Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Special visitors

Happy official first day of summer, everyone! Thanks to all who left comments on my wedding attire post--very fascinating!

We had two rounds of special guests last week--whew! First of all, my dad, Monica, and her 3 kiddos trekked here from South Carolina. Here are some pix from our time together. I'm sure Monica will post more photos and go into greater detail about our activities, but needless to say, the cousins had a wonderful time playing together. Their one request was going to a fun pool in our area; in addition, Eric took them fishing, we made s'mores, and Monica and I pulled off a reprise of this. We had so much fun hanging out together. My dad even gave Monica and I an afternoon out for lunch and a trip to a coffeeshop!
About 24 hours after my family left, we welcomed a dear friend and former colleague, Michelle, who came for the weekend with her family. Here's a pic of us girls, followed by our kids hanging out together:
Thanks for coming, Dad, Monica and Michelle and families. We love you!

June is a big month for being with extended family. (Yay!) I'll be signing off here as we spend time with Eric's side of the family for a couple weeks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wedding dress

This post is not about a wedding dress; it's about how you dress to attend a wedding. Eric and I recently attended a local wedding, and though as a planner I'd determined my ensemble well in advance, at the last minute I was debating about what Eric should wear. I settled on a dress shirt, khakis and tie. You can see in the photo that the tie did not make the cut for my ultra-casual husband--who does not, ahem, own a suit!

Because it was an evening wedding, I was under the impression it would be somewhat dressier than a morning or afternoon wedding, and I tried unsuccessfully to convince Eric to wear the tie. But when we pulled into the parking lot, the guy next to us was wearing jeans. I couldn't believe it! And inside, I saw another young man wearing shorts. But the most eye-opening was a young woman wearing casual shorts topped by a V*ctoria's S*ecret sweatshirt. What?! Upon seeing these outfits, Eric was even more convinced that "no tie" was the way to go. Sigh. =)

I'm curious, especially those of you who live in places other than the rural Midwest--what would you generally wear or expect others to wear to a wedding? (And what about men?!)

In case it's interesting to you: The skirt and cardigan I'm wearing in the photo are what I wore to our wedding rehearsal six years ago! And the necklace, earrings, and shoes in this picture were what I wore on our wedding day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

$5 Dinners

I came across this site sometime ago, and printed off a few recipes, so I was excited to read the book. Our library did not have it, so for the first time, I filled out a card asking them to order it. Not only did they do so, but they even called me when it came in. Woo-hoo! It was a fun book to browse, but I'm glad I didn't purchase it myself, as it's not one I would refer back to.

The first three chapters detail strategic grocery shopping, coupon usage, and meal planning. Because those topics are of interest to me, I enjoyed reading about them, but I didn't take away anything new. That doesn't mean I implement everything she suggests, but some concepts such as "playing the drugstore game" aren't very feasible in my rural area. (Thankfully, I have a sister who scores many deals this way, and she always shares her surplus with me!)

The remaining 8 chapters share a variety of main dish recipes--vegetarian, all kinds of meat, you name it. The common thread is that they all cost less than $5 to prepare, and are well-balanced in terms of nutrition. Finding new recipes is tricky for our family, because I don't eat any red meat or pork, and Eric is allergic to citrus and tomatoes. So, generally speaking, I can skip over at least half of all recipes in most cookbooks! I copied 4 recipes from this book that I'd like to try: summer pasta salad, chicken and rice salad, chicken potato pie, and roasted red bell pepper rotini.

I really like the concept behind this book, and I often add up the cost of ingredients for meals I'm making, so I appreciate that the author worked hard on developing these dishes and calculations. I recommend that you browse the website, and also that you check to see if your library stocks this book. (And if they don't, why not ask them to order it?!)

I also recently checked out this popular book from the library. I read the first few chapters, and then set it aside for awhile. On the day I planned to make the bread for the first time, I decided I didn't feel like it, and thought "Why force it?" So I took the book back right away. Maybe I'll try it someday--guess I'm just not in the mood right now, though I've read lots of rave reviews about it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lifesaver

Today is my 28th Christian birthday. I remember being on the swings at a neighbor's house when I was just 4 years old, and running home to tell my mom I'd asked Jesus into my heart. I don't remember the rest of the particulars, only that humble, precious beginning of a life of striving to be more like Him. Oh, how often I fail in that regard. I recently read James 1:22, and have continued to meditate on its convicting truth: "Do not merely listen to the Word, and soLinkdeceive yourselves. Do what it says." The other day, I decided to more thoroughly read the rest of the passage, and I was blown away:

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

My words--and my heart--have gotten sloppy* lately, and these truths permeated me in a tender area. Getting angry does not produce righteousness, and if my tongue is spouting off, my religion is worthless. Ouch! I am striving to humbly accept these words planted in me that can SAVE me.

God has saved my life in many ways, and I am so grateful for His daily grace and peace. You may remember the story I shared of being rescued from a sinking boat. I believe God saved my life that day. You may not know the story that I had major complications after Natalie was born and was in an urgent care situation. Again, God spared my life. Those are more dramatic examples, but God truly is my Lifesaver, and I am so grateful for all He has done for me!

*When I am really wrestling with my sinfulness, which is often, I am moved to tears by this song.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I've never

Have you ever played the little party game called "I've never?" I thought it would make for a fun post, so I'm sharing 5 fairly common things I have never done. You can play along by either responding to which of these you have or haven't done, and/or by making your own list!

I've never . . .

1. worked in a restaurant
2. seen any of the Lord of the Rings films (or read the books for that matter!)
3. driven a manual transmission/stick shift (I tried a couple times as a teenager, but wasn't very successful!)
4. been to any of the New England states
5. worn braces

Now it's your turn to share!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sugar update

Well, it's been an interesting month of trying to decrease my consumption of sugar. The first few days were especially difficult because I was thinking about it so much that it made me want to eat it more than usual!

Some of my most challenging moments were parties and group gatherings, because of the multiple dessert choices. In an ordinary situation, I would choose 2 or maybe even 3 of these offerings. So selecting just one made me more intentional about my choices.

I did, for the most part, uphold this challenge, and I'm actually quite proud of myself for being more disciplined in an area where I do not really restrict myself. There were two times that I willfully overindulged--one was at the end of a very long day when Nathan had been particularly disrespectful and disagreeable. Once he was in bed, all I wanted was to unwind with some chocolate! The second instance occurred just this past weekend. We went to a graduation party with the most gorgeous display of delectable cupcakes. Two of the flavors were lemon and coconut, neither of which Eric will eat. The temptation proved too great, and I had one of each!

I have to admit I debated for quite awhile about the second cupcake. I even brought it home so I could have it the next day, but I gave in. I felt a bit like the mairie (mayor) in the movie Chocolat, who does not allow himself to partake of even the smallest treat, until the tension builds, and the town awakens one morning to find the mayor sleeping, covered in chocolate, in the display window of the local confection store. (When I used the word "willfully" in the paragraph above--I meant it. We humans have a funny relationship with food, don't we?!)

Now that it is June, I hope I will strike a happy medium with my sugar intake--being somewhat less restrictive than I was this past month, but still making intentional choices, and showing more discipline in this area. As I said when I began, everything in moderation!

If you're wondering about the details of my challenge, more specifically, I made up a few of my own guidelines:

1. If we were having oatmeal for breakfast, I did not count adding brown sugar to my portion as my sugar serving for the day; however, I tried to use less than usual. Same with jam for PB&J sandwiches. For me, the challenge was about sugary desserts and snacks, not these less regular instances that were part of meals.

2. On some days, I did have something sugary twice, but I only allowed myself half a serving each time. Again, for me, it was not about being legalistic, but about making better choices. I considered that it was better to have half a serving twice a day, than a full serving twice a day!

3. When I was craving something sweet, my go-to choices were smoothies, Kashi granola bars, and fruity sugar-free gum.

I can't say that my headaches have decreased, but I have no doubt that eating less sugar offers some health benefit! I'd love to hear your thoughts--do any of you have certain restrictions regarding dessert/sugary treats? Is sugar a temptation for you, or notsomuch?