I made this soup tonight. (Or at least a close variation of it, anyway.) It was yummy...everyone agreed. (I think it helped that I called it chowder rather than soup. Which it really was...basically a clam chowder with ham rather than clams.) I added a sprig of fresh rosemary from the garden and a dash each of nutmeg and cayenne...it needed something and I think that did the trick. (You'll never guess where I found the recipe!)
I bought a 5 lb. bag of potatoes last week for 99 cents. I got about seven meals out of it...mashed potatoes to accompany a roast chicken, baked potatoes to accompany chicken and apple sausages, and now tonight, Potato and Ham Soup.
Not to mention lunches...I had leftover mashed potatoes for lunch one day...a baked potato went in Chris' lunch another day...I had a leftover baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce for lunch that same day...and I have two potatoes left!
Not bad, eh?
So it was beautiful today...sunny and in the 60's. Not really the best soup day...but it was on the menu so I made it.
I came home after work and opened doors and windows to get some fresh air in this little house of ours. It felt good. I'll admit, I am NOT ready for warm weather...but who could argue these beautiful days? They're just about perfect.
But I won't mind a little rain sometime in the near future...a good excuse to make more soup chowder.
No one will be able to stand against you all the days
of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with
you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Please take a few minutes to listen...
Listen to the words carefully...
And just in case you can't understand them all...
[but trust me, it's better with music.]
You were reaching through the storm Walking on the water Even when I could not see In the middle of it all When I thought You were a thousand miles away Not for a moment did You forsake me Not for a moment did You forsake me
After all You are constant After all You are only good After all You are sovereign Not for a moment will You forsake me Not for a moment will You forsake me
You were singing in the dark Whispering Your promise Even when I could not hear I was held in Your arms Carried for a thousand miles to show Not for a moment did You forsake me
After all You are constant After all You are only good After all You are sovereign Not for a moment will You forsake me Not for a moment will You forsake me
And every step every breath you are there Every tear every cry every prayer In my heart at my worst When my world falls down Not for a moment will You forsake me Even in the dark Even when it's hard You will never leave me After all
My mind has been very unorganized lately. For a while, actually. I have felt overwhelmed and behind in everything. When I am feeling like this, eventually it stops me in my tracks and then nothing, or at least only the bare minimum, gets done.
But for the past week or two I have been doing things differently...I have been listening...to my heart, to a friend, to my parents, to God...and slowly but surely things are leveling out. I can feel it. It may not be evident on the outside (yet) but I can feel it on the inside.
I feel it in the form of easier breathing, less tension in my shoulders, less tightness in my stomach and fewer headaches.
Taking it slow...listening and moving in the right direction...making things happen. It feels good...
Then I met my mama for a quick lunch where we talked politics, gun control and bad jokes. It was awesome. I love my mama.
After lunch I headed to a tax appointment. It was much needed and not as dreaded as I thought it would be. Go me for gettin' it done!
On the way home lots of good songs were playing on the radio and it was raining just a little bit so I decided to go for a drive. (I do that sometimes.) I had the heater on full blast, the radio playing loud and all was well in my little bubble.
Once I got home I got a load of laundry started, figured out dinner then turned on Dr. Phil. I checked email, trolled Pinterest, chatted it up on Facebook, and talked with my son after school all while having a warm, sleeping kitty in my lap.
Tackled my messy bedroom...it's better than it was.
Tackled the grocery list...should be good until the end of the week.
Tackled two games of Scrabble with my boy...we each won one.
Why do I keep using the word "tackled"? I must have watched two too many playoff games today! I'm actually looking forward to the Super Bowl. I'm not a huge football fan. I prefer baseball, by far. (San Francisco Giants in case you were wondering.) But I do enjoy the Super Bowl...and now that a local team is in it? Even more exciting!
In other news...it's a three-day weekend. One more day to sleep in...I'm liking that. I've got a whole chicken defrosting for tomorrow's dinner. I'll make mashed potatoes to go along with it and more than likely some gravy. (What are mashed potatoes without gravy, I ask?)
I will also make a side of haricot vert (french for green beans). I like to buy them frozen from Trader Joe's. My friend Darcy turned me on to them and now they are a favorite. Boiled until just tender-crisp then seasoned with melted butter and a little salt and pepper and maybe some garlic powder if I feel like it. Mm mm mm...perfection.
I am sitting here in my pj's browsing recipes on the internet for meal planning inspiration with the Pioneer Woman on in the background.
Ian is hanging out in his room listening to music. Seth is in his room playing music. And Chris is out in the garage working.
The sun is shining and my cold is lifting. Life is good, no?
So anyway, I'm sitting here planning this week's meals on a calendar page I printed out, filling in the days responsibilities on a separate monthly calendar and looking at the list of the bills needing to be paid on yet another list when I came to a realization: I need to keep ALL of this info in one place.
I decided the "one place" is going to be the monthly calendar.
Now I'm just gonna throw this out there...I looked for weeks for a cute, pretty, easy on the eye monthly calendar. I wanted one that opened like a journal, not one to hang on a wall or fridge. I wanted squares big enough to actually write things in. And I didn't want it to cost a fortune.
Well...the cute, pretty journal-like ones were weekly calendars. And I don't know what it is about me, but I want to see the whole month. Not just a week at a time. I suppose if I planned my days hour by hour a weekly calendar would be good for me. But I don't. And won't. Ever.
To make a short story long, I never found what I was looking for. So I thought about making the calendar of my dreams. I searched the internet for inspiration and calendar page print-outs. I looked online for small binders and dividers that I could personalize...a divider for the calendar, one for meal plans, one for bills and such. And can I just say that it was more overwhelming than it was inspiring?
So after wasting a lot of time, here I sat with nothing.
Then one day I was shopping at the dollar store. I strolled down the office supply aisle (my favorite) and what did I find? A Mead monthly calendar that opened like a journal with squares big enough to actually write in. Was it cute? Not really. Unless you consider plain lime green 'cute'. Which I don't. But it was what I was looking for. And affordable. Ahem. ;)
I bought it. And it works. But I only used it for appointments and commitments. And I would slip the bill papers and the meal plan papers inside that particular month so it was all in one place. But it was also loose and sloppy.
So today I'm sitting here, filling in calendar days and paying bills and planning meals and shuffling papers and I realize something: that I need to put it ALL on this cheap little calendar. Meal plans, birthdays, commitments, bills due dates...it can all go in one place!
Why didn't I think of this sooner? Sometimes I can make life so hard on myself...
(And now that I am looking at it a little closer I am realizing that the calendar has a plastic cover that it can slip in and out of. So if I really want to, I can personalize it! Sweet!)
Now there is nothing wrong with a pretty planner. I love them, actually. And when I see them on Pinterest or on artists web sites I think "I should do that."
But sometimes trying to make everything beautiful can be overwhelming. Realistically, I don't have time to make everything beautiful. I barely have time to get the laundry done. Sometimes I just need something to be useful and to make my life a bit easier...less overwhelming.
And that's what this calendar is...useful. And there's nothing wrong with that. If it helps me get the job done, then it's all good in my book. Even if it is lime green.
This week has flown by...filled to the brim with a shopping trip with mom (but not before she made me my favorite "mom" lunch...tuna sandwich with cheese and lettuce and barbecue chips...mm mm mmm), an herbal class with friends, birthday preparations and celebrations for my sweet boy, coffee with a friend, a new bible study, and all of this while battling a head cold.
I just had a vision of Pepe le Peu...actually the poor little girl cat that always got that streak of paint on her back? Remember her? And whenever she'd run from Pepe she's stop and say, "Le pant, le pant, le pant."
That's me right now. ;)
But hey...we made it through. And it was good.
And now we're ready for a three-day weekend...I can feel myself decompressing already.
I am going to a friend's house later tonight to make herbal oils and tinctures and I am SO EXCITED. She has taken an herbalist class that is offered locally that I hope to take one day. Unfortunately, it is a bit expensive and just not in the cards right now. But she has offered to share her home and her knowledge to a small group of us.
I can't wait...and don't worry...I will tell you all about it!
Time flew this weekend. I did laundry...ran errands...visited a sweet friend of mine, a young mom who I love so much.
Dinner is on the stove...for tonight and for later this week. Ground beef simmering for soft tacos and spanish rice tonight...shredded chicken boiling for tostadas on Tuesday and whatever the boys put together for themselves on Wednesday night while I'm at bible study. We'll have something with pasta tomorrow night...and mushrooms. Then later in the week I've got turkey burgers in the freezer I want to use.
I was trying to meal plan using only what I already had this week but ended up seeing some good sales while picking up milk and spent a little more than I had planned. Sometimes savings trumps plans.
Don't you love my organized meal planning? It really is organized...I just don't have it written down yet. Maybe that will make me feel like it's an official "plan".
Can you believe my "baby" will be 15 on Thursday? 15! I'm really not even sure how that happened. Didn't I just bring him home from the hospital last week? Sure feels like it. He kindly reminded me that 6 months after he turns 15 I will be teaching him to drive. Yes...you heard me right. Teaching him to DRIVE. I'm not sure I'm ready to have BOTH my babies on the road!?
So here we are at another end to another weekend. I'm feeling rested and slightly accomplished. I could have done more...but that's always the case, isn't it? Sometimes we just have to move at a natural pace and let things happen as they will. And that's exactly what I did.
For so long Friday has been my favorite day of the week. But now that I am working Saturday is slowly inching its way into first place on the favorites list.
So far I have done...nothing!
I am still in my pj's...still sipping coffee...still thinking about what I want to do today.
Lazy? Some might say so.
Or maybe it's more like not worrying about time for the moment and moving at a pace that allows me to catch my breath after a very long, very busy, but very good week.
I love days with nothing on the calendar. I feel rejuvenated just thinking about a day to just do whatever comes next naturally. (Although I'm thinking a shower is up real quick here...the whole "still in pj's thing" is getting old. ;)
What are you up to today? Staying in? Going out? A little of both?
Whatever it is you are doing be safe...have fun...and be a blessing to someone else.
Leftovers. I have always eaten them. I don't mind them at all. I even like them. But my husband wasn't a fan. He would eat certain things leftover, but the selection was limited.
But then I learned a trick.
The trick to serving leftovers is to turn them into something completely different.
Take dinner last night for instance. Last night I made two small pork roasts. We had one of the roasts for dinner last night with Crash Potatoes and tossed salad and I set aside the other roast for tonight's dinner. (I don't always use the leftovers the very next night. Sometimes I skip a night to really shake things up! ;)
I had a package of Dutch Crunch rolls that I needed to use up, half a round of mozzarella and a jar of roasted red peppers from Trader Joe's. Sounded like a recipe I'd seen earlier that day. Pork sandwiches it is!
I toasted the rolls with butter and garlic powder (we won't talk about forgetting one of the rolls in the toaster oven and almost setting the garage on fire. True story. And no, really, I don't want to talk about it.) and then spread a small amount of mayo on each half of the roll. I sliced up the pork roast into thin slices, piled it on the rolls and topped them with a slab of mozzarella and sliced red peppers and put them under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese was nice and melted.
Served with a side of half a bag of tater tots and it was a meal. A good meal.
There are several things I love about meals like this. First of all I love that it prevents waste. I can't tell you how many leftovers I have thrown away over the years. Such a waste!
I also love that you can cook once and eat twice. Sure, assembling tonight's dinner took some effort, but for the most part, dinner was a cinch because all of the cooking had been done the night before.
And maybe the thing I love most about these types of meals is that they force me to be creative with our menus. Originally, my creativity with our meals came out of necessity when our grocery budget was cut drastically. I still wanted to feed my family good, healthy, tasty food even though I didn't have a lot of money to buy expensive ingredients. So it forced me to be creative...to create meals from what was available and on sale.
Cooking this way saves us money, saves me time, cuts down on waste and exposes us to ingredients I might not otherwise have tried.
Over the past several years I have become more and more interested in natural and herbal remedies. The story of how I became interested in it is a bit of a long one that I will share here eventually. But for now, I wanted to introduce you to turmeric. Have you heard of turmeric? I had heard of it, but had never used it. As with most herbs and spices, I only knew of it for cooking purposes. I had no idea that it was also very medicinal. (As are many other spices you probably have in your cabinet. I'll share more as time goes on.) Turmeric is "an anti-inflammatory, used to treat conditions such as arthritis, injury, asthma, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, skin disorders, elevated cholesterol, liver disease and cancer." It caught my attention with the "anti-inflammatory" claim, the asthma claim, as well as the claim to be helpful with fibromyalgia. Since I deal with all of these things I figured it couldn't hurt to at least give it a try. I picked up a container full at the grocery store right on the spice aisle. I have added it to rice for flavor and color (and health, of course!), I add it to stir-fry, sprinkle it on chicken and just the other day I added several dashes to my healthful chicken broth. (Which, by the way, helped kick whatever was trying to get me! I even had a mug full with lunch today as I am feeling achy from the fibromyalgia.) One of my goals this year is to learn more about natural remedies for common ailments. I am not one to take a lot of pills. Although I have in the past, thinking it was my only choice, and I could feel the affects of that in the form of painful kidneys. That can't be good, right?! Yeah...I didn't think so either! So anything I can do naturally, through diet or natural remedies and without a pill, is alright in my book. Wanna know more about turmeric? Here are some links you may find helpful...
Before the holiday I was invited to a cookie exchange hosted by one of my coworkers. Actually, I consider her more a friend than a coworker...it just so happens that we met at work is all.
Anyway...I may have mentioned here a time or two that I am not much into baking. It's too precise for me...you have to be so careful with your measurements and if you don't do it just so then whatever you're baking won't come out right.
I much prefer cooking...a dash of this, a splash of that and voila, something tasty!
Cooking is much more forgiving.
Either way...my friend hosted a cookie exchange and I wanted to go. So I had to get over my aversion to baking. I ended up searching the internet (of course) and came across a recipe that had few ingredients and seemed simple and straight forward enough even for a non-baker like myself...Lemon Rosemary Button Shortbreads.
Sounds kind of different for a cookie, right? I know...I thought so, too. But I love lemon anything and I love rosemary. I especially love them together. So I figured...why not?
And let me tell you, they did not disappoint. Even the guys liked them...maybe even loved them!
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Put flour, butter, granulated sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the zest of 1 lemon and rosemary. Mix on low speed, then increase to medium and mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together.
2. Form dough into a disk and chill 30 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough until 1/2 in. thick. Cut dough into circles with a 1 1/2-in. cookie cutter. Reroll scraps as needed. Arrange on baking sheets 1 in. apart and chill 15 minutes.
3. Bake until light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
4. Mix powdered sugar, lemon juice, and the remaining zest until smooth. Spoon 1/2 tsp. glaze over each cooled cookie, spreading with the back of the spoon; then press 1 rosemary sprig into center of each cookie.
Life can get busy...there is always something that has to be done and always a reason why we shouldn't do this, that or the other thing.
But sometimes, you just have to throw caution to the wind, let the laundry pile up and let other responsibilities go and hit the road and have some FUN.
We are so blessed to have family members, generous and fun family members, that have a beautiful cottage on the lake where we are always welcome to come and visit. That's exactly what they boys and I did for the past couple of days. We loaded up the car with warm clothes, sleeping bags and pillows and, of course, a survival bag (we were traveling in the snowy mountains after all!).
Once there we ate, sledded, finished a puzzle (that had one piece missing!), went snow-shoeing, shopped, cooked, ate, lounged, helped a man in a BMW stuck in the snow and laughed at many saved episodes of Modern Family. And I took lots of pictures...many of the boys which is a bit of a rarity around here.
It was great...a wonderful way to end this winter break before getting back to the real world on Monday. It's been a nice two weeks...it was great while it lasted.
One word. One word to live by for the coming year. I have done this a few times now...chosen one word. And each time the word came to me quite easily. But this year? Not so much. This year I had to really think on it...and pray...a lot. And if I'm honest, I don't think it was difficult to come up with the word at all. In all reality, it presented itself to me quite clearly. The difficult part was admitting that this was the word I'd have to live with for the next year. And that word is...
L I S T E N
I'm sure it won't come as a surprise (especially to those of you that really know me) that I can be stubborn. I am not always good at hearing the advice of others. Especially when that advice is about hard things...or frustrating things...or overwhelming things that I already know the answer to but don't have the personal fortitude or the resources to DO anything about. As I mentioned yesterday, 2012 was kind of rough. And really, what year isn't rough? Right? I mean, it's life. Life can be hard. But it can also be good. Really, really good. If we are willing to live it. Lately I have been in a rut. On the outside I am humming right along, doing what I need to do, taking care of my responsibilities, day after day after day. But that's it. No more. Nothing extra. Just the bare minimum. And you know what? That's not OK with me. I came to this realization recently. And it made me sad. I want to enjoy life. Live life. Not tolerate it. I thought that maybe my word could be LIVE. And I tried to make it so. But when I thought about it...I realized that if I would only LISTEN...to my heart, to my body, to my instincts, to my desires, to that still, small voice...to God...then living would come as a result of that. I also thought that my word could be FOCUS. I can't seem to focus...on anything. I am constantly distracted. My mind never stops. There are so many things that I want to do...but so much that has to be done...and when I think about it all at once I talk myself out of all of it...out of being creative, or productive or taking time for myself. Then...I become frustrated. And then I don't do any of it. And then I sit here...watching life go by. But again, if I would only LISTEN, then things will come into focus as a result. Bottom line? This year's word is LISTEN. God wants me to LISTEN. To Him, to my body, to my heart. And if I will just do that, if I will just be still and listen...everything else will fall into place. So here's to a new year...here's to 2013 and new things to come. Here's to change and growth and making progress. Here's to listening to that still, small voice and living the life God created us to live.
11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. -1 Thessalonians 4:11-12