"If it ain't broke" and saving money

This year we're hosting Christmas Eve dinner with the fam after the Christmas Eve service at church. Normally this job belongs to my aunt but this year we are doing Christmas at her newly-constructed masterpiece on Skidaway Island. Plan B was to go to a nice restaurant but with two kids, no-thank-you-very-much so I volunteered our home. And since Ryan is working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year, it just makes sense: he can join the fun when he's not dealing with emergencies.

Anyway, I decided to make my White Chili. This stuff is so easy and everyone loves it; it can be cooking while we're at church and ready to eat the minute we get back. The crockpock is always empty after I serve it. And it doesn't have beef so I'll be able to make it without throwing up and eat it - an added bonus. Hopefully no one will be bored, but really, if it ain't broke...

The only downside is that it calls for navy beans, which are kind of pricy. I have yet to find a generic brand and the cans at most stores are around $1 / can. And considering I need about 15 cans for the 3 crockpots full of chili that I'm going to churn out on Christmas Eve, this meal could end up being quite expensive. So to cut costs, I'm going to use dried beans. I have never met a bean I didn't like and cooking them fresh is something I enjoy (obviously, given my obsession with slow cooker black beans!). I bet I'll be able to get all the beans I need for less than $3.

How are you saving money this Christmas?


A little something

I've been busy cutting, measuring, sewing this week and with a little help from Sarah (thank you! thank you!), here is what I came up with:

My first applique project! I'm pretty happy with the result. And making things, creating, brings me so much joy!
Hopefully a smaller version will sport an "E" later this week...and I'm hoping to turn out a few more for Christmas gifts so shhh, don't tell anyone.


Menu planning Tuesdays

The next few weeks are going to busy so *easy* is the name of the game for our meals around here. I want to have time for all the fun things Christmas brings including the first annual Moody Make-a-Gingerbread-House party next week (more on that later).

Here's What's for Dinner:
Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings using Whole Wheat Drop Biscuits

Pesto Gnocci with Green Beans & Ricotta (sounds hard but is SO EASY--and gnocci can be hard to find so I use tortellini)

Pork Tenderloin, Steamed Spinach (from my farm box), Risotto

Three-Cheese Pasta Bake from Southern Living Busy Mom's Weeknight Favorites (a fabulous cookbook, complete with shopping lists and menus)

Chili Corn Stack-Up Salad (huge favorite of mine, it's made an appearance here before :))

Zippy Shrimp Spread, for the church Christmas Buffet this Sunday evening

Today I'm going to Wal-Mart and Sam's. That thought makes me want to crawl back into bed but unfortunately, we are out of toilet paper, diapers and milk so I must press on.

Have a great Tuesday!


Looking for yummy appetizers?

If you are in the market for easy, delicious and festive appetizers to make for your upcoming Christmas soirees, you have come to the right place! I have made both of these in the past two weeks and received rave reviews. People begging for the recipes. And both are so incredibly easy.

First, Savannah Sin, courtesy of the Junior League of Savannah:

Savannah Sin
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Lb. loaf round French bread
½ Cup chopped green chilies*
1 ½ Cups sour cream8 Oz. cream cheese, softened
½ Tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 Cup chopped green onions
½ Cup chopped cooked ham (I used lunch meat ham)
Combine the cheddar cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ham, green chilies, green onions and Worcestershire in a bowl and mix well. Cut a thin slice from the top of the bread loaf and set aside. Remove the center carefully, leaving a shell. Cut the bread from the center into 1-inch cubes. Fill the bread shell with the dip; top with the reserved bread top. Bake 350 for 1 hour. Serve with bread cubes, crackers, or chips.

*Chilies are optional. I didn't use them.

And secondly, Zippy Shrimp Spread, from someone in the WOC at First Pres Augusta -

Zippy Shrimp Spread
Beat 2 8-oz packages cream cheese (softened) until smooth. Beat in 1 t. seasoning salt, 1 t. Worschester sauce and 1/2 t. onion powder. Spread onto a 13" platter. Combine 1 12-oz bottle of cocktail sauce and 1 T. horseradish and spread over cream cheese. Top with 2 6-oz cans of tiny shrimp, drained and rinsed. Sprinkle dried parsley on top.

This one is especially fun at Christmas: people think shrimp are fancy and the red sauce combined with the green parsley is oh-so-Christmasy.



This week

This week I didn't really do much that would qualify as blog-worthy, just been busy decorating for Christmas, preparing for a party at my house this week-end, hanging out with girls in my neighborhood and cleaning up throw-up. But I did make one meal that I just had to share. It was delicious and took about 3 minutes to prepare, from start to finish. It's from a blog that I found a couple of months ago, called A Year of Crockpotting. So far I've found a few keepers on this site, including the stand-out Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup. I used 2 frozen chicken breasts and canned black beans. I used an immersion blender at the end and it was fabulous. We have plenty of leftovers. Make this: you won't be sorry. Oh, and I cooked mine on high for 6 hours. And that was plenty.

And from last week, a picture of Charlie and Elliot, on the day we stayed home from church to do Elliot's eternal cold. This was just after half of our living floor was had to be replaced due to water damage. Charlie was quite pleased with the glue bucket that took up residence in our house and called it his "tuffet." Hilarious.

PS - The only day since Halloween that Charlie hasn't worn his Sir Topham Hat costume was Thanksgiving, when he wore his indian costume. And Elliot is sometimes tricked by Charlie into wearing his Halloween hat...


One more time

Georgians, we need to vote one more time...the run-off tomorrow is so important. Don't forget to vote!


I'm thankful for...

My terrific husband and our happy marriage

Yummy and plentiful food, wonderful family and great friends (especially the ones who wear their daughter's headdress to the table)...
Precious little Elliot, on his first Thanksgiving
And our two wild Indians, who keep us busy, happy and oh-so-tired

I'm also thankful for old friends...there's nothing quite like 'em! So far this month, we've gotten to see Rachel Gross (find her on Facebook if you know her!), Melissa and Chris Dyches and last night, Matt and Katherine!! We had a reunion of our old Savannah crew at our house last night. Too bad we didn't take any pictures...oh well! But we did have White Chili and everyone wanted the recipe; here you go!
White Chili

Season two large chicken breasts and boil them—reserve the chicken stock (season the water with bullion, olive oil, seasoning salt, whatever you think will taste good).
Take 5 cans of navy beans and drain some of the liquid off (keep some of it b/c it thickens up the chili)

In a pan, warm some olive oil and add the following:
1 tsp cumin (use more/less to taste--usually just keep seasoning til it tastes good)
1 small onion chopped
1 small can green chili’s drained
1 small bunch of fresh cilantro chopped up (use more or less to taste
Simmer this for a while.

After chicken is cooked, cut into small pieces (reserve broth)
Put the seasoning above in a pot with the chopped chicken, beans.
Add a little chicken stock to the pot (keep the rest for something else – yummy!).
Simmer on low for an hour and eat (or cook in a crock pot like I did)


It's been awhile. A long while. Sad for you. Just kidding.

I have not been posting lately because I have been so. dang. tired. Elliot has been doing very random things in the night, like waking up in the middle of the night screaming to eat (only happened twice) but almost every other night for the past 2 weeks he's woken up at some point and just "talked" in his bed for over an hour. And since we have to use a monitor now, I can hear all that. I've tried turning it down so low that I only hear screaming and that does work. But once I'm awake, I can't go back to sleep. So I'm pretty much awake for a couple of hours every night. And even if he doesn't wake up, I do. Because I'm in a habit of waking up now. I'm considering some sleeping medicine. I should not be this tired. I don't even have a newborn. *sigh*

And being so tired means I'm not getting up as early, which means I'm starting the day behind and not getting a jump start on my day like I normally do. *sigh* I think I'm just going to get up earlier anyway and just deal with the sleepiness.

Anyway, we've been enjoying this nice chilly weather and warming up by the fire for the past few nights. Thank goodness for fireplace screens, is all I have to say!

And I picked up my second box from the farm yesterday and am trying to figure out what to do with kale, cauliflower and persimmons (any suggestions?). I didn't do much menu planning this week, because we have lots of things on-hand already, but I did make Moroccan Lentil Soup last night and it was yummy. Tonight we are having Mexican because Ryan is on call all week-end and we normally like to do something fun before he works a week-end.

I'm making Brown-Sugar Pecan Coffee Cake for a ladies church social on Saturday . And probably a friend's Chicken Chili recipe for dinner.

And this week-end is Christmas Made in the South, which I attend with my mom, sisters, aunts and cousins every year. Yipee!

And better late than never: the requested Slow-Cooker Black Beans recipe.


I really like to make babyfood. I think the commercial jars are quite the rip-off and ever since reading Super Baby Food when Charlie was a baby, I've been taken with the idea of making it myself. So I decided to dig into the fresh fruits and veggies that came in my box from the farm. I found a great website on making homemade baby food that recommends pumpkin, among other things. So I baked that pie pumpkin I got in my box, scooped out the flesh, pureed it with water and a little cinnamon and boy-oh-boy, it was a HIT with Elliot. He gobbled it up like he hadn't eaten in years. And now when he eagerly takes his first bite of dinner, he's visibly disappointed when he finds out its peas and carrots mixed in with his YoBaby instead of pumpkin.

Homemade, all-natural, organic, cheap: what's not to love about pumpkin baby food made right at home?! Here's the proof.

Menu Planning Tuesdays? I'm way too tired. Just got back from a quick trip to Augusta to meet a friend's new baby and got ZERO sleep last night. Had to sleep in a bed with Charlie, in the same room with Elliot. Charlie has never slept in a big-boy bed before and has never slept with me. Recipe for disaster. We were up from 1:30am-4:30am (no exaggeration): "Hi Mommy" / "Pet my head Mommy" / "I love you Mommy" / "I go downstairs Mommy." Cute, but not at 4am.

PS - We are not fans of eggplant...


Menu planning Tuesdays

Awhile back, I was feeling very overwhelmed and decided to take a step back from menus, cooking and other things. So I've spent the past few weeks thinking and planning, working on our daily schedules and routines and ironing out a new household maintenance schedule (more on that later). I think I'm finally climbing out of the "I'm-so-overwhelmed-hole" and am ready to jump back into cooking (not to mention the fact that Sarah gave me and a few of my recipes a shout-out on her blog).

Another big factor in my decision to get back into the kitchen is that we signed up for an every-other-week delivery of fresh fruits and veggies from Heritage Organic Farm. Today I picked up my first box (pictured above) of fresh, organic produce and couldn't wait to look through it and work on our menu for the week. A real pie pumpkin, apples, grapefruit, pears, a whole pineapple, an avocado, carrots, onions and eggplant were included in this week's box.

But my new schedule doesn't have me menu planning on Mondays anymore - it's now a Tuesday task. So: enter Menu-Planning Tuesdays!

So here is what we are going to be eating for dinner this next week:
Cheese Tortellini in lite broth with Parmesan Crisps (Thanks Sarah!)

Eggplant Parmesan, garlic bread -- something I've been wanting to try for awhile since I'm almost a vegetarian but was never inspired enough to actually buy an eggplant!

Black bean soup, cornbread

Cranberry Chicken (recipe similar to this one, but no french dressing), rice, okra & tomatoes

Lentil Soup, pita chips


PS - Go Vote!


Costume Fun

Last year Charlie was miserable in his big 'ole Elmo costume. Miserable. Wanted out of it the second we put it on him. But this year, he's all about dressing up. Probably because he's Sir Topham Hat! Thomas and his friends and trains in general are his absolute favorite so this costume is right up his alley.

Elliot was going to be Superman like Charlie was when he was a baby but last week Charlie said, "Elliot be a train." So I scored a costume for E online. Anyway, this Topham costume was so fun to put together. I bought a Size 3T tux from a kids consignment store. It had a black vest and bow-tie so I had to get creative: I sewed yellow felt to the front of the vest and made a black tie and some tails for the jacket with some fabric remnants. Charlie had fun watching me sew and could hardly wait until I was finished.

And adding to the fun, this year we had a neighborhood party at our clubhouse so the kids were able to wear their costumes last night. It's nice to get some mileage out of the costumes...and I'm happy to have a distraction from the election intensity of the past week.

Please comment with a link to your cute kiddos and their costumes...would love to see all of them!


And another one


From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs...is this really us, fellow Americans?

Is this why our ancestors and our great-grand-fathers and grandfathers fought and died? Is this why our husbands and brothers and sons and friends are out in the world fighting for freedom even now?

Don't miss this

Please take a minute to checkout Candace's blog today. and the link she has posted..you won't be sorry.



An Investment

I finally invested in a new bag. As you know, I don't like diaper bags. Sometimes they are a necesary evil (church or preschool) but most of the time, I just throw all of our gear into one bag. This past summer, I had a great yellow bag. It was from Wet Seal and it lasted all summer. I was sad when it finally broke (actually, the pleather peeled off). Anyway, I have been through 2 bags so far this fall and neither worked out. One had too many pockets and one broke. So I bit the bullet and invested in a nice bag, a Longchamp tote--the black one with brown leather handles. This one is kinda hard to find, often sold out. It was sold out last time I tried to find it. But I tried again last week and snagged it. I am so pleased with this purchase and it's already been road-tested: I spilled milk and pretzels inside it and it cleaned up very nicely. So far, it's well worth the money. And I didn't have to drive my double stroller into Wet Seal to purchase it.

In other news, Janelle and her hubby and precious baby visited this week-end! We had a great time...just wish it was longer. We miss you already, J!


Two more pictures

Lauren and Simmons...our sweet hostesses!

Today we painted pumpkins with friends from church. Everyone had fun and I have so many pictures! To see more, checkout Fef's blog. But here are my favorites. Enjoy!

Elliot and his best friend Wyatt (they are 2 days apart!)

Sorry, Wy, didn't mean to get paint IN your ear!

Charlie, I said paint the pumpkin, not paint the brother! :)

"Are we having fun? I'm not sure!"

Needless to say, Elliot needed 2 baths to get clean! Here he is, painting with his one little finger (he touches everything like that these days).

Charlie showing off his messy hands.


Why I'm Angry

This election season has been quite tumultuous for me personally. I've taken turns being interested, angry, vocal, bitter, obsessed and as of late, angry. I'm not angry in a only-Christians-should-be-president/Christian-right kinda way. In fact, I'm more of a Libertarian. I know Roe v. Wade is not going to be overturned at the national level; I'm all for civil unions ('tho leave "marriage" alone; John Kerry had a great apologetic for this viewpoint in the last election season...before he changed his mind of course); and I didn't vote for Mike Huckabee (gasp). I was a Giuliani gal before he let us all down and tried to defy history by giving up IO and NH. Anyway, I'm angry because of what this Obama factor is doing to our country and to me. Here in the deep South and if I'm honest, in my own heart, his presence is not helping race or socio-economic relations. At all. In fact, quite the opposite is taking place. All compassion that I've had for the "under-privileged" has all but disappeared. Why? Mostly because so many of the poor people that Obama wants us to support are not poor. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not include Blackberries, fancy tennis shoes or satellite TV. It doesn't even really include education if you ask me. And the Obama TV ads, interviews and everything else is constantly reminding me that in a few short weeks, I could be paying even more.
Let me describe for you a few scenarios:
1. To get to our house, you have to drive through a "low-income" neighborhood. Many of the houses are even subsidized. However, there are many, many satellites sprinkled throughout the neighborhood as well as a few Navigators and Cadillacs (I drive a Kia).
2. I'm shopping for shoes for Charlie, trying to find a good deal. This season is THE first time that I've ever bought name-brand, brand-new tennis shoes for my child. All the other shoes he's had have been hand-me-downs, generic or bought second hand. I've changed my philosophy on buying Charlie things now that we have Elliot so I was going to bite the bullet and pay full price. While I was in the store, trying to find the best deal, there was another group there, about 5 or 6 kids, a guy and a girl. All looked very young. Some were calling the guy by his first name, some called him dad. Same with the woman. These kids were all decked out in fancy tennis shoes and both of the adults had cell phones with Bluetooth. I really hate to stereotype but I'm going to do so anyway: I would be willing to bet the farm that these people received some sort of government assistance, be it housing, food stamps or health care. (I would not have even paid attention to this crew a few weeks ago but that day I could hardly think of anything else).
3. The woman in front of me at Wal-Mart uses foodstamps to buy her Lucky Charms, frozen convenience foods, milk and juice boxes (I don't buy juice boxes regularly because to me they are a waste of our hard-earned money)...while talking on what else? Her Blackberry. And what is she wearing? An Obama "Change You Can Believe In" shirt.
4. My sister works for a big medical group here in Savannah and does medical billing. Not long after her second boy was born back in April, she was talking to some co-workers about the high price of formula. They were all shocked that she "had" to buy her own formula. They get theirs for free. They told her to just go down to the welfare office and get the tickets. It's that easy.
And they drive better cars than Anna and me.
5. I'm driving around downtown Savannah one Saturday and I spy a school supply giveaway sign. And people lined up for 4 blocks. Initially my heart is softened for these children, but that quickly changes as I notice the way these people are dressed and the cell phones and Bluetooth devices glued to their bodies. These people are not poor. They truly believe that "their" money is to be used to buy what they want and we (people who actually make money) should buy them what they need. Ridiculous. I still can't even believe it. I already pay for their education, their healthcare and their food. I was not about to buy their school supplies.
Where is personal responsibility? Why do Democrats insist on keeping people poor and dependent? Oh wait, I know: they do it to get elected. In the words of Mayor Kate Hennings from the movie Sweet Home Alabama: "There is nothing wrong with poor people. I get elected by poor people."
So what can I do? Nothing really. I can vote and I can repent of my hard, hard heart. I can support causes that really minister to people who need help the most. But I will not ever think it is right or good or Christian to allow people to wallow in self-pity and reward the sense of entitlement that is so rampant in our country today.
And I can steal Obama signs, which is what the picture at the top of this post is all about. It's a tradition that Jill and I started back in Charlottesville during the 2004 election. We had fun then and I had fun today. I'll probably be adding a few more in the coming days.


What we've been doing lately

Enjoying the lovely fall (ahem: 80+ degree temps) in Savannah...
Playing in the park with friends

Painting Pumpkin Rocks

Enjoying Wiener Dog Races at Oktoberfest on River Street...where's Waldo: can you find Ryan/Charlie and David/Tyson in that crowd?


Election Emotions

While watching the debates and the general election coverage, I'm filled with many emotions...fear, , pride, disgust, disdain, hope, and others that don't need to be mentioned here on this blog. And since the VP debate: curiosity.

Did Joe Biden get Botoxed? So I did some research. I think YES, botox has definitely occurred.

Not sure when this photo was taken but I notice a marked difference between then and now. What say you?


So as I've been blogging recently, I've been somewhat conflicted over time management, fighting my perfectionist tendencies , doing the most important things in life, etc. Deciding what is important has been somewhat problematic...most things in my life seem really important. So I've been reading, praying, thinking about all of this lately--and blogging about it a little bit--but oddly, not discussing this in much detail with friends here in Savannah (except for a couple of short discussions here and there with Sarah and Marlo). Venting electronically seems so much easier, less personal. But really incomplete, as I realized today during a discussion with the girls in my young mother's Bible study. Today we were all able to get really personal, discuss our familes, husbands, children, our struggles and even shed a few tears (which felt soo good. For someone who cried all the time in college, I sure am emotionally stunted sometimes as an adult). Anyway, my biggest struggle has been just getting it all done and maintaining a little bit of Emily and things she likes to do. So I just said it today, asked for prayer. And you know what: community happened. We all shared, we all rallied around each other and I left feeling more whole, more complete and much less guilty and confused.

And in regards to "spending time" with the kids, these girls had some great insight, great thoughts and overall, a lot of encouragement to give me. They are abosolutely right: this whole "quality time" thing is a new invention. We don't remember our moms playing with us constantly. And we don't agree with that concept, no matter what the world tries to sell us about the importance of leisure time and always being entertained. A neat, orderly home in which to live, to be safe from the world; food lovingly prepared (even if it is grilled cheese and canned tomato soup like we had last night); clean clothes to wear; opportunities to read/be exposed to good books and to play creatively; to be yourself--these are the things that make for a happy childhood. And these things don't just happen. It takes a mother's attention and devotion, not her constant availability as a playmate. So now, encouraged by these friends, enlightened by a few week's of praying and thinking, I'm much more sure and confident in my role as a wife, mother and keeper of our home.

So feeling much more like myself, I'm going to spring into Fall (hahah) by making some pumpkin bread and other things off of this fabulous website I found last night. And I might just pull out my new fabric and sew some playroom curtains!



Today I received an email from Pottery Barn advertising their Halloween decor. Does anyone else find this particular line of products to be rather odd? And somewhat disturbing? I definitely do. Every year the ghost candles and spiderweb tablecloths and skull-whatevers creep me out. This year they've really outdone themselves with the Spooky House Wall Mural.
And I wonder: must every single retail company in the world capitalize on every holiday?


Thanks to those who emailed and responded via comments to my last post. I do appreciate your input. I think that our current schedule and my new enthusiasm for fighting femcha will help me to stay on track and accomplish my goals - getting stuff done around the house, pursuing interests of my own (other than cooking and cleaning!), reading/teaching with the kids and teaching them to play independently. So far this week is going great...and we are having frozen pizza and salad for dinner. I'm so proud.

Today I've been working on one of my hobbies, Southern Living At Home. I love these products. I want one of each. If you are bored, checkout my website. You can find the list of specials (something Southern Living is really known for)--October specials are fabulous--and browse the on-line catalog.


Just a survey

I am seriously wondering how much time other moms spend playing or reading with their children during the course of an average day (as in before the dads come home from work). And when does this quality time take place? Please chime in here...I'm seriously curious. One hour? 3 hours? 20 minutes?

Personally, it's around 2 hours, on a regular day. I usually try to read for 20 or so minutes a day, right before naptime. And we our morning devotions time and outside play. Scattered here and there are a few minutes of random playing, in the midst of what is now my most time-consuming task: feeding everyone. Especially now that Elliot needs solids in addition to four nursing periods.

Now that I'm fighting femcha and my perfectionist personality, I'm spending more time thinking about what really matters and working towards accomplishing those things. And more FUN with the kids is def. high on the list.

Tonight we are having Pork & Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream (again). Though this sounds like a very ambitious recipe, it's really not...it's very easy and very yummy. You should try it. Especially you lurkers who read but don't comment. :) Oh - don't use whipping cream. I never do. Substitute evaporated skim milk. You most the whipping cream or the extra calorites, I promise.

Update: when cooking my pork in the aforementioned recipe, I do not cut it into medallions and pan-sear it. That would be quite time-consuming and stressful, making this recipe femcha (for me anyway). Instead, I combine the spices to make a rub and then bake the tenderloin in the oven for the amount of time specified on the package. Very easy.


Fashion on a Friday

Will this turn into Fashion Fridays? Not sure. Not sure I really care. I'm not going to add one more thing to stress about...down with femcha! (See my previous post if you are lost here.)

In the September issue of Real Simple, there is an article called, "Trends Worth Trying." I couldn't resist buying a copy (I'm highly interested in fashion and trends, even tho most days I wear a kids XL white undershirt and workout shorts). This article contains quite a few juicy trends I'd like to try but the one that really caught my eye was "Patent-leather riding boots." I'm in the market for new black boots and the idea of patent is intriguing. But here is my question: do they have to be riding boots?? I spotted a nice pair of patent-leather boots--moderate heel, pointed toe--while walking to the alterations shop this morning. And they were reasonably priced but decidedly not riding boots.

So back to my question: do they have to be riding boots? Would it be trashy or otherwise inappropriate to wear dressy patent-leather boots to say, church? Please weigh in. And in the meantime, I'm going to consult the latest issue of my favorite magazine: People Stylewatch.

p.s. Thanks to everyone for speaking up about the pressures we all face as women--so SO glad I'm not alone. And I'm really trying...I went to bed w/out doing the dishes last night. I watched The Office on the couch while reading a magazine and then turned the light out on the mess and crawled into bed...without feeling guilty!


I'm still going to plan menus BUT...

...you just can't do everything. Nope. No matter how hard you try or how late you stay up. And that is what God is teaching me today, right now.

Before I had two children, I used to be able to keep the house immaculate, cook lovely and delicious meals, serve them steaming hot and perfectly seasoned on a very stylishly decorated table. I could show up to dinner with a smile and makeup, wearing something other than workout attire (having already worked out and showered, of course). I could enjoy that delicious meal while talking about the challenges and successes of my day in corporate America, vent about how busy I was and leisurely enjoy my glass wine; I'd even have a few brain cells left to hear about Ryan's day. I'd then clean the kitchen and dishes (which wasn't hard, because it was already immaculate) and with a second glass of wine in hand, head for the sparkling clean bathroom, complete with freshly washed towels and an assortment of bath products. I would also manage our finances and do the laundry. Ryan never ran out of underwear and all the bills were always paid on time.

And then Charlie was born...and I went back to work 6 weeks later. And about 6 weeks after that, our water suddenly stopped working. Because the bill was late. And that was when reality really started to settle in, at first just a gentle whisper..."Emily, you can't do it all." But I kept trying. I kept trying all through Charlie's first year and a half of life, trying to be a 100% employee, 100% home manager, 100% mother and 100% wife. And when I realized that wasn't working, I switched to part-time, kept trying to juggle everything. And then Elliot was born and we moved 4 times in 3 months (Augusta to Savannah Apt, Augusta to PODs, Apt to house, PODs to house) and Ryan's job is much busier and this new house requires more work to maintain and Charlie is very two and requiring lots of "management" and Elliot is needing solid foods and on and on and on...And I'm still wearing myself out, almost in tears most days over the mess that doesn't go away, the dogs that refuse to obey, the almost-constant needs of the children, all the while knowing that this is not how it is supposed to be...

Don't get me wrong: I love my life. I'm honored that God has given me these children and a husband with a demanding job; I love having this much responsibility and I'm much two controlling not to run our house. :) I wouldn't change a thing. And most of the time, this inward struggle towards perfection is not even noticeable to those around me. I just keep smiling (most of the time), all the while thinking of what I should be doing and how what I've just done is not enough. But really it is enough. So today, right now, this week, I'm going to start working towards being able to let things go. Let the dishes sit in the sink for longer than 5 minutes. Let the dog hair sit on the floor and ignore the banana-smeared high chair. Because there are babies to enjoy and a 2 year old who needs to see joy, peace and patience modeled for him, not just discussed. This quote from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People spoke to me:

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. - Goethe

So with God's help, I want to relax; let things go; do the most important things, the ones that will matter for eternity. And let the other things go. It's not going to be easy, but I'm going to try. Jill would call this femcha and I'm going to join the fight against it!

So back to menu planning: I'm still going to do it but meal preparation is my first area of attack. So for the near future, we're going to be eating very simple meals: salad and baked potatoes, grilled chicken and veggies and old stand-by casseroles like my mom's Poppyseed Chicken. We'll see how it goes!

And since I'm going to stop stressing so much about the house and meals, maybe I'll have time to figure out my new camera and actually post some pictures!


Shopping on Facebook?

Just saw this add on Facebook:

Nationwide in stores in U.S. & Canada, Friday through Sunday!Bring in a Friend, say the password ‘BFF‘ and you’ll both save 20%!RSVP now and invite your friends.To redeem in store, you and your friend need only say the password ‘BFF’ at time of purchase. No coupon necessary.To redeem online, enter this promo code at checkout: BFFOnline code limited to one time U.S. purchase only.To learn more please visit: : http://next.oldnavypromotions.com/?v=bff&tid=ONFB1Offer valid on Old Navy merchandise only from September 19, 2008 to September 21, 2008 in the US (including Puerto Rico) at gap.com, bananarepublic.com, oldnavy.com, piperlime.com, and Old Navy stores in U.S. & Canada.

Who knew Facebook contained such tidbits? I think I'm going to do some shopping right now!


Shopping Green

Ever since I decided to start going green(er), I've been looking for high quality, reusable, and CHEAP shopping bags. A personal soapbox of mine is the way everyone and their brother is trying to profit from the green movement, from taking care of the environment. I really, really hate that. It's pathetic. If the environment is important and so precarious, one should not have to be a member of the upper crust in order to afford environmentally friendly, sustainable products. ANYWAY, I finally found a winner at Jo-Ann's Fabric & Crafts and I bought 3. For $1 each. And they are huge, with very long handles. Perfection. I test-drove them today at Kroger and I loved it. More groceries fit in these huge bags so I had less trips from the car to the house. I am hooked and will probably be back for a few more. As an aside: Kroger gave me a free reusable wine bag. It has several slots to hold multiple bottles of wine. Very cool.

Other green changes we've made around the house:
- No longer purchasing paper plates, cups, disposable silverware
- Very infrequent use of paper towels (just bought my first package since moving)
- No more disposable water bottles

We're starting small but really want to tackle recycling next. We had to get the garage cleaned out first, ha!

In other news, Candace is coming to visit this week-end! She's driving down from Richmond with Baby Caroline and Zippy. Should be fun!

In her honor, I'm making Pork & Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Friday night. As an almost vegetarian, that really is a sacrifice! :) I'm sure Ryan will appreciate it as well, if he gets to come home from the hospital anytime this week-end!

Other items on the menu this week:
- French toast
- Brunswick Stew
- Grits Casserole with Turkey Sausage
- Apple, Turkey and Cheddar meatballs


Pet Peeves & Pictures

One of my major pet peeves in life is people overreacting to stressful situations or potential natural disasters, like the election of Bill Clinton, hurricaines, Y2K, and the struggling economy. My first memory of being annoyed at an overreaction was the night Bill won the presidency. I was home-schooled at that time and I can remember the entire home-schooling community going into mourning, thinking that the assault on their civil liberties had begun and that all of their 8 million children were doomed to public education (gasp). Of course that didn't happen. Taxes sure were high (my parents with 6 kids living at home on a >40K salary had to make monthly IRS payments) but life as we know it did not end with the onset of the Clinton Years. And when everyone started taking money out of the banks and stocking up on food and weapons in preparation for Y2K, I could not believe it. I mean, what good is an arsenal going to do you if we cannot operate any of our electronics, cars, etc? Anyway, the behavior I witnessed today at local gas stations was on par with the gross overreactions I just described. People at Sam's Club were lined up into the street AND many were filling up cans AND CANS of gas. It was insane. I actually needed gas, unfortunately for me so I had to wait and it took about 30 minutes for me to get a turn. Come on, people. Take on for the team and pay a few cents more in gas for a few days. Overall, it will do us good in the end because all you are doing is increasing the demand, decreasing the supply and you don't need a degree in economics to know what that does to the price of gasoline. I would say that gas went up about 20 cents today in our community. In fact, the price increase was so drastic that I started receiving text messages from our local news stations about it (apparently they are about to start arresting people for price gauging around here).

So please, if you are reading this, do us all a favor and don't buy gas unless you need it. If something really awful happens and our supply of gas is completely cut-off, your one tank and a few gas cans full of gas is not going to save you. And is it really worth the $5 or $10 you are going to save?

On another note, we had a photographer friend come out to the house earlier this week and take some pictures, mostly of Elliot as he has not had many pics AT ALL taken but she took a few of the rest of us too. They turned out really well, I think. You can see a few of them on her blog.

Happy Friday!


Couch to 5k

I get lots of questions on exercise, how to fit it in, what I do, etc. And basically, the easy part for me is that I like to exercise. I love lifting weights, running, walking, listening to my generic IPod, etc. I love playing sports (ultimate frisbee, soccer) and basking in the excitement that goes along with them. And I really miss all of that. Though very convenient, it's just not as fun to run in my closet, looking at the wall, no matter how good the music is. So, as I did the year after Charlie was born, I've signed up for a few 5K races: United Way Walk-the-Walk in October, Ten Can / Turkey Trot in November, and I'm still thinking on the Savannah River Bridge Run (that hill is huge). I get the team sports "high" without the commitment to a team.

To get ready for these races, I use the Couch-to-5K running plan. This plan really makes it easy and it really is an interval work-out plan, which is an overall better workout than just running. I'm on Week 2 and am already feeling more fit. And working towards a goal is much more rewarding than just getting on the treadmill day after day. I can promise you that.

I'm still loosely following the Abs Diet for Women. I'll be drinking lots of post-workout smoothies over the next few weeks, including my favorite, easy go-to smoothies: Abs Diet Ultimate Smoothie, Lemon Drips and Drops, and Halle Berries. If I could recommend one change to anyone out there wanting to increase energy, be more fit, or lose weight: start drinking smoothies. It really does help and they are delicious. I use the Magic Bullet to blend my smoothies and it makes the whole process so easy. Drink up!


Menu Planning Mondays

I'm keeping it simple this week because I have quite a few projects I'm working on around here, including--dum, da, da, dum, dum--painting the master bathroom myself (my sister finished the wallpaper on Saturday - thanks Anna!) and finishing up the kids vanity. I also have quite a few pieces of furniture to paint so there's no shortage of tasks. Because of this, we are mostly eating out of the freezer and gnoshing on some simple salads, like Ellie Krieger's Curried Chicken Salad. I am going to make one of my mom's recipes, Citrus Rosemary Turkey Tenderloins and will let you know how that turns out.

Tonight I finished up my painting earlier than I expected so I whipped up some Parmesan Grits to go along with our pan-fried Tilapia and WOW. Delicious. I omitted the soup, substituted canned evaporated milk for regular milk and used dried basil and it turned out great. And I probably saved some calories too. We really love grits around here and I'm always game for trying new recipes. This one is def. a keeper (Charlie had 3 helpings).

In other news, I ordered a camera off Overstock and as soon as it arrives, I'll be posting some much-requested photos of the kiddos and probably a shot or two of the completed projects (fingers crossed).
Ciao. (haha)

PS - I know I need to get off the politics soapbox BUT did anyone see the Obama v. O'Reilly interview series? I highly recommend it - very enlightening.


And it keeps on comin'

Not that we really needed ANOTHER reason to strongly-very intensely-vehemently dislike Gloria Steinem but regardless, we have one. She has now weighed in on Sarah Palin with a whacked out opinion.

I really can't believe it. She has contradicted her basic beliefs in a big way and there are many crazy things in this LA Times article but I can't resist commenting on the last paragraph:

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

Are you kidding me? Being a mom and having a career is the overwhelming cause of the suffering of women in this country? Suffering? That is nothing short of ridiculous. There is no doubt that motherhood involves suffering but that is part and parcel of the job irregardless of any other factor. I cannot believe that this statement came out of the original femi-nazi. So to avoid this suffering, women should give up one of their full-time jobs? If so, which one? And as someone who has never mothered while working, I find her hardly qualified to speak on this matter.

And since when is the domesticity of fathers an Obama/Biden campaign slogan? If anyone is looking for advice on how fathers can "be equal in the home" so "women can be equal outside the home," perhaps they should schedule a coffee date with Todd Palin, who seems to be um, writing the book on this subject.

Oh - before I forget: make sure you don't miss the excellent journalism of Us Weekly, the magazine that claims to deliver the "latest breaking news and information on top celebrity stories, style, and more." If you want to know about Bristol's boyfriends tatoo or what baby gifts Bristol received from Jamie Lynn Spears, make sure you check out http://www.usmagazine.com/. From what I read, they should have stuck to fashion and celebrity news. Politics is really not "their thing."


Now THIS is selacious:

Sarah Palin's teenage daughter's private life and decisions are getting just as much attention as Bill Clinton did when he did who-knows-what (wait, we all know exactly what) with Monica while in the White House--and then lied about it.

If you want to read more about the absurd coverage of Sarah Palin, make sure you checkout the past few days of entry's on Jill's blog. Or just turn on CNN so you can watch for yourself while the liberals try to roll back women's rights.

And apparently P. Diddy has a problem with the entire state of Alaska. He has a really valuable and well-thought argument, which you can read about here.

Bottom line: to get so dirty, so desperate, the liberals must be really, really scared of Sarah Palin. And they should be.


Menu planning Monday has been cancelled due to the threat of Hurricane Hanna. We'll likely be drinking bottle water and eating canned beans for the next few days. Fun. If you need me, I'll be bungee-cording my new shutters. Ahem.


No love for Bill

Ryan & I laughed about this for about 3 hours yesterday...and about 2 more today after I found the video online at foxnews.com. Please check out the video at the link below. You'll thank me, I promise.

Bill Rejected

And be sure to turn up the volume on your computer. The Fox & Friends commentary is hilarious.


Someone to look up to

I want to be Sarah Palin when I grow up...faithful wife, loving mother, succesful business woman who loves and serves her country...this woman makes me proud to be a woman and an American.


Fighting Momnesia

Every mother I've ever talked to has agreed: bearing children kills, at least temporarily, brain cells. Seriously. Some have called this phenomenon Momnesia. While the term really explains it all, you can read more about it here. After Charlie was born, I went back to work after just 6 weeks of maternity leave. While I did feel really clueless for awhile, being forced to use my brain and other pre-baby skills so soon fought Momnesia for me. But I did not go back after Elliot was born and have been fighting Movenesia in addition to Momnesia every since.

One fun thing I did this week was sign up for Dictionary.com Word of the Day Mailing List. Each day I receive an email with the Word of the Day, it's definition, and a couple of examples of how it would be used in a sentence, like the one below:

chthonic \THONE-ik\, adjective:Dwelling in or under the earth; also, pertaining to the underworld"Driven by dæmonic, chthonic Powers."

-- T.S. Eliot"The chthonic divinity was essentially a god of the regions under the earth; at first of the dark home of the seed, later on of the still darker home of the dead."
-- C. F. Keary"The chthonic imagery of Norine's apartment, which..was black as a coalhole and heated by the furnace of the hostess' unslaked desires

To fight Momnesia yourself or just expand your vocabulary, send a blank message to:join-wordoftheday@lists.lexico.com.

For the record, any amount of Momnesia I have sustained is totally worth it. From the article above:

It turns you into someone who serves that little infant, to keep it alive no matter what," says Brizendine, founder of the Women's and Teen Girls' Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California in San Francisco. "Other parts of your brain that are usually on high alert are sort of taken offline." ... Mothers' priorities often change dramatically while caring for a baby. They need to be "hyper vigilant" about their infants, who may develop symptoms of illness that are apparent only to those who have scrutinized their every coo and cry, Brizendine says. "You're on the mother beat all the time. It requires certain parts of your brain to work hyper, hyper, hyper well. But it requires other parts of your brain to play second fiddle." ... The cost of that vigilance can be a little ditziness, and that is a price many moms are willing to pay.


Down with the Diaper Bag

For the past 2 years, 5 months and twenty-something days, I've faced a dilemma: how to easily, and stylishly, transport all my gear and the gear required to manage Charlie (and now Elliot) while we are out and about.

I've gone through many, many bags these past 2+ years. And in the process, a major paradigm shift has occurred. But before I explain, here is a brief history of my experience with The Diaper Bag.

First bag: precious hand-made monogrammed deal, given to us by a dear friend of the family. Was the perfect size for Charlie's gear but not large enough for my things (mercifully - otherwise I def. would have fallen into the trap I've always wanted to avoid: using a diaper bag as a purse). Pretty sure this is a fashion DON'T. I ended up carrying around my own bag + this one. We still own it - a treasured keepsake!

Bag #2: Vera Bradley Chelsea Green Baby Bag. This bag was HUGE. Way too big for a baby, esp. one who never took a bottle. We only used this bag on a few occasions, mostly on long day or overnight trips.

Bag #3: Standard Stephen Joseph Back Pack with the monkeys. Very unoriginal but quite functional. We used this bag from Charlie's first birthday through today. We still take it to church and other places where Charlie needs supplies like crayons and extra clothes in addition to one diaper and a few wipes.

Bag #4: Tacky Thomas the Train backpack. Not WASPy at all. We only used this one a few times, mostly at Charlie's old school in Augusta.

Bag #5: Enter Elliot. In deciding what to use for Elliot, I went through three different bags:
- Petunia Picklebottom Nightfall in Madrid Shoulder Bag: waaaayyy to big. Sold on ebay.

- Vera Bradley Yellow Bird Messenger: Not diaper-bagish at all. Big enough for my stuff + the babies' gear. Sold it on ebay after receiving the next bag as a gift (just couldn't justify it after getting a bag for free).

- Monogrammed Toile Bag received as a baby gift. Very WASPy and cute. Still in circulation.
But now, I've pretty much decided that I am no longer "into" diaper bags. I haven't really carried on all summer, unless we're going out for an entire day or something. They take up too much space, too much arm room and are, let's face it, just a little too MOM for my liking. Instead, I'm a fan of the huge totes that everyone seems to be lugging around right now. Although unlike all the teenagers out there, I actually have enough stuff to fill it up. I've used this bag all summer -

purchased from Wet Seal in early May (going into Wet Seal with my massive double stroller is another post) and have used it literally ever day since. I carry everything in this bag including but not limited to:
- Extra clothes for Elliot (usually just a onesie)
- Several diapers in two different sizes
- Burp rags
- Wipes
- Small trash bags for um, emergencies
- Sippy cup
- Snacks for me and Charlie
- My water bottle
- Makeup bag
- Phone
- Wallet
- Hand sanitizer
- Paint & fabric swatches
- Measuring tape
- Tide to Go
- Vera Bradley planner
- And on Sundays: Bible, notebook, Screwtape Letters (for Sunday School)

This bag has been a trouper and sadly, the pleather is starting to rip and tear, as is the inside pocket (I lost my lipstick last week and found it inside the liner of the bag, between the lining and the pleather. Thankfully, I was able to fish it out. Whew). It's time to make a trip to the mall and scour Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal and Forever 21 for my Fall bag.
So for me, Down with the Diaper Bag. I'm much more stylish and look much less like a pack mule. It's a Win-Win situation. Try it, you'll never go back.


Menu Planning Mondays & Grocery Shopping with Young Children

We literally had *nothing* to eat in the house so I had to venture out this morning for a significant amount of food. And of course it was an adventure. We are limited to Publix and Kroger for these large trips as I haven't figured out a way to fit both kids and the groceries into any carts other than the kind that have little cars for Charlie. So Anyway, I chose my weapon (Publix) and headed out the door, bright and early. The car carts were waayyy in the back, stuck behind all the other carts. And of course the cart "dispenser" was right in the doorway. So I made quite a scene trying to wrangle Charlie, keep track of Elliot (patiently waiting in his carrier) and get the car buggy from the back row. The other customers trying to enter the store were not happy. One woman in particular GLARED at me and said in a very unkind voice, "Can you please move these carts" while acting as if she was going to literally run over Elliot with her cart. After I, in a very syrupy sweet voice told her that I was doing my best, she went into a discussion about she understands and has 6 grandkids. I ignored her as she showed no signs of being understanding or grandmotherly. Finally one older gentleman stopped, pulled out the car buggy, gave me an encouraging smile and told me have a good day. Thanks to him, I probably will.

And while I don't expect people to see me and offer to stop what they are doing and help me just because I decided to have two children so close in age, I do think that people could muster a little common courtesy in their interactions with me and other mothers with young children. In the future, I'm going to try to be more consciously polite to the strangers with whom I interact on a day-to-day basis. As becomes a Christian and a just a fellow human being who happens to be breathing the same air and occupying the same space.


This week's menu only covers up through Thursday. We are having out-of-town company this week-and I'll be doing a special menu for those days.

Tonight: Going to Todd and Marlo's for dinner; bringing Green Jacket Salad (my favorite)

Tuesday: Pecan-Crusted Tilapia with Seasoned Cheese Grits

Wednesday: Buffalo Chicken Salad

Lunches: leftovers, sandwiches and a new favorite around here, from a recent menu, Chili Corn Stack-up Salad (try it, you'll LOVE it)

Lemon Drips and Drops Smoothie
Abs Diet Ultimate Smoothie
Cheese & crackers


What do you do when a tropical storm parks itself near your town?


...Finger paint on the front porch (anything to get out of the house) and hope that it doesn't turn into finger painting THE front porch

...Unpack the rest of the boxes hanging around your dining / storage room (and stuff the contents into any available closet space; who has time to actually organize the stuff?)

...Paint the stained-white vanity in the kids bathroom pale yellow (we'll see how that turns out)

...Scrounge around for food and come up with some random combos (pancakes and shrimp anyone?)

...Use Clairol Nice N Easy Root Touch-Up to cover your grays (probably gonna wish I'd never done it but managing my ever-increasing batch of grays is another post)

...Read lots of children's books (and cry my eyes out while reading I'll Love you Forever)

...Take your 2 yr old upstairs and actually tell him to jump on the bed (gotta get the energy out somehow)

...Waste way too much time on the Internet

What do you do when the weather is too nasty to get out much? Would welcome any suggestions. Ryan is working all week-end and we are running out of options!


Home Decor: A very bold purchase

Our new house has proved challenging to decorate thus far, the great room / family room and playroom areas in particular. The family room space is a decent size but it is an awkward shape. Not having much furniture has turned out to be a good thing in that we have been able to pretty much start from scratch, using random hand-me-downs to tide us over while we pick and choose-and save-for furniture purchases. I have been doing a lot of on-line research and spending many hours thumbing through catalogs in search of our perfect "look."

This week-end we made our first big purchase - a loveseat and a sofa. In red leather. Yep, never thought we'd go with red but it was love at first sight.

And to balance the red and add some fun color, our next purchase will be an upholstered chair in some fun fabric. We'd love to add this Pottery Barn Fall Catalog cover girl to our complete the space -

but for the sake of our budget, we may have go for this Ikea chair instead. Like it? Hate it?



* In regards to the comments to my last post: happened upon this tidbit while wasting time on-line today...if the mystery of the showering divers appeals to you, check it out.

* We have Brazilian cherry hardwood floors throughout the downstairs. A messy toddler and 2 messy dogs (including one shedding Jack Russell) have caused our new floors to be in a constant state of disrepair. Until I made the best purchase of my life: an Electrolux Ergorapido sweeper vacuum. If you have hardwood floors, run-do-not-walk to Target and pick one up. The best $99 you will ever spend.

*Received a great Piece of Flair on Facebook: "I do not negotiate with Toddlers." Thanks Marlo!

* I love our new house for many reasons. But one of my favorite features is the large master closet (almost as large as our guest bedroom was in Charlottesville) because it houses my treadmill and my collection of dumbbells. The builder just gave me a new closet outlet yesterday so today was my first day to actually be able to use it - it was fabulous.

* Elliot is now 6 months old. And incredibly precious. He adores all of us (and lets us know this by flashing huge smiles whenever we even remotely acknowledge his existence), including the dogs, but Charlie is his favorite. Here are my 3 men, reading before bed last night.

* We are now about 1/3 settled in; about 80% of the boxes are unpacked but nothing is in order, we still can't fit our cars in the garage and we have not hung a single picture or decorative item. But at least our new tv is hung above the fireplace. Just in time for the Olympics (we're addicts).

Design on a Dime is on and they are talking master bedrooms. Zai jian.


Tandem Diving - Is it a sport?

Just came to know this evening that there is such a sport as tandem diving. Is this a legitimate sport? Not sure.



Menu Musings

No menu planning for this week as of yet due to our second round of illness since moving. *sigh* But several meals from last week's menu were certainly a hit.

Can't recommend the slow-Cooker Black beans enough - huge hit. And in addition to the soup, I used them in black bean chimichangas, which were amazing.

Chili Corn Stack-Up Salad (with Amy's Organic Chili) - Ryan and I both loved this meal. We'll probably have it again sometime this week-end, if I can muster the energy to go to the grocery store.


Going Green for God ?!

Something is brewing and it isn't the Fair Trade coffee I bought this morning at Sam's Club: it's a developing concern and an increasing level of consciousness about the environment around here. Unsure of where this concern this coming from or moving towards, the gnawing sense of "What-do-I-really-believe-about-all-this-green-nonsense" needs to be explored. So I'm committing to thinking, praying, educating myself on the topic. And while I'm at it, taking small steps towards a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

Thinking/praying/educating Step 1: Read the The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, a declaration on the environmental movement created by / subscribed to by Cal Beisner, one of my college professors, and a notable list of other academic and religious greats and thoroughly peruse the Cornwall Alliance website

"Doing" Step 1: Recycle all the boxes and packing material used in our move. Borrowed by aunt's cargo van to make the process more efficient. Will save gas AND some trees. One load down, about 3 more to go

Oh, and if you stop by our house and ask for bottled water, you won't find it. I'll pass you a water bottle from the dollar bin at Target and you can fill it up with water from the fridge filter.


Who Knew?

Yesterday while wasting valuable time on Facebook, I took the World's Smallest Political Quiz. And according to this quiz, I'm a Libertarian!

According to your answers, the politicalgroup that agrees with you most is...

Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties. The red dot on the chart shows where you fit on the political map. Your personal issues score is 60%. Your economic issues score is 90%.

What are you? Find out here and let me know!


Menu Planning Mondays

I love cooking. I've taken an extensive hiatus from any real and intentional cooking and menu planning ventures in recent weeks (months!) since we've been so busy. But now that my kitchen is more than 60% unpacked, I feel that it's time to get back in the saddle!

I had two goals in mind for this week's menu:
1 - Plan breakfasts, lunches and snacks *somewhat* in sync with The Abs Diet for Women, my favorite eating and workout plan (it's so easy...except for the protein part since I don't really eat much meat)
2 - Prepare more veggies

So with those goals in mind, here's what we are having for breakfast:
Scrambled eggs with veggies, english muffin
Cereal, banana
Oatmeal with fruit and nuts (probably going to try Jill's baked oatmeal this week)

And lunch:
Veggie burger with salad (me) and carrots/peas/green beans (Charlie)
Veggies and brown rice
Pbutter and jelly, fruit (not creative, I know, but pb&j is still one of my favorites!)

And Dinner:
Salmon Rushdie (from the Abs Diet recipes), salad
Chicken Little Italy (from the Abs Diet recipes), fresh sauteed spinach, rolls
Slow-Cooker Black beans, rice, plantains
Ham, mac n cheese, sauteed veggies
Chili Corn Stack-Up Salad (instead of homemade chili, I'm using Amy's Organic Chili)

And for Sunday lunch: Creamy Black Bean Soup, using some of the beans from the slow-cooker beans above. I'm planning to use the crock pot for this recipe too, so that the meal can be ready when we walk in the door after church. I'm always looking for easy Sunday lunch ideas...my plan is to develop a short list of our family's favorite lunch menus that work for our Sunday afternoon schedule.

Snacks include cheese and crackers, yogurt and abs diet smoothies - yum!

And this week I'm waging war on the chaos around us. I waived the white flag last week due to the kids' colds and all of our disrupted sleep schedules (we are all adjusting to yet another change, I think) but this week, I'm determined to make this house feel like home for all of us.


Still here & drowning in chaos...

From apartment mess...

To moving mess...Charlie was not a bit sad that the movers went a little overboard with wrapping my glass items!

Still working on a new blogging identity in the midst of it all! Stay tuned...don't give up on me!

And because I need something to give me hope that this place will one day be organized and feel like home...

(Southern Living At HOME Olive Jar Trio)



banquette (n.) A long upholstered bench placed against or built into a wall

I want one. Have the perfect space in our kitchen; found a fun blog explaining the concept in more detail -

There is nothing more luxurious than banquette seating at your dining room table. It evokes images of dining in a fancy French Restaurant. Lingering at the table, good conversations, the family gathered together, taking the time to dine rather than snatch a quick meal at the counter, comfortable. It also serves as double duty seating in a dining room adjoining a living room. It makes the most of a small space and makes for a cozy seating area. Round tables, square tables, rectangular tables - all work. Seating for 2, 4, 6, or 8. Toss cushions or not. Curved banquettes, straight banquettes, L shaped banquettes, or U shaped - all are possible. There are so many possibilities. A suitable option for almost any room. Have fun and pick your favorite.

We have a fabulous bay window in the breakfast area - perfect for one of these seating arrangements. What I want is a cross between Picture A and Picture B:

Picture A

Picture B

In other words, stained/painted bench seating, with cushions (no upholstry!), along the bay window with a chair or two on the other side of a round pedestal table.

We're closing on the 18th (and moving out of this wretched apartment 5 minutes later!) so home decor and furnishings are on my mind.


Where are they coming from?!

Our precious little Elliot is named after one of our heros, missionary Jim Elliot. And the name means "The Lord is my God" - what more could you want for a kid name?

When we decided on this name for our second boy, I had never personally met an Elliot, an Elliot or even an Elliott. The only Elliot that even came to mind was the angry and somewhat unstable crime-fighter Elliot Stabler. But now, four months into having a son named Elliot, I am finding them everywhere.

- One week after Elliot's birth, met a lady in Babies R Us, shopping for her toddler son Elliot

- Two months ago, first week in Savannah, found out that a new friend's baby is named Boaz Elliot

- One month ago - new RUF minister for SCAD arrived in Savannah with 2-year old Elliot in tow

- Two weeks ago a kid was born into our church - Elliott

- Found out that a close friend of my brother-in-law just named his new baby Charles Elliot (??)

- Tonight: randomly surfing on-line and found a website where a mom was commenting on her son, named what else? Elliot.

I suppose originality is overrated anyway. At least our Elliot is darn cute.