Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Path Not So Well Traveled

Today we celebrated Ryan's birthday with Carl's parents.  As you can see, they brought a cake and Ryan is acting like the dinosaur that is on his cake. 

They also played an old trick on Ryan with his wrapped gifts.  It started with one large box, filled with three medium sized boxes.  One box contained a Barbie (it's an old family joke), and in the second box were two New Orleans Saints football jerseys (you would think the boy would be a Colts fan living so close to Indy). 

The third box contained another box.  That box contained a smaller box, and so on, and so on, until he opened his actual gift.  Ryan has been wanting an Ipod since last fall and his wish came true.  He was so happy and excited. 

After the celebration, it was time for some shopping!  We went to the Parke County Fairgrounds for the Maple Syrup Festival and bought some homemade soap from The Old Fort Soap Company.  The lavender soap is amazing!  

After that we went to some antique stores and Carl found a Purdue Alumni book with his name in it, plus his sister, cousin, and her husbands names were in it too.  As you may have guessed, that book is now in our permanent possession.  I think seeing his name in that book really made Carl think about how hard he worked to get his degree.  If I can brag about my husband, he was working full time, going to school full time, plus we had a new baby - that man had tons of determination!   Then we went to Neva's - my favorite store from the Covered Bridge Festival.  Even though I found some things in there that I really liked, nothing screamed "take me home".   We also went to a few other antique stores and then had a late lunch. 

I like to take the scenic route whenever possible and asked Carl if we could do that today on the way home.  So, he had a route that he wanted to take, but ended up taking the wrong road which led us here......

Bridge Closed.

Hmmmmmm.  What do we do now? 

Carl kept following the "road" and this is where it led us.

Personally, I panicked!  Even though the creek wasn't that deep, I could just imagine us getting stuck in it out in the middle of nowhere.  Being the expert driver that he is, Carl drove us over to the other side (I think he really followed the buggy marks from the Amish people down the road). 

Well, we made it home safe and sound.  Ryan had a fun birthday celebration, and we had fun with our family.  Time to clip coupons, get the menu ready for next week, and do some (non house) work.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.  Spring is not too far away - warmer days are coming!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fit Friday, Recipes, and Family

Wow - another week is over and I can't believe it's Friday already.  Our area is supposed to get more snow on Saturday and even though it's only supposed to be 1-3 inches, it still is depressing.  Like so many others, I really am over snow, winter, and cold weather.  Carl's parents are coming to visit tomorrow and we will be celebrating Ryan's birthday - my baby will be 10 on Wednesday.  I can't believe how time has flown by! I'll be posting pictures of my little angel (he knows how to turn on the charm when needed) on Wednesday if you would like to see him through the years.  The Maple Syrup Festival is going on in Rockville this weekend and next - the plan was to go there on Saturday, but I don't know if we're going to do that.  I would like to go to this great store on the square that was open last fall - it's called Neva's and there are country/prim decorations plus antiques.  Cute, cute, cute! 

Carl and I have been going to the gym to workout and I think he's really becoming addicted to it.  For some reason Carl is more motivated to work out when we go to the gym than he would be if we were working out at home.  Personally, I think it's because he works from home and enjoys getting out.  I remember those days - home with a baby and craving adult interaction.  Since we've been going to the gym, I've discovered two pieces of equipment that are slowly becoming my fave workouts.  I don't know what the first one is called, but it works you thigh muscles - inside, outside, and hamstrings.  I'll try to get a picture today and post it for all to see - maybe  you can help me figure out what it's called.  I've also discovered the rowing machine.  Love it!!  Everything from my quads to shoulders gets a workout when I'm rowing. 

Today is one month since I originally took my measurements and the results are not what I hoped for.  I've gone from 3 pounds lost up to 1 pound lost, and I've only lost 1.25 inches.  Not happy!!  So, I have to be honest with myself about this.  First, the older I get, the more difficult it will be to get the weight off.  Second, I have not worked out consistently.  Third, I have not changed all of my bad eating habits.  So, lets talk about this ..... do we have to?  Isn't there a magic pill I could take to get the weight off? 

Ok, I need to get real.  I can't do anything about the first one - mid 40's, time doesn't go back, just embrace the years ahead and start taking care of my body. 

Second - excercise.  Why haven't I worked out consistently?  I'm lazy.  Work have been crazy busy and when I get home I'm exhausted.  The weather stinks!  In reality, these are all excuses.  I'm in this situation party because I'm lazy (and partly due to a knee injury) and tired, but if I would do something, anything, for even 20 -30 minutes, it would be better than nothing.  Stretching is something that my doctor told me to do and that can be done while I'm watching the TV. I can also do some floor exercises, my P.T. exercises, or situps during this time.  One good thing to report - I am still doing the Physique 57 workouts and Carl even did the arm and ab workout with me last night.  He said it was a good workout.  Would he do it with me again?  Yes!  It's always nice to have someone to work out with.  A friend also told me about Zumba.  She has been going to classes for a couple of weeks now and really likes it.  This is a snipet from the Zumba website:

The Zumba® program fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a one-of-a-kind fitness program that will blow you away. Our goal is simple: We want you to want to work out, to love working out, to get hooked. Zumba® Fanatics achieve long-term benefits while experiencing an absolute blast in one exciting hour of calorie-burning, body-energizing, awe-inspiring movements meant to engage and captivate for life!

The routines feature interval training sessions where fast and slow rhythms and resistance training are combined to tone and sculpt your body while burning fat. Add some Latin flavor and international zest into the mix and you've got a Zumba® class!

It sounds like fun and if you go to YouTube, there are several videos of classes. In addition to that, I'm so looking forward to warmer weather when I can ride my bike.  As a family, we like to ride in the evenings and Carl and I will go out on the weekend and go for longer rides into town. 
Third - changing my eating habits.  I know what I should do and need to do, but I don't want to do it. Well, too bad self! Why haven't I changed my eating habits?  Hhhhmmmmmm..... emotional eating. Work has been busy, I feel stressed, and I want to eat for comfort. Possible solution:  workout to relieve stress and keep healthy snacks on hand for these times. Yesterday, Carl and I were talking about weight loss and I told him that I could probably be a vegetarian 75% of the time.  I like chicken, fish, red meat - but not all the time - and Carl wants (needs) meat at almost every meal.  So, I pulled out two Weight Watcher cookbooks (one is a vegetarian cookbook) that I found when I was decluttering a few weeks ago (clutter - another subject that makes me want to eat).  Surprisingly, Carl said that he would like to eat more vegetables and soups.  That was music to my ears!  I've picked out a recipe from one of the cookbooks that I want to share with everyone - Risotto with Roasted Peppers and Peas - recipe posted below.  Speaking of Weight Watchers, check out this blog by the Weight Watcher Chick.  

One last thing - we tried star fruit last night.  It was yum yum yummo!  It doesn't have much flavor - kind of like a watered down version of an orange.  BUT - don't eat it if you have kidney problems.  Read here to find out why.  Here is a picture of our cute little fruit after it was sliced.

One last thing that I want to do to share - and I usually don't share this with everyone - but I said in a earlier post that I was going to start being real and posting about all of us - I really believe in the power of prayer.  Prayer is a wonderful thing - it doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to be a long prayer, you don't have to say it out loud or in front of anyone else.  It's a conversation between you and God.  I am going to pray consistently about what I put in my mouth, what I do with my body, my thoughts about food and exercise, how my body responds to all of this - you get the point. I truly believe that this is a "tool" that I've been neglecting.  Check out this blog for weight loss inspiration - Shaped to Serve.  This lady is from the same town I live in and we have a mutual friend, which is how I found her blog.  Another one that I occasionally read is Karen Ehman's blog. She has a segment called Weight Loss Wednesdays. 

Here are the two recipes that I said I would post.  After you check these out, would you please check out Colleen's blog?  She hosts a weekly recipe swap and there are always good recipes to try.  Carl and I really like biscotti and Colleen has posted a recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Biscotti!  I know what I'm making....

Risotto with Roasted Peppers and Peas

3 lg red bell peppers
2 c. canned vegetable broth, undiluted
2 c. water
1 tsp olive oil
1 c. uncooked Arborio rice
1 - 10 oz. pkg. frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 c. (2 oz) finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
3 tblsp chopped fresh basil
3 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tblsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes.  Place pepper halves, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand.  Broil 15 minutes or until blackened.  Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Peel and chop peppers; set aside.

Bring broth and water to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil).  Keep warm over low heat.  Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add rice; saute 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Stir in 1 c. broth; cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly; cook until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total).

Add peas and cook until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.  Add roasted peppers, 1/2 cup cheese, and next 4 ingredients, and cook until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.  Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese if desired.  Yield:  4 servings - 1 1/2 cups per serving. 

Note:  You may substitute 2 cups chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers if desired.

I know this is a long post, and thank you for taking the time to read it.  I hope you weekend is warm, happy, and full of love. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's Been a Great Weekend & Show and Tell

Carl and I have had a great weekend - I'm just sad that it's over. Ryan went to the school sock hop on Friday and the rest of us just chilled out at home.  On Saturday I clipped and filed some coupons and tried to talk Carl into doing some grocery shopping with me (actually we were gone for 4 hours before we went to Krogers).  I also wanted to go to a few other places while we were out - I just want to get some of these unfinished projects finished!!  So Ryan went to a friend's house, Kyle stayed home, and it was just the two of us <3! We had so much fun laughing, shopping, and spending time together. 

Our first stop was Joanne Fabrics - I can't divulge anything that was purchased here - it's a secret mission.  Then we had to visit STARBUCKS!!  Carl is a big Starbucks fan and we think he can secretly sniff them out as we're driving down the road :)  Target was next - I wanted to check out comforters/quilts for our bedroom redo, but we didn't find anything that said take me home.  The next stop was Bed Bath and Beyond.  That is such a neat store!  I found a couple of things that I've been wanting for a long time - a jewelry organizer and a drawer organizer for my socks.  Here is a picture of the jewelry organizer.  I'm slowly getting things sorted out....

Goodwill was next and Carl and I found 2 large shelves and one smaller shelf.  The boys have been asking for shelves to put some of their trophies on and these were in good shape and only $5 each.  I don't know where I'm going to put the smaller shelf - maybe the bathroom - and it will be a redo project.  I also saw some really cute Pyrex bowls, but sadly I had to leave them there.

We finally made it to Krogers and once again coupon shopping paid off!   Our bill was almost $400 and after using our Kroger card and coupons, it came down to $246.  Love those coupons!  So, unloading groceries meant that I had to find a place to put them, which meant that I had to organize the pantry.  

Pantry before....


Pantry after....

I look at these and I noticed one little potato all by itself in one of those picture.  Now, you may be asking yourself how long it will stay that way?  Well, Carl and I are trying to be better about keeping things in order, and I've also threatened the boys and told them that they have to do their part to keep the pantry organized and clean or I will ban them from ever eating again.  (Insert evil mom laugh.)  Guess what their response was.


Sunday was church (awesome service) and then we chilled the rest of the afternoon.  What a nice ending to a great weekend.  I hope everyone has a great week.  It's almost Spring and warmer weather is on the way! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Snowman Parade

You know it's been a long, cold, snowy winter when the snowmen start moving to town.

The first day of Spring is March 20, so these newcomers won't be here long.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

Carl and I celebrated last night by having dinner at Stookeys Family Restaurant.  They are well known for their catfish and onion rings.  We didn't have the catfish, but opted to have steak and tilapia with the onion rings instead.  This is a nice restaurant in a small town - if you are looking for someplace new to have dinner, please give this restaurant a try. 

Since we were able to get a table before the big rush of people came in, we were able to get out early.  Then came the discussion of what to do.  Go home and watch a movie, go to a theater and see a movie, go bowling.  I was wishing we lived closer to civilization and maybe there would be an antique mall there.... This is how exciting out lives are:  we drove back to the town we live in and were going to go to Home Depot to look at paint colors for our living room. 

Then we saw it....

The sign.....


It was destiny.

We bought some games and daubers and found two seats.  We didn't win (it seems all the winners were on the lower level of the building), but we had fun.  It was something new and exciting - even though Carl is convinced that he lost two years of his life by sitting in a smoke filled room.   We might even go again.

Today I made Carl a cake.  It was red.  In the shape of a heart.  Awwwwww.....How sweet!  I had been thinking about it all week and made sure that I had all of the ingredients.  I used the recipe that I posted on Friday for Easy Chocolate Chip Pound Cake but decided to use a red devils food cake mix, strawberry pudding, and white chips.  It should have been fool proof - right?

Before baking:


After baking:

I should have taken the reviews more seriously.  Too much batter for the pan and it needed to bake a little longer.  So, we made the best of it and put it on a nice cake plate with glaze and ate it.  Thumbs up from everyone.  And guess what movie I watched yesterday - Julie and Julia.  Go figure. 

We are enjoying our Sunday night routine which is watching AFV and the videos were especially funny tonight!  More snow is forecasted for tomorrow, but I will continue dreaming of sun, flower pots, color in my yard, the sound of crickets and frogs.  I can't take the humidity, but I'm really looking forward to summer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heat, Redo's, Goodwill Finds

We have heat again thank you to our wonderful neighbor!  The temperature didn't get terribly low in the house until Wednesday and then it was down right cold!  Our house always felt "cold" before the furnace went out and now I think we know why....we were headed for a breakdown.  Not having and then having something as simple as heat really makes a person appreciate the simple joys of life. 

The boys went back to school yesterday after having two snow days off plus a few 2 hour delays.  I think they were ready to go back and I'm sure Carl was ready for them to go back also (Carl works from home so he has been "stuck" with the boys for those days). 

I haven't been blogging much lately - feel "wordless"; tired when I get home from work and then trying to get things finished at home equals writers block. 

Here is what I've been working on this week.  If you've read my previous post, you've seen the picture that I painted for the bathroom.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.  I also finished the window that I've been working on for a while.  I decided to just paint it black, sand a little bit, then put a darker stain on it.  As you can see in the picture, I put a red wreath on it and I'll change it out with the holidays/seasons. 

And, I finished the bookcase - finally!!  Kyle and Ryan's trophies are on there plus Ryan's books. Ryan wanted to be in the picture and he's such a sweetie that I couldn't say no - just don't ask about his outfit - it's something with the boys in his class this year.  Pure silliness.

These are a few Goodwill finds that I bought for $2.  I would like to do some stitchery and thought I could redo the frame for a project.  The other piece is a fall decoration that was too cute to pass up.

I'm also going to hop on over to Colleen's place to see what recipes everyone has posted.  I've decided to post a chocolate pound cake recipe for Valentine's Day - Sorry Fit Friday - the holiday won this time.  

Easy Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 (3.9 oz) pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 c. white sugar
3/4 c. water
3/4 c. oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
1/8 c. confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan.  In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, instant pudding and sugar.  Add the water, oil, eggs, and sour cream, mix until well blended.  Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.  Pour into the prepared bundt pan.  

Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Cake is done when toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners sugar before cutting and serving.  

This certainly sounds like a delicious recipe to share with a loved one, doesn't it?


With the weather we had this week plus the furnace going out, I think I lost weight from shivering so much.  These things threw Carl and I off our routine and we didn't do all we had hoped.  Falling out of the routine is so easy and it can be a challenge to get back on.  Last night was our first night back at the gym so hopefully it was only a slight bump in the road. 

So it's Valentines weekend.  I saw this morning on a news station that chocolate is a must!!  The dietitians are now saying that dark chocolate is good for you.  It could lower blood pressure, prevent heart attacks, prevent strokes, and even improve your mood (duh! who's not happy with chocolate).  The more cocoa in the chocolate, the better it is for your heath.  This is the breakthrough in science I've been waiting for!!! Wait there is a catch.......moderation is key and about a 1oz. serving is all they recommend.

Guess what....the phone just rang.....another 2 hour delay.  

Have a wonderful weekend with your Valentine! 

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's going to be a cold, cold night

And I'm not saying this because of the weather that is coming our way.  It's because our furnace went out this morning!  We received some referrals for heating & cooling repairmen and Carl started making calls this morning.  All I'm going to say is that it's going to be a few cold days and lots of money until we get a new furnace.  So we got out the space heaters, layered on the clothing, and did some baking to warm up the house - it really didn't feel too bad.  Now we'll have to wait and see how much snow we get the next few days. 

At least we had a good weekend.  In my on-going effort to clean out and simplify, I went through almost all of my cookbooks and have 2 drawers of clipped recipes still to go through.  Where does all of this stuff come from?  I seriously think it breeds and multiples like rabbits.   Speaking of recipes, my family really liked everything I made last week.  I even received an excellent from my 9 yo which translates to SUCCESS!! However, I didn't make the Crispy Buffalo Chicken and Slaw only because 1) I keep forgetting to buy buttermilk, and 2) Sunday didn't work out like we planned and there was no time to make dinner and now this recipe is going to be carried over to the week. 

Well, we watched the Super Bowl.  Do we really need to talk about that?  I have to say that the Saints did play a good game.  The Colts didn't.  Oh well, better luck next year. 

I finally finished the picture for the bathroom.  I wish I would have taken a picture before I started the redo, but all I have is the beginning of it - click here if you want to see it.  I couldn't get a really good picture of the color on the frame, so I'm also posting an upclose shot.

My mom sent pictures of all of the quilts that my sisters and I made her for her 70th birthday.  To read that post, click here.  The four of us made a different quilt square in a different pattern in different fabric for our mom. 

She also sent a picture of a challenge quilt that she did for her quilt group.  Kim (one of my sisters) and my mom went to the opening reception for her Quilt clubs "Silver Sensations" Challenge quilts this past weekend at the Leeper Rattner Museum at St. Pete Jr. College in Florida.

Well, that's all for now and it's time for bed.  Goodnight everyone.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Where is it?

Where is all the snow?  We were supposed to have a mix of snow, rain and ice starting last night and ending Saturday morning.  Happily, it's not here...yet.  Supposedly we are to get only snow - about 4 inches - tonight and I think the weather forecast calls for snow every day through Wednesday (except for Sunday).  Well, if it's going to be cold, I would at least like to have some pretty snow scenes to look at. 

Have you ever watched Mantracker on the Science channel?  It's kind of strange-creepy and my husband is getting a real kick out of it. These two guys on horses track 2 other guys.  There is a starting point, end point, and the "hunted" have to reach the end point in a certain amount of time.  It's strangely funny and bizarre.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend.  Work has been busy, busy, busy (I know I keep saying that every week).  No major plans this weekend except for sleeping in on Saturday, church on Sunday and then watching the Super Bowl!  One more thing - what's up with all the ladybugs?  I thought they were supposed to go away when there was a freeze?  I don't get it - I can vacuum every night and then another dozen come out.  It's kind of like gray hair - pull one and then 10 come to it's funeral :) 

I do have a recipe to share from Rochella and tonight I'm planning on checking out the recipes on Colleen's Friday Recipe Swap.  There is always a good recipe (or two or three or more) on there :)  If you need some kitchen inspiration, Colleen's swap is the place to go.

Blueberry-Cheese Rolls
1 pkg (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (reduced fat)
4 oz (1/2 of 8 oz. pkg) Neufchatel cheese or reduced fat cream cheese
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup blueberries, divided (Rochella used mixed berries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Unroll dough into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations together to seal. Combine cream cheese and sugar; spread onto dough rectangles to within 1/2 inch of edges.  Top evenly with blueberries.  Bring opposite corners of rectangles together; press together to seal.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.  To jazz it up, sprinkle with 1 tsp sifted powdered sugar just before serving. 


Carl and I have been working out together this week and a little bit last week.  Even though we are at the gym together, he does his thing, I do mine, and sometimes we will workout together.  We've even done some yoga together (Inhale on the Oxygen channel).  It's good to have someone to exercise with.  Studies have shown that dieters who join a group or get a buddy, have much greater success than those who go it alone.  An exercise buddy can cheer you on, will talk with you about your weight loss/exercise success and challenges.  An exercise buddy will keep you accountable and they will (unknowingly) push you to do that extra rep or set. 

Carl is also interested in counting calories and has been asking about calorie counts for so many foods.  I managed to find an app for our iphones where he can track calories per meal, exercise and calories burned, plus alot of others options.  The app also links to a website called FatSecret and they even have a facebook page.  Besides checking out healthy snacks for the Super Bowl, I'm going to have to investigate this website/app a little more.

I'm still doing my Physique 57, riding a bike (love it!), a little bit of the elliptical, and starting my PT exercises again all hoping to strengthen my legs so my knees will not be in so much pain.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whatcha Working on Wednesday

We watched Lost last night and oh happy day, the new season has started!  It looks to be exciting, thrilling, and somewhat confusing (for Carl).  Carl said that he still has a headache from it - too many different layers for him.  But for me, I am counting down the days until next Tuesday.  I don't try to analyze it - just watch and enjoy.   

Carl made dinner tonight - thank you sweetie!  He always does a great job when he cooks.  We also did some yoga - have you ever seen Inhale on the Oxygen channel?  It's an hour long show but we only made it through 30 minutes.  It was tough plus we are a teeny, weeny, bit out of shape :) 

I wanted to share this picture with everyone.  A few nights ago I looked into the family room and this is what I saw - all three guys on their laptops :)  No wonder it was so quiet.....

Now for what I've been working on the past week.  Remember that window that I painted and really didn't like?  Well, I took Leslie's advice and hung it back up since I couldn't decide.  The plan now is to fix the spots with stain and brown/red paint, put a new coat of black on, sand and stain with a darker color than what I used earlier.  I think this should work out just fine. 

I am also working on an old picture from our bathroom and it just needs a little something.  It had a white frame that I painted black and then red.  I think I'm going to do the same thing and sand a little bit and then stain. 

The biggest painting project has been the bookcase that I bought at Goodwill.  It was a cherry color and I painted it black and then am going to seal it.  I don't know why I can't get a good picture of it, but it really doesn't look that streaky.  It turned out much better than I thought it would and I hope the boys like it because it's going upstairs in their hallway. 

I'm going to check out what everyone else has been working on over at Leslie's blog - if you have a few minutes, please check out what everyone else has been working on (love the quilt Leslie is making for her daughter!).  Other than watching the weather forecast, I really don't feel like I have much to say so I'm going to wish everyone warmth and safe travels.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Well, I haven't been on here in quite a while, but things are starting to slow down a bit and slowly returning to normal (whatever that is).  So, here's what's been going on in no particular order.

I've been working on some of my small painting projects.  On Wednesday, I'll have updates on the bookcase that I bought from Goodwill, a picture frame that I painted, and the tall window frame that I posted about several weeks ago. 

Rachel and I entered chili in the chili cook-off at work.  I don't remember how many entries there were, but it was fun.  Neither one of us won, but ate lots of good chili, played games, visited with friends, and had fun.  Carl and I played ping pong (we are so bad), the boys and Carl played dodge ball, and there was a scrabble game going on that looked somewhat intense. 

The boys are both finished with basketball and we have been talking to them about doing AAU basketball and/or basketball camps this summer.  Carl has been working on the dirtbikes and we've decided not to send the boys to camp again this year, but to concentrate on riding more at places close to home.

We've been trying to figure out where to go for spring break.  We've heard lots of good things about the Georgia Aquarium and would like to check that out.  The boys would like to go back to Estes Park, and Carl wants to go back to San Francisco. We were there about 9 years ago and watched the sea lions on the floating docks - they were amazing to watch.  Now I've read that many of them have left the area and headed to another location.  There are a few other places that we would like to visit and I'm trying to get our spring and summer calendar ready now.

I'm on a cleaning kick - cleaning out the extra stuff and junk type of cleaning.  We all went through our clothes and got rid of tons of stuff.   Goodwill here I come!  I'm in such a cleaning mood that I'm going to check out Organizing Junkie's 28 Day Organizing Challenge.

I found my first bike ride of the season on May 1 for me, Roxana, and Carl.  Roxana and I are ready to start "training" and yet Carl says "we have 3 months yet".  Well, I need to start riding so I can get these knees and legs in shape.  I definitely don't want a repeat of last summer and have to stop riding.  I think some of these rides are also going to have to be added to our summer calendar. 

Carl's feelings about the cold have started to rub off on me.  I'm tired, tired, tired of the cold and I know that it's not as cold here has it has been in other places.  Maybe it's my age, maybe it's listening to him, but I know I'm ready for warmth.  I keep thinking about having a vegetable garden and visiting garden shops.  I don't know why that last one excites me - maybe it's flowers = warmth.  Maybe Punxsutawney Phil will have some good news.

Last week I spent this past week clipping, sorting and filing coupons and then shopped.  It's alot of work, but so worth it.  I spent $258.50 and saved $386.81.  I started the night shopping with Rochella and then saw Rachel (plus alot of other people from work), and then Carl and I went back on Saturday to do more shopping.  I've collected a bunch of receipts from my shopping and plan on keeping track of my savings to stay motivated. 

On Saturday our family (along with our flock group aka - bible study group) served lunch at the soup kitchen in town.  It think it was a good experience for my boys to help with this project.  I'm very happy with the attitudes they had and the help they provided.

The Colts made it to the Super Bowl!!  We will be watching the game on Sunday and I even bought a Colts shirt to wear! 

Tuesday is a night that Carl and I have been waiting for for a long time.  It's the season premier of LOST!  We are so hooked on that show and even though it's the last season, we are really looking forward to it! 

Menu Plan Monday started yesterday and I'm hoping to have some really good meals for my family this week.  Carl and the boys really like strombolis so that will be on the list again.  I've pulled out some cookbooks looking for some inspiration this week.

Pizza, corn, cheesy garlic bread

White Chicken Chili, salad, rolls

Strombolis, chips, fruit

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 T canola oil
2 med onions, chopped
2 c. diced cooked chicken
1 - 15 oz. can whole kernel mexicorn
1 - 15 oz can black beans
1 - 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 - 4 oz can chopped green chiles
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
2 - 14 oz. cans chicken broth
1/2 hot banana pepper, chopped

Saute onion in oil.  Add chicken corn, beans, tomatoes, chilies, and taco seasoning.  Stir to combine and add chicken bbroth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Serve with optional shredded cheese and sour cream.  Serve corn chips on the side.

Porcupine Balls, salad, California veggie blend w/ cheese sauce
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c. uncooked rice
1/2 c. water
1/3. c. chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/8 tsp.garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 c. water
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix meat, rice, 1/2 cup water, onion, salt, celery salt, garlic powder, and pepper.  Shape into tablespoonful sized balls.  Put meatballs in  8x8x2 baking dish.  Mix together remaining ingredients.  Pour over meatballs.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes.

Favorite Oven Beef Stew
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 T vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, pressed
3/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 - 13 3/4 oz. can beef broth
1 - 14 1/2 oz. can stewed or diced tomatoes, undrained
1 med. onion cut into wedges
2 large unpeeled potatoes (about 1 pound)
2 c. carrots, sliced
1/2 c. thawed frozen peas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, salt and pepper and add beef - shake to coat.  Heat oil in skillet over medium heat and add garlic and beef, reserving any remaining flour mixture.  Cook until beef is evenly browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove beef and garlic to large baking dish, sprinkle with remaining flour mixture and thyme.  Add beef broth, tomatoes and onion.  Cover and bake 1 1/4 hours.  Meanwhile, slice potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices and slice carrots - add to beef.  Cover and bake 1 hour until beef and vegetables are tender.  Stir in peas.

This receipe is baked in the Pampered Chef Stoneware Baking Bowl and Deep Dish Baker.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken and Slaw (From Janna)
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons, plus 1 tablespoon Frank’s Original Hot Sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 bag of cole slaw mix – no dressing
1 large box waffle crackers (recommended: Triscuit), pulverized in a food processor or crushed up in the bag
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Between two pieces of wax paper, pound chicken breasts to about ¼ inch thick. Whisk the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons hot sauce in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and marinate, covered, in the refrigerator, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 tablespoon hot sauce, and blue cheese in a medium size bowl. You should have about 1 cup dressing. Just before serving the chicken add enough slaw mix so that the slaw is covered with the sauce mixture. You can decide how much slaw to sauce ratio you like and adjust the amount of slaw you add.

Put the cracker crumbs in a shallow bowl or plate. Lift the chicken pieces 1 at a time and drain off the excess liquid. Dip into the crumbs and turn to coat on all sides.

Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add half the chicken and cook, turning once or twice, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken. Place cooked chicken on plate with paper towels to drain off any excess oil. Serve on plates with slaw mixture on top of chicken.

If storing left over’s be sure to store the chicken and sauce separate.

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