Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter Wonderings

Yesterday the cubs and I headed out in the winter cold for a field trip. As we were driving to school, Darlin' asked why it wasn't snowing, because it was certainly cold enough.

Looking out the window at the clear blue skies and white fluffy clouds (the kind that always form the coolest shapes), I responded that there wasn't any precipitation.

At that point the cubs gazed imploringly at the sky and pleaded for a little "participation!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Go Ahead, Bragg A Little Bit!

As I peruse various blogs, it seems that many of you are interested in eating more healthfully. Now, I'm no authority on health food, but I am an expert on dieting. I certainly have attained the know how, I just need to work on the follow through!

To sum up, over the past 15 years I have tried the following diet fads: The Cabbage Soup Diet, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, an elimination diet, Marilu Henner, Atkin's, Suzanne Somer's, South Beach, E-Diets, Medifast, The Pericone Prescription, and the Rotation Game.

Pathetic, huh?

The only successes I had was with Weight Watchers and the elimination diet. The first I found to be a bit tedious. The second was done to determine food allergies. As you can gather from the name, you pretty much eliminate everything from your diet and add foods back in slowly one at a time. You can't help but loose weight during the process, but you can only live like that for so long.

My point here, is that I have tried many programs that have worked well for others, but not for me. Perhaps some of you may find yourself in the same boat?

As I forge ahead on our family's current meal plan, The Rotation Game (doctor ordered for food allergies, not weight loss), I find myself utilizing helpful bits and pieces from those past diets. As I have wasted time, money, sweat and tears trying things that either didn't work, were too complicated to follow or just plain tasted horrible, I thought I would share some of the gems I have gleaned and possibly help others avoid similar grief and frustration.

See, I'm here for ya. All those years of yo-yo dieting were not for naught!

So my healthy habit tip for the day: Bragg's Liquid Aminos. (Thanks, Marilu!)

This stuff is great. It's chock full of protein and nutrition, not to mention that it is very tasty! If you need to avoid gluten, this is a perfect replacement for tamari or soy sauce.

Give it a try! I use this for much more than Chinese stir-fry. Try it in place of Worcestershire sauce to give meat loaf, steak, roast, chops, soup, etc. a healthy boost and a little zip. It also tastes yummy on baked fish or drizzled over steamed veggies. Spritz it on salad to replace a high calorie dressing.

Below is a yummy dish I created for dinner this week. I'm not one for recipes. I never seem to follow them, as I'm always substituting things or adding stuff to suit my tastes. So bear in mind that I am estimating the amounts that I used and I advise the taste-as-you-cook method.

Chicken Primavera
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 of a green pepper, diced
  • 1/4 of a red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 of a large Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small yellow squash, diced
  • 1 cup green cabbage, sliced & diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bag of Perdue Italian style grilled chicken short cuts (or 1 16 oz can chicken or whatever grilled chicken you may have. If it is not seasoned already then make sure to add your preferred seasoning to the dish.)
Here's how I cooked it. I chopped up all the veggies and dumped them in the electric frying pan. I poured the EVOO over it - I'm guessing at least a 1/4 cup. Then I turned on the pan and sauteed everything all at once. Next, I added the Bragg's until I liked the taste. Last, I added the grilled chicken and kept it cookin' til the veggies were tender.

Serve over pasta or rice. I recommend Bionaturae's gluten free pasta made with rice, potato and soy. It has a good flavor and holds together well, as long as you don't overcook it. That and white Vita Spelt pastas are the only wheat substitute pastas our family likes (and have even served to unsuspecting guests in soups and pasta dishes!)


F.Y.I.: Marilu Henner has a good program if you are organized and determined. She has lots of good recipes and tips. Just be prepared to spend more money at the grocery store on the healthier fare and extra time preparing meals. As I recall, hubby's response to this program was, "I can do with a little less fish!"

Chewy's My Favorite! Who Is Your Favorite Star Wars Character?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Half Way There

I noticed that I've posted 52 times so far in my short blogging career. Wow! I have lots more ideas too, just need time to get them to ya.

For my 100th post I plan to list the "100 things about me!" Now that I'm half way there, I better get started on that.

I'm in a bit of a rush this morning, so this is just a quickie. Hopefully, I'll be back today to post something somewhat relevant to my life and yours, but it's party week so I'm off to shop for gifts.

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Monday, February 25, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

This morning my dear cub was dressed a bit like a character out of Oliver. Tattered sweatshirt that was 2 inches too small in the arms, sweat pants that were two sizes too short and sticky-uppy hair in all directions (drat! I neglected to fix that one - hopefully the spiked hair will be cool today!)

I asked Buddy to change and handed him a pile of clean clothes from which to choose (and hopefully also put away!) He just looked at me, smiled and sighed, "Thank you, dearest Mother."

This remark brightened my groggy-still-waking-up-mood and warmed me heart. Yes, he said this sincerely and without a hint of sarcasm. . .imagine that. Of course, this sincerity probably stems from the fact that most of the family is usually searching for clean clothes nearly every morning, because the gazillion loads of laundry that I seem to do constantly are always the wrong piles and he was just glad to have some clean clothes that actually fit him! It's a never ending saga - laundry is my nemesis. Deep breath. Right now, however, I will choose to put that negativity behind me while I throw another load of laundry in and enjoy the appreciative comment from my adorable cub!

That moment with my son made me think of Proverbs 31:28, where it states: "Her children arise and call her blessed...." It's nice to see a glimpse of the Proverbs 31 woman in my life as I feel that I am daily failing miserably at achieving the character described in that pericope. Also, I am reminded of the fact that I want to commit Proverbs 31 to memory this year. So, as I've previously done verses 1-9, I'll start with verse 10:

A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Mmmm, wonder how much I'm worth?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Let It Snow!

Finally, a snow day! Ahhh, snow makes me smile!
View from a front window (above) and the back (below.)

Not much snow compared to other places, or even other years, here in PA. This is the only snow day the kids have had all winter! I actually enjoyed brushing the mounds of snow off the car, shoveling the white fluffy stuff, helping Buddy sled and our brief snowball fight!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oh Baby!

I made it! I finally got to visit with my friend and her new baby. It was such a nice afternoon of catching up and touring the new place. The highlight, of course, was having plenty of baby time with the new little snuggle bug! She is a cutie and I enjoyed the baby cuddles immensely!

The remainder of the afternoon was spent at Wal-Mart. Buddy bumped heads with someone at recess, so we had to traipse over to W.M. to have his glasses bent back into the correct shape. I've lost count on how many times he's had to have his glasses "unbent"! It must be a boy thing.

While his glasses were being fixed I noticed a welt developing on his eyebrow, so we went next door to get a, usually forbidden, Icee. I let him have the treat after he held it to his forehead long enough to help the swelling go down. I think he was a bit disappointed that he wouldn't be getting a black eye!

Next, we had some birthday party shopping to do. Darlin' picked out a cute purse for a friend's party. Naturally, I felt inspired (or perhaps compelled by the torn handles of my own purse) to buy myself a new bag. What do ya think?

I hope it's not bordering on a bit-too-much-like-Tina Turner for me (it's not nearly as reflective in real life!) Besides, it matches my coat. . .not to mention my hair. . .and that's about the extent of my fashion coordination!

Lastly, we loaded up on CARS party supplies and Hot Wheels for Buddy's birthday party next week. Somewhere along the line I promised to make a race car birthday cake (yikes!), so keep a look out next weekend to see if I succeed.

Quick stop on the way home to pick up London Broil on sale at Giant - buy one get one free - SCORE! Sale ends Saturday, so if you're local stock up on some steak!

Well, they are forecasting a substantial snow storm for tomorrow. I'll let you know if we finally get a snow day around here!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Will I or Won't I? That is the Question.

OK, I'm healthy, the cubs are healthy and Hubby's healthy. What's wrong with this picture? Oh . . . nothing! It just seems that since the New Year this may be the first week where everyone is healthy at the same time!

What a concept.

For the past month I have tried, to no avail, to visit one of my dearest friends who just had a baby. Well, not just, almost 5 weeks ago! Also, in that time they packed up and moved into a new home. So to recap: I've missed being able to help as much as I had hoped with packing, unpacking, bringing meals, and of course, oohing and aahing over the new little girl (and the new house too!)

It has been almost comical (and I say almost because I think I may cry if it happens again!) that every time I have scheduled to bring a meal over, help carpool one of the boys or stop by to see the new baby - something comes up. Inevitably someone in our family starts sniffling and the next thing you know we're battling strep or the flu!

Well, (I almost hate to mention it for fear that it won't come true) I am supposed to stop by for a visit tomorrow after Bible study! Will I or won't I? That is the question that may just keep me up all night wondering if the noise down the hall is the start of the next round of runny noses or hacking coughs.

All is quiet. So far so good. Think I may be ready for tomorrow: Meat loaf - check. Mashed potatoes - check. Green beans - check. Cupcakes - check. Baby blanket - check.

Time to head to bed - but first I'll take a precautionary Vitamin C!

3-D Bonus: Cool Shades!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hannah Montana

This weekend we surprised our cubs by taking them to see the Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour in Disney Digital 3-D!

I must say that it was a pretty fun experience. We all enjoyed the special 3-D effects - even in the previews - bonus!

It was fun to see the preparation for the concert and all the activity backstage. Getting a glimpse into Miley's life was cool and it was amazing to see how such a young girl handles being a star. Her parents were right there with her and it seems that they do a good job in the parenting department. So I don't mind my kids attending her "concert", watching her show or crooning her songs at the top of their lungs!

My only critique of the production is in the editing. I felt that there were too many things that were hinted at and never delivered. For instance, I was looking forward to a duet on stage with Billy Ray that was mentioned, even sat through the credits hoping it would be at the end. . .nope.

All in all I give it:Since it is geared toward kids, I thought it only fair that I let the cubs have their say. Naturally, they give it their stamp of approval with a rating of:

If you've got pre-teens who love to watch Hannah Montana, then this is a sure fire winner as a perfect Cub's Choice. Just be prepared to pay more at the box office for a "concert" - we paid $15 per ticket. That's a bit annoying since I know it doesn't cost them nearly as much to put together a concert as it does a multi-million dollar movie production. I just hope Miley picks an excellent college education as a result!

(1 hour 40 min. Rated G)

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Monumental Day

Well, ladies and gentlemen, today we had cable installed! I know that every single one of you reading this post probably has had cable TV or Satellite for eons now, so you can't comprehend how this could possibly be a monumental event to our family . . . but believe me . . . it is.

We even have a Family Cable Contract. Yup, you heard right. All of us, even the cubs, had to sign on the dotted line that we would not "be mastered by the TV."

That's pretty much the main reason we have not gotten cable before. Just way too much stuff to waste our time and brain cells on. C'mon, do we really need hundreds of channels? Nope.

Besides, what seems to be on most of the channels is certainly not something we want our family to be watching. Can't tell you how many shows, ratings, and channels we blocked - it took almost an hour to go through it all!

After my less than stellar reaction to our recent cable hook up, you may be wondering why we are wasting precious money on this. Hubby will be creating software for the set top cable box, so it seemed a logical step.

All I care about is the clear picture! I'm just happy to finally see my favorite broadcast shows clearly after 12 years of bunny ears and static! (The DVR is pretty darn cool too!)

So I'm gonna make sure we all stick to our family contract, because if we don't it's back to regular old snowy, blurry, buzzy, intermittent broadcast TV. . .yikes!

Repairing My Walls

As I struggle to incorporate the character traits of the Proverbs 31 woman into my own heart, the greatest hindrance I find is lack of self-control. Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a red-headed Irish lass and sometimes I feel like the very essence of my being is working against me here, but still it is no excuse for a short fuse!

At times I've had my cubs memorize the following Proverb when they have struggled with the sin of anger and a lack of self-control.

Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

The metaphor of a city wall is quite interesting. Here, it is our self-control that protects and defends our heart against the invasion of the enemy, just like the city walls of ancient Jerusalem. But if we let our wall crumble and fall, then we give Satan an entry point to attack and wreak havoc in our lives.

I think it's high time I commit this Proverb to memory myself, so the Holy Spirit can use that to convict my heart before I am teetering on the brink of hot-headed emotionalism!

So this week, before I burst out in frustration, I will count to 10, recite this Proverb and pray.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Funny Valentine

Valentine's Day Moments:

Imported Italian Pink Pinot Grigio Veneto: $10
A Dozen Red Roses: $20
Romantic Italian Dinner: $60+
Chick Flick, Becoming Jane: $21

Hubby's Homemade Valentine ...


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day!

Taking a brief moment before running out the door to Bible study, to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day! I had hoped to do a little write up myself of the history behind the pink hearts, but after grocery shopping til 11 p.m., baking til midnight, doing laundry til 12:30 a.m. (can you tell I'm a night owl!), getting to bed at 1 a.m. and trying to get to sleep til 3 a.m. - I don't seem to have the mental capacity to do anything creative. Soooo, I've decided to just pass along this post on Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Ever feel like a couch potato?

HA! I just couldn't resist this one! Hubby and I dressed as Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head at a costume party quite a few years back. In the foreground is Buddy galloping by as Woody and Darlin' glammed up as Belle!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Life, Liberty and "The Pursuit of Happyness"

If ever you find yourself down and out, perhaps looking for work, feeling discouraged about your uphill battles and just wanting to hide under a blanket, then I suggest you watch The Pursuit of Happyness. If this movie doesn't help put things in perspective, make you feel much better about yourself and motivate you to pull yourself out of those depressing circumstances . . . I don't know what will!

It is an amazing story of Chris Gardner (masterfully portrayed by Will Smith) and his struggle to pursue the American dream all the while protecting his young son (played by Smith's real-life son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith - whose screen presence is worthy of such a big name!)

Will Smith surely earned his 2007 Oscar nod as he brilliantly draws us into the story and the heart of a man who, though broken, continues not just in pursuit of, but we are talking hot pursuit while running breathlessly after the seemingly elusive ideal of the American dream: a job, a home, a happy family.

Put this at the top of your Netflix queue and trust me, you'll be happy you did!

Hope you enjoyed my first installment of The Popcorn Diaries, Movie Reviews From the Den! Keep an eye out for my thoughts on some of these films: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Apollo 13, Groundhog Day and more!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Back To Blogging!

I'm back! Did ya miss me?! Thanks to my loyal followers who checked the blog daily over the last week to see if I was doing anything. Sorry to disappoint. Good news though, I have now officially returned from the recliner!

No, I wasn't off enjoyin' a bit of R&R to watch a movie marathon from the comfort of my favorite chair. Believe me, that would have been fun and this bit o' time off was anything but! I had the misfortune of being struck with a double whammy: influenza with a side of kidney stones!

Whew! Glad that is over. Now that the fever is gone, I'm able to get back to the computer. Housecleaning may have to wait a bit longer though (aw, shucks!) as my legs still feel like JELLO when I walk.

During this time I was able to see God's providential hand in the life of my family and our church family. It all comes down to timing, and that my friends, is never a coincidence but more accurately a "God - cidence"!

Friends of ours lost their house to fire last week. The same week other friends moved, leaving an empty home ready to be occupied by the now homeless family! One college student chose to stay home this semester, enabling her to call 911, helping to assist her sister and prevent greater loss and tragedy for their family and neighbors!

In our family, Hubby was home this week and able to take over my duties with the kids and help care for me while I was down for the count!

From the mundane to the tragic, God's hand is evident as He orchestrates what we sometimes flippantly refer to as LIFE! This brought to my mind a memory verse for this week, Romans 8: 28-30:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Monday Morning Memory Verse

Today's verse, 1 Timothy 6: 20 & 21, reads:

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.

I've been quite sick the past few days, so I just picked another verse from 1 Timothy. It happens to sum up the theme of the book. Paul spends the letter instructing Timothy on how to guard the gospel.

Hopefully, once my eyes stop burning after a minute at the computer, I'll be able to post again in the next day or so. Just wanted to let you know that I'm still alive. Sick as a dog, yes, but still breathing, well not through my nose as I would like to, but we'll call it breathing just the same!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Envelope please

And the winner of the Solebury Home Teas is....

But before I get to that, thank you to everyone to stopped by and entered My First Bloggy Giveaway. I was excited to read all your sweet comments. I look forward to visiting the rest of your sites (it's taking a while to get through all 237). Come back and visit again. I plan to have another giveaway in the next couple weeks.

While you're here today, please vote in my poll about blogging.

And now (drum role please), the winner is Dukes' and Duchesses. Congratulations, please email me ( your snail mail address and I'll get it to you ASAP.

Weekend Poll-Blogging

As a newbie blogger, I've decided to enlist the help of you more experienced bloggers out there in cyberspace (well, all 10 of my faithful visitors!) How do you manage your blogging with your family responsibilities?

I am amazed at how much time this new obsession of mine is sucking out of my day. I enjoy writing my posts, reading other's, following little bloggity trails to new ones and leaving comments here and there. Only after this, I find that several hours have slipped right through my frantically typing fingertips.

It became quite clear that I needed to learn how to better balance my new blogging hobby with the rest of my life, when Hubby reminded me on his way to work the other week that there are more important things to do with my day than blog...yikes!

Just wait. . .it gets even worse. Hubby also informed me that Darlin' had her own opinion of my new hobby. Apparently she had asked Daddy how long it would take to read the Bible. He calculated that if one read 18 hrs a day it would take 10 days to complete, but that a lot of people do it in a year by reading about 1/2 hour a day. Darlin' replied that she thought that she could do that if she were a stay at home mom. And that maybe Mommy could do that if she wasn't blogging all the time! Hubby retorted, "You could do that too if you weren't on Webkins so much." "Touche!" she conceeded. Ouch!

So if you have any tips to help keep me blogging while striving to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother. . .I'm in dire need of guidance!

I also thought it would be interesting to see how much time we all spend blogging. So after leaving a comment please check out the poll below!

[Sorry, poll has been removed]

***Check back soon for the winner of my bloggy giveaway. It ended Friday night Feb. 1st.***