Wednesday, November 18, 2009


... has started being my favorite-est day of the week. Well maybe not the whole day - but certainly from 5pm on.
You see, two years ago I signed up for a "Meet Up" group here in the DFW. This group gets together once a week to play Cribbage. Until a couple of weeks ago me and Jerry's schedules just did not work together to make this something I could do. Mostly his schedule, with meetings and servers and people and whatnot. However, his being out of work has been a blessing of sorts for me on several fronts; one being that three weeks ago today it worked out that I could go out to this "Meet Up" and start playing Cribbage with humans in person.
It has become something I look forward to all week long. Seriously. It probably doesn't hurt that the last two times I have gone I have one "pots". However, I know that even if I don't continue my "winning streak" I'll still want to go.
The people are fun. The game is challenging.
And I get to spend time with people in a social environment for up to FIVE HOURS.

Other benefits of having Jerry out of the job: He has started to "dejunk" the garage. He's helped out with small things around the house (like emptying the dishwasher). He's started helping me assist the kids in getting their homework done (yes, the BOTH have homework EVERY night). He's started thoroughly trimming the bushes and trees around the yard. Oddly, without all the pressure of various work related tasks ... he's easier to be around.

While the Cat's Away

I use to HATE Sponge Bob Square Pants. Thought he was inappropriate, rude, crude, silly and just plain wrong. My kids WERE NOT to be caught watching it, if it was on Nick - they were to turn the channel as quickly as humanly possible. I was as steadfast in that rule as my mom was about "The Simpsons" while I was growing up.

Then I went on that little trip to Vancouver last February ... and all moms rules went out the window.
"Can we have pop tarts three meals a day, dad?"
"Sure! Sounds good."
"Can we play out front with no adult supervision dad?"
"Sounds like a good plan to me!"
"Can we watch Sponge Bob till our eyes bug out of their sockets, dad?"
"Go ahead, but don't you DARE tell your mother!"

I try to portray a united front to the kids when it comes to "rules" and "exceptions" and what not. I try to encourage involvement on all fronts. So when he lets the kids do something I forcefully object to - I take a step back and breathe deeply. Take a look and see if maybe I was just being a little ... over board.

I still won't let the kids get the toys or watch it when I'm not around. But we've found quite a few moments of laughter together while watching that silly show.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Million Words

As I was reading through an article written about President Obama visiting Fort Hood today I got choked up several times while I was reading his speech. A speech prepared by this man...

Jonathan Favreau
is a genius with words and at pulling heart strings (of French Canadian decent no less).

I noticed it first, obviously, while Pres. Obama was on the campaign trail.

Seriously, that boy can write.

And again today:

"Here is what you must also know: Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation."

"Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that is their legacy,"

"Neither this country -- nor the values upon which we were founded -- could exist without men and women like these 13 Americans."

" Their lives speak to the strength, the dignity, the decency of those who serve, and that's how they will be remembered."

"In an age of selfishness, they embody responsibility. In an era of division, they call upon us to come together. In a time of cynicism, they remind us of who we are as Americans."

"We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it."

"But as we honor the many generations who have served, all of us -- every single American -- must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself the equal of those who've come before. We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes."

"Long after they are laid to rest -- when the fighting has finished, and our nation has endured; when today's servicemen and women are veterans, and their children have grown -- it will be said that this generation believed under the most trying of tests; believed in perseverance -- not just when it was easy, but when it was hard; that they paid the price and bore the burden to secure this nation, and stood up for the values that live in the hearts of all free peoples."

Stuffed Shells

Oh. My. Goodness. I lifted this recipe from Sallys food blog.
I am a HUGE pasta lover and this, my friends was BEYOND delicious.
Sally says, "it take some time to put together, but is totally worth it."
I SO agree, Sally Sue, I SO agree.

12 ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (I only used about half the box, as I like REALLY stuffed shells.)

For the sauce:
3 - 14 oz cans tomatoes in juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

For the stuffing:
1 pound bag of baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 cups (16oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon pepper
pinch of nutmeg

Cook shells according to package directions but for less time. You want the shells to be tender but firm to the bite, about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain the shells and spread out on a cookie sheet so they don't stick together. Let cool.

For the sauce, pour the tomatoes into a food processor and chop quick. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with juice, basil and salt. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Then simmer very gently, partially covered, until thickened (you still want there to be juice), about 20 minutes. Season with pepper.

Meanwhile, add the spinach and the salt in a skillet. Place over medium heat, cover and cook, tossing every now and then with tongs for even cooking, until wilted, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain, let cool and then squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Chop and set aside.

In a skillet, add the zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon salt with some water and cook. Stir every now and then, until tender and lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. (The original recipe tells you to cook it with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, but it's just as yummy cooked in water.)

Add zucchini to the bowl with the spinach. Add the ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, the parsley, pepper and the nutmeg. Stir to combine.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 1 Tablespoon per shell. Arrange the shells side by side. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, and then sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake, at 350 degrees, until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes.

Ohhhh my heck.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Feels ... Dejected.

Last week on B-mans blog I posted about us getting involved in a Walk Now for Autism that is happening here in the DFW area next Saturday. Next I emailed pretty much everyone I knew that isn't in a particularly financially tight situation. Then I posted it on Facebook.
So far, I have gotten THREE donations. THREE.
As in, less people than I have in my family.
To say that this hurt my pride a little may be an understatement.
I don't ask for help often at all - and then to put out that plea and to get such a dismal response.
Well. It sucked.
Still sucks.
But maybe if I post it here too, I'll get a better response.
Lord knows it can't get much worse.

"This year I decided our family (at least the kids and I) are going to get more involved in the Autism community and awareness.
I've been sitting in the wings for a little too long.
Admiring and advocating the work that is done.
But not putting any real effort in myself.

Our first endeavor is going to be the Walk Now for Autism (<----click here) event being held on November 14th.

I am not one who easily asks for help.

If at all possible, I will get something accomplished by myself simply because ... I guess I hate the humility that comes with admitting that you just can't do it alone.

I also hate the possibility of rejection.

That I think hurts more than getting to the point of being able to ask for help.

For Brogan. For The Cause, I've swallowed my pride and bucked up against the possibility of having no financial support and sent out hundreds of emails.


If I know you, if I can find your email ...

I've sent you an email asking for your support. (<----click here) 'Cause this is something I believe in.
I don't believe so much that there is a "cure", but I surely believe there is a world of help out there that can be given if enough attention is brought to our cause. (<----click here) So come on, people - let's make some money and make a difference! B-man's counting on you! (haha, just had to throw out the "tugging on the heart strings" line)" For the love of all that's Holy! Don't Turn your back on the boy!

Henry and Mudge

Have your kids ever read these books? They are so super cute. Rhiannon and I are huge fans - these two characters interact so sweetly together you can't help but love them.

The first book is cute and happy till Mudge decides to go on an adventure on his own ... then pages 28 and 29 Happen:

"Henry thought Mudge
would be with him always.
He thought Mudge
made everything safe.
He thought Mudge
would never go away.

And when Mudge did go away,
when Henry called and called
but Mudge didn't come,
Henry's heart hurt
and he cried for an hour.
But when he was finished crying,
Henry said, "Mudge loves me.
He wouldn't leave.
He must be lost."

Oh my lands.
Rhiannon and I have read this book at least half dozen times and when we get to these pages, we are both in tears.
It is such a sad, sweet lesson.
It speaks to my very soul.

Knowing that you love someone and that someone/something loves you so much that you have that definitive core solid faith that they wouldn't leave you.

Awesome message, Ms. Rylant.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Beef and Potato Stew (slow cooker)

2 lbs. stew beef
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. paprika
4 lg. carrots, chopped
3 lg. potatoes, chopped
1 c. condensed beef broth
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/3 c. soy sauce
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)

Layer potatoes, then carrots. Top with meat; sprinkle meat with soy sauce, salt, paprika, pepper & flour. Spread with onion. Combine beef broth & tomato sauce & pour overall. Cover & cook on low 7 - 8 hrs. or high 4 - 5 hrs.

Baking Powder Biscuits
450 degrees for 10-12 minutes

2 c. flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/3 c shortening
3/4 c milk

Sift together flour, baking powder & salt. In a large bowl- add flour mix. Work Crisco into mixture using a pastry cutter. All at once pour milk in, mixing with a fork just until there is no dry stuff left. Place dough on floured board & kneed 10-12 times or till nearly smooth. Roll dough out to about 1/2", cut with a floured circle of some sort - I used a glass. Place on cookie ungreased sheet. Bake till golden.

A Project

... of mystically large portions!

That's what moving my (very) small deep freeze seemed like.

I just wanted it moved from the laundry room, where it has resided since my in laws bought it for me four or so years ago for Christmas (they always get me very practical gifts: bbq, bread maker, deep freeze ...).

It took up space underneath where I hang the clothes and with growing kids, that meant more and more clothes were brushing the top of my freezer.

Being neurotic, this bothered me.

A lot.

It wasn't so much the moving it - it's small enough that I can maneuver it on my own. However, I wanted it put in (duh duh duh duh!) the garage.

If you're a follower, you understand what this means.


Asking the man to make space amongst his "piles".

Oh. Dear.

However, when I got home from my in laws on Sunday I saw Jerry's head bobbing around in the garage.

"What can this mean?"

I wondered.

"Is he just tinkering with the Citation? or is he doing it?"

To my everlasting glee, he was moving stuff around so I could put my freezer out in the garage. Turns out between the laundry sorter and the freezer he'd has just about enough of being "boxed in" as he trapsed back and forth from the garage.

This, dear readers, is what my beautiful laundry room looks like now.
Look at all that space!

So pretty.