that, but I know that emotionally it will be a struggle. There will be weeks that the scale doesn't budge; I'm trying not to focus so much on this single number, and think about the bigger picture of health. Every day that I provide proper nutrition for my body means that I'm better equipped for whatever mission God has for me. Every rep with the dumbbells (my mega 2 pound ones!!) means stronger arms to reach out to those around me. The exercise part is still hard for me. I don't like getting all hot and sweaty - I like sitting on the couch and watching TV! Many of the exercises that "experts" recommend for toning involve movements that the orthopedic doctor specifically told me to avoid, but I've managed to find some exercises that I can do. And hey, at least I can now put my pants on without leaning on something for support!

Yes, I still have a long journey ahead of me. I know I've commented before that I don't want to turn this into a weight loss blog, but I do want to share what's going on in my life. Weight is major issue for me, and I know it will be a life-long struggle. Thankfully I am not on this journey alone.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Cor 10:31

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's new?

You may remember that I splurged on a bottle of nail polish when I lost ten pounds.

Clearly 22 pounds lost required something larger.

How’s this? Does it make my butt look big?
Seriously, though, we’ve been debating about a family vehicle for awhile now. We purchased our Passat Wagon shortly after our daughter was born; it already had 70K on it, and it recently broke 110K. It also needed some things repaired - nothing major, but it was still going to be around 2 grand. At what point do you stop sinking $ into an old vehicle and decide to put that toward something newer? We also had an F-250 that we no longer needed, but it had some major quirks, so we weren’t necessarily excited about selling it ourselves (we had visions of someone throwing a brick through the window 2 weeks later).

Anyway, we set off on Saturday morning to test drive some vehicles and just get a better feel for what was available in our area. The used market is really crazy down here - they don’t depreciate much since there is such a high demand for vehicles over the border - and many people told us they’d actually done better buying new due to dealer incentives, etc. We really wanted something that seated at least 6, too, so that when we have a couple visiting we can all fit in one vehicle. We’d done quite a bit of research online, so had essentially narrowed it down to a few models. Mitsubishi wasn’t even on our radar initially, but turns out they’re better priced than a lot of other comparable models, plus high safety ratings and a great warranty package.

Long story short, we ended up buying an Outlander with lots of shiny bells & whistles, with 2 vehicles as a trade-in. I know it’s going to serve our family well and we’ll be driving it for many years. It’s strange to think that we no longer have a VW, though. You see, we’ve always had at least 1. Our first real date was in a Jetta, driving to a church event then Olive Garden for coffee. Bought a newer Jetta after graduation, and drove it off on our honeymoon (a cross-country trip from Montana to Pennsylvania. Wahoo!) We commuted in to work together for about five years. We brought our babies home from the hospital. We packed up our basic belongings (after filling a moving truck, of course :) and drove from Pennsylvania down to South Texas to start a new chapter. ALL in a Volkswagen. It truly feels like the end of an era.

In other news, we sent the kiddos out to scavenge for sweets last weekend, dressed in appropriate attire of course ;) I got in on the fun, too, and raided my closet for every clashing print I could find (I also had black & white toile pants on) At least the mob scene in our neighborhood was not unexpected this year; I gave out my 600 Dum Dums in about 30 minutes, and probably could have gone through another 1000. I'm tellin' you, it's crazy!!

I saw the orthopedic doctor on Thursday. I’d had the MRI of my left knee done a few weeks ago, and my primary doctor had filled me in on the basics and I was expecting to schedule surgery to clean out the damaged cartilage. Things didn’t go exactly as expected, though; when the doctor initially came in, his first comment was, “I thought you’d be older” - and then wondered how many in my family had RA. Huh?!?! Yes, it turns out that I have some fairly severe arthritis in there (to quote the dr: I have the knees of a 60 YO), and based on the description of pain, that seems to be the major issue rather than the torn meniscus. Since I’m not even 40, he’s not in a hurry to do a joint replacement… but it’s only a matter of time. I got a cortisone shot as a first step, and we’ll see how long that lasts. They’re generally good for 3-6 months, then there’s also a second injection that they can try that’s an artificial lubricant. Next step would be the laparoscopic procedure to clean out the joint before finally replacing it entirely. Whew. Part of me is happy to know exactly what’s been going on (and obviously I’m not imagining the pain!) but I’m not thrilled to discover that essentially we’re talking a degenerative condition… I’m supposed to avoid stairs, running, lunges, kneeling, etc whenever possible. Walking is OK, and the injection did allow me to stroll around car lots this weekend without excruciating pain.

Well, I think that pretty much sums up the past couple weeks. Yesterday was also my hubby’s birthday, so we took our new vehicle over to South Padre and had a nice little family celebration. He is still working in Mexico several days each week, and in case you haven’t heard, the violence has been escalating in this area. There was a major shootout on Friday night (the military took out one of the drug cartel kingpins) with nearly 50 dead, and frankly it doesn’t seem as though the issues will be resolved anytime soon. We’d really appreciate your prayers for his continued safety.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Funny

Wasn't planning on anything today, but then our son came home from school with a little goodie bag. Every now and then I get a vivid reminder of the different culture we are in now... and I couldn't help but crack up at the "Salt & Lemon Hot Powder" that's considered a treat :) He was very excited to try it, but I made him wait so I could get a picture first - and of course had the camera ready when he actually ate it. Sometimes a picture is truly worth a thousand words!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nesting

Just in case you live under a rock and aren't already soaking up the wisdom of the Nester, you really should check it out. This month she has a whole series about a less messy nest. LOVE the way she hides her hubby's tchotchkes, and today's post about reasons really resonated with me, too. I've moaned (and groaned and analyzed and whined...) about what a struggle maintaining order is for me. I have too much stuff, and have a hard time parting with it. I cannot imagine what a joy it would be to simply invite someone over without an hour of crazed pick-up-and-stash-time. That's sad. And I hate seeing my children following in my footsteps. Anyway, good information as well as encouragement to be had over there.

Oh, and it's all HER fault that this is now hanging on my wall. I've been wanting to make that photo into a canvas (because really, how goofy would a frame look when they're already holding one?!) and the link over to Canvas People convinced me to just do it. I'm satisfied with the results, now just need to rearrange the other stuff on my wall to group it in a better way. In the meantime, though, it's going to hang there while I focus on clearing my kitchen counter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding Little Pleasures

My friend Amy posted some fun "Top Tens" and I decided to play along. In my quest toward health, I've become aware that many of my pleasures revolve around food. On one hand, that's fine - our bodies require fuel, and there's no reason the refueling process can't be enjoyable. On the other hand, constantly indulging is bad. Duh. Anyway, here are some things I've been savoring the past weeks that don't involve food:

  1. Backyard wildlife. We have such an amazing variety of birds and insects down here! I particularly love watching all the dragonflies. And little lizards climbing around on flowers are cool, too.
  2. Family games. Our kids love games - and now that they're getting older, it's really fun to see them thinking about strategy. Also a nice way to sneak in lessons about winning and losing. Aggravation is a current fave, and I recently picked up a Lego game that I think we'll be trying out this weekend.
  3. Quiet. With both kids in school now, I have the amazing luxury of HOURS all to myself. No squabbles, no requests for help, no TV noise. And while I often do have music playing, I find that I'm loving the silence, too.
  4. Happy noises. The quiet makes me appreciate these even more! Hearing the giggles of anticipation as the kids plot an attack on Daddy. Laughing uproariously at goofy jokes (or shows like America's Funniest Home videos, which our son dubbed "Fall Down" when he was about 3). Even hearing my hubby complete a simple home task with the help of our son. Priceless.
  5. Reading material. Whether a good novel (just finished the third Camel Club book by David Baldacci, and am wondering when he'll be writing another) or a magazine with beautiful photographs, I so enjoy holding these in my hands and getting lost in the pages, even if it's just for 3 minutes. Don't think I could ever be converted to an e-reader (but if anyone would like to buy me a Kindle I'd be willing to give it a go ;)
  6. Open windows. The nights are just now getting cool enough that I can open our windows around 8 PM or so. As much as I love air conditioning, nothing can beat a breeze blowing through a window. And I would also like to add that I'm thankful for screens that keep the pests out!
  7. Exercise. This is definitely a work in progress. I cannot say that I just love the sense of exhilaration when I completed the marathon (HA!) but I am learning to appreciate the invigoration, the feeling of "aliveness" as I move. Maybe that endorphin rush that those experts talk about really does exist...
  8. A completed task. I have been making a conscious effort to stop for a moment when something is done (i.e. the laundry is all folded) and relish the sense of accomplishment. There is a neverending list of things to be done, but I'm trying not to constantly focus on (and whine about) those tasks - a bit of positivity is muy bueno!
  9. Friendship. It's taken some time to establish bonds down here, and it's just made me realize just what a blessing friends truly are. I am thankful to say that I'm married to my best friend and we can talk about anything... he also realizes that I need girlfriends, and encourages me to stay connected, whether we're talking on the phone or meeting up for a bowl of soup somewhere.
  10. My relationship with Christ. I'm just so humbled by and grateful for my Savior. He died for miserable, pathetic me and wants to be part of my day-to-day life. As I delve into the Word and spend time in prayer, I can feel the relationship deepening and I'm so thankful for His presence. In some ways it's disheartening because as the layers of my life are peeled back, I see just how sinful I am -- but I know that He is there to strengthen and comfort me as those issues are addressed. I pray that I can reflect just a bit more of His glory each day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An unusual birthday


We'd purchased Webkinz for both kids this summer - they each picked out a "native" animal when we were out in Montana. The idea was that it would be a fun reminder of the trip, plus we could use online Webkinz time as an incentive for them. It's proven to work pretty well overall, but our son has had an especially tough couple weeks, and while he can still earn time, he has to wait until the weekend to redeem those minutes. Well, his bear's birthday happens to be October 4, and so we told him we'd have a party for him if he reached certain behavior goals. Goals met, which meant I prepared the a meal based on an imaginary critter's request :) Anyway, last night we dined on spaghetti, and had pumpkin bars for dessert (hooray for me - he'd originally requested chocolate cupcakes and somehow I was able to convince him these would be better!) I added the "A" (for Andy, of course!) with some nasty Betty Crocker icing, and the evening was deemed a success. The things we do for our kids...

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Taste of Fall


I baked some scrumptious carrot pumpkin bars yesterday afternoon. This is the original that I based it on, and here's my modified version if you're interested. They really are delicious - moist and sweet enough that you feel like you're getting a treat, but a high "good for you factor," too :)

I've eaten two today already. Tonight I'll be packaging up the rest in ziplocs and banishing them to the freezer...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Funny

Seriously, there are no words.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ponderings - with pictures!



I know some of these I'd already posted on Facebook, but thought I'd actually get around to providing a few pics of real life at our house :)
  • Earlier this month, Hermine was a little tropical depression that we weren't paying much attention to - and then overnight it worked its way up to Hurricane Status. We pretty much had a direct hit from Alex back in July, but no "real" damage on our property. Well, Hermine left her mark by taking a tree down in our backyard, landing less than a foot from a large window. So thankful that it didn't damage our house - and also praising God because it was a tree we wanted to take down anyway, and this method is much cheaper ;)
  • I'm still missing many things about Pennsylvania, including the hydrangeas planted all along the back of the house. I broke down and actually bought some fresh ones a couple weeks ago, and now have this dried one hanging in my kitchen.
  • Our daughter is fully recovered, and thankfully no one else got sick. The day that she was home from school (and was up in her room playing Polly Pockets) she decided that her hair really should be more lustrous, so found some Vaseline (which I didn't even know we had!) and proceeded to add it to her hair. Shiny? Yes. Attractive? Not so much. I googled for the best solution, and most sites suggested using cornstarch. It took several treatments, but her hair is back to normal now.
  • I'm so thankful to have a handy hubby! I have a closet (past my laundry hallway) that I use for extra food storage. The shelves were quite far apart, though, so I would stack things up, they'd fall over, I'd get frustrated when I couldn't find something so would just buy another can/bag of whatever even though I *knew* I had it somewhere. Well, this past weekend we emptied it all out and he added extra shelves for me! Hooray! It's really full right now (but hey, that just means less to buy in the next month or two!) but it feels so great to have it organized.
  • Piles. I hate 'em. This is what my kitchen table looked like last night. There were the few remaining items to be put away, combined with fliers, school info, bills to be paid, etc. Organization is such a struggle for me, and I know all the shtuff stresses me out. I'm trying very hard to reduce the flow coming into the house (removing our name from mailing lists and really thinking about purchases rather than impulsively throwing things into the cart, for starters) but there's no way I can stop it all. Continuing to struggle in this area, but making progress.
  • Lastly, this is my snazzy new polish. Nope, it wasn't an impulse buy - it was my celebration for losing 10 pounds! (much better choice than ice cream, LOL) Silly, yes, but my toenails now project a bit of sassiness... and well, it was on sale AND I had a coupon :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Household Happenings

Daughter is home from school today. She picked up a stomach bug and I'm now praying that no one else is "blessed" with it (although it would probably be helpful with my weight loss, LOL) She is disappointed to be missing school - a very different reaction than her brother would have had, I assure you. Speaking of him, he's had a rough couple weeks due to his behavior at school. Would really appreciate your prayers for wisdom as to how to handle that issue - we keep trying different things and so far haven't found anything particularly effective.

I went back to the doctor yesterday to follow up on my knee situation (now that the heart issues have all been addressed...) It's actually doing much better now, so at this point I'm choosing not to have an MRI or anything else done; I've had quite enough tests done for awhile, thankyouverymuch. It's still bothering me a bit, but I've been able to do some low impact exercises, and I know that strengthening it - plus losing weight - will help greatly.

Speaking of losing weight, I'm still doing it :) I'm using sparkpeople.com and am loving all the tracking tools. I really like that I can go beyond just calories to recommended ranges of carbs, protein, fat, etc. I felt like that was one aspect where Weight Watchers fell short, and I get downright giddy over a week's graph where I can see that I stayed in my ranges on everything. Yeehaw! And I've also been surprised on a few things - most notably sodium. I don't add salt when I cook, and generally don't use a lot of convenience foods. Well, let's just say that I was well over 2,000 mg daily (usual recommendation is that the gen population doesn't go over 2,300 and those with high BP stay under 1,500 - my doc said 2,000 is fine for me). A single meal out or a processed meal and I was pretty much done for the day (canned soup and those freezer meals are ridiculous!) Anyway, I'm doing much better now, and it's really forcing me to truly cook from scratch, which is obviously healthier in many ways. And while I have been spending a bit more on some foods, overall spending on groceries is actually down.

An even bigger part of the "self-improvement" journey, though, has been focusing on my relationship with Christ. I had let my commitment to daily prayer & Bible study slip, and have been really re-energized by digging into the Word. God is *so* Good!! Additionally, we've been getting more connected in the church, which again has been such a blessing. I'll be helping with the kids on Sunday - pray for them as well as me! :) And seriously, I truly would ask for prayer. I feel like I'm lacking wisdom in so many areas of life, specifically in my roles of being a wife, mother & friend. When should I offer advice, and when do I just need to keep my mouth closed?

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life
Proverbs 3:5-8, The Message
(I know I usually stopped at verse 6 or 7 in the passage - I'm now loving vs 8, too!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taking a look into my heart...

Oh, the stories I could tell! ;) I know things have been pretty quiet here on the blog, and there have been all sorts of reasons, some of them fairly dramatic.

Back on August 23 (first day of school!) I had scheduled a doctor appointment for myself, specifically to check out a sore knee. While there, my pulse & blood presure were both high - I knew that life had been exceptionally crazy and I didn't think much of it. The doctor was concerned and we did an EKG. After confirming that I was *not* having a heart attack, I was told to monitor my BP for a week, plus come back for a follow-up EKG. Did so, and there was a minor irregularity; the doctor recommended that I have an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound). My first thought was, "Wow, I'm sure thankful that we have good insurance so we don't have to pay for all this!" Obviously, I was not overly concerned. Anyway, I had the test done, and received a call from my doctor on Friday, Sept 3. There was an abnormality with my aorta that could potentially lead to aortic dissection; I would need need a CT scan to get a better look at my heart.

I was still relatively calm after talking to my doctor... until I googled aortic dissection. I then sat in front of my computer sobbing. I called my hubby and couldn't even get a complete sentence out. I tried to pray and just kept breaking down. I grabbed my Bible, and looked up "broken hearted" in the concordance. Read a lot from Psalms. Calmed down and just keep praying. On a "perfect God timing" note, the Bible study that I had started the prior week had run out of books and the shipment was late. I had picked up my book late on Thursday afternoon and had planned to start reading that night, but it didn't happen. On Friday afternoon, I pulled out my book and started reading:

"No matter how strong our bodies, minds and emotions may appear, unless we have spiritual tenacity and resolve, we will not be able to run the course God has laid out before us... It is one thing to say that Christ has first place in our life; it is quite another to put those words into practice... During this week, we are going to learn more about Jesus, the One who is altogether faithful and completely worthy of our trust."

The scripture reading was from Colossians 1 - verse 17 in particular jumped out at me: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Amen! Anyway, it was a very emotional weekend. I just kept praying and reading Scripture and trying really hard not to think about the logistics of recovering from heart surgery or motherless children. Sunday morning, the chorus to the last song had the line, "What would You do with my heart?" and it was such a challenge to me - Was I truly letting Him have it all?!

I had the CT on Wednesday, and then had to wait to hear results... Finally received the call on Friday morning, and the doctor let me know that everything was fine. I don't know if there was a mistake on the echo or if I've experienced miraculous healing, but I do know that God is in control of it all. And while I *know* this, the events of the past few weeks have provided a very vivid lesson that I pray I do not easily forget. I'm excited to continue the Bible study and see what other lessons God has in store for me.

And on another note, I have lost 6 pounds in the last 2 1/2 weeks!! Let me tell you, committing to eat healthier has been a challenge, and it's only through HIM that I was able to get through the past week without inhaling every food in our house...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Funny


Ran across this through a friend of a friend on Facebook, and I thought it was too funny not to share

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Week...

So here we are. I've dropped the kids off for their second week of school. After one week, our daughter is loving it (and has already surprised the teacher on several occasions with her advanced knowledge). Our son is doing OK and seems to be connecting better with friends this year (I'm still specifically praying for a new best friend for him, as his moved to Vermont this summer; it was a bitter pill to swallow as he still very much misses his friends in PA)

Me? Well, I'm adapting to the new routine. With this new stage in life, I was wanting to streamline our house (yes, it's an ongoing process), get involved in a Bible study, get better connected with some women and get healthier. I had considered joining Weight Watchers again simply for some accountability (I used their program about 9 years ago, but within 2 years had slipped back into old habits. Had joined about 2 years ago but life was crazy and I just wasn't committed enough). Anyway, a few weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine and she mentioned that she was going to be co-leading a First Place 4 Health group. Basically, this is a Christian program that is more about health than weight loss - but obviously healthy weight is a big component. It's being held at the church where I attended MOPS last year (no longer involved) - and it starts today. Definitely an answer to prayer, and I'm excited to see what God has in store for me.

So is this going to become a weight loss blog? Definitely not!! :) If you recall, I had started 2010 with the goal of implementing a new "good" habit each month. Great idea... but I didn't do so well. I *need* face-to-face accountability (at least at this stage) and I know this group will really help. While my health is still decent at this point, I know that I will have more energy, feel less achey, etc. at a healthier weight. And well, if I don't make changes, with my family history it's pretty much a sure thing that I will end up with diabetes. Plus, I'd rather help our kids establish healthy patterns now and save them issues down the road. This was our breakfast on Friday - I'd heard about the idea of "green smoothies" (more here and here) and finally decided to give it a try. Our son wasn't so sure about it when he saw me add the spinach, but he took 1 sip and quite happily announced that he couldn't taste the leaves at all ;) So yes, I'll be looking for ways to incorporate more healthful things into our diet - but that means more veggies and less refined foods (although we don't do a ton of that, there is still room for improvement) as opposed to using artificial sweetener in everything. And yes, portion control, too. I will probably will end up sharing parts of my journey, so you've been warned!

In other news, we're also getting plugged in at our new church. Hubby has taken over the sound ministry (oh well, I enjoyed sitting with him during service while it lasted ;) and I'm going to helping out with the children's programs. They're going to be starting up some ladies programs in a few weeks that I'm pretty excited about (a Bible study as well as a weekly craft group - yeehaw!). God is so good! I've even been taking another friend with me to the service for the past couple weeks, and I'm excited to see God at work in her, too.

We've lived here for just over 13 months now, and I must admit it's finally starting to feel like "home." Ahhhhhh.

Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy. Mark 12:30, Msg
That's our memory verse for this week with First Place. I memorized the NIV version, with the more familiar "heart, soul, mind, strength" components, but I just love the different spin the Message provides!

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School


And there is my 2nd grader and Kindergartener. Guess who's more excited? :)
(And yes, I know I need to wash my car!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Good Fear?

School starts on Monday - and for the first time ever, I will be sending both of my children off. My daughter is excited (and much more ready than her brother was) but I can also tell that she's a bit scared, apprehensive about all the unkowns.

Me? My emotions are all over the place. The selfish part of me is looking forward to having some "free" hours in my day, but another part of me wants to somehow freeze these precious moments. The Mama Bear wants to prevent the tears resulting from playground spats, frustration when a new school topic just isn't sinking in, and the loss of innocence from "learning" things from other kids... and while I know that we could cocoon them a bit longer, it's time to let go (just a bit ;)

This article over on girltalk really spoke to my heart. The world is a fearful place, but focusing on those concerns isn't going to get me anywhere (except possibly to the doctor for anti-anxiety meds!). God is always the right answer :)

The Fear-of-God builds up confidence, and makes a world safe for your children (Prov 14:26, Msg)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Magazine Winner - and zoo trip

Well, obviously everyone is super excited about a subscription to Cooking Light. At least I don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings ;) So without further ado, I'm happy to announce that the winner is #1 (yes, randomly chosen from *all* the entries). Moving on...

We were crazy enough to ignore the heat warning yesterday and go to the zoo. I had planned the excursion with a friend, and I must admit that if there hadn't been another family involved I definitely would have stayed home and soaked up the A/C... but despite the sweating we had a ball. We laughed at monkeys, petted goats, chased chickens (and no, there is not one growing out of my son's head :), and just generally hung out. The zoo has just built a new kid's play area that also has three misting stations, which were definitely the highlight of the day. Afterwards, we went to the zoo-themed McD's and guzzled Powerade. Hooray for free refills! I left my camera home, but here are a couple pics courtesy of my friend:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Vacation Videos

Come, have a seat on the couch while I set up the slide projector (cue evil laughter...)

Seriously, though, I still haven't gotten through all the pics, but did want to share these couple videos. Sorry about the wind noise on them - nothing I could do about that.

The first one was shot at the campground just outside Red Lodge, MT. Our daughter had gone to the bathroom, and was there a long time. I went to check on her, and thankfully had the camera in my pocket. Obviously she liked the acoustics of the facilities - and doesn't it make for great background music for the majestic scenery?!



This second one is when we were at Old Faithful. The kids were both excited to see the "big" one - and their reactions (fast forward to the end) are hysterical. And yes, that's our son yelling, "It's gonna blow!" at the beginning. Classic.



Later!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Spreading the Magazine Love :)

Clearly, this is why I NEED so many bloomin' magazines. How funny is that?! Can't imagine it's exactly safe (those glossy covers slide way too easily) but a fun thought nevertheless.

In the meantime, though, I *am* planning to renew my Cooking Light subscription - and today I received a "2 for 1" offer.... So, who out there would like to receive a monthly burst of food inspiration? Leave me a comment, and I'll draw a winner next Monday!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Helloooooo!

I have good intentions, and even several partially written posts. But the days seem to be passing quickly - the kids start school soon, and we've been quite busy (doctor's appointments, church events, family water fights, arguments in the aisle at Target over colors of school supplies, etc.) I still have hundreds of pictures from our month-long jaunt to weed through, but realistically probably won't be getting around to posting anything until the kids are in school... I keep telling myself that I'll somehow have more *time* once that happens. Realistically, I already have a planned project list that could probably keep me occupied through 2013.

A few random blurbs:
  • We ran errands this morning, and were gone over 5 hours. Ridiculous!
  • On the way home, my car thermometer read 109. Also ridiculous!!!
  • I'm really trying hard to savor these next two weeks, but frankly I'm quite ready to hand my children off to the school for a few hours a day.
  • I know that many families are very passionate about homeschooling. We are not one of them.
  • I really missed good tortillas while we were away.
  • I think we finally have a church home. Not perfect (obviously) but it's so wonderful to be establishing connections within a church family once again.
  • I tend to over-think things. More action needed!
  • I'm glad that White Collar is back on.
  • I really need to mop my kitchen floor.

Now that I've gotten all that out of the way, it's time to spring into action and get a few more things accomplished. Later! ;)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Home.

Ahhhh. I cannot convey the true depth of my appreciation for home.

Our mattress. The kitchen (where I'm already familiar with all its quirks). My high-capacity washing machine. Cable TV and good internet service :)

Seriously, I had a wonderful time in Montana, and we made some wonderful memories as a family... but there's something sublime about coming HOME.

A ton to catch up on (indcluding over 2000 posts in Google Reader - sorry if I happened to miss a gem that you posted) but I hope to get to pics later this week. Lots of fun to share!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hello from Montana!

I'm currently sitting in a coffee shop in Billings, checking up on the "outside" world. (My parents are on dial-up, and none of their neighbors have unsecured networks... bummer!) In case you haven't heard, Hurrican Alex hit Mexico/South Texas, and our home was definitely affected. I'm up in Montana with the kids visiting my parents, and my hubby will be flying up in 2 weeks - I'm thankful that he was there to prepare our house, but it was hard not being able to physically assist. Lots of prayers went up, though! There was lots of rain and wind (and continues to be) but it seems that all is OK. Huuuuuge sigh of relief.

We are definitely enjoying the cooler temps here. I've done a bit of shopping and strolling down Memory Lane :) We're planning to celebrate the 4th by going to a parade, then watching fireworks. My kiddos will be thrilled! Then we're pulling out on Monday afternoon for 2 days of camping - should be fun!

Don't know when I'll be posting again, but I promise to share some pics from Big Sky Country soon...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Getting back to "normal"

...whatever that is!

It's officially summertime at the D House. Memorial Day weekend was spent with family, playing tourist in Port Isabel, swimming, and even a bit of fishing. (I have pics, but haven't tackled the photo uploading/editing process on this new computer. Soon, soon!) We're settling back into a bit of a routine - a challenge since I no longer get to turn our son over to the elementary school for a chunk o' the day ;) Seriously, though, I think I'm nearly caught up and "recovered." The kids definitely sensed my emotional state as they've both been very well-behaved these past couple days and providing lots of hugs for me. Nothing better than impromptu kid squeezes & exclamations of, "You're the best mom in the whole world!" to cheer a person up. (On a side note, who knew spending $10 at Burger King was all it took to earn the Top Mommy crown?!?)

Still a lot more projects I'm hoping to tackle this month. I did manage to paint both the dining area & kitchen in May, and already have paint for two more rooms. Realistically, though, I don't think I'll be doing that until September; I want to work on general organization this summer so that things are running more smoothly when school starts back up in the fall. Now that we've been here for 10 months (how on earth did that happen?!) I have a pretty good idea of what's working & what isn't and am ready to switch around storage areas and such. And yes, still more decluttering.... there's still too much stuff in this household!!

The next two weeks include VBS for the kiddos at 2 different churches (I have been known to mock parents who "use" these programs this way. No more!), I have a couple of follow-up doctor & dentist appointments, and yes - more company arrives :)

And just a forewarning - I've been thinking a lot about hospitality these past couple weeks. Imagine that! You'll probably be seeing a post about that sometime next week.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Whew...

It's been a fuuuuuuull few weeks, and I'm ready for a break.

I used to think that one day hubby and I should open our own bed & breakfast.

I now think that's a dreadful idea.

We've had nonstop company for over 4 weeks now, and I am done. I am sick of having people in "my" space. I want to stagger into the kitchen in the morning to start the coffee without thinking about what I'm wearing. I want to cook smaller meals. And do less laundry.

Don't get me wrong - I've had a lovely time and am truly grateful that we had this opportunity. And I'm also looking forward to another round of company in a few weeks.

It probably doesn't help that all of this coincided with end of school activities, stomach viruses, dental work (ouch!), setting up new electronics, church heartache and work-related craziness for my hubby.

This girl is very ready for a couple do-nothing days. I specifically have one set aside next week because I knew I would be drained. I'm downright giddy over the idea of not making conversation with anyone, and I'm even planning to provide fast food for my kids' bellies that day. Bliss.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Funny

Wasn't planning one this week, but I thought the post-dinner conversation was worth sharing :)

Son: Daddy, why do you have a beard?
Dad: Because I like it. Do you want one?
Son: No, I think they're ugly.
Dad: What?!
Son: (giggling) But I wouldn't say that to you.
Dad: But you just did!
Son: Well, I won't say it a lot because that's rude.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Week in Review

Sorry I've been so quiet - much mayhem at our house. Setting up a new TV/Stereo system. Guests. Vomiting. Reboxing 80 pounds of stereo components due a faulty amp, and then getting the run-around from UPS. Completion of daughter's ballet classes. Visit to the ear specialist with our son (we're not supposed to let him swim the rest of the summer - yeah, right!!!!!) Killing the stinkin' flies that seem determined to overrun our house. Consolidating the hard drives on old computer so we can get the new one set up. Chasing down computer cables that evidently aren't stocked within 200 miles of this place. Cooking. Laundry. Continued relational challenges. Tears of frustration. Prayers. Fearfulness when hearing about the anticipated miniwar taking place this weekend in Mexico. More prayers.

O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Psalm 63:1-3, Amplified

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Are you *that* woman?!

Admit it... if you were raised in the church, you probably have heard a lot about the paragon of virtue in Proverbs 31. I must admit that I have been guilty of an internal groan when I learn a speaker will be using that passage. There's a great post over here about the other woman in Proverbs - you know, the naughty one that Solomon repeatedly warns against. I know I found myself convicted with several of the probing questions.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Funny


I do enjoy British humor, and Mr. Bean is no exception. Here's how he'd look as a Na'vi - lots more silliness here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Instead of worrying - pray!!

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse... Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Philippians 4:4-9, The Message


I know God is in control of all situations. He will create beauty from our messes, and His Plans will not be thwarted. But the fact remains that we humans do indeed muck things up, sadly sometimes even "in His name."

Please continue to pray for us. We are once again searching for a church. My heart aches.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I just wanna get this out...

Bear with me through my random rants.

  • Jesus did NOT promise shiny cars, comfy retirement funds & huge houses. Just because you are in His will does not mean that you will suddenly be on Easy Street.*
    "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]" John 16:33, Amplified
  • No single child is perfect, or the absolute best at everything that he or she attempts. Constantly telling your child that they are is doing them a huge disservice. Yes, parents need to build their children up, but the kids also need to learn to deal with disappointment. This lesson is much easier learned at a young age.
  • Just because I want to be your friend does *not* necessarily mean I want to be your customer. Feel free to share the info once, but if I politely tell you I'm not interested, please do not continue to bombard me with brochures, invitations to "opportunity nights," and emails with the latest specials.
  • I like to plan my schedule. If you provide a list of dates, I will transfer them to our calendar at the earliest opportunity. If that schedule changes, please communicate!
  • If you ask my input, I will provide my two cents worth. I will do my best to answer truthfully, in love. Yes, I do think tact is important. In return, I ask that you demonstrate a degree of maturity and respond in a dignified fashion even if you don't like what I have to say.
  • Arguing with someone's facebook status isn't going to change anyone's mind.
  • If you invite me to something and I decline, I don't need to provide further justification. I am an introvert, and desperately crave downtime. Just because I don't have an activity planned doesn't mean I want one.

Deep breath. It's been a crazy couple weeks here. I'm still developing friendships and have been blown away by some of the crazy antics. Admittedly, it's a small percentage of the population, but these folks can be exhausting. As an aside, how do you deal with someone who seems to have no grasp of social norms? When someone stops by and I say, "No, this isn't a good time," I shouldn't have to physically stop them from my entering our house. And how can one politely respond to ridiculously personal questions, or stop the flow of info that you definitely don't want to know...

*On a side note, I just have to share a little "funny." I was shopping for a gift at Ross last week, and came across a stack of plaques with Biblical quotes. One in particular just didn't seem right - Job 22:21. "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you." Seriously, a quote from one of Job's friends?! Obviously someone took that one way out of context - how about reading chapter 42, when God responds to Eliphaz. I think verse 7 sums it up pretty well: "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right..." And the sad thing is that I'm sure someone will buy that and hang it proudly on their wall.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gardenias


I truly wish I could provide smell-o-vision for this post. We have gardenias planted right next to our back patio... and when you open the back door, you are hit with a wall of the most amazing scent ever. Yet another thing I'm loving about our new home :)

And just for fun -here's a little tour of our backyard, shot this evening. It was nearly 100 here today, so the pool felt great

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Funny

A True Friend

When you are sad, I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew!

When you are blue, I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

When you smile, I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.

When you're scared, we will high tail it out of there.

When you are worried, I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining, ya big baby!!!!

When you are confused, I will use little words.

When you are sick, stay away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have....

When you fall, I'll pick you up and dust you off-- after I laugh my rear off!!

This is my oath. I pledge it to the end.
"Why?" you may ask--
Because you are my FRIEND!

This made me smile - and also made me thankful for my true friends. You know who you are :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Special Delivery

A few weeks ago, the Nester shared a great product from Dayspring - Book Crops! I really liked them, and entered the giveaway. Didn't win, but took advantage of the discount code she shared a few days later and ordered these two. (Yes, I know I'm trying to simplify and yet I'm ordering more stuff)

Yesterday afternoon, I received that awful phone call shortly before I went to school to pick up our son. I took my Bible with me, and spent the time sitting in the pick-up line reading and praying. When I got home, there was a box sitting on the front porch. Opened it up, and got a little teary eyed as I unpacked these.

For the scriptures are indeed the living word of God - and these words were balm to my soul yesterday. I don't need to understand; I just need to trust HIM. The Great, Unchanging God of Creation is in charge, and I can rest in that promise.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
He's the one who will keep you on track.
Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prayer Request

After today's earlier crazy clothes post, I'm back with a request for prayer. As I'd shared a couple weeks ago, we are so excited to have finally found a church home... Well, I just received a phone call and there's a major issue (going back to something that took place before we even visited) and basically the church is splitting. Wow. It's not over something silly like carpet colors, and I'm just shocked to be caught up in something like this. Hubby and I will be praying about how we fit into the picture, and we'd really appreciate your prayers not only for us but for the body of believers, that we can all be drawn closer to God and earnestly seek HIS will.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. I Peter 2:1-5, 9-12

Do you feel pretty?

Cuz frankly I usually don't. I'm not exactly supermodel material, but more what you'd call thick ;) Even as a kid, I was always the "sturdy" one in the bunch. And while it was hard at times, I was generally content to be the smart and/or funny one. And I'm still OK with that... but I'm not OK with rationalizing unhealthy habits. My body is God's temple (I Cor 6:19-20) and I need to honor that. I am eating better (specifically watching portion control - I generally eat decent stuff, just too much of it) and have been working out 3x a week. I have a loooooong way to go, but am already excited about the changes I'm seeing in my body. I have two active kidlets that I'm trying to keep up with, plus I want to have some energy left for my hubby at the end of the day...

So where am I going with all this? As part of my down in the lumpy-dumps routine, I generally just threw on whatever clothing was clean. Now I wasn't one to hang out in sweats and stained t-shirts, but I had fallen into the mommy cliche of denim on the bottom and a simple knit top whenever we went out. About a year ago I decided I needed to kick things up a notch and began picking up some new wardrobe pieces - namely accessories. Basically, I made it my goal to have 1 accessory on every time we stepped out of the house. Kind of silly, but it really does make a difference. That turquoise v-neck t-shirt with tan capris looks much more impressive with a funky necklace. Or a patterned scarf. Or even chandelier earrings!

I'm particularly into necklaces these days - and I'm amazed at how many places I can find them. Payless Shoes has some good ones. I have a nice stash from etsy, including scrabble pendants and even some gorgeous glass pieces. And how about Kohl's? I picked up 2 necklaces there last week (from the junior department, no less) for less than $15 total. I have the mama bird necklace from The Vintage Pearl, and I get compliments on it (and questions) whenever I wear it. I love earrings, too, but have to be careful with those as I tend to get itchy from the cheap metal; Simply Whispers to the rescue! Target also carries a decent selection of hypoallergenic stuff, and I don't mind spending $5 on a pair of earrings that I know I'll only wear for a year or two.

I recently discovered Shari Braendel, and I like her down to earth approach - sort of a What Not To Wear from a Christian perspective. She's recently posted spring wardrobe ideas, and I appreciated the visuals. I also like this slideshow of fashion mistakes - fit really does matter! I still don't have a supermodel body, but I am trying to dress a bit better and be mindful of the image I present.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peeking In


  • Wanna know what I've been up to? Well, I've cooked a total of 4 pounds of beans this past week - they're now divided into 2 & 3 cup containers and stashed in the freezer, ready whenever I am. Canned beans run 62¢ each down here, so this is a substantial savings.
  • After I finished taxes, Daughter happily took over the computer so she could play Chuzzle.
  • The brown tile floors are not what I personally would have chosen, and I decided that a bit of shine would probably make me dislike them less... turns out I was right! Amazing what some "advanced polymer technology" and a dollar store mop can do. Oh, and a some good old womanpower, too. The entire living room floor has officially been done - yes, every bit of furniture was moved, and the floor got TWO coats. Took me a couple days to get in done (between waiting for stuff to dry and having hubby help move the entertainment center) and I'm quite proud of the finished results.
  • And finally, I would just like to say that allergies are kicking my hiney this year. I've had minor issues ever since having kids, but this Texas spring evidently has some pollens that cause my sinuses to seize up while simultaneously making me teary-eyed and generally irritable. I also seem to have come down with a bit of a cold, so the combo is downright nasty.
I realized that I have yet to share a full picture of the living room - so here 'tis! I know the lighting isn't exactly ideal; hard to get a good pic with so many windows. You don't see the entertainment center (would be on the left), and there's a kitchen passthrough/breakfast bar thingee behind the couch in the foreground (it's a 2' x 4' window with a counter that juts into the room 16"). The window treatments were all left behind, and while I can't say I adore the colors, they work OK (and I *do* like the general style) You can see a bit of the green accent wall here by the fireplace, which was originally the same orange as the drapes. Eww! And that cool trunk? Well, that was an fabulous find at Sam's last week - a friend and I decided to head down because we both needed a few things, and this just happened to catch my eye as we were passing the furniture aisle. It was actually a set of three (the other 2 are currently stacked in the front room, as we have yet to decided where they'll permanently reside) and the last 1 left so had been substantially discounted. I've been wanting a trunk for a coffee table for years, but anything that I like is way out of our price range; rather than settling for something, we'd said that we'd wait until we found something we really liked and make the investment... Once again, God provided a little want in an unexpected way!