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Showing posts from 2011

Am. Am not.

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I am about to embark on an adventure. Not a new adventure, and at times, not even a fun adventure. I am sure it will alienate me from some people and draw me to others, make me stop doing some things I love and find other things instead. I am beginning the process to lose 60 pounds for what I plan to be the last time in my life.

I've been on a diet ever since I can remember. I have joined Weight Watchers so many times they don't have to give me the welcome packet - I always already have one. I can tell you the calorie count and/or WW point value of pretty much any food out there. I know serving sizes, and I know how many calories 30 minutes of most exercises will burn.

I am NOT a fan of exercise. Never have been. I don't find it fun, I don't get that elusive "high" those crackheads people talk about. I am an expert at finding excuses to avoid it.

I am also a realist - I need to grow up and just do this. It's not a diet, it's got to be the way I eat to …

Giving thanks. (Post #5)

It's December. I let the end of November come and go while I considered what I wanted to write. I've felt slightly overtaken by events, but moving on...

I'm not nearly as "thoughtfully thankful" as I should be. For every minute I spent writing something specific and of-the-moment here, I spent at least five minutes whining about something that wasn't exactly the way I wanted it to be. And that's probably a conservative estimate. So this post is an attempt to get me out of my own gripey [is that even a word?] head. Maybe by the time I finish writing it I'll have learned something else.

I'm thankful for a family that puts up with my need for control, my random (and often hurtful) sarcasm, and my compulsive need to throw parties when we could really just sit here and watch NCIS/Criminal Minds marathons all by ourselves.

I'm thankful for an amazing assortment of friends - I've often said that watching the comments on my Facebook page is an educa…

Giving thanks. (Post #4)

I'm two weeks behind and I've realized that's just going to have to be okay. I kept trying to force myself into a mood I just didn't feel, and that seemed more wrong (wronger?) than just skipping a few days. I thought about the "fake it til you make it" philosophy -- say I'm thankful for my job, for instance, when I really want to just run away...so that didn't work for me last week. Anyway, I'm jumping back in.

November 15th: I'm thankful for massage therapists! Wound tight as a spring and she just kept working on my tension spots. Gotta love people who are trained to seek out and help solve problems we bring on ourselves.

November 18th: Today, my pastors get my thanks. We're in the first stages of finding a new worship leader, and our senior pastor has a lot to consider. Our youth pastor is taking on the role for a few weeks until we get someone hired, and it's just a blessing that they are willing to step in during transitions. It'…

Giving thanks (Post #3)

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I'm behind because of being out of town, but I've not been forgetting to be thankful! Well maybe a little bit on a particular day...

November 6: Today I'm (determined to be) thankful for the people who run security at the airport. They do a mostly thankless job day in and day out and I'm going to do my best to not only make their job easier today, but to say thank you.
[Follow-up: I forgot to take my plastic baggie of liquids out of the carryon bag, so I actually got to chat with one of the security people. She was very nice, and I said thank you!]

November 7: I'm thankful for a country of free speech, free elections, and freedom to gather. Today I heard a former president speak about the need for cooperation instead of competition. How awesome that I even had the opportunity to hear him.

November 8: Today I'm thankful for entertainment. I met a favorite actor and got to watch a performance that reminded me what extraordinary talent really is -- I take for granted …

Giving thanks. (Post #2)

Continuing the thankfulness project...

November 3: Today I'm appreciating colleagues that make me laugh. It's not every day, and it's not every call, but sometimes the giggles just won't stop. I love those days.

November 4: I'm thankful for friends who know me and love me anyway. I'm blessed to have spent a weekend recently with a lifelong (40 YEARS!) friend, a relatively new (8 years) friend, and my sister, who I'm so glad to have as a friend. I take my friends for granted way too often.

November 5: On what would have been his 79th birthday, I'm thankful for my Daddy. He was an amazing example of a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a Christian. He was taken too soon, but the time he had here was well spent. I hope I can be even half the person he was.

Giving thanks (Post #1)

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It's the month of remembering to be thankful. I don't know why it requires a specific day or meal to remind me, but somehow I slip into that "poor me, it's all awful" mindset. So this month I'll use this space to specifically be thankful. And maybe it'll make enough of an impact that I will remember to do it more often.

November 1: I'm thankful for faith. Faith that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train. Faith that seemingly insurmountable obstacles are really just speed bumps. Faith that when I'm ready to completely give up, someone or something will cross my path with exactly what I need to hear.

November 2: I'm thankful for my husband. I typed that, and then let it sit for about three hours. How do make a list of things for this one? He can fix almost anything mechanical. He puts up with my impatience. He loves our daughter. He makes me laugh. He tries not to make me cry. He tries not to let anyone else make me cry. Through twe…

Projects.

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I have a confession. I have issues with knowing my own limits. The whole idea that I HAVE limits annoys me, so I just push forward. I say things like, "But I want to!" as a reason for taking on 68 things at the same time. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not.

I also love fall. [I love it more when it's not 97 degrees outside, but that's a different topic.] The colors, the air, the food, the clothes -- other than Christmas, it's the one season I actually change the decor of my house.

When fall hits, I get inspired to take on projects of all types, and usually all at the same time. This past weekend, I was in the mood to bake something, so I promised the kid cupcakes (Project#1).

 I knew I wanted to get the dining room table decorated for fall (P#2)...  but then I noticed how bad the chair fabric looked after 8 years. So let's recover the dining chairs (P#3)! And I still had the rest of the pantry to organize after installing the lovely door spice…

Anniversaries.

Anniversaries are weird.

As a kid, an anniversary was that one meal/night/weekend your parents never allowed you to spend with them, and that made sense. Like a birthday, you had one of these a year marking a specific event.

Then you got older. Friends in high school talked about the "one-month anniversary" of their first date/kiss/whatever, and ushered in the era of those other date remembrances. It seemed like everyone was having an anniversary of something every other day. I'm sure I jumped on that bandwagon, too, I just don't remember any of those dates anymore!

Then comes the first "bad" anniversary -- the breakup, the divorce, and eventually, the anniversary of a death. It's hard to use a word associated with celebrations with those sorts of events. The point is to mark them, I suppose, more than celebrate -- maybe to remember happy times, or how things have changed. And somewhere in your mind is the question, "Does this ever get easier?"

Cooking: Lasagna Rolls

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I've posted notes on making this particular dish before, but it's so easy (and popular) that I thought I'd put a how-to here. Most recently I made this for some new parents - it's great for make-and-take events, because it's easy, and stays warm for a long time.

Credit goes to the Neely's at Food Network for the sauce - I started with their tomato sauce recipe and made a few adjustments. I first saw lasagna rolls on the blogchef.net site, but there are many out there if you google it.

I think all good pasta sauces start the same way -- olive oil, chopped onion and garlic. Saute the onion until it is tender. I usually add a little salt and some black pepper at this point, too.

Depending on how much sauce you need, add one 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes. I prefer the Contadina brand -- I've tried the generic brands and they just don't taste right. Add some basil - dried is fine, just be sure to rub it in your hands first to release the flavor -- and a little…

Bring the funny.

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I was reading a popular blog the other day and the topic was TV shows that the writer rated as most consistently funny. I was surprised at the ones I completely agreed with, as well as the couple that just didn't do it for me. So I wondered what my list would look like. Here, in no particular order, are the four shows that most often bring me to the bust-a-gut, can't-breathe-for-laughing state.

1. Friends

Thursdays have never been the same since the friends moved on. Who can forget:
"PIVOTTTTT!!"Smelly CatChick and Duck"Nipular area""That's not even a WORD!""Damn the jellyfish!"Janice"We were on a break!"Joey and the turkeyRoss and the leather pantsThe Holiday Armadillo"How YOU doin'?"And the guest stars: George Clooney, Noah Wiley, Tom Selleck, Jill Goodacre, Jon Lovitz, Charlie Sheen, Teri Garr, Bruce Willis, Kathleen Turner, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Applegate, and on and on. [I always wondered if those gu…

Procrastination.

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Apparently I took the month of August off from blogging. Not sure that it was a conscious decision, but here I sit at the end of the month wondering where time went. It's not that I didn't have anything to say, but somehow I just kept avoiding completing a thought. I blame the heat in Texas - it's fried my brain.

On that note, SERIOUSLY? Sixty some-odd days of 100+degrees, 42 of them in a row? No appreciable rain in months. [Okay, there was that ONE storm, but who can remember...] The floors of my house are a wreck because the dogs go outside, jump in the pool to cool off, then run inside, dripping wet. It's fun and smells great. There's not enough Scentsy in the world...

So during this ridiculous heat wave, what do my daughter and I decide to do? Take up running. Yeah, take a moment to process that. I'm NOT a runner, I've never been a runner, I find very little about it appealing. But by golly, I want to hit an endorphin high sometime before I die. Which co…

Mission accomplished.

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Last week was a new experience for my daughter and me. We went on a mission trip to New Orleans with a group from our church. I'd gone on mission trips as a teenager, but this was my first as an adult. Not only was it a different kind of mission, I had a completely different perspective almost 30 years after the last one. Our group of 16 was made up of 12 girls/women and 4 boys/men. It was about a 10-hour drive one way, give or take 14 bathroom stops.

The trip was coordinated through MissionLab, out of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. This particular week had about 400 people descending on the city to provide various services. Our group held a Vacation Bible School at an apartment complex, and worked to clear a lot in the Lower 9th Ward.
It took me about 4 minutes to find a child I wanted to bring home with me from VBS. Derrick was three, and he pronounces "blue" as "plue." Love.He did not come home with me, in part because Hubby gets another puppy …

Stuff I love.

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The title is misleading. I don't mean "stuff" like possessions, although some of the stuff below is stuff. (Huh?) I was just thinking about little things that make me smile. So, here's a list of what makes me smile today, in no particular order.

1. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Not fancy, although fancy is fine, too. Just American cheese on wheat bread (crusts ON, please) is fine with me. Hubby taught me the art of putting the butter in the pan instead of on the bread -- makes it crispier -- but I still usually go for the soggier, butterier (is that a word?) style.

2. A clean desk. You'd think I'd work harder to have this, since I love it so much.

3. Word games. Boggle. Twist. Cryptograms. Anything that makes me make words out of other words or letters just makes my day. If you haven't found sporcle.com and you like word and trivia games, be prepared to lose hours.

4. This site. Never fails to make me want to bake or decorate something.

5. Reading. Specifi…

Finding the gratitude.

I've not been in a writing mood. Blog topics have swirled around in my head the last couple of weeks, but nothing has really settled as being something I really wanted to spend time actually writing.

I think my brain is just tired.

We had lightning damage from one of the nasty spring storms in Texas about three weeks ago. Getting new stuff is fun, right? Getting new stuff all at once because nothing is working is not so fun. My house has been a wreck for weeks, and there are boxes everywhere. I'm tired of paperwork, and for a while it seemed like every day something else was discovered that didn't work.

Insurance. Glad to have it, really. Deductibles suck. Paying for a roof that we didn't even know was damaged by hail/wind (it's WAY up there! I can't see it!) when we'd much rather take a vacation sucks a lot.

So I haven't wanted to do much writing or extra thinking. Throw in a business trip, and it's just much more conducive to sitting my butt on t…

Love letters.

There's nothing quite like a love letter.

My daddy used to write me little notes and I never knew how much they meant to me at the time. He had one specific phrase he'd use (no, I'm not going to say it -- it's cheesy and that's why I love it) and I'd get all embarrassed then...but now, the memory just warms my heart.  I realize now that it also made me know that he did the same thing for my mom even if I never saw them. I still have the one he wrote me when we found out we were going to have a baby (he suggested twins).

When I traveled out of the country for work when my daughter was about six, I left a series of notes hidden around the house. I think she found them all before I got back and it made the time go much faster for her. And every first day of school warrants a note in her lunch bag. Even now, if I'm gone more than a night or two, I'll often leave a note on a mirror.

But there's something different about a love letter -- the one that'…

Sisters.

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. I actually mailed her card on time, at least if the Post Office is still working on Saturdays. I just wanted to let her know I'm glad she was born.

She's older than me by seven years. That means for a very long time we had pretty much nothing in common. I was just the kid she had to keep an eye on when she was in middle school, and I talked too much (shocking, I know). I was in elementary school when she got married, and in junior high when she had her first child. [That was cool, though, because I got to be an aunt before all my friends.] By the time I graduated high school, she had three kids, a husband, a house...and I went off to college.

At some point in college, that adage about age differences mattering less as you get older really became true. Her marriage ended and she moved back to our hometown, while I was the one away. Within a few years, I was married and a mom to two boys. She married a wonderful man exactly one month afte…

Patience, Grasshopper.

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I just watched a driver go around railroad crossing arms or bars or whatever those things are called.

Full Discolosure #1: I live in a suburb where the railroad tracks are one of the, if not THE, biggest pains for the residents of this area. I've been regularly delayed by 10 minutes, with my maximum trip time extended by over an hour due to the layout and lack of alternate routes to certain places. Going around the barricades is a huge temptation, especially when they are obviously malfunctioning.

Full Disclosure #2: I have a huge fear of trains, or, more accurately, being hit by one. In my first couple of years as a licensed driver, I remember only one set of tracks in my home town and I didn't have to cross them often. But I was plagued by recurring nightmares about them, convinced that this would be how I'd meet my Maker. I hate when those flashing red lights go off because even crossing the tracks BEFORE the bars come down sends me into a panic.

So today, I watched a t…

Random stuff.

One of my blogging friends does a Tuesday Ten list (waving furiously at Gini). That's not what this is, but I'm feeling pretty random, so here's a list of stuff for today.
There is nothing better than watching people you love have their prayers answered. When those answered prayers are going to result in unbelievable blessings for a baby that doesn't even know it yet -- well, that's just the icing on the cake.My mother cracks me up. She never fails to share some miscellaneous piece of information she heard or saw or got on email that is just hysterical. Here's a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWA1A9XFi8.I'm not political. I won't suddenly become political just because of the news about Bin Laden. I will say I've got a little bit of "the devil you know" anxiety going on. What will al Qaeda feel driven to do to prove they're still a force?Our country has not done and can never do enough to say thank you to the men and women of o…

Catching up.

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I was thinking the other day about catching up with old friends, say ones you haven't really talked to in 10 years or more. With Facebook, it probably happens a lot more than it used to. How do you decide what's worth sharing from your life, when minutiae is not really the point? So I started thinking of a top 10 list of those things that really define my life. Those things that, if Oprah asked me why I am the way I am, I wouldn't hesitate to list as the biggest influences on my life in the last 15 years or so. Some are obvious, I think...and I'll bet this list will change over time. But right now:
6. Changing jobs in 2005
5. Going to India in 2002
4. Deciding to go back to church in 1998
3. Reagann's birth in 1995
2. Daddy's death in 1999

1. Zac's death in 2002

Hm. Now that I actually write them down I can only come up with 6 real ones. That's something to think about.

What will I add in the next 10 years? What will come off this list?
What's on your l…

Teenage daughters.

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It's Saturday morning. My daughter is earning money cleaning the house, and I'm doing some other stuff. TV is tuned to music videos, and one of my new favorites just came on: Martina McBride's "Teenage Daughters":
I ain’t complainin’
But I’m tired, so I’m just sayin’
What I think
And if we’re being honest
Than honestly I think I need a drink
[It's a little early at the moment, but sure! Sign me up!]
My baby’s growin’ up
She think’s she’s fallin’ all in love
And that I hate her
At seventeen, she’s just like me when I was seventeen
So I don’t blame her
[I'm blessed that this isn't completely accurate. She's only 15, and I'm pretty sure she knows I don't hate her. BUT, I do remember 17, and it's not hard to project a little.]
Remember when we used to be
Everything they'd ever need
We had them believing we were cool
It’s like it happened overnight
We’re always wrong, they're always right
We used to be the ones breakin’ the rules
Now we…

Dinner party stuff.

That's a misleading title...It should be "A short list of stuff I've learned about having a group of people over to your house for something" but that didn't fit in the space I had.

10. Always have extra toilet paper in every bathroom of the house. Doesn't matter if the party is one hour or all day -- you're gonna need it.

9. There is no such thing as "too many potatoes" -- especially if they're mashed. It doesn't seem to matter if it's 5 pounds or 10 pounds...they're ALWAYS gone.

8. Having teenaged girls around for cleanup is an excellent idea. If you can pay them in dinner rolls and dessert, that's an extra score!

7. Speaking of dinner rolls, they will not rise on command. Apparently yeast has rules, and begging has no effect.

6. Ice. Remember the ice. Preferably BEFORE you're out. Just a suggestion.

5. Watching people who don't know each other get to know each other is one of the best parts of having people over.…

Unexpected hug.

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I went upstairs to get some Easter stuff out of a closet early this morning, before coffee. Sitting on one of the boxes was this little book I recognized but hadn't seen in a while. I grabbed it along with the Easter stuff and went on my way. [Do you remember when EVERYTHING had this angel on it?]
When I took time to flip through the book, I remembered that I used it to take notes during sermons at our "new" church, starting back in 1999.  Notes from 2000 -- quite a few weeks represented there. Continues on through 2001 -- here's a note from September 9, 2001:  Psalm 118:7-9 -- have confidence that God is in charge. That was a truth to remember a couple of days later. A few other headlines caught my eye ("Regaining Credibility," "How to Provoke Your Children" -- good times!) and I found a sweet card from a friend.
Notes stopped after May 26, 2002. A bunch of blank pages made up almost half the notebook. That was a pretty tough year, so maybe that&#…

I love this part.

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I'm planning. I'm planning a meal. I'm planning a special meal for special people. I love this. It's not like I only plan special meals once a year. But when it's time to do it, I just get this warm fuzzy feeling of joy. A few weeks ago I got to do it for a group of girls staying the weekend, and it was just as much fun. This will be for Easter and my mom will be here.

Brisket? Chicken? Both? What kind of bread? Oh, and sides! Don't think about dessert yet. I'll browse known and unknown recipes, thinking about what works together and what sounds fun to make.

I never used to do this. I remember the first Thanksgiving I hosted at our house. I was a wreck. I made Mom come in two days early to help me figure out what I was doing. I had the wrong kind of cornbread for the dressing, and I don't know how anything was actually finished in time to eat it. I think that was about 7 years ago. I've gotten a little better since then, I hope.

The cooking is fun…

Of inspiration and artists.

We went to the arts festival yesterday. We try to go most years and have been often enough that we recognize some of the artists by face, not just by work. And the art is amazing. To see what some 200 artists create -- every single one of them different in some way -- is mind-boggling. Sure, there are a bunch of photographers...but not a single "duplication" out there. Sculptors in clay, metal, wood -- several may make vases or bowls, but none exactly alike. Then there's the guy that uses spark plugs (sparkplugguy.com) -- I think he might have a corner on that particular market.

Where do they find inspiration? I don't mean once -- sure, see a beautiful sunset, and even I can be inspired to take a photo. I mean the inspiration to work 150 hours on one woven table base, to know that the colors and pattern is just what it needs to be (tinasbaskets.com). Reading the artists' descriptions of their work and how they see a piece in nature or in the materials they use -…

Potential.

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This is potential. Someday this will be a salad. Right now, it is a little bundle of green among several bundles. I grin every time I go outside and see how much it's grown since the day before.
These guys have potential, too. Basil, dill, thyme...there's some cilantro and parsley in the barrel, too. They survived the wind of the last week and eventually will wind up in a sauce or a salsa or something yummy, as long as I don't forget to water them in the Texas summer.

But I think THIS has actually reached its potential, and then some. I didn't believe the experts when they said mint is a weed with better PR. I'm not sure there are enough days or enough rum to make enough mojitos to use all this in my lifetime! Drop by if you need to pick up a cutting -- I don't think I'll miss it.

Beginning is hard.

A year and a half ago I finally joined the Facebook nation. Now it looks like I'm jumping on the blog wagon.

I like the idea of blogging. I've always liked the idea of journaling, and have had sporadic success when I make up my mind to journal as a way to keep my sanity. But if I edit myself on the off chance that someday I meet a terrible fate and Gibbs and Dinozzo have to go through all my stuff, do I REALLY want anyone to read what I think? So do I ever really write the truth in something private that stays in a drawer in my room? And if not, what on earth makes me think I'll be honest blogging?

Or maybe it's not that kind of blog. I don't have to use this venue to throw my opinions on everything to an unsuspecting world. Lord knows there's enough of that going on. And while I know a little about a lot of things, I'm not an expert on any one thing that would fill that gaping hole in the web -- and if anyone knows what topic isn't already covered som…