Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the Year

I love this time of year. Seriously. I love the whole starting-overness of January 1. I love reflecting on the year that was, and anticipating the year that will be. I love closing out my financial stuff from the year that's ending and seeing how we've done. I even love setting up our budget for the upcoming year. I love setting goals for the next year.

So, in the spirit of the end of the year, here's a list of things about the year that was and the year that will be.

Best things that happened in 2007:
  • Vacations with L - Arizona and Michigan and DC. Seeing how happy L was when he got to spend time with his brothers.
  • Trip to NY with my friend. Best of all, it was for work so it was free for us!
  • Tony Dungy won the SuperBowl. Ok, so there were some players involved, but I admire Dungy so much I'm just focused on him.
  • L's work moved offices and he's now about 5 minutes from home. This is good for our budget (less money spent on gas), and good for his mood now that he doesn't have to deal with the traffic hassles he had before.

Biggest disappointment of the year:

  • No success in getting pregnant. We're at two years + of trying.

What I wish I'd done differently in 2007:
  • I briefly had a good habit of exercise, but was ill for a week and never got back to it. I wish I hadn't given it up so easily because it just makes it that much harder to get started again. This could have also gone under biggest disappointment I guess, because I am disappointed in how little discipline I have when it comes to diet and exercise. I'm very disciplined in some areas so why I can't make the transfer and have the same discipline with my eating and exercise habits I don't know
  • Still haven't found a church home and kind of gave up trying. L just doesn't seem interested, but I really do want to start attending regularly again. Actually, I want to do more than attend, I want to belong somewhere.

What I'm most looking forward to in 2008:
  • The presidential election being over. Just have to make it to November...
  • We're planning on traveling west this May. South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. Visit with some family and see some mountains. Awesome!

What I'm most NOT looking forward to in 2008:
  • The endless political ads & TV coverage of the election until November. And I'm not even in an early primary state so we haven't even had the ads some places have (I can't imagine being in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina. Although I guess at least they have a chance to have input on who the rest of us will be choosing between in November. Our primary is so late that it will almost definitely be decided already by the time we would get a chance to vote. I REALLY hate the primary system we have. Actually I hate the electoral system too but that's another rant.)

Menu Plan Monday

Monday - Hot Italian Meatball Sandwiches

Tuesday - Black Bean Soup

Wednesday - Macaroni & Cheese

Thursday - Beef Tacos

Friday - clean-out-the-fridge

Saturday - Hungarian Goulash

All the recipes this week are new (yes, even the mac & cheese recipe is a new version). If they turn out well, I'll type them up and post and add in some links from this post. I know that life would be easier if I would just stick with tried-and-true meals, but that's too boring for me - I love trying new things.

Update 1: Behind schedule, because L wanted to go out for lunch Monday and we were both pretty full from that so I didn't cook any dinner that night.  We snacked on cheese and crackers instead.  

Tuesday we had the meatball sandwiches.  I had never made meatballs before, believe it or not! I'm not really a fan of them, so I hadn't been motivated to try them, but L likes them so I finally made them.  They weren't too bad, but I think the first ones I made I didn't pack together tightly enough.  When I browned them in my saute pan they fell apart some.  I packed the second round much more tightly and they held together much better.

L thought the meatballs and sauce were great, but didn't like how the sandwich didn't hold together well enough to pick up & eat it.  It was definitely a knife-and-fork sandwich.  He'll have leftovers for lunch this week and things it may work better cold.

The recipe came from 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, which I have found to be a fantastic collection of recipes.  They tend to be a bit more work than some slow cooker (crock-pot) recipes, in that none of them have just had ingredients dumped into the cooker, but I don't mind spending more time prepping things and browning items first when the results are so much better than other recipes I've tried.  I checked the book out from the library and am loving it!

Update 2:
Black bean soup was delicious. Based on a recipe from the cookbook Desperation Dinners, I sauteed an onion, then added stewed tomatoes, two cans of black beans, frozen corn, chicken broth & lots of salsa. Seasonings included garlic, oregano & I don't remember what else I dumped in there. Chili powder maybe? Served it with corn bread & some sour cream or cheddar cheese as topper. It was fantastic. L loved it and said we need to have it again.

Didn't make any of the other three. L was gone one night, we had family visiting another night & they wanted to go out. We did keep the clean-out-the-fridge night though. :)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memory Verse

1 Timothy 2:5, New International Version

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Washington DC: Day 1

We arrived at our hotel in Arlington around noon (after a slight detour thanks to some truly dreadful directions provided by the hotel website), and figured we'd quickly make our way into the city and at least get some museum visiting and sightseeing done. Not so fast...

Baggage had to be brought into the room. That was pretty fast thanks to the luggage trolly thing that fit everything easily. Then we had to find the nearest Metro. Check - only a couple of blocks away. Then we had to figure out how to buy a ticket. Um, yeah. I've ridden the Paris and New York subways, this won't be too hard, right?*

It wasn't *really* all that difficult, just harder than I expected and wanted it to be. I think it was the varying fare price based on distance and time of day. Yeah, I'm going to blame it on that. At least we did eventually figure it out and buy our farecards, guesstimating on how much money we would need for the 4 or 5 days we'd be using them.

The Metro ride itself was great, and it seemed like no time at all before we were at our station - L'Enfant Plaza. For some reason I forgot how to read a map and we went the wrong way after exiting the station, but after only a couple of minutes we reversed course and made our way towards the Mall and our destination: The National Air and Space Museum. It was now after 1 however, so we stopped at the first street vendor we saw and got a couple of hot dogs and drinks. Fantastic! After refueling, we entered the Museum.

Wow. I had no idea it was so HUGE! I think I was most fascinated by the DC3 hanging from the ceiling. Along with many many other planes. What a great place for air and space buffs (which I am most definitely NOT). L loved the gallery on Apollo to the moon. I hadn't realized how much he liked that kind of thing. I did like touching the moon rock, yes, even germophobe me touched something that I KNEW thousands of other hands had touched. So what if I then went into the bathroom to wash my hands?

I may have spent a lot of time fiddling with my new camera since I wasn't that interested in the exhibits, but I did really like one exhibit - the Treasures of American History gallery, at the NASM while the National Museum of American History is being renovated. 150 of the Museum's best artifacts, including Kermit the Frog and Dorothy's ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz.

Really though, this Museum is AMAZING, and their website is pretty good too - links to the galleries and lots of good info and pictures available from the building map. Don't let my minimal interest in the subject matter scare you away from it. I will say again how fascinated I was by all the planes and items hanging from the ceiling. I hope they knew what they were doing when they rigged those things so they're not about to come crashing down!

After L had had his fill of the NASM, we wandered over towards the Capitol which is so beautiful. I took a lot of pictures by the Capitol Reflecting Pool (the fountain was not on in December), James Garfield Monument & U.S. Grant Memorial, and of the Capitol Christmas Tree on the Capitol grounds. The sun was setting so I got some nice shots of that as well. By then we were cold and hungry (one hot dog was not enough), so we headed for the nearest Metro - Federal Center SW. Happily, a Starbucks was right next to the entrance, so we stopped there first for a hot chocolate and carmel apple cider before taking the Metro back to Arlington.

The hotel had provided an area (i.e., Arlington) map which included restaurant ads, and since I couldn't talk L into trying the Moroccan place, he picked out an Italian place that was supposed to be right around the corner from the Metro. Amazingly enough, it was. Unfortunately we took the wrong exit (hey, there are 3 choices) so it took longer to find it than that implies, but we still managed.

Dinner was at the Toscana Grill. It was very empty (hopefully for their sake that is only because we were pretty early for dinner). We each got a house salad, trying to avoid the haven't-had-vegetables-in-days situation we often find ourselves in when traveling. They were very tasty with nice and fresh greens. L ordered the lasagna, and really enjoyed it. I selected a favorite, gnocchi marinara, but felt that they gnocchi were kind of heavy and the sauce too sweet. However, I had a glass of pinot grigio (from South America I think) and it was WONDERFUL. Very flavorful and L even wished he'd ordered that instead of his soda. No desserts, because none really tempted - I know there was tiramisu and cheesecake maybe, and ice cream. Boring. Their website has expired, or I'd link to it. Maybe they really didn't have many diners and have gone out of business. I was hoping they'd list their wine menu online so I could remember what it was I drank. :)

Back to the hotel finally, where I downloaded my pictures and we plotted our next day's adventures...

*ok, so the Paris one is cheating somewhat since I was traveling with someone who knew where he was going and what he was doing so I didn't have to think much. I've also traveled on the Marseilles Metro, but was too embarrassed to claim that as anything in the main paragraph. I mean, it's got two lines. It's not hard to figure out. It's kind of like a Metro for beginners. But the New York one was the real deal. :) Back to story

Friday, December 28, 2007


Yes, it's late but I'd been gone, but I wouldn't want to ignore Christmas! I got some lovely gifts and we had a nice, quiet day. Most of L's gifts were not a surprise, but he was still very pleased with them. He seems to especially love the slippers. He's requested them (his old ones were worn out, and our floors are pretty chilly in winter) but he keeps raving about how warm and cushioned they are. So I did well on that, and I am really happy he likes them so much. His other gifts were all computer or stereo equipment that he'd requested and picked out specifically, so while he was thrilled, he wasn't exactly surprised. :) He also really liked the candy in his stocking. What he doesn't like so much? The fact that we are COMPLETELY OUT of those delicious wedding cookies! I really need to bake some more soon.

Oh, my gifts? You want to know some details? Ok, twist my arm.
  1. I got some super comfy pjs. I knew I was getting them and was so happy to unwrap the box. I love love love pjs, especially super comfy ones. I can't wait to wear them!

  2. An automatic wine opener. L has noticed how I sometimes struggle to get the bottles open so bought me an electric one. Haven't tried it out yet but will as soon as I have another bottle to open. What a sweetie looking out for me! :)

  3. Computer software - iWork and iLife. Soooo happy to have this. He says that I'd said I wanted them, but I'd forgotten that so it was a complete surprise to me when I opened the packages. A very good surprise!

  4. Finally, lots of books! All picked from my Amazon Wish List, but the specific choices were a surprise.

I am super happy with my gifts and know that I am very blessed to have received so much great stuff. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back from Vacation!

We've returned from our trip to DC. We've actually been back since Christmas Eve, but I just continued with a blogging and computer break for a bit longer.

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who commented on my Christmas decorations post. What a wonderful thing to come home and read!

Second, I'll be posting more about details from our trip, in part so I don't forget what all we did and saw! I have a pretty bad memory for things like that and this way hopefully L isn't reminding me in a year about the museums we saw since I've forgotten. Yes, I really am that bad. I have a *great* memory for things I read, but a horrific one for conversations or events. My weird memory was great for school, but it's not so great for real life!

Finally, I've finished lots of books recently too; road trips and time off from work are *so* good for that. Some specifics will be mentioned sooner or later. No promises that it'll be this week. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tour of Homes

It's BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes!

Welcome - I'm glad you stopped by to see how we've decorated our house for Christmas!

Let's start at the front door - we've got a real wreath that smells WONDERFUL. It's not as pretty as it was when we first got it. The screen door kind of smashes it but it would be such a project to take the door off we're just letting it be a little squashed.

It's awfully cold and snowy, so let's go inside and on into the family room, where we have our tree. We went with a blue and silver theme and had a lot of fun decorating it the day after Thanksgiving (no black Friday shopping for us!) Yes, that is snow visible outside. We've gotten a lot the last few days, and I love it!

A closeup of the star on top of the tree. L fit a light up into the star so it looks extra pretty at night.

One of my favorite ornaments - a blown glass snowman!

More closeups of ornaments I love, this time a snowflake and disco ball.

Some presents are already wrapped and waiting under the tree. L did a great job wrapping the gifts for me; I am very impressed with his wrapping skills. They are much better than my photography and image staging skills that's for sure!

The large brown box is for L; he knows what it is since it's something fairly techy and I wanted him to pick out exactly what he wanted rather than me possibly getting the wrong thing. I wrapped it with inside-out grocery bags and taped candy canes to it to make it a little less brown-blob-like. It's not ideal, but it's really big and heavy and this was the best I could do. :)

A partial view of the cards, stocking holders, and stockings from the mantle. We're really light on cards so far, if it's like other years we'll get a lot this next week. I didn't take a picture of the entire mantle & mirror above it because there are some photo cards included and didn't feel comfortable putting other people's photos on my blog, even if they would be small and not really identifiable.

Here are some closeups of the stocking holders. The tree survived a tumble off the mantle and landed in a plant, getting quite dirty and slightly bent in the process. The dirt washed off, and the damage is hard to spot. I'm glad it landed in the plant because if it had hit the hard floor the slight break would surely have been a complete breaking off of the top of the tree.

Finally, here is a cozy throw that's on the futon across from the tree. It has more to it than is shown, but that's all that would fit neatly when I folded it to put it on the futon. It really adds something to that space I think. And it's warm too - I've spent some time in there reading and enjoying the lights and the throw helps warm up what is otherwise usually a pretty chilly room.

This is practically our first year to put up decorations - we had stockings last year but nothing else. And no stocking holders for them so they were just draped on the couch rather than hanging from the fireplace mantle. So even though I don't have a lot of decorations compared to some, I'm really happy with what I have and how it looks.

Oh, I almost forgot about refreshments! It's a very well known recipe, but it just might be my favorite cookie - wedding cookies/tea cakes/whatever name you know them as.


1 cup butter (yes, real butter, not margarine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more
3/4 cup chopped pecans (toasted is better) (or almonds if you must)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together. Shape into 1" balls and place them about 1" apart on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 10 - 15 minutes or until set but not brown.

Roll in powdered sugar while still warm. Cool. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Here's a picture of them right out of the oven, before the powdered sugar step. I forgot to take a picture of them after being rolled in the sugar, and they're long gone so I can't take another. Must make some more soon...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blogging Break

L and I leave tomorrow morning for a vacation/visit with family. We had sort of planned on leaving today, but the snow in the area made us think that tomorrow would be a better departure day. :) Yes, we're driving.

Today has been laundry and clean-out-the-fridge day. I've picked out the books I'll bring with me, but that's been the extent of my trip preparations so far. I always have trouble getting motivated to pack for trips, and even more so when it's a road trip.

I won't be posting anything until Christmas at least, and probably not until the end of that week. I do have a post (with pictures!) that I'm finishing up and will post tonight or tomorrow before we leave. It's of the decorations we have up for Christmas. I was inspired by the Christmas Home Tour to get out the camera and (more importantly) figure out how to resize them to be able to post them.

Memory Verse

John 5:24, New International Version

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

Friday, December 14, 2007

This Week in Books

Again, more accurately titled "favorite book of the week" since it's not about all the books I've finished.

Gary Chapman.
The Five Love Languages.

I hadn't read it, although my husband had a long time ago. We both took the quiz to see what our love languages are and it was very eye-opening for me. I "knew" that time together was his, but until he took the test and I saw his answers I hadn't realized just how *much* it is his language. Mine is acts of service, so I've been known to do things for him like I'd like him to do for me, all the while he's wanting me to come into the other room and sit on the couch with him. Since finishing the book I've been ignoring those other things and just spending time with him. So, the floor might not be swept after dinner, but he doesn't care. It's also been helpful because he hadn't realized how important acts of service are to me, so he's been much more aware of things he can do for me, which of course is *wonderful* for me. It's been a really helpful book!

(And since I have trouble remembering the five love languages, here they are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch)

Making My Home a Haven

Doing my own challenge today to keep the momentum going. It'll be stopped soon enough when we leave for vacation.

1. Refresh Your Spirit

Still continuing on in Exodus.

2. Morning Routine
  • Dressed & ready for the day
  • Tidy a bathroom
  • Pray
  • Go over memory verse
  • 5 minute room rescue
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Eat breakfast & take pills
  • Read daily devotionals
  • Read Bible passage(s)
3. Plan

  1. Work
  2. Renew/return library books that are due before we get back from trip
  3. Spend time with L
  4. Fix dinner
  5. Clean up from dinner Not done but L said he'd do it so it's off my list!
  6. Clean out fridge
  7. One load of laundry
  8. Spend 15 minutes in my office
  9. Spend some time reading
  10. Make batch of cookies (?) Not going to happen

4. Tonight's menu

If he's not opposed to it, minestrone soup. Or we can eat leftovers because there are a lot of them that need to be used up. Basically, he'll get a choice, between Friday and Saturday, which day does he want soup and which day leftovers. He'll probably pick leftovers for tonight and soup for Saturday.

Update: He had a frozen pizza. :)

5. Project for the day

Pick up a gift for my aunt who we'll be seeing on our trip. She's a wine fan, so I think I'll go to a wine shop and get her a nice bottle of red wine. I should get to leave work early today because of our holiday luncheon, so it would be easy to stop on the way home from work.

That may not seem like much of a project, but it'll be good to get it crossed off my list. And for a project more making-my-home-a-haven oriented: tidying up my closet which seems to have exploded over the last week. It's not usually bad, but this morning I realized it's a mess!

Updates to come, although no promises that they'll be posted today. ;)

Update: Didn't stop at the store, because instead of leaving early I ended up staying quite late. But I got some extra stuff wrapped up and since I'm gone for the next 8 (work) days, that's good to have those things finished.

I don't think I'll get to my closet or the laundry today. It's 9:00 and I've only just gotten upstairs after getting home late, getting dinner and spending a good amount of time with L. I'm really worn out so I think I'll unpack my bag, take care of the mail from the past few days, plan tomorrow and do a little Bible Study.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven: Day 8

Crystal is back with another challenge. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

1. Refresh Your Spirit.

I can't stress how important it is to begin your day on the right foundation - the solid Rock! You may not have hours to sit and study God's Word, but you can take a few moments to commit your day to the Lord, to soak up the richness of His Word, and to ask Him for strength and grace for whatever today holds.

How did the Lord encourage your heart this morning? Share with us!

I'm still in Exodus for my daily reading - I left off yesterday when the Israelites had just left Egypt, but hadn't yet crossed the Red Sea.

2. Do Your Morning Routine.

Do you have a simple morning routine? If not, sit down right now and write out a short list of five things you'd like to accomplish in the same order every morning. Put this list somewhere obvious where you can reference it often every morning until you have it memorized.
  • Dressed & ready for the day
  • Tidy a bathroom
  • Pray
  • Go over memory verse
  • 5 minute room rescue
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Eat breakfast & take pills
  • Read daily devotionals
  • Read Bible passage(s)
I don't have computer time on the list, because it's not something I feel is important enough to list, but I usually spend a couple of minutes on the computer before heading downstairs when I eat breakfast, empty the dishwasher and dish drain, and read my devotionals and Bible. The bathroom cleaning is one items that sometimes gets skipped over. If I've overslept or have to get out the door quicker, I'll often leave it until I get home. It's easy to postpone, especially because the bathrooms usually are in good shape. My floors are often terrible, but my bathrooms are usually ok.

3. Take Time to Plan.

What's on your to-do list today? If you don't already have a short to-do list written out, take a moment to write one out right now. Keep it to 10 items or less and then number them in order of importance and work on them in that order. Don't start on #2 until #1 is done. And so forth.

Share your to-do list on your blog today and keep us posted on your progress!

Today's to-dos are brief:
  1. Work
  2. Meijer - buy a few grocery items (i.e. dip ingredients) and stocking stuffers
  3. Fix dinner
  4. Fix blue cheese dip for work party tomorrow
  5. Bake batch of wedding cookies
  6. One load of laundry
  7. Spend 15 minutes planning our trip
  8. Spend 15 minutes working in my office
  9. Spend time with L
4. What's On The Menu for Dinner?

Do you have dinner planned and prepared? If not, pull something out of the freezer, stick something in the crockpot, whip up a casserole, or get as much prep. work done as you can for dinner.

Post what you're making (or made) for dinner if you have a chance!

Minestrone soup, with salad and bread. I love soup and love cooler weather because that means I can fix soup! It's not prepped or anything, but it's a quick recipe and won't take long once I get home.

Update: L didn't want soup, so we had the spaghetti he requested.

5. Project of the Day.

Put on an apron, light some candles, roll up your sleeves, and let's get to work! Today's project is the bedrooms. You can either choose to tackle all of the bedrooms, or you can just pick the one which needs the most work and start there. Set the timer for 15 minutes and do a quick pick up, declutter and throw out trash, do a quick dust and vacuum, and you're done!

Take before and after pictures of the bedroom(s) you clean and share them on your blog.

Our bedroom is my biggest homemaking success - it looks good 99% of the time, and when it doesn't it's a quick fix. And that is usually only when we've just returned from vacation or something. But I'm glad for the challenge because I do need to spend some time in the guest room - we just had a visitor and I haven't changed the sheets after that, so today for my load of laundry I'll wash those sheets, put fresh ones on the bed, and make sure the room is ready for the next visitor. Which I think will be in February, but it'll be nice to know the room is prepared.

Updates to follow once I have anything to report.

Update: I never got on the computer again yesterday evening to update then, so this is pretty late for an update. The store run took much longer than I expected - long lines and not enough people working the registers, so I immediately scratched my plans to make a batch of cookies. That was not a necessity, so it was easy to postpone to another day. I also spent a lot of time with L yesterday evening, so I didn't do anything in the guest room. He'd been gone the evening before so I wanted to make sure I didn't ignore him to wash some sheets that can easily wait for another day. And yes, I could have fit that in in small segments but that would have meant several trips up and down the stairs and I didn't want to do that. ;)

But! The blue cheese dip is ready and waiting, I won't shouldn't have to go to the store again before we leave, and I only have one more day of work before vacation! And it's really only like a half day what with the big holiday lunch and stuff.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


L was strongly encouraging me to quit my job today, as in immediately. He thinks it's not worth the stress and "why make yourself miserable." What prompted this was I was not very enthusiastic when he asked me to do something for him right after I'd gotten home (understatement). He wanted to know why it upset me so much, and I told him it didn't upset me, I was just tired and the thought of having to drive another hour (in bad traffic) on top of the 40 minutes (in bad traffic) I'd just driven was not exactly thrilling.

I just feel like I should stay through February at least, because of a big project happening in January and February, which some people are counting on my help with it. My best friend at work is also going to be gone for a block of time in there and I've promised her I'd cover for her. So basically, if I quit immediately it really hurts three people, specifically the three people I'm closest to in the whole place. I don't want to put them in a bind which I would if I left now.

What I am thinking about doing is taking one day off a week. My boss wouldn't agree to me switching my schedule to a four-day work week, coming in early and staying later to fit in all my hours, but perhaps I can create my own. If I'm going to be quitting then I'll want to use up my stockpiled PTO time anyway, because they only pay it out at 50% I believe.

We're on vacation all next week, and I'll also take off through the 26th, so I really only have a few more days left in December. And 3 of those 5 days my boss will be gone, so that will help. I know, that makes it sound like I'm a slacker or something who wants the boss gone so I can goof off. Not true, she just exhausts me and/or drives me crazy whenever she's around. And I say exhausts because she is an EXTREME extrovert and I am an EXTREME introvert and when she talks and talks and talks and talks to me about things like what her dog did the night before I want to bash my head against my computer keyboard. She's a wonderfully friendly person who is great at the public side of her job - presentations and things like that - but she just talks endlessly. One of my brothers can also be like that, but with my brother at least I can tell him I need a break from the talking so please let me have some peace. That wouldn't go over so well with her and if I tried it I might no longer have any dilemma on when to quit my job because I'd be fired.

Anyway, I've drifted once again with my post. I think I'm still in the same place: as much as L is encouraging me to just quit because he thinks I'm miserable, I would feel really terrible about putting my friends in a tough spot, so I'm determined to stay through the end of the big project, which will be no later than the end of February. It might even be sooner if we make good progress on it. I'll have a better idea about that once we start in early January.

I am continuing to pray though that God will make it clear to me what I should do about the situation - quit now, quit later, don't quit at all, find a job somewhere else, stay home full-time, find a part-time job somewhere near the house to avoid the commute, etc.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thankful Tuesday

Just a repeat for those who are new to reading my blog (as in, everyone), I post my gratitude lists on Tuesdays because that's my least favorite day of the week (due to my least favorite work task being required that day) and I caught myself turning it into a gripe day. I don't want to be a Tuesday grump so I make sure I focus on the many, many things for which I should be thankful. So today:
  1. My new mixer. It is wonderful and I love it already and know that I am very fortunate to have it.
  2. Winter is definitely here and that means no more fall seasonal allergies for me. They are quite severe so yes, I love having winter arrive. I do love fall but I also love not having the sinus problems it gives me.
  3. L spent a couple of hours last night wrapping some presents for me. And he did an amazing job too - they are absolutely beautiful. I was all set to tease him about how long it took him to wrap 3 things but I couldn't when I saw the work he put into them. What a guy. :)
  4. That we are blessed enough to have two cars. L's truck had to go into the shop today for some brake work so I had to ferry him from the shop home, and will have to take him to work tomorrow. Our schedules don't match well so it throws things completely off kilter, so I'm glad it's a rare event that we have to deal with it.
  5. One of L's coworkers is going to give him a ride to the shop tomorrow when his truck is ready, so I don't have to worry about taking him over there. This is a big help so I am so happy his coworker is willing (it helps that he lives not too far away from the shop). He regularly helps out with rides when we take either of our vehicles in and it truly is a blessing.
  6. I get to see one of my favorite relatives next week during our vacation. I haven't seen her in about 3 years I think so I'm glad we're finally going to get to spend some time together. I need to do some shopping and find something nice to bring her, but I'm not sure when I'll be able to fit that in.

Making Your Home a Haven: Day 7

More from Biblical Womanhood:

In addition to spending some time refreshing your spirit in the Lord, doing your morning routine, making out a simple prioritized to-do list for the day, and preparing dinner by noon, your challenge today is to either:

1) Clean out, declutter, and organize a drawer, shelf, or closet.

2) Tackle a project you've been procrastinating on for too long.

Morning Routine will be finished soon as I get off the computer. This includes devotionals and Bible reading, but I'll read more from the Bible when I get home from work. I discovered last week during the challenge how great a transition from work to home that is!

Today's To-Dos

  1. Work

  2. Refresh Spirit (continue reading Exodus)

  3. Fix dinner

  4. Do one load of laundry (wash/dry/fold/put away)

  5. Clean off desk

  6. Project: get donations ready to go to Goodwill (bagged & put in car)

I suppose cleaning off my desk could count under the clean out, declutter and organize a drawer, shelf or closet in Crystal's first challenge above, but I really want to get the donations out of my closet where they've been piling up for far too long I'm sad to say.

Updates to come as I have things to report.

: It's 7:45 and I'm finally home. I ended up having to do a car shuffle with L whose truck needed some work. Unfortunately this put us in some ugly rush hour traffic due to the location of our mechanic, so it was already going to be fairly late by the time we got home. We went out to dinner instead of going straight home, then ran some errands. That's all good, and it means that I don't have to fix dinner or clean up from dinner. Yay for that!

I'm debating if I'm going to do the load of laundry or not. It's not essential, and I'm sure by the time it would be dry I am just going to want to go to bed and not want to fold it and put it away. I think I'll just put that off until tomorrow when I'll be home earlier and can get it started earlier in the evening.

I will be devoting some time to my desk after I finish the update.

Update 2
: I just finished 15 minutes of desk time. It's still not clean but I'm more up to date on paperwork (medical & insurance forms that take so much time to handle). I'm not even going to start the donation stuff. It's time for me to wind down and get ready for bed. I should have more time tomorrow because I'll be coming straight home from work.

I'm praying for everyone else doing the challenge - don't always have time to visit every blog and comment, but I do my best and like knowing that so many of us are working on the same kinds of things.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven: Day 6

Back on track with Crystal's challenge:

1) Refresh Your Spirit

Begin your day with the Lord. Fix yourself a delicious hot drink and spend at least a few minutes praying, reading God's Word, and meditating on Scripture. Ask God to bless your day and to love through you. Find your joy and hope and strength in Him.

Did the Lord give you a special word of encouragement this morning?
Share it with us!

I wish I could say that I received a special word of encouragement, but I did not. I'm struggling right now due to our inability to conceive, and some days are more of a struggle than others. Most days I'm fine, I really do have complete faith that we will have children when and if God wills it, it's just some days (sad to say, usually when I hear news of another pregnancy among our family and friends) I despair that God's answer will be no for us.

2) Do Your Morning Routine

If you don't have a morning routine, take a moment to write down five things you'd like to accomplish in the same order every morning. And then get busy tackling them! Remember to keep it simple. It's better to plan a few things and get them done, than to write out an elaborate list and not do it.

Morning routine is done - weekdays I'm very good about accomplishing it. Weekends not always... ;)

3) Take Time to Plan

After your morning routine is finished, write out a short to-do for today (five items or less). Number the items in order of importance and start on number 1. Don't move on to number 2 until you've completed number 1.

What's on your to-do list today?

  1. Work

  2. Finish repairing kitchen from baking marathon yesterday

  3. Paperwork - pay bills and get rebate form for mixer filled out and ready to mail

  4. Play piano

  5. Box up package to get in mail

4) What's on the Menu for Dinner?

Take a moment to plan what you'll be having for dinner and then do as much of the prep work as possible before noon. Fix up a pot of soup, throw something in the crock pot, whip up a casserole, or pull something out of the freezer.

I recommend you have this dinner prep work as part of your morning routine or scheduled into your morning somewhere. Then you'll save yourself realizing it's five o'clock and you haven't a clue what to fix!

What are you serving for dinner?

No morning prep work for me, although I'd love to be able to do that.
Dinner will be macaroni and cheese (a new recipe I'm trying out) and a
salad. I love love love mac and cheese and it usually gives great
leftovers so that's always nice for lunches later.

Update: my husband went out for a nice lunch (celebrating a co-workers birthday) so he wasn't very hungry and certainly not hungry enough to want mac & cheese. He had leftover pizza, and I had a sandwich instead. Mac & cheese tomorrow!

5) Project of the Day

Turn some uplifting music on, light some candles, put an apron on, roll up your sleeves, and let's get busy!

Set your timer for five minutes and start at your front door again and quickly walk through the main living areas of your house straightening and picking up and putting away anything that's out of place. When the timer beeps, you're done, so work fast and don't get distracted.

Then, go to your kitchen (you knew we'd get there soon, didn't you?) and wash, dry, and put away any dirty dishes there are (or use the dishwasher) and then quickly straighten anything else that's out of place, wipe down your counters and cupboards, and replace your dish towels.

If you have a chance, take before and after pictures of your main living areas and kitchens and share them with us.

No pictures, but it is amazing what five minutes worth of pickup can do. The kitchen looks so much better too. I'd done all the dishes from the huge baking session I had yesterday, but there were still things out of place - cooling racks set out, baking items not put away (both ingredients and tools such as my cookie scoops). It took less than ten minutes but now the kitchen looks great and my table is clear again.

Update: Paperwork is semi-done: bills are paid and paperwork is sorted, but I still need to do some filing. Ugh. I think I'll take a quick break and come back and tackle the filing. I need to get away from my desk because the bill paying took much longer than I was expecting.

Update 2: Paperwork is now completely done. Filing it really didn't take that long, I think I spent more time dreading it than it took. I think I'm giving up on finishing my list and heading for bed. It'll be an early day tomorrow.

Menu Plan

Monday - four cheese macaroni (it has blue cheese in it. yummmmmm) and salad

Tuesday - minestrone soup with fresh bread

Wednesday - sandwiches

Thursday - spicy black beans & polenta

Friday - pizza

Saturday - clean out the fridge

Sunday - leave for vacation!

Update: added a link to the mac & cheese after searching for it online. The minestrone soup and spicy black beans & polenta I'll make are from Desperation Dinners.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Memory Verse

Isaiah 53:6, New International Version

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Thoughts on a Snowy Saturday

  1. I haven't been so happy to have the work week done since I don't know when. Work has been very difficult lately and the last few days of the week were super busy with a big meeting I was very involved with arranging. Everything seemed to go well with it though and people said they got a lot out of it so that is great. Most importantly from my point of view is that it is OVER! Hopefully for me to never have to arrange something similar again.

  2. I keep telling myself to give my new mixer a try, but instead I've been poking around on the internet all day. I found a new blog that I LOVE - check it out at Cookie Baker Lynn. I wish I lived next door to her so I could beg to become a taste-tester.

  3. Christmas cards were all mailed today. Well, except for one where we need to get the new address (they moved not too long ago) and for one couple who are moving at the end of the week. We know their new address, and the card is ready to go, I just don't want to mail it and have it go to the old address or, get to the new address before they are there. So I think we'll mail it at the end of the week.

  4. The other exception to point number 3 is cards for coworkers are not done. Those are so easy however that I don't worry about them. I have the cards, just need to sign my name and put names on the envelopes. Oh, and bake the cookies I want to have accompany the cards. So that's been the holdup there. I thought about baking things today (see point #2 above) but again, have been sucked into blog world. But how could I not be when she posts things like this?

  5. I could at least be planning our vacation but I'm hoping L will do that.

  6. I need to get off the computer and read some of the ginormous stack of books I've got out from the library. Maybe I'll select the books I'll take on vacation. That almost counts as vacation planning, right?

  7. I have absolutely no idea what to fix for dinner tonight. I'm kind of hoping L will want pizza.

Friday, December 7, 2007

This Week in Books

Or perhaps I should call it "weeks" since I missed last week's installment as I lay on the couch feeling like I'd been hit by a bus.

I don't really feel like writing up some of the books I finished, so I'll just highlight my favorite one of the past couple of weeks.

Polly Evans
Fried Eggs with Chopsticks: One Woman’s Hilarious Adventure into a Country and a Culture Not Her Own.
I've read two others by Evans', It’s Not About the Tapas: Around Spain on Two Wheels and Kiwis Might Fly: A New Zealand Adventure. I love her tone and personality that comes through her writing. I think I am still a little horrified by some of the experiences as she traveled around China (especially one bathroom in particular) but it was such a fascinating account of what she saw, smelled, ate, and did over many weeks in a wide variety of circumstances. I would not ever want to duplicate the trip she took (the New Zealand one, possible; this one, never) but I'm so glad she wrote about it so I could travel vicariously.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Music

I am late to the Christmas music scene, but I am doing my best to make up for the time I've been missing. One album I just got and have already got on my ipod and in ration is City on a Hill's It's Christmas Time.

My favorite songs are #2, It's Christmas Time (of course since it has Mac Powell) and #8 (again, with Third Day i.e. Mac Powell singing). Other favorites are #3 Silent Night by Sixpence None The Richer and #11 In The Bleak Midwinter by the Paul Colman Trio.

I think I need to let my ipod shuffle more rather than just repeating the tracks off of this CD, but it's hard not to just want this one over and over. :)

Making Your Home a Haven Challenge: Day 4

Continuing on with Crystal's Making Your Home a Haven Challenge, it's day four.

1) Refresh Your Spirit (5 minutes)

As we've been doing all week, take a few moments to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and quiet your heart before the Lord. Pray, read Scripture, and just encourage your heart in the Lord.

I encourage you to pick a special verse to meditate on today while you're going about your homemaking tasks and write it down on an index card and put it in a central location as a reminder.

Share with us what verse or verses you are meditating on today.

I'll be heading downstairs as soon as I get off the computer and do this while drinking my morning tea.

These are the verses I've focused on this week, from Psalm 139.

1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

2) Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)

In addition to writing out a short to-do list numbered in order of importance today like we did the past few days and thinking ahead to what you'll have for dinner tonight, take a moment to plan some special way to bless your family this weekend. Maybe it will be something like breakfast in bed for your children, or a treat for your husband, or a special family activity. Think of something out-of-the-ordinary which will show your love practically to your family.

Share your to-do list today and tonight's dinner menu, if you have a chance. Also, tell us about how you are going to bless your family this weekend.

Today's to-dos:
Tidy kitchen
Clean downstairs bath
Spend time with L
Finish Christmas cards
Get things ready for the morning
Go to bed on time

Yes, it's brief because I'll be at work for 13 or 14 hours. I don't expect to have much energy when I get home.

I won't be cooking dinner tonight, as I'll be at a work event again. There are leftovers for L to reheat if he wants them, or frozen pizza if he wants that.

I'll have to think about what he would most want for the weekend... Since my husband's primary love language is quality time I know what he'd most want is me to just spend a lot of time with him Saturday (Sunday is already blocked off for football). I'll see if he has anything he already is wanting to do that day before I start planning too specifically. Update to come...

Update: Home from work, but L is off at a friend's house to watch the football game. I may already be asleep when he gets home (actually, I hope I am because I'm really tired and I want to go to bed early). So I'll just have to spend more time with him tomorrow.

3) Do Something! (15 minutes or so)

Today we're going to focus on maintaining the other rooms we have already tackled this week (entryway, living room, laundry room) and our bathrooms. Light a candle, put on your apron, turn on some uplifting music, and get working!

Set your timer for five minutes and do a quick pick up of your entryway, living room, and laundry room. Also, start a load of laundry if you still have some to finish up this week (like me!).

And then let's get busy cleaning the bathrooms. If you have the time, feel free to deep clean them from top to bottom. However, if you are short on time, just pick up and put away anything that's out of place, spray and wipe all surfaces with all-purpose cleaner, and change the towels. A quick-clean like this can take less than three minutes and can make a huge difference!

Post pictures of your shiny clean bathrooms if you'd like. Or, if you're behind on any of the other challenges (like I still am on the laundry room!), feel free to go back and do those and post pictures of those completed challenges as well.

No pictures, but I love this challenge because I'll be able to get it done. My downstairs bath was already up in the rotation to be cleaned today so that works out well for me. ;) It's only a half bath, so it's always so easy and quick to clean. I'll be cleaning it after I finish breakfast and before I leave for work.

Update: Well, my boss ended up saying I didn't need to stay for the evening event so I got home about 3 hours earlier than I thought I might. What a blessing! I was still very tired from the day, so I made myself tidy the kitchen, finish cleaning the bathroom (started it this morning), and I even spent 15 minutes cleaning up my laundry closet. I couldn't believe how dusty the tops of the machines were! It looks so much nicer in there now and it smells fresh and clean. After all that, THEN I let myself sit down and rest. If I'd tried to sit first I don't think I'd have ever gotten up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven Challenge: Day 3

Getting an earlier start to posting today because a combination of the first snow of the season (3 inches!) and having to stay at work very late today means I can at least go in later than normal.

On to Crystal's challenge for today.

1) Refresh Your Spirit (5 minutes)

As we've been doing all week, take a few moments to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and quiet your heart before the Lord. Pray, read Scripture, and just encourage your heart in the Lord. Ask Him to love through you today.

If you have a chance, I encourage you to think of three things you are thankful for. Write them down and express gratitude to the Lord. Focus on the blessings in your life, not on the things you wish you could change. Choose to bloom where God has planted you! An attitude of gratitude will go a long way in making your home a haven!

I'd love for you to post three things you are thankful for.

As soon as I go downstairs, I'll have my morning devotional time which always includes a cup of tea and whatever devotional(s) I may be reading as well as some scripture time. I'm still in Genesis but I'm getting close to the end. Since I don't have to leave in such a hurry today I'll actually be able to finish my tea at my kitchen table rather than finishing it in the car.

Things I'm Thankful For:
  • My great husband. He is super supporting and encouraging.
  • That I'm off the medication that was making me feel so ill all last week
  • That I have a really good mother-in-law. She goes back home today after a brief visit but I know I am very fortunate to have her as my husband's mom. I've got some friends who have difficult situations with their m-i-ls so I know I'm blessed.
2) Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)

In addition to writing out a short to-do list numbered in order of importance today like we did yesterday, I encourage you to plan what you are having for dinner. Make it your aim to have dinner completely made or almost completely made by lunch time. This will make for a much more peaceful afternoon and evening.

Share your to-do list today, if you have a chance. Also, what's on your menu for dinner?

Today's to-dos are very short, since I won't be home until 9:30 or so tonight. This also means that I won't be having dinner at home, but instead will be eating (if I have time) at the work event I'll be attending. L will either have leftovers or a sandwich I'm sure.

  1. Morning routine

  2. Buy sympathy card

  3. Work

  4. Return library book

  5. Spend time with L

  6. Clean up kitchen

  7. Get everything ready for tomorrow morning

  8. 10 minutes on laundry area

  9. Go to bed on time - long day tomorrow

3) Do Something! (15 minutes or so)

Today we're going to focus on the laundry and laundry room. Light a candle, put on your apron, turn on some uplifting music, and get busy!

Your goal by the end of today is to have all of your laundry finished, folded, and put away. I'm really behind in this area right now since I never got caught up from our Thanksgiving trip and then Kathrynne had the stomach flu a few days ago so I know it is going to take me longer than 15 minutes to finish, but I plan to stick with it until it is done! Hopefully you are more on top of things than me so it doesn't take you all morning like it might very well take me.

For those of you with a laundry room or laundry area, take some time to organize and clean up this area. Wipe down your washer and dryer, check for socks and other articles of clothing behind and on the sides of your washer and dryer, and clean out your dryer lint.

If you're brave, post some before and after pictures of your laundry piles and laundry-room makeovers. I'm not sure I can fit all of my incredibly massive Mt. Neverest in one picture - yes, it's that bad! I can't wait until it is done and put away. And then hopefully I'll stay on top of it from here on out - at least until the next trip or stomach flu incident!

No pictures here, but I actually am caught up on laundry. It's not too challenging with only two people in the house, so I realize that I have it pretty easy right now.

I can spend a little time tidying my laundry closet. The tops of the machines have gotten cluttered so this is a good chance to straighten them.

Updates later as I have more to report.

Update 1: Morning routine done and devotional time finished. Not quite as good as sometimes, because both my husband and mother-in-law were in the next room talking and she has a very boistrous laugh. :) That's ok though; usually the house is so quiet when I'm having my morning time that I kind of liked hearing activity nearby. And now I'm finally leaving for work. Only 3 hours later than my normal time, but since I have to stay over 5 hours later than normal somehow I'm still not getting the best side of this deal.

Update 2: I'm finally home and it's not quite 9:30. However, I am exhausted and have to be at work tomorrow by 7:30 and won't be home again until 9:30 again. I don't think I'm even going to spend 10 minute in my laundry area today because I'm so tired. I think I'm just going to head for bed. Everything else from my list above is done however. :)

What I Fix

Apparently this really is my week to break out & join the wider blogging world. Normally I can't think of ideas to add to Works for Me Wednesday, but this week's theme is what you fix for dinner when it's been a crazy and all you want to do is either call for pizza or otherwise abdicate dinner responsibility.

If I can't convince L that he wants a sandwich or frozen pizza, black bean quesadillas are my standby. Super tasty, super easy, super quick.

Black Bean Quesadillas:
Tortillas. Whatever size you have on hand. We use flour just because that's what we prefer but I'm sure corn would work.
One onion. Or two if they're really small and/or you really like onion.
Oil. I usually use olive, but use whatever kind of fat you want.
A can of black beans, rinsed and drained.
Salsa. Or use some diced tomatoes if you don't want the heat.
Shredded cheese. Whatever type we have available is what we use.

Chop the onion into as small a size as you can manage/feel like making the effort.
Saute onion in a little oil until soft. If you don't mind your onions being a little raw, you can move on to the next step sooner. I hate raw onion so I make sure this is well cooked.
Add beans and salsa to taste. I add a lot of salsa.
If tortillas are cold, briefly warm them in microwave (10 seconds in mine), then put one tortilla in a clean (hot) skillet, and add some bean mixture to one side of tortilla.
Add plenty of shredded cheese.
Fold other half over bean mixture and cook until golden brown and delicious, and cheese is melty and yummy.
Carefully flip tortilla (you will lose some beans) and cook until other side is golden brown and delicious, and cheese is even more melty and yummy.
Remove from skillet, cut into pieces and enjoy with sour cream and/or more salsa.

This sounds much more complicated than it really is. I can have them on the table in 10 minutes, 15 max if I have to hunt for tortillas in the fridge or shred my own cheese.

One can of beans makes three stuffed quesadillas, which is enough for both of us and gives leftovers for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven Challenge: Day 2

Continuing on from yesterday, Crystal's challenge is:

1) Refresh your spirit (5 minutes)

Like yesterday, brew a cup of tea or coffee or cocoa, and sit down for a few moments of quiet with the Lord. I encourage you to take some time to pray over your day - bringing the activities planned before Him and asking Him to go before you and bless your endeavors for His glory.

STOP: Have you done your morning routine yet? If not, stop here and start with that. When you've finished it, come back here for your next assignment. :)

Yes, morning routine followed. After work I again had a cup of hot chocolate and read more in Genesis. I am loving this transition time! I may have found a new after-work routine.

2) Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)

Do you have a plan for today? A few minutes of strategic planning before you begin your day can not only help you to be much more productive, but it can also save you a lot of time.

If you have not done so, make a short to-do list for today of things you need to do accomplish or would like to accomplish. If you are married, I encourage you to ask your husband if there is anything you can do today for him. If he mentions anything, make that your top priority to accomplish today.

Keep your list it to ten items or less. Number the items in order of importance
and tackle the first one. Don't move on to #2 on your list until #1 is completely finished.

1. Work
2. Piano
3. Grocery store
4. Read Bible
5. Fix dinner
6. Make an apple pie
7. Clean up kitchen
8. Spend time with L
9. 15 minutes on the house (living room or my office)
10. Take care of today's mail

3) Do Something! (10 minutes)

Since we tackled our entryways yesterday, let's tackle our living rooms today. Light a candle, put on your aprons, turn on some uplifting music, and get to work!

Set the timer for ten minutes and work on picking up and cleaning up this room. Start by putting throwing out trash, putting away misplaced items, and straightening up things. If you have time, do a quick dust and vacuum of the room.

Will update later when I have something to report.

Update 1: The pie is in the oven, and I'm taking 10 minutes to rest and drink some water. My back is killing me from cooking, baking, and washing dishes. I'm not sure why it's hurting so much lately when I do any of those things for more than about 10 minutes, but it is. That usually is a sign I'm wearing bad shoes with no support or cushioning, but that hasn't been the case lately.

Update 2: Break is long over, but I've now dealt with the mail and some other paperwork tasks. The pie will be coming out of the oven soon, and it smells wonderful. I've got Christmas music playing and it's very peaceful. After I take care of the pie I'll spend some time in my office.

Update 3: Pie is out of the oven and it looks great. My office is 20 minutes cleaner and I got some nagging tasks done. Now I'm off to have a cup of tea and try that pie.

Thanks again for the challenge!

Thankful Tuesday

1. By 5:00 Friday the horrible, awful, terrible seminar that I've been arranging at work will be over. I just have to make it to 5:00 Friday.

2. My mixer arrived. I haven't unboxed it yet because when it arrived I was still in the depths of feeling terrible. I *hope* to give it a try this weekend. (See point #1 above as to why it has to wait until the weekend).

3. Christmas gifts for L are all purchased, with the exception of stocking stuffers. I need to go to Target/Walmart/Meijer and see what I can find for him. I also need to look and see if I spot anything for myself that I can either tell him about or just buy & show him what he got me. ;) He hates thinking of stocking stuffer things, although he does take care of all chocolate that goes into the stocking.

4. Insurance at work for next year actually went down in price. When does that ever happen? Ok, it only went down by $5 for the month (employee only) but still. Yay for that! I don't know what will happen with L's rates yet, but hopefully his won't go up too much. I don't dare hope that they would go down too.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven Challenge: Day 1'm following along in Crystal's Making Our Homes a Haven Challenge, and today was the first challenge. From her site:

Today's Challenge:

1. Refresh Your Spirit (5 minutes)

Take five minutes, brew a cup of tea or coffee, and sit down and be still before the Lord. Pray, read a Psalm, thank the Lord for His goodness and blessing in your life.

I didn't go for the tea or coffee she described, but I had a delicious cup of hot chocolate (I love my Ghiradelli mix!) and I read some Psalm 139, then continued where my daily reading had left me in Genesis. What a nice way to transition from work to being at home!

2. Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)

Today's planning project is centered on a morning routine... Write down five things you want to do in the same order every morning. Keep it simple and only stick to five things. If five things seem overwhelming, start with three. Starting somewhere is better than not starting at all!

Not a problem here, I am such a huge list-maker, but I did take the opportunity to go over my morning routine and see if I wanted to add anything to it.

Currently my morning routine is:
Dressed & ready for the day
Tidy a bathroom
Go over memory verse
5 minute room rescue
Empty the dishwasher
Read daily devotionals
Read Bible passage

I have fallen out of the habit of tidying a bathroom and doing a 5 minute room rescue every morning, but for awhile I did both faithfully. I'm still working on establishing a morning prayer habit, I'm sad to say. Everything else I do very reliably.

3. Do Something! (5 -15 minutes)

Each day I'm going to be giving you a simple organizational task to complete in your home. And today we're going to start at the very beginning - a very good place to start!

Put on an apron, light a candle, and turn on some uplifting music. Then go to your front door and pretend you are a first-time visitor to your home. Walk in and take a look around. What is your immediate impression of your home? Is it calm and clean or cluttered and chaotic? Take five to fifteen minutes to clean, de-clutter, and beautify your entry area. Do a quick pick up if there are items out of place, mop or vacuum the floor, shake the rug, spot clean the walls, and rearrange things.

No work in my entry today, because by the time I was ready to get started L was home and watching TV in the living room next to the entry. All I need to do in the entry is mop, but I didn't want to bother him by doing it now so I'll wait & try to get to it before he gets home tomorrow. Or at least before he gets to his evening shows.

So instead I took 10 minutes and spent it in the room that most needed some attention: my office. (Why is it always my office that needs work?) My bookcase now does look better, but there is still plenty more to do.

No pictures to share, but someday I may go ahead and see about posting some.

Thanks Crystal for the challenge!

Menu Plan

Monday - sandwiches

Tuesday - black bean soup with corn bread

Wednesday - work event

Thursday - work event

Friday - spaghetti, yum yum

Saturday - out probably, or whatever L wants to fix because I will be celebrating being done with a huge work project (see above, Wednesday & Thursday).

Sunday - beef in the crock pot, exact type tbd. I think perhaps a roast because I know I have one in the freezer.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Memory Verse

Romans 6:23, New International Version

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

So Much for Posting Daily

I think I did fairly well with my attempt to post daily. Ok, so many of the posts were really lame, and I missed the last two days of the month. I was really disappointed in myself for not posting, but I just wasn't feeling well and I couldn't manage to get online with a brain engaged enough to come up with anything. I'm going to try and continue posting daily to keep up the habit. I guess today I'll just start a new streak.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Just Not Right

That's what I keep telling L I am: just not right. I don't think it's lingering from the bout of food poisoning last week, but it could be the fact that I've been staying up way too late recently and not getting enough sleep.

My mother-in-law is visiting tonight and I'm about to head off to bed, even though it's only 8:30. I was sitting next to her on the couch and was falling asleep so after I blog this I'm going to try and sleep.

I actually wonder if it might be the medication I've started taking, because some internet research tells me that flu-like symptoms are a possible side effect. As are crampiness and sore bre*sts. I really really really wish I could stay home from work tomorrow and snuggle on the couch with some books and the remote, but that's not going to be possible. Big seminar thing next week for which I need to do some more stuff to get ready. Yuck yuck yuck. Maybe I can leave early.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thankful Tuesday

  1. I love my Christmas tree - it's my first one ever and it's absolutely beautiful. I had a lot of fun decorating it with L Friday after Thanksgiving. We listed to Christmas music thanks to my ipod & just had a fantastic day.

  2. Only a couple more weeks of work and then L & I go on vacation to DC. I haven't been since I was a kid, and he's never been. I'm not counting driving around it like we did a few years ago heading from Maryland to Georgia. We're already making tentative plans about what museums we want to see. I can't wait!

  3. I am so grateful to be over the food poisoning that I had last week. Not from Thanksgiving, I had it before Thanksgiving to the point that I couldn't really eat anything on Thursday. It definitely wasn't the greatest Thanksgiving I've ever had but it's over and I'm feeling better now and yay for that.

  4. I ordered myself a little something that I've been saving up for for quite awhile. L encouraged me to go ahead and buy the thing already. Here's a picture of it I stole from Amazon:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Monday - sandwiches

Tuesday - stovetop meatloaf

Wednesday - spaghetti

Thursday - orange chicken stir-fry

Friday - pizza

Saturday - black bean soup

Sunday - beef in the crock pot. specifics TBD.

Is it completely obvious that I'm unmotivated to cook and even thinking about things for the week ahead is unappealing?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Memory Verse

Hebrews 12:11, New International Version

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

This Week in Books

A day late, but it's a holiday weekend, so it shouldn't count against me, right? And anyway, it gave me more time to finish more... Oh, nevermind. I only finished one book all week. (Again, I blame the food poisoning incident. It left me uninterested in any books, which is always how I know I'm really sick.)

A.J. Jacobs
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.

Really enjoyed it. Of course, I also really enjoyed finding an error in his book when he wrote about what one group does that I know is wrong. I know I'm in the very small group who would have been able to catch it, so it made me smile - ha ha, he didn't check his facts completely!
Petty quibble aside, this was fascinating reading his account of what it was like spending 8 months trying to follow all the laws in the Old Testament, and 4 months the New Testament. I really appreciated that for the most part, he was really respectful of the customs and rules he was trying to follow - I think it would have been very easy to go into it in a mocking way, and he virtually always avoided that. One of my favorite parts are when his wife thwarts him by sitting in every seat in the house, leaving him with no places left to sit (since he can't sit anywhere she has while she is "unclean" a.k.a. having her period). The description of it is great - he keeps trying new chairs and she deadpans "sat there." "Sat there too." "Yeah, sat there." "And there, and there, and there." My other favorite part is where he manages to out-talk the Jehovah's Witness. I had no idea that was possible. ;)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Weekend Continues

Considering that I've been pretty sick since Wednesday evening,* today was a really nice day. Out to lunch with my sweetie. Stopped by the store to buy ornament hangers, (because I'm the goofball who didn't know you needed to buy hangers to hang ornaments. I thought you just bought ornaments.) Watched some SEC football. Decorated my first tree (it's beautiful!). Drank tea. Ate cookies. Didn't throw up.

All in all, a good day.

*Food poisoning stinks. Especially before Thanksgiving so that you can't enjoy turkey and all the side dishes. And especially the desserts. Darn you tainted food!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I mentioned yesterday that I love Thanksgiving. And I do. Growing up, my family didn't celebrate Christmas so Thanksgiving took on either more importance. It's still the only real holiday I can celebrate with my parents (sorry, 4th of July just never was a big deal in my family so it doesn't feel like a holiday celebration for me). They live several states away however so we don't see them often.

Next year my mom has asked us to come visit for Thanksgiving, and by "us" I mean my whole family, the tiny amount of it there is - two brothers and their families, and an aunt. I'm not sure if my uncle and his family will be there or not. Probably not; we tend to only see them at weddings and we're weddinged-out for awhile. I realize compared to a lot of people that's not a bad sized group - even without my uncle, and counting all kids, no matter how small, it would be 12 people. But my husband's family is quite large, with seemingly endless numbers of aunts, uncles and cousins. Twelve is laughable for them. Just his immediate family (parents, siblings & spouses & nieces is 13+. The "plus" is dependent on whether or not some of his siblings have current significant others in attendance. Usually a yes with at least one of them. I think the size also seems different with his family because, how to put this nicely, well, they're a lot louder than mine. More talking, more loud talking, more hugging, just MORE.

It overwhelmed me at first. It still does occasionally, but it's starting to grow on me. Now if they'd only let me go hide in peace now and then when I need to. Hey, I'm an introvert.

I've really drifted with this post - started with Thanksgiving and it morphed into a description of my inlaws.

To bring it back onto the original topic, this Thanksgiving will not include any of my family, and none of his immediate family. But it will include some of his aunts and uncles and cousins and one grandmother. Total number of guests I believe will be about 13, with another 8 possibly dropping by for a brief visit. The loudness will be there.


[Somehow I saved this as a draft and forgot to post it yesterday. But it was written! I blame it on the grossness that was taking over my digestive system (see Friday's footnote)]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Grocery Shopping

Yeah, so I went to Super Target yesterday. I knew better than to go today when everyone would be doing last minute panicked shopping. Must have green beans! And cream of mushroom soup! And fried onions!!!

Seriously people, that casserole is gross. My husband loves it however, especially made with canned beans and that to me is completely inedible.

Anyway, I wasn't really planning on writing about green bean casserole, just saw two separate endcap displays with all the fixins' for it. Apparently they're expecting a run on green bean casserole stuff.

Talking about green bean casserole reminds me of last Thanksgiving, where I was asked to bring it. So I made it with frozen green beans; then at least it's edible for me. But, even better, is that I made a separate dish of green beans almandine. Guess which ones went first? Yup, the version with almonds and no nasty soup. This year I wasn't asked to make it so I'm sure it's back to gross canned beans so no beans for me Thursday.

Back to Target, it was very busy but I eventually got all my stuff and then waited FOREVER in line because after I'd unloaded enough items to fill the conveyor belt, the computer crashed as the checkout person was processing the customer's payment. Well, crashed may not be exactly what happened, but they said it shut itself off, so that seems like a crash to me. So they had to wait for it to reboot, then ring all of her stuff again, then she paid and then finally my order could start being rung up. Ugh, did I pick the wrong line. Fortunately I was smart and had visited the bathroom before I started shopping so I was not desperate like I would have been otherwise.

Got home and fortunately hubs was home and helped me carry the bags inside. Then I made him take me out to dinner because I was worn out and starving. He's a good guy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thankful Tuesday - Thanksgiving Themed

  1. It's Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday because it doesn't carry with it the expectations and family issues that Christmas does.

  2. Turkey this week. I do love turkey, but never make it myself because it just makes too much and I don't want that much leftover turkey. Plus my husband and I don't like dark meat so it really gives too much of meat we'll never eat.

  3. A three-day work week. Woo-hoo! Gotta love that. Thursday will be spent with my husband's family, then Friday we'll decorate our Christmas tree. I may do some baking. Over the weekend will be more decorating, baking, listening to music, reading, etc. Fabulous!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Plan for Thanksgiving Week!

Last week didn't follow the plan very much - only made one meal that was on the original list. Maybe this week will follow it a little more, but even if not, it's good to have some ideas in advance, so with that: What I think I'll make this week:

Monday - Mexi-Mac Skillet (Light & Tasty, October/November 2007 pg. 26) [yup, from last week]

Tuesday - Orange Chicken Stir-Fry (Light & Tasty, October/November 2007 pg. 27) [yes, last week's again]

Wednesday - Sandwiches.

Thursday - TURKEY!!! And all I have to do for it is bring a dessert and drinks.

Friday - Black Bean Soup.

Saturday - Spaghetti. Yum yum.

Sunday - something in the crockpot that will provide leftovers.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blogs I Love

(semi-)regularly updated and expanded...

Biblical Womanhood
Of course I love this one, I link back to it just about every Monday.

A Chelsea Morning
She makes me wish I was crafty and could sew/create like she does. Or that she'd adopt me.

Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
Another great one for photographs, and her posts are wonderful - funny, touching, appalling or some combination.

Cookie Baker Lynn
Great writing, great photographs, and great recipes. What's not to love?

Making Home
Thought-provoking and inspiring.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Great photography, and some luscious sounding recipes. Especially those cinnamon rolls.

Pleasant View Schoolhouse
The photographs by her son which she regularly posts are fantastic.

I started reading her regularly when she went to Uganda, and couldn't leave. She's fantastic.

Memory Verse

1 Peter 1:23, New International Version

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christmas is Coming

Not a big surprise or anything, but I'm really looking forward to it this year. My husband and I haven't really done anything for Christmas before but this year we're getting each other gifts. And we have a tree. And a wreath is ordered. And cards will be sent out (need to get working on them).

I need to finalize my wish list so I can share it with my husband (and I need to think of a pseudonym for him to use while blogging.) He's already shared his list with me, and I've even purchased his first gift. Shhhh - it's a pair of warm slippers for him to wear around the house. We keep the heat low to save on the gas bill but it does then require warm socks and slippers or shoes. His current slippers are very thin and not very comfy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Week in Books

Not much competition to be included this week, since I only finished three books all week.

Irene Spencer
Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife: A Memoir
Somewhat hard to read because of the difficult life she had - living in abject poverty as the second wife (of an eventual total of ten wives). Somewhat repetitive (she's jealous! she doesn't see him enough! they have no money!) overall it is a compelling read.

Sue Ray
And Now For the Good News... A Mega-Dose of Positive News to Inform, Inspire, and Fill You With Optimism.
I wanted to like this much more than I did. I skimmed this so heavily, finding the stories not really what I was expecting, and not at all leaving me filled with optimism.

Jennifer Lee Carrell
Interred with Their Bones
Amazon reviews are comparing it to the DaVinci Code. Since I never read that book, I can't speak to their similarities, but it reminded me of the feel of The Historian. The scholar finding something that leads to a search across continents while being chased by a killer. That brief synopsis does no justice whatsoever to the story however, which is filled with detailed Shakespeare trivia. Not being a Shakespeare buff, I have no idea how correct her claims are, but the story worked for me. What I didn't like is a general novel pet peeve - the extremely wealthy protagonist (or friend) who enables the protagonist to never have to worry about funds. Need to hop a plane to fly across the Atlantic? Here's your first class ticket. And a suitcase fill of new, expensive clothes for you since you had no time to pack. And on and on it goes.