Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so here is a picture of the girls' costumes in their almost final form. We tweaked things a bit for their parties yesterday, but I don't have time to try to post those pics because I have a just a few other things going on!

The grand total for both costumes was $12. The best part was that Sarah and Abbey came up with the costume ideas and needed very little help from me!

Thank you again for your terrific ideas. I'm saving them for future reference.

Hope you have a fabulous day whether you celebrate halloween or not!

Oh, and just in case you can't tell--Abbey is a dalmation and Sarah is Cruella de Vill.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Now if only the weather would cooperate....


I love making soup in the fall and winter. I also use the heck out of my crockpot this time of year, so I was very glad when I saw the Souptacular-Crockpotalooza going on at Boomama's blog today. Now, I just need the weather to get cooler so I can start cooking. Somehow, temps in the 70s don't make me want to start simmering soup!

Here are two of my favorite recipes...

Lentil and Sausage Soup
1 14oz cans chicken broth
1.5 cups water
1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
6 oz cooked smoked sausage links, sliced

In a large saucepan, combine broth, water, lentils, celery, carrot, onion, dried thyme, cayenne, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until lentils and veggies are tender. Stir in sausage. Heat through and serve. I double this for our family of five. Oh, and this is also a frugal recipe. Lentils are super cheap!

*My kids don't like chunks of carrots, onion, or celery in their soup, but I love the flavor, SO, I put a whole onion in while cooking, and whole carrots and stalks of celery. I use my tongs to remove them before I serve. It's a win-win--flavor without the chunky veggies.

Pulled-Pork Sandwiches (Crockpot)
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3-5 lb boneless pork shoulder
hamburger buns or hoagie rolls
barbeque sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's is our favorite!!!)
coleslaw (optional)

In the crock-pot, mix ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, sage, oregano, salt and pepper. Trim fat from pork and cut in half. Add meat to crock-pot and turn to coat all sides with ketchup mixture. Cover and cook on low until very, very tender. About 8 hours on low; 6 hours on high. Transfer pork to a large bowl. Using two forks, pull meat apart until shredded. Pour juices from crock-pot over pork to moisten. Spoon onto buns or rolls. Add barbeque sauce and/or coleslaw if you're from the South. So delicious.

There are so many side dishes that go well with this. Sometimes I make baked beans, or potato salad, or asian coleslaw, or corn-on-the-cob, and sometimes we just have chips and a green salad.

Click here for more great recipe ideas!


I'm swamped today so I wanted to share some bloggy love. These are some great things I've come across lately in blogland!

Check out...
Janna's new blog. Janna has been blogging for awhile, but she just changed her blog format. She has some of the most creative ideas for weaving faith into everyday moments with kids!

A post about authenticity that I enjoyed. When you read my blog, you get a fairly accurate glimpse of who I am, but as a friend told me not long ago, there's so much more to me than what you read here. That's on my list of things to blog about sometime in the near future.

This sweet post by my favorite writer!

This recipe for pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins. I made a batch of these on Saturday and got rave reviews! One neighbor even said that these were "the best" muffins she's ever had. *wow*

How this family spent their Saturday. Our friend, Lane, invited us to do this back in September, and I'm sad to say that we never made it a priority. I hope we can make it happen next fall.

What Jackie sold on ebay. This post convinced me that people will buy anything.

There's also still time to enter my giveaway. Click here for details.

My favorite writer (aka my husband) is giving away a book written by one of his friends over on his blog. If you're interested in checking out his giveaway, click here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Can you see my yellow and black stripes?

I'm busier than a bee this week trying to get things wrapped up before I head out of town this weekend.

I'm going to Fayetteville, AR. My aunt is getting some fancy-schmancy alumni award from the U of A, so almost all of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings are going to be there to support her. I fly out Friday morning and arrive in time for the award banquet that evening. I'm looking forward to Saturday's ballgame, of course, but more than anything I'm excited to see some of my cousins that I haven't seen in 3-4 years.

My dad's side of the family usually gets together once a year for a Razorback game, and I've been very lucky to get to go for the last several years (had to miss last year because John was in Canada) but it's not often that our group is this large. I'm SUPER excited about the weekend!

John is a great sport to let me go. We considered going as a family. We all flew to Arkansas three years ago for the occasion, but plane tickets for a family of five are expensive, and when I bought my ticket this summer, we were still unsure as to whether or not we were going to travel to Arkansas for Thanksgiving. John agreed that I'd have more fun if I went alone (true!) so he's holding down the fort here while I'm gone.

So...let me give you an idea of some of what I've got to finish up before I leave.

Costumes--Can I just give you all a HUGE thanks for the creative costume ideas you gave me in response to my plea for help. As we were driving to the movies on Saturday, I asked the girls to help me think of some ideas (this was before I read your suggestions). We have an old dalmation costume and Abbey said she wanted to be a dalmation. Sarah piped up that if Abbey was a dalmation, she should be Cruella de Vill. She then proceeded to tell me exactly how we could create her costume. I've been pleasantly surprised how quickly this has come together. I'll post pics soon! I think it's going to be cute.

Shots--Will needs a tetanus booster and somehow I overlooked this fact until his school sent me a letter telling me he had to have that shot by a certain date if he wanted to remain in school. So, somehow in the midst of the craziness of this week, I need to take him to get that shot. He is overjoyed as you can imagine.

Grocery list--I like to do my grocery shopping every other Friday. Lately, I've gotten a bit off track and ended up going on Mondays. I don't want that hanging over my head next week after my trip, so John graciously offered to do the shopping for me this weekend. And I'm totally going to let him. I need to get busy making my menu plan and shopping list. Which reminds me that I want to work on my meal system post...but that will have to wait awhile.

Fall parties--two parties for two girls at the same time on the same afternoon. Makes me tired just thinking about it. I'll split my time between the two of them and I guarantee you I'll come home exhausted.

Pack--I've already started!

Book--I'm telling you, I've really been sucked into (ha ha) Twilight. I've gotta find New Moon to take with me on the plane.

Since this is turning into a random post...and really, I think I have at least one of those each week...let me tell you that we've found a church we really like. We've been twice now and I think we could probably land there for awhile. We have a couple of others we'd still like to visit, but this one has a lot of things that we're excited about. Plus, the kids LOVE it. I'm very encouraged because finding a church home can be such a long, hard process. I'm not saying this is "it" but it definitely has us intrigued.

If you don't know me by now... will after this:

I don't think so.
*I stand corrected. My middle name is "Lee" and my mom just emailed to tell me that my dad chose Lee after Robert E. Lee (my dad is a civil war buff) and Lee is also a family name. I'd forgotten that. Thanks, mom.

Yesterday--while talking to a friend. She shared something she's going through right now and it broke my heart.


Turkey, I guess. I don't really enjoy sandwiches.

Three. Will, Sarah, and Abbey.


Not really.


No way.

Shredded wheat.


Sometimes yes, sometimes no.



Red. Can't stand pink.

I hate my teeth.

Black pj pants, and a pair of SmartWool shoes.

Roast beef and mashed potatoes.

Jack the Beagle eating his food--loudly!

Lime green

Cinnamon, coffee, and rain.



Medium brown




Happy endings

Smart People. Before that Indiana Jones (the new one--and it was weird).


Both please.

Apple pie!


Don't have a mouse pad

Didn't even turn it on last night.

My family laughing.


Dunno. Never been out of the US.

Jonesboro, AR

See? I told you I liked memes. Plus, today is my busy day and I wanted to be able to post something. Have a good one!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm feeling generous...

**UPDATED--Giveaway will remain open until 9AM (MST) Monday, November 3 at which time I'll pick a winner!**

I haven't done a giveaway in awhile, so what better time to hop on the Bloggy Giveaway bandwagon than now?

Here's what I'm offering: A Creative Memories Mini Everyday Display

To enter for a chance to win, simply leave me a comment. I will close comments on Friday, October 31 at noon (MST) and will select a winner on Monday, November 3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry international friends). You don't have to have a blog to enter, but if you don't have one, you MUST leave a valid email address in your comment. One entry per person, please.

Prize includes:
• An 13x13-inch frame with beveled edges
• An 8x8 fabric-covered magnetic board inside the frame
• 4 black decorative magnets
• A thin black ribbon stretched across the lower portion of the magnetic board
• 2 black clothespins
• A black ribbon and a decorative peg for hanging the frame
• Sawtooth hanger option
• Easel for tabletop display

• Frame finished in weathered-look chocolate black
• Fits 8x8 paper or digital print

Thanks for stopping by! For more great giveaways, click here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Am I really 38 years old?

I've been asking myself that all day today because I'm completely absorbed in this book...

and I can't get the songs from this movie out of my head.

Not only that, but I used Facebook to make babysitting arrangements this morning.

I feel so young, and (almost) HIP!

Help a girl out. Please. Pretty please.

I'm not a fan of Halloween. Not because I think it's a dark holiday or anything like that, but because I am so incredibly challenged in the creative costume idea/costume making department. Nothing stresses me out more this time of year than the thought of having to come up with something for my kids to wear.

Last year, I talked the kids out of trick-or-treating, but I still didn't escape the whole costume ordeal because they encourage costumes at their school "fall" party. *Why they don't just go ahead and call it a Halloween party is beyond me.*

I threw some costumes together for the girls last year using the contents of our dress-up box and their closet. Abbey was a princess, and Sarah dressed up like one of her AG dolls. Simple, quick, and cheap--perfect for me--especially since I started thinking about what they could wear the night before the party.

I don't like stress, so I'm trying to come up with something cute, clever and cheap for this year BEFORE the actual party on Thursday. Any ideas or suggestions for me? I'd love to pick all of your creative brains. I only need ideas for Sarah and Abbey because Will doesn't want to dress up. Oh, and it has to be something easy to put togther. I have a sewing machine, but let's just say we're not the best of friends.

The jury is still out on whether or not they'll trick or treat this year. I'm going to be in Arkansas next weekend, and whenever they ask their dad about it, he just kinda rolls his eyes and changes the subject.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It all comes out in the wash...

I mentioned last week that I've been thinking about a couple of my household systems--mainly laundry and meals. I have to stay on top of those two areas in order for life around here to stay on track. If I get off track it seems to take a long time for me to catch back up.

So, in light of that, here's my laundry system:
I do 2 loads of laundry every single day. Usually darks and whites.

I have friends who do laundry once a week and others who do it twice a week. I'm a big believer in finding out what works for you and sticking with it.

For me, creating a household system such as laundry is usually a response to a need to do get things in order or to take what I'm currently doing and find ways to do it better or more efficiently.

Here are some ideas that have helped me.

Start first thing in the morning. My best laundry days are days that I get up and get the wash going right away. I've found that the few minutes it takes for the coffee to brew or the tea to steep is the perfect window of time to get a load in the washer. After breakfast, I run down (my laundry room is in my basement) and put that load in the dryer, and the next load in to wash. I can usually get my two loads of clothes washed before the girls leave for school. That's a very productive feeling!

This works well for me because I can handle 2 loads every day. When I wait and let it pile up, it takes me an entire day to do it all, and honestly, I don't have very many days in my week when I'm home for the entire day. I don't like spending my weekends that way either, so this system has evolved as a way of breaking it down and keeping the task manageable.

Evaluate what hinders you and take action. I'm able to get up and start my laundry first thing because I keep my washer empty. It frustrates me to no end to open the washer to add a load and realize that there is another load in there already (and who knows how long it's been there!). Same thing with the dryer. After many years I've finally learned how important follow-thru is for me when it comes to laundry. If I start a load, I remember to dry it. Clothes that are dry get folded and put away. This not only keeps me caught up daily, but it elminates wasted time having to rewash the load that sat for two days, or re-dry/iron the clothes that sat in the dryer. Because I hate to iron, I like to fold things while they're warm and get them put away.

Putting things away after they've been folded is a huge timesaver for me. I can usually get a load of clothes folded and put away in less than 10 minutes...if I do it immediately! Otherwise, it takes me all week and I end up moving them from my bed (my favorite place to fold clothes) to the floor or a chair.

Other than underwear and pajamas, I keep most of our clothes on hangers. Another thing I've learned is to keep a stash of hangers handy when I'm folding laundry. It's so easy to slip things on the hangers and hang things up immediately rather than stacking them on the chair/bed to hang up later. Too many times those clothes stay there for a couple of days waiting for hangers to magically appear. I also have a stash of hangers and a place to hang things up in my laundry room. I don't dry everything so as soon as stuff comes out of the washer, I go through it and hang up what needs to be air dried.

Figure out what motivates you to keep up with your laundry! I cannot stand clutter. Baskets or piles of dirty laundry equals clutter in my mind. That's probably the biggest reason that I do it every day! I'm also motivated by a clean laundry room, a feeling of accomplishment and order, and the smell and warmth of clothes fresh from the dryer. It's also nice to be able to go to the closet and find what we want to wear and find it hanging neatly instead of sitting at the bottom of a pile of dirty clothes.

How can I incorporate my family's help? My kids know that their dirty clothes go in the laundry basket in the hall closet if they want them to get washed. In the summertime when they're home, they help me with various laundry related tasks including folding/putting clothes away. During the school year, I usually do it for them (I have this thing about clutter, remember?), but occasionally, I'll leave a stack of clothes on their beds for them to put away or hang up when they get home.

Constantly evaluate how the current system can be improved. Because I know that I like to get a jump on the laundry first thing in the morning, I've recently started taking the laundry downstairs at night and sorting it. Same thing with stains that need to be treated. If I do it at night (or as soon as we take the item off), then it's ready to go when I am. I believe there's always some tweaking and room for improvement.

PLEASE know that I'm not perfect when it comes to my system. Just ask my husband. He reads my blog and he'll tell you that not every day is a 2-loads-of-laundry-day. I sometimes spend days and weeks playing catch up...especially when things get busy for us. He'll also tell you that I don't like to get off track with laundry, and that things run much more smoothly for all of us when I'm in my groove. I like it when things run smoothly in our home, and that alone motivates me to keep up with it.

PLEASE let me reiterate again that this is what works for ME. We're all different and we all have different ways of doing things, and I believe we can all learn from each other!

Here's a list of FAQs:

You have enough to do two full loads of laundry every day?
Yes. Especially in the winter when we wear lots of layers. I also don't make my kids wear things twice and here's why. I'm a germophobe. They come home from school smelling like their school and I can't stand it. They've been sitting on the floor and at their desk and sharing thousands of germs with other kids. I just feel better washing everything, so I do. (My green friends are probably cringing at my waste of water and energy right now.) My germophobic tendencies also cause me to go through 4-6 kitchen dishtowels every day too, which nicely rounds out my daily load of whites.

Do you make your own laundry detergent?
No, but I have friends who do. If you are one of those friends and you want to share your recipe, leave it in the comments!

Do you go through tons of detergent?
Not really. I buy a bottle of the liquid kind every two weeks. A lot of times I use less than a full capful to stretch it a bit. And I like to cut my dryer sheets in half to make them stretch a little further too.

How often do you wash sheets?
Usually once every week or two. I try to wash my bathroom rugs once a week as well.

That's all I can think of for now. If you have questions or ideas or suggestions or you think I'm a lunatic, leave me a comment. I'd also love to hear what kind of system works for you in regard to laundry!

PS--My friend, Stephanie, is the one who got me thinking about my systems. You can click here to read what works for her.

PSS--If your name is Rich M --don't even think about commenting on the content of this post or I'll out you and your geriatric issues. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Gotta get this stuff out of my head...and off of my camera, hence the title extraction.

I am SO tired of this election. I cannot voice that strongly enough. I watched a news report this morning about Sarah Palin's wardrobe. Are you kidding me? That's what this has come to? I think I'm going to keep the tv off until November 4.

My eyes are so swollen this morning from crying. I finished up the last dvd of season 7 of Gilmore Girls last night. I cried through the entire last episode. I love that show. I think I'm going to have to go back and start all over with season 1 because I miss those girls already.

I'm not loving our dog so much these days. Yesterday, I came home and found a trail of bread all over the den. He pulled the brand new loaf off of the counter and helped himself to 2/3 of it. Nice. He also keeps pulling the placemats off of the table--dishes and all-- to lick any and every crumb he can find. I just caught him gnawing on Will's ruler that he evidently pulled off of Will's desk.'d think we don't feed him or buy him toys to play with.

Anyone else excited about HSM3 opening this weekend? I'm talking about High School Musical 3 for those of you who are wondering. My kids are jazzed...and so is their mother. I would love to check them out of school early on Friday and take them to see it but I don't know if that plan will fly with their dad. (Please say yes, John--I wanna be the favorite parent for a change!)

Our eighteen-year old microwave died this week. Eighteen years! It was a gift from John's parents when we got married...I'd say that was money well spent! I didn't know that they made appliances to last more than 6-7 years anymore did you? I haven't had a chance to look for a new one yet and the last two days I've had to reheat my leftover chili/soup in a pan on the stove! YIKES!

Ummm, did I mention that it snowed here yesterday? About 2 inches. It started raining before it started snowing so the roads had a nice thick coat of ice on them yesterday morning. Yesterday was also the day that I had to take all three kids to school at three different times meaning I had to drive was sliding all over the road most of the morning. I happen to think that our superintendent made a very poor decision by not delaying the start of the school day. Snow is one thing, ice is a different story.

Since it was such a cold and snowy day, I spent most of the morning listening to Christmas music. John's boss gave us a couple of new cds--Sara Groves and Point of Grace. WOW. They are both awesome!!! I recommend adding both of these to your collection! (Thanks, DP!)

I'm working on my laundry system post but until then here are some random pics I just extracted from my camera!

Abbey playing with her AG paper dolls.  Paper dolls seem so old-fashioned and I guess that's why I love them.  
All the first grade classes at our school made class t-shirts.  Each kid drew a picture of themselves and they had them printed on a purple tee.  They wear them on Fridays and on class field trips.  I think they turned out so cute!  Like my tape over her school name?  Yeah, it's easier and faster than photo editing! 
I'm still working on accessorizing the girls room and getting stuff back on the walls, but here's a pic of the bunk beds and new bedding.  Very cute!

It makes me sad that my kids won't just wear anything I pick out for them anymore. I bought this shirt and matching hair bow for Sarah a long time ago. Abbey wore it once (when she was 4) and decided she didn't like it anymore. No amount of coaxing or bribing could persuade her to wear it again. I finally gave up and took it to my friend Allison a couple of weeks ago so her daughter could wear it, and hopefully I can enjoy the cuteness on her daughter. :(

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Question of the Week...

What brand of toilet paper do you buy?

Currently, I have three different kinds in my house--none of which are the kind I normally buy.

I usually buy Angel Soft.

For years I bought nothing but Cottonelle, but when we moved to this house I had problems with it clogging the toilet in the kids' bathroom because let me tell you my kids are very liberal with the toilet tissue.

Not long ago I bought Scott's and my kids wailed and whined about it. I distinctly remember hearing someone yell from the bathroom, "Hey, what's up with this scratchy toilet paper"? They hated it, and honestly, so did I. Still haven't used up the last of that package either. Sometimes I'll sneak it on the roll, and some sneaky person will replace it with the cushy stuff. But I can't bear to throw it away.

I sometimes buy Quilted Northern and that's what I have now because it was on sale and I had a coupon.

Anyway, I'm curious about your toilet paper preference. Tell me please.

*I just told John that this entire post is about toilet paper. His reaction has me second-guessing my question, but I'm leaving it up because I REALLY want to know if you have strong opinions about this!*

UPDATED--I think I need to check out Kirkland's toilet paper. I also wish you could have seen my husband's face this morning when I told him that I had 14 comments on my toilet paper post. There may or may not have been some rolling of his eyes. *smile*

I'm confused...

Is it fall? Or is it winter?

It feels (and looks) like winter but the calendar tells me it is fall. Ah...the joys of living in Colorado.

Mimi and Papa--you only missed the snow (and ice) by 2 days!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I think I'm a fan of the meme.

Borrowed this from Gretchen's blog...

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Uh-huh. I like all the seasons, but I really like them in this order. Summer, fall, spring, winter. Notice that winter is last. It was freezing here yesterday and is going to be very cold again tomorrow and I'm not at all looking forward to winter. I don't enjoy being cold.

Who is your favorite Disney princess? Cinderella.

What's the last book you read? The Hidden Life and I couldn't tell you the authors' names if you had a $100 bill to give me. The book is in my van (I read it while waiting in the school pick-up line) and I'm too lazy to get up and retrieve it right now.

What book are you reading right now? Still reading Trespassers will be Baptized (over there on my sidebar). Finally gave up on The Shack. Might try to finish Eat Pray Love since John just finished it and (finally) gave it back to me. I really haven't been in the mood to read lately.

Name one "presidential" memory (an election you remember as a child, voting for the first time, etc.) Part of my 8th grade civics class project was to make up a presidential campaign slogan/song. Ronald Reagan was running against Walter Mondale and I made up this little song to the tune of Yankee Doodle.

Keep the jelly beans where they belong,
On the President's table.
Reagan's the best man for the job
He's proved that he is able.
Reagan, keep the great work up.
Reagan, you're our man.
Don't forget the el-e-phant
And vote Republican.

Clever, eh? After that I thought I might pursue marketing/advertising. And I did. Until I made a C in my freshman intro to business class, and decided I hated all things related to marketing/advertising.

What are 3 things that scare you/freak you out?
1. Bridges
2. Snakes
3. Germs

If you were running for office, what would your campaign slogan be? The bigger question is WHY would I run for office. I hate politics.

What is your favorite football team(s)? Arkansas Razorbacks, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos.

How are they doing this season? B-A-D. Shamefully bad.

Do you have anything particular that you're looking forward to this Fall? Yep. How about a list?
1. Going to Arkansas next weekend to see my family! (and missing out on trick-or-treating responsibilities!)
2. Going to the Razorback game with that same crew.
3. Thanksgiving with some dear friends on their ranch in Colorado.
4. Meeting a couple of blog friends.
5. This election being over. SO tired of all the campaigning.

Are you craving anything right now? Nope, I'm good. Oh wait, I'm craving COFFEE!

What's the last thing that really made you laugh out loud? The last several paragraphs of this post.

Help with google reader

Several of you have mentioned that you're unable to add my blog to google reader. I KNOW! I had the same problem (yes, I subscribe to my own blog) until Stephanie's techy husband figured it out for her me.

Copy and paste one of these links into the subscription box and you should be good to go!

You're welcome! :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, and did I mention I love coffee now?

I've never really loved coffee. I'm more of a chai kinda girl. I'll drink coffee, but it's just never really done anything for me. Until a few days ago. Now I love it.

Sounds weird, I know, but I'm being serious. I love it.

Maybe it's because I've been watching too much Gilmore Girls (those Gilmores love their coffee) or maybe it's because we got a new coffee maker last week. Maybe it's because it's freezing cold here every single morning when I wake up and the coffee is ready to go whereas I have to wait so long for the tea kettle to whistle and the chai to steep. Maybe it's because John bought some rockin' coffee, or maybe it's because of that pumpkin spice creamer that was calling my name at the grocery store. Don't know. But I'm lovin' it and craving it. If it weren't 10:15 right now, I'd probably go make a pot, but I'll pass because I'd actually like to sleep tonight.

On a somewhat related note--I laugh almost every time I say "pot of coffee" because back in the day when John was a pastor, he goofed up his consonants during one particular sermon and said "cof of potty". It was a small Wednesday night crew and we were all in stitches. I have no idea why he was talking about coffee during his message, but it was very funny. He had a couple of other slips that were quite humorous as well...I should ask him tell about one of the more memorable ones. Any of you Arkadelphia friends remember???

Hi. I'm back. Did you miss me?

Well, I didn't really intend to take a blog break, but I was having so much fun with the kids being out of school and John's parents being here that I never found the time to sit down and post something.

We had a fantastic visit with Mimi and Papa. They helped us tackle a big project--the girls' bedroom. They bought the girls some bunk beds and we (finally) found some bedding that the girls both loved. We ended up painting their room and finishing up the room re-do that we gave Sarah for her birthday (back in July). I'll post some pictures soon! It turned out cute and the girls are very happy with it!

They sent John and I on a date Saturday night, but sadly, John has been sick and so he wasn't up to much more than dinner. We went to California Pizza Kitchen--one of our favorites--then knocked around some shops including a new Apple store where we drooled over new Macbooks. We were home by 9:00. We are so old.

We also went out to eat, went to church, went shopping, saw a movie, and played umpteen games of Scattergories, Catchphrase, and Life. So fun!

They left this morning, and it was back to reality for all of us. School. Work. Grocery shopping. Life.

John is still not feeling great. He came home from work at noon today and went straight to bed. Poor guy. I hate to see him feeling bad!

I'll be back with a real post tomorrow, or maybe the next day. Or maybe when life slows back down. :) I'm so behind on my blog reading, but I hope to catch up soon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Right down the middle...

I probably do not need to be sitting here at the computer this morning because I have a very lengthy to-do list. John's parents arrive this evening and I still have laundry and cleaning and errands to run. I've been working hard this morning though, so I'm rewarding myself with a blog break.

Most of you guessed correctly that I'm both an introvert and an extrovert. I've typically tested "E" for extrovert, but the older I get the more I'm discovering that I lean more towards being an introvert. People energize me, but people also wear me out! I've learned that if I go to a party or a crop or Bunco, I need a couple of hours after I get home to unwind because I'm so keyed up. But too much time around people makes me tired...and grouchy! I took an online quiz this morning and scored right down the middle. I wasn't one bit surprised.

I just filled out Sarah's online application for her 5th Grade Passport. One HUGE perk of being a 5th grader in the state of Colorado is that you can get a free season pass for most of the ski resorts in Colorado. FREE. I've heard that it's because they want to get kids hooked on skiing. Makes sense to me.

We're not big skiiers...mainly because it's quite expensive for a family of five--but it's so much fun! I bought a coupon book from school that has some awesome deals in it, so hopefully with Sarah's pass we can manage a trip or two this winter.

Thanks to my friend, Stephanie, I've been thinking about some of the systems I have in place that make my home run more smoothly. My two biggies are laundry and meals. If I can stay on top of those two things I feel like I'm able to function well. I've only felt like I finally mastered these two systems in the last year or two which I'm sure has a little something to do with the fact that that's when Abbey started preschool and I found myself with a bit more time. Anyway, I'm mulling over the idea of writing some posts on my laundry and meal systems. Would that completely bore you to tears???

Today feels like Friday because this our short week! The kids are out of school tomorrow and Friday and I am so excited. The kids are excited too because their Mimi and Papa will be here. Which reminds me...I need to get back to my list!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Question of the Week...

Are you and introvert or an extrovert?

Which of the two do you think I am?

Pssst--I'll tell you tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's not Mr. Rogers' neighborhood, but I think it's pretty great!

I love my neighborhood.

The houses are alright, I guess, but our neighbors are what make our neighborhood great! I love my neighbors. All of them. Well, almost all of them. The ones with the dogs that bark at 10pm drive me a bit crazy.

A couple of weeks ago, I came home from running some errands and saw two of my neighbors out talking by the mailboxes. I waved, pulled into my garage, went inside and went about my merry business. About 10 minutes later I walked past the window and I noticed they were still out there talking.

Have I ever told you that I hate to be left out of something that looks like fun? Well I do.

I decided right then and there that MY mail needed checking, so I walked outside and joined them. We ended up chatting for almost an hour about everything under the sun!

One of the things we talked about that day was our love of oatmeal. The old-fashioned kind cooked on the stove with lots of brown sugar and cinnamon and raisins. NOT those goofy instant packets. We even decided that we needed to get together for an oatmeal breakfast some morning, and TODAY was the day!

I took the kids to school then walked across the street (in my slippers) and had coffee, fruit, and oatmeal with Monica and Heather. It was SO much fun! And we talked for way longer than half an hour this time!

After awhile, we decided to move our little party to the Bead Shop downtown where we spent the rest of the morning (and afternoon) talking and making jewelry. I'll have to post a pic of the necklace I made. I think it turned out very cute!

There are so many great families and couples in our neighborhood! We've lived here for five years and we've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all the people around us.

We've shared 4th of July breakfasts and fireworks in the cul-de-sac. We've had block parties, kids craft nights, bike parades, Bunco, yard sales, and play groups. We "Boo" each other around Halloween and take pictures of each other's kids trick-or-treating. Summer finds us outside chatting on the sidewalk while our kids play and ride bikes. Winter finds us outside chatting while shoveling snow and building snowmen in our yards.

My neighbors are willing to watch our kids, our dog, lend us eggs or butter in a pinch, and get our mail and paper when we're out of town. I can call them night and day for almost anything (and believe me, I have!) and they know they can call us night and day for almost anything (and believe me, they have!)

We've seen lots of babies born (including two sets of twins), we've mourned the loss of pets, we've shared meals together, and we've laughed until we've cried.

I absolutely LOVE my neighbors because they're not just my neighbors, they're my friends! I know that not all neighbors and neighborhoods are like this which makes me all the more thankful for mine!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A few things...

We've had a super weekend! We took turns being productive and lazy, and I'm feeling rested and ready to start this busy week.

I'm about to settle in and watch Sleepless in Seattle with John. I'm on a Meg Ryan kick. I bought When Harry Met Sally a couple of weeks ago and watched it one morning while the kids were in school. It feels so decadent to watch a movie during the day! I turned around a few days later and watched You've Got Mail. And now I feel the need to watch Sleepless in Seattle to complete the Meg Ryan trilogy! I love all three of those movies, and can watch them over and over and over. may have noticed a new addition to my sidebar. I remember sitting at Panera back in May having lunch with Moriah and talking about advertising on blogs. I was pretty adamant that I would never do that. Ha! Never say never. I talked it over with John a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it a go. Who knows? Maybe I can make enough money to fund my frequent trips to the tea house!

Hope you have a terrific week. Ours is a short one--only three days of school, and then John's parents arrive to spend several days with us. Can't wait!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Testing 1-2-3

My posts haven't been showing up in Google reader, and several have told me they're not showing up in Bloglines either. This post is a test. Hopefully it will magically appear this time!

I'm running out of ideas for catchy titles for random posts...

It's Friday and I'm so happy! I actually have a day at home and that thrills me. This week has been busier than I had hoped so I'm very thankful to have nowhere to be until much later this afternoon. I do have a huge to-do list, but I'm excited to have more than an hour or two to knock out some big tasks. Don't even think of calling me today because I'm not going to let myself be distracted by the phone, or the computer for that matter!

Before I turn off the computer though, I have a couple of things on my mind.

I got a haircut yesterday. What is it about haircuts that just boost my mood? You can't really tell from this picture, but I got Rachel, my stylist, to give me some long layers and we both agreed that it made my look a little more "sassy". I love it! I can't wait to style it myself later today. I always love doing my hair for the first time after a haircut. I guess it matters if you like your haircut, but I haven't had a bad one in 3 years because Rachel rocks!

It has been getting really cool here at night lately...low 30s...and making me realize that winter is definitely on it's way. I think we're supposed to get a taste of it this weekend. I heard something about highs in the 40s tomorrow. And a chance of snow. I'll be snuggling under my new flannel sheets this weekend. Flannel sheets make me h-a-p-p-y! We needed a new set and Kohl's was having a huge sale this week so I bought some. I can't tell you how much I've looked forward to crawling into bed the last two nights.

I also bought some new dishtowels. My other ones had holes in them. No joke. I think I bought them after Abbey was born--she's 6.5. They were shameful. John kept telling me to buy new ones, and I wanted to, but I have a hard time finding dishtowels that I like. They all seem to have some sort of waxy coating on them these days which keeps them from being absorbent. I end up spreading water around instead of drying it up. What's up with that? But I found some...the brand is Food Network...and I'm loving them!!! Pretty colors too, huh?

Well, this weekend, my high school classmates will be living it up at our 20 year high school reunion. I'm sad that I decided not to go. I opted to go to a mini family reunion later this month instead, and I know that was the right choice, but I'm feeling left out of the fun this weekend! Facebook has been amazing though and I feel like I've reconnected with several of those friends but it's not the same as being there. Hope you guys have a fabulous time in J'town this weekend. Without me. Boo hoo.

Tonight, we're having dinner with a good friend of ours. We've known Lane for several years, but she got married last spring and we haven't had much opportunity to get to know her husband. Very excited to spend the evening with them! It's a kid-free evening too. Will is going to his best bud's house, and the girls are going to their best friends' house (their friends are sisters--how perfect is that?) so John and I are going to enjoy our time alone. I'm so thankful for good friends who love having my kids over! We really have some amazing friends here in Colorado.

Even though the price of gas is coming down I still try to combine all my errands into the same trip. Especially when I have to make the trek into Co Springs. That's where we're heading for dinner tonight. So...I just loaded up all my recycling so I can run it by the drop off center. We got really serious about recycling at the beginning of the summer and honestly, it's changed my life. I find myself cringing at the stuff people throw away these days. I was at a Pampered Chef party last week (two, actually) and opened the trash to throw away my plate and was sooooooo tempted to pull some stuff our of their garbage. I even bring the trash from our Brownie meetings home just so I can recycle it. I know, I know, it's pathetic, but what can I say, I'm hooked.

Three weeks ago I dropped off a huge load of recycling...and three weeks later, this is how much I have. Incredible, huh?

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

My turn...

Hola, amigos!

It's been a long and busy week, and I'm very ready for Friday. How about you?

Thank you so much for your feedback regarding the blogs you read. Very insightful stuff. A couple of you asked how I would answer those questions...and I would love to tell you.

What draws me into a blog and keeps me coming back for more?
I tend to be drawn to blogs written by people "like me". I'm a full-time wife and mom, and home and family mean the world to me. I think I just naturally gravitate towards those kind of blogs. What keeps me coming back is honesty, authenticity, humor, and good writing. If I sense the writer isn't honest and writes from a "happy, happy, joyful, joyful" place all the time, then I move on. Because, really, whose life is happy and joyful 100% of the time? I want to know what makes you sad, mad, and glad. What moves you, what thrills you, what disappoints you, what kind of ups and downs are you going through? That kind of stuff is real and compelling. I'm also drawn to catchy blog titles, clean design, and a good mix of text/photos!

What turns me off? Ready for this? I avoid blogs with bad grammar, bad writing, music/playlists, unappealing graphics or blog design, too much "clutter" on the blog, not enough pictures, long paragraphs, multiple posts per day (I'm okay with 1-2, but I used to read a blog where the owner posted 5-6 times a day!). I also tend to avoid blogs that are political (does that ever end well?), and preachy (who likes to be told how to vote or how to think?) I loved the comment about blogs that are "churchy" and "plastic", and yeah, I'd agree that's a big turn-off. I also tend to avoid devotional blogs. I think some people are able to do that well, but most of them tend to get a little too preachy and plastic for me. Another huge turn off for me--husband bashing. I just can't hang with that.

I guess I'm just a tad opinionated, huh? Now, just because you might have music on your blog, or you talk about politics from time to time doesn't mean I don't love you or your blog. Please don't even go there. I'm just continuing the conversation that I invited you into.

Now also seems like a good time to acknowledge a blog award that Elizabeth gave me last month. She *hearts* my blog.

How fun is that? Thank you Elizabeth! Elizabeth was also the first to correctly guess that I'm going to Arkansas at the end of the month. I'm going to spend the weekend with my dad's side of my family and the highlight of the weekend is the Razorback game! Like me, Elizabeth grew up in Arkansas, and so I'm happy to send her a little souvenir from my trip. There was a sea of burnt orange in her house when the Hogs played UT, so Elizabeth, I'll remedy that for you, okay? *smile*

In the spirit of the blog award, I want to pass it on to some of my favorite bloggers.

1. Kellie at La Vida Dulce
2. Moriah at Please the Salt
3. Angie at Flibbertigibberish
4. Kelly at Love Well

Happy Thursday, ya'll! (I'm practicing my ya'll for my trip to Arkansas!)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Talk to me...

I've been conversing with a friend lately about why we read the blogs we read. It's an interesting subject, and I'd like to bring you (the readers) into the conversation too.

So, talk to me...

What keeps you coming back to a blog for more? What draws you in? What turns you off?

I really, really want to know.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Journey to the Peak, Part I

Most of you know that I hiked Pikes Peak three weeks ago. Here's the first installment of my journey to the top.

Last fall, I started walking/hiking with some of my friends from our kids' school. We're just a group of moms who wanted to incorporate a bit more physical exercise into our daily routine and as far as friendship goes, we all just sorta "clicked". After hiking together for a couple of months, I sorta jokingly threw the "hey let's hike Pikes Peak" idea out there. We laughed about it at first, but then got a bit more serious. I decided that was going to be my goal for 2008, got my friends to commit to it also, and shortly after New Year's, we met for dinner at 3Margaritas and worked out the details of our training plan.

That plan included LOTS of hiking. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I love to hike. It's great exercise and it is so enjoyable for me!

Two months ago, we set the date for our Pikes Peak ascent--September 13. It turned out to be a beautiful day!

I woke up that morning at 3:10AM. Ugh. That's the earliest I've gotten up (on purpose) in a long, long time. My friend came by to pick me up about 3:45AM. Actually, her husband was driving (thank you, Chris!) so that he could drop us off at the trailhead and we wouldn't have to find a parking place or come back for her van. We arrived at the trailhead just before 5:00AM, and Chris snapped this picture of the four of us. Notice our lovely headlamps. It was pitch black when we started, and we certainly needed them for the first hour or so of our hike.

But soon the sun started to appear. Isn't this a beautiful picture of Colorado Springs "waking up"?

The distance from the trailhead at the base to the summit of Pikes Peak is about 13 miles. It's technically something like 12.7, but I like to round up. :) The elevation gain is 7300 feet. There is one (short) flat section of the trail, but the majority of those 13 miles is uphill.

Now is a good time to mention that the day before we hiked it was rainy and
c-o-l-d in Colorado Springs. When the sun came out on the day of our hike and we caught our first glimpse of the peak, I was shocked to see SNOW. I shouldn't have been surprised given the weather conditions the day before, but honestly, I just kept thinking of our hiking day forecast--sunny and 70 degrees. Snow just wasn't in my plan for the day.

The pic below shows a natural rock arch that you pass under. Very cool!

That just looks like a dusting of snow, right??? I thought so too, but it was quite a bit more than a dusting.
The leaves on some of the aspen and other trees were starting to turn colors. I just thought this was a pretty picture...I have no idea what kind of leaves those are.

I love this photo...our elevation at this point was 9170 feet...and we borrowed some guy named John to help us spell it out with our digits.

Barr Camp is situated at the halfway point on the trail. We got to Barr Camp after several hours of hiking and stopped and ate our lunch. Technically, it was probably breakfast since it wasn't even 9AM at that point. Doesn't matter what you call was food and we were all starving!
When I opened my pack to pull out my food, I found this note from John. Sweet, huh? I love him so much!

Barr Camp is an actual camp that is run by a couple who live there year round. Barr Camp offers many different amenities for hikers--overnight accomodations (primitive), food, water, snacks, souvenirs, and most importantly--bathrooms!

Here are some fun pics of some of our gear. I need to interject here that yes, I wore my tennis shoes. I intended all summer to buy a pair of hiking shoes, and just never got myself to REI. I looked online, but knew that I needed to actually try them on...and I never did it. Laziness, I guess. About two weeks before our hike I decided to just forget it and wear my tennis shoes. I'd hiked in them all summer and was fine, and I knew I didn't have time to try to break in a new pair of shoes. And my shoes were fine...until the last two miles when we were trudging through snow and slush. I won't make that mistake again.

We all wore our hydration systems on our backs. Such a great invention!

John let me wear his watch because it has an altimeter on it. It was off a little bit because it's affected by barometric pressure, but it was a good guage and I was especially glad I had it at the very end of the was encouraging to see how close we were to our destination.

Getting closer!

Stay tuned for Part II.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

From the kitchen...

I don't know what it is about cooler weather that makes me want to cook! I've tried several new recipes lately, and just posted them on my recipe blog. I also posted the recipe for Breast of Chicken Eden Isle that John raved about on his blog last week. Gretchen and Tiffani--you're welcome. It's usually a special occasion recipe since it's super fattening, but since he asked so nicely and I love him so much it's on this week's menu!

Here's some links for you...

Breast of Chicken Eden Isle

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

Pinto Beans with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Cilantro

Crock-Pot Applesauce

And finally, Apple Pie

You didn't really think I would forget to take a picture of my first homemade pie ever, did you??

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Day trip to Cripple Creek

We drove to Cripple Creek today to see the golden aspens and we were not at all disappointed. It's always a beautiful drive, but this time of year it is stunning! Here are some pics we took along the way.

Friday, October 03, 2008

thinking out loud...

from time to time i like to think out of consciousness stuff...and today is one of those days...

so glad it's friday and we have nothing to do tonight except eat pizza and veg...and no, our pizza is NOT veggie pizza, but that actually sounds really good right now...even better than the kind I actually got. papa murphy's take and bake is our favorite. mmmmmmm.

season 7 of gilmore girls came in the mail today from john, you up for watching it with me tonight? i don't think i can stay awake for an entire movie, but i could manage an episode or two.

5th grade girl drama is exhausting. every day it's a different story of who hurt who's feelings or left who out of the group. ugh. ugh. ugh.

our dog stinks. he really needs a bath. good thing it's the weekend so i can pass that job on to john.

get that candy corn out of my house already because i CANNOT stop eating it. good grief, i love that stuff. so do abbey and will. john and sarah don't so they are just plain weird. oh my gosh, i just realized that i have a mini presidential candidate team in my house...john and sarah. and see, i said sarah and plain in the same sentence. switch those letters around and you have palin. why do i keep doing that???

my finger hurts so bad when i type. i sliced it yesterday while cleaning that pampered chef apple peeler/corer/slicer contraption. i used it to make an awesome apple pie. my family loved me and thanked me for making dessert for them. it was really good, and i made the entire thing from scratch--thankyouverymuch--even the crust. very easy. wonder why i've never tried that before.

it is about to start raining here. i love rainy evenings especially if i get to spend them at home. hope it doesn't rain tomorrow...we're heading to the mountains--still unsure where--to see the aspens in all their glory.

must remember to charge my camera for that.

speaking of cameras, i was up at the girls' school all day helping with school picture re-takes. didn't intend to be there as long as i was and had to miss my hike. r & c--I missed you guys!!!!

evidently, jack-the-stinky-beagle likes candy corn too. he just pounced on the few that i dropped and gobbled them up. grrrrr...

i'm probably gonna crash really hard in a few minutes. my body doesn't handle that sugar high very well. i get really manic and then hit the wall. maybe i can squeeze in a nap before i have to put the pizza in the oven.

i need to check (the best weather website EVER!)for the forecast because someone told me today that there is a chance of s-n-o-w next week. bad, bad, bad. don't want to hear that until december okay, mr. meteorologist? say it isn't so. please.

okay, just checked and yep, there is a small chance. :(

why must the kids dump their backpacks and lunchboxes on the kitchen table every single day??? we have this discussion constantly and i think they must be tuning me out.

speaking of lunchboxes, i found the scooby doo one that i thought we had lost forever. the office lady brought it to me when she saw me at school today. opened it up to find six week old sugar snap peas swimming in a lovely gray-green gravy. the wedge of cheese was the exact same color. appetizing, eh? surprisingly, it wasn't as stinky as our dog is right now.

alright...the sugar low is upon me. must log off. enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Question of the Week...

This is a totally fun, off the wall question...

Which side of the bed do you sleep on? Left or right?

I've slept on the left side of our bed for years, and will probably never move to the "other side".

What about you?

*Pretend you're standing at the foot of the bed looking at it when you answer this question.*