Monday, September 28, 2009


Here are a few of the things I came home to tonight:

*A hundred balloons, which a friend recycled from a local event. I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened the door and saw them filling the room; Nathan was thrilled and Natalie was scared!*Fall. It was hot when we left, and we came home to a frost advisory. Brrr! Eric had to run out to rescue the final peppers and tomatoes.

*Since Eric had been home alone for a week and didn't join us in CO until the second weekend, he had plenty of "free" time to do as he wished. He not only did a good job on the landscaping in our yard (which was planned), he also really surprised me by cleaning the fridge (a job I do not enjoy) and extending the shelves of my overflowing basement pantry. To top it all off, he left dozens of sticky notes around the house saying things he appreciates about me. WOW! I can't say I'll be leaving again anytime soon, but these gestures made coming home even more enjoyable. Thanks, Eric!
I'll post soon about our trip . . .

Friday, September 18, 2009

Checking in (and out)

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers following my previous posts. I'll be away for a week or so, but wanted to leave off with some recent pictures of my kiddos:
Can you believe Natalie turns SIX months old today?! Me, neither! What a sweetie she is.
Here's my big kid on his new bike--boy, has he grown up a lot in the last couple of months. I was so glad to get a picture of him with a genuine smile, instead of the over-cheesy variety!
(Thank you, Carmen, for your visit and for taking these great pix!)
See you all in a couple weeks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


It has been a strange week for me.

My mom called Monday with the tragic news that my grandpa--her dad--was hit by a car while crossing the street. He suffered critical injuries and died shortly after being brought to the hospital. It is so sad, especially for him to have died in such a way. The truth is that my family did not have a close relationship with him (due to divorce and other complications), and that is part of the loss I now feel.

On top of that, a friend of mine passed away this weekend. He was the leader of the team I worked for when I spent a summer in Paris. He'd been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor just a few months ago, and things happened really fast. He and his wife recently adopted two young kids, so this will especially fall hard on them.

Please pray for these families as you feel led. Thanks.

Ironically, I had started writing a post with some thoughts on grief a few days ago. That post will be coming in a few weeks . . .

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall fashion reveal!

I am glad so many of you were willing to window shop for me, and really enjoyed checking out all your suggestions.

Here is the winning ensemble, which was recommended by Brie:

I chose this shirt in a lovely plum color--it's a little dressier than my usual crewneck style, and the color will go with every pair of pants in my closet! The jacket is a fun departure from my usual style. I wouldn't have picked it out on my own, which was part of the point of extending the challenge in the first place. Thanks for the inspiration, Brie! (Due to sales, I got both pieces for $30 total!)

I must also make an honorable mention. Though this shirt was suggested after the contest deadline, I ordered it as well, especially since the commenter shared a free shipping code.* Thanks, MH in OH!

Thank you again for a fun time. I bookmarked a few of the other pieces for future reference and appreciate all the recommendations!

*Before placing my orders, I remembered this advice about searching for free shipping codes. Though I was unsuccessful in finding one for Sears when I needed it, I still think it's a great tip! I also used Ebates so I could earn a little cash back on my purchases.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recipe round-up

I've tried lots of new recipes lately, and I wanted to pass them on for your enjoyment!

*Wendi recently posted about making zucchini banana bread, and since I had both of those main ingredients on hand, I thought I'd give it a try. I noticed a commenter said they'd added chocolate chips, and boy, was that a great idea. Loved this recipe!

*Mer posted a hummus recipe that she had tweaked from the original. I tweaked it yet again, and here's my version. Just mix all ingredients and enjoy.

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), reserve liquid
1/8 t. ground red pepper
1/2 t. cumin
2 t. minced garlic
1 1/2 T. tahini
4 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice

*My friend Kelly recently moved overseas and due to the high cost of meat, she asked me for some vegetarian inspiration. I definitely think you can omit or decrease the amount of chicken called for in many dishes. (I decrease the amount of chicken called for in almost all recipes!) But here's a meatless entree from our regular rotation:

White Beans with Pesto

3 c. Great Northern beans (about 1 1/2 cans)
1/3 c. pesto (or a prepared packet of Knorr's)
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
egg noodles

Place beans in ovenproof dish. Add pesto and stir. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with cheese and bake a couple more minutes. Serve over egg noodles. Super easy!

A couple other meatless dinners we like are Indonesian rice and potato soup. And since I know she can buy lentils super-cheap, this is my favorite way to eat them.

*If you have a stockpile of zucchini, you should try this casserole recipe that Monica recently shared with me. I also tried her roasted potatoes--very tasty.

*This "desperation brownie" Jamie posted awhile back is decadence in a mug! Here's my version--this makes an individual serving.

1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. cocoa
1 1/2 T. oil
2 T. water

Mix ingredients well in a large coffee mug, and microwave for about a minute. I then topped the brownie with a scoop of ice cream, making it an even more delicious treat!

*Has anyone else tried this homemade Frosty? Maybe I did something wrong, but I was not very pleased with the initial results. I thought it needed to be thicker and more flavorful, so I added a couple scoops of cookies & cream, and that did the trick.

*We're still harvesting tomatoes, and I found another yummy recipe that uses several in-season veggies. I dipped these (sea salt flavor) into the fresh salsa--a wonderful complement! Another tomato recipe I tried was inspired by this yummy dish. Since I was out of olive oil, I subbed this for the homemade dressing and was quite pleased with the taste.

*This carrot side dish was a huge hit at my house. My changes: I omitted the oil, and cooked the pecans alongside the carrots. I also left out the chili powder, as I wanted the taste to stay sweet instead of spicy.

Whew--that's a lot of new recipes. I go in waves where I enjoy trying new things, and other times I just stick for awhile with old standbys.

Monday, September 7, 2009

FCC update

I had so much fun checking out all of your fall fashion suggestions! It was difficult to narrow it down, but I finally made a choice. I have e-mailed the winner and will reveal my new wardrobe addition(s) at the end of the week (or whenever my order arrives). Thanks to all who participated!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The fall fashion challenge!

Our weather's turned much cooler this past week, and thus I've been pulling my long sleeves out of hibernation. The problem is that my wardrobe is feeling a little uninspired. I'm definitely a basics kind of girl: I have crewneck tees in a rainbow of colors, and in winter, my uniform consists of a tee, a cardigan and comfy jeans or khakis.

Eric and I garner a little "fun money" each month ($10 apiece), and I've been saving it for awhile. Today I decided that it would be really fun to add one or two new pieces to my closet. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to clothes (see first paragraph for winter wardrobe description!), and I'm also not a big fan of browsing when I don't have something specific in mind. So that's where you come in. I'm asking you to window shop for me!

Here are the specs:
*You scour the Internet for fabulous long-sleeved shirts, and leave me a comment (or send me an e-mail) with the link to and description of one you think I would like. As a hint, I tend to like stuff from here and here. (I rarely shop for new clothes, so I can assure you I'm not familiar with their current styles if you choose to suggest something from either place.)
*The shirt must be modest (not a fan of low necklines!), less than $30 (under $20 is even better!) and versatile. (My favorite stuff coordinates with both jeans and khaki/olive pants.)
*I will accept comments on this post until 1:00 CST on Friday (September 4).
Friday night, I will select and order a shirt from among the recommendations. To show my appreciation for your style assistance, I will send the person who made the winning suggestion a $10 gift card to the store from which the winning item came.
Thanks--I can't wait to check out your ideas!

Go fish

Last year I came across a cute idea for making a fun alphabet fishing game, and I tore out the page and tucked it away for reference. When my sister-in-law told me she was planning a fish-themed birthday party for my nephew, Zachary, I knew this would make a very appropriate gift!

Though the idea is a simple one, my challenge was that I only had a week to put it together, and I didn't have the necessary materials. I knew my wood-working father-in-law would have plenty of dowels, string, and hooks, but I wasn't sure where I would find 26 juice lids in a short amount of time. I initially listed a request on Freecycle, but after several days, no one had responded. I racked my brain, trying to think of who might have this kind of stuff laying around. Then it hit me: preschool teachers!

I e-mailed my friend Becky, and she totally came through for me. Yay! I purchased some cute stickers from one of my favorite stores, and we were set. Unfortunately, we ran out of time at the party to try the game out, but I hope Zachary and his sisters will enjoy it!