Tuesday, March 31, 2009


-So, Anne Marie didn't like her pictures. I'm sad. And now pretty self-conscious. I know it wasn't my greatest photographic work ever, but I felt like there were at least a couple of cute shots that could have worked for grad announcements. Especially considering I was doing it for free. I don't know...

-As far as March Goals go, I accomplished them all except for the gym 3 times a week. I need to change that up next month to a total number of days in a month. This past month, I had a migraine all of one week and didn't go to the gym. Then the next week, I had a hard time convincing myself to go because I already hadn't met my March goals. I need to go pick up more vitamins tonight to continue that trend for next month. An April Goals post will be coming soon!

-Going back to work after a 4-day weekend is hard. I'm ready for another 4-day weekend.

Sunkist Cupcakes

Sunkist Cupcakes

I promise that sometimes, I make normal desserts. But not recently. I already shared the phenomemon that is Jello Poke Cake, and now I'm about to clue you in on the easiest way to make cake or cupcakes. It's even easier than following instructions on a boxed cake mix because there are fewer steps and fewer ingredients. Here's what you need:

-A box of cake mix, any flavor
-A can of diet soda (12 oz), any flavor. Trust me, you want diet. Regular soda makes the cupcakes too sweet.
-Cool Whip or Frosting

Combine the cake mix and the can of soda. Do not add eggs, oil, or water. Whisk until smooth. Bake as directed on the box. Cool, and frost. The end.

Yesterday, in honor of Renee, I combined white cake mix and Sunkist soda. Some of the combinations that I've done and liked are: Devil's Food Cake Mix + Diet Cherry Coke. Blueberry Muffin Mix + 7-up. And Yellow Cake Mix + Diet Mountain Dew. I don't have nutrition info, but I do remember my mom making this as a Weight Watcher's recipe (subbing diet soda for the eggs and oil lowers the calorie content and cholesterol). I have always been a fan since I'm allergic to eggs and this sneaky recipe removes them from the equation!

Monday, March 30, 2009

March Photo Shoot

So, in college I was a Soc Major and a Crim Minor. I had most of my Soc classes with a girl named Anne Marie, who was a Crim Major and Soc Minor. She was a single momma of two girls, and had been going to college when she could for the past ten years. Fast Forward to the end of last summer, when she walked into my office at work as the new intern. It was great to have her around and see her again. And she just completed her degree last week! She asked if I'd take a couple pictures of her so she could have a few to choose from for her grad announcements.

We had a hard time coming up with a location to shoot because it isn't QUITE spring yet, and so almost everything looks pretty blah. We were also pretty pressed for time, so I didn't feel quite as confident with the shoot as I have felt with some others. Still, I think I probably got at least one that she could use for her grad announcements...I hope! And go me, for waiting until the last minute to check one of my March Goals off the list. Anyway, here's Anne Marie:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Table Rock Hike

On Saturday afternoon, Justin, my sister, my parents, and I hiked Upper Table Rock. It's about a 2 hour hike for us--we don't do it as quickly as some people we know. Honestly, it's kind of a nightmare for me due to the combination of my knee and being allergic to everything up the dang mountain...but it's usually worth it once you get to the top. It's funny though--can you believe I've never taken our camera up there? I really need to do it sometime, I just worry that I'll fall down the trail and break it. Unfortunately, falling down the trail is not an unusual experience for me.

Justin, Court, and I at the top. Lower Table Rock in the background.

Courtney hiding.
Here's my parents at the top!

Sweet Hubby.

Curiosity (Almost) Killed The Cat

Bones-The-Cat drives me crazy sometimes. I love her, but she drives me crazy. She gets into absolutely everything--in fact, the other day, I found her "stash" in the hall bathroom. She steals things, and takes them back into the bathtub. I found several pairs of socks, a couple of screws, a few cotton balls, and a big chunk of Justin's goatee that he had shaved off that morning. The other day, when I was cooking, she stole a piece of bacon when I had my back turned. And most recently, she chewed off the ear to a wooden giraffe that Lisa painted for me.

Well, today Bones' curiosity got the best of her. No matter how many times I sprayed her with water, she wouldn't leave my little Gold Canyon Candle alone, even though it was lit. Again, I turned my back for half a second, and when I turned back around, she had singed off most of her whiskers. I don't know if you can really see it in these pictures, but her whiskers on the top of her head are now curly little nubs!

Wasted Food

I cleaned out our fridge this morning, and I couldn't believe how much food I threw out because it had gone bad before we finished it. Seriously, it was such a waste! There are basically two things that get thrown away--vegetables and leftovers.

Justin pretty much doesn't eat vegetables (except jalapeƱos and radishes). I grew up eating lots of vegetables. I try to keep a good variety on hand because I eat more of them when they're available and convenient. However, I often don't get through a whole bag or head of lettuce by myself before it goes bad. I'm constantly battling with myself about this--I can either buy the smallest bags possible, knowing I may not get through them before they go bad, or I can not buy fresh veggies, and feel crappy because I'm not eating veggies.

Justin and I BOTH have a hard time with leftovers. I think we both ate a LOT of leftovers growing up, and neither one of us really likes to eat the same thing two days in a row. What I think I need to get better at is finding ways to reinvent the leftovers so that it's a different sort of meal, but using the same ingredients.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you reign it in? It's hard with only two people in the house!

Sunday Song

Today's song is called "It's Tough to Have A Crush" by OKGO. I think I heard this song for the first time in middle school/high school while watching Real World Hawaii. I subsequently remember playing this song a LOT when I had the biggest crush ever on Justin and I didn't think he was interested in me at all. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photoshop Actions

As you may have guessed, most of the pictures that I post on this blog are straight-out-of-the-camera. One of the the reasons that I love photography is because those pictures are literally snapshots of moments in time...and in my opinion, photoshopping the heck out of the picture taints that snapshot, so I do try to leave the pictures as the straight-out-of-the-camera form as often as possible.
That said, last night I played around with Pioneer Woman's Action Sets for Photoshop on the pictures you see above. I do think the effects are kind of fun!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Justin and I went to the park today with Renee, Payton, and Logan. The trees are FINALLY starting to flower, and so I practiced shooting on manual a little bit. I'm used to a ghetto old camera, and I still haven't really gotten the feeling of the new one yet. I find it a little cumbersome to change the aperture, etc. with the Rebel XS. Here's the weird thing--I can NOT for the life of me make my straight-out-of-the-box camera and lens go to anything below F-5. Am I losing my mind? I should be able to go down to at least 1.2 in Manual mode even with the basic 18-55mm lens, right?

Anyway--this picture is a little blown out, but I really like the look of it even straight out of the camera. I don't think I'd do a single edit to it in Photoshop!

I hate American Idol

There. I said it. I know I'm in the minority here, but I've never really liked American Idol all that much, and this week I am REALLY hating it because stupid AI bumped both Lie to Me AND Bones--which are my absolute favorite TV shows--off the air for special editions of AI. Boo.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


One of my friends and I frequently chat about our lives and our faith. Just last week, I was telling her that I have been having baby fever for quite some time that just doesn't seem to go away. She commented that maybe it isn't so much "baby fever" as it is God telling me that it's okay to think about having kids. I told her that I'm just having a hard time because things don't add up on paper--I worry about how we'll be able to pay the bills. She encouraged me that God will provide all that I need (maybe not all that I WANT, but all that I NEED).

We talked a bit about Psalms 145: 14-16, which says, "The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing" (NLT).

She and I then talked about how presumptuous we are that we often think that as soon as we go off birth control pills, we'll get pregnant. We aren't the ones in control here--for the most part, we can't just say, 'I will conceive on March 31st, 2009.' In fact, my friend and her husband have been trying for some time to conceive and haven't been successful. She gave me some good things to think and pray about, and I've been thinking about this more and more lately, and I think I'm slowly moving in the direction of feeling like I might be as ready as I'll ever be to have children.

And today, my friend told me that she found out on Tuesday that she's pregnant!!!

Answers to Questions

Thanks for all your great comments on the blog layout! The header isn't exactly what I want it to be, but I'm working on it!

-First off, Chelsie gave GREAT advice for anyone who doesn't have photoshop to check out Paint.net which is a free program that I've heard is very similar to Photoshop and even has layers. However, I've never used it myself. You might want to check it out if you don't have Photoshop!

-Second, to find papers and bows and what not, check out digiscrapdepot's freebies section.

-Third, as Faith indicated in the comments, if you have an older monitor (in the 800 x 600 range), you may have to scroll over to see portions of the page or the header. I'm working on fixing it, but I'm gonna keep it like it is for now, since I think most people have wide-screen style monitors and I'm just feeling CSS overwhelmed.

-Fourth, I found that Cutest Blog on the Block has a great tutorial for making backgrounds using the above things I already mentioned. If y'all really want a three-column tutorial later, I'm happy to do it. But I think CBOTB does a great job covering it for most people, so check it out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I think I have reached my Photoshop limit for the day! I'm not entirely sure that this is the "final" layout (it sure is slow to load!), but it will certainly do for now.

What do you guys think? Do you use Photoshop? Are you interested in learning how to make your own backgrounds? Would you like a tutorial?

PS- In the one MAJOR irritation of the evening, I lost everything in my Blog list. So, if I visit and comment on your blog (or you'd like me to!), please leave your blog's url in the comments, POR FAVOR!

Please excuse the mess...

As you may have noticed, I am now a member of BlogHer and I'm running BlogHer ads on my page! For those of you who aren't familiar with BlogHer, it's a wonderful community of women who blog, and the ads are a great opportunity to receive some revenue for something that I love doing--blogging.

Some bloggers think that putting ads on their blogs is "selling out". I simply disagree, and I have no problem hosting ads on my blog, especially since I've personally learned about great products from Blogher ads on OTHER womens' blogs.

Anyway, once I get home tonight I'm going to be playing with photoshop to see if I can construct my own three-column minima background in photoshop. Oye! This normally wouldn't be THAT difficult, except that I've finally switched over to a new hard drive and will have to re-install photoshop AND all my pictures. So, if you come across the blog in a funky state...please be patient!

On the other hand, if the blog layout still looks funny in the next few days, please let me know!

Insert Title Here

- Last night I got to go with Justin to a REAL professional recording studio. It was really incredible, and just what the band needs I think. The guy was great about arranging the parts, but in a way that came across more like, "I think the feeling that you're trying to convey might come across more clearly if you try this..." opposed to, "The whole bass part sucks. Let's just start over."

-J and I went spinning last night. We can only make one class a week and our "usual" instructor wasn't there, so it was a bit of a bummer, but not too bad. My knee is hugely swollen today though. Anyway, it's nice to have J's support on this.

-I have had just about enough of covering for all the Spring-Breakers at the office. This week feels SO long! I can't wait until Friday--my day off this week. I'm getting my hair trimmed that day as well! Other than that, I plan to lay around all day and watch movies. Yay!

-Baby fever is still going strong!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Old Navy, why do you do this to me?

Now, my intent was just to post cute pieces that I LIKE for spring and summer, but may not actually purchase. Well...I think that I HAVE to get this dress. It's my favorite color ever, so cute and simple. AND IT COMES IN TALL!!! I seriously want one in EVERY color. I really shouldn't buy it, but I'm pretty sure that I will. I just don't really have any idea what size I am in Old Navy Talls yet--so far, I've purchased something in almost every size.

Monday, March 23, 2009


-After a little bit of a tiff on Saturday afternoon, J was the most wonderful loving husband for the rest of the weekend. On Sunday, he not only brought me coffee, but also flowers! Our little argument wasn't even big enough to necessitate flowers, but I really appreciated the sentiment. I've been feeling a little bit neglected lately, so it was just very nice.

-We replanted our mini garden. I still have Sugar Snap Peas, Cherry Tomatoes, Onions (all from the prior attempt at seeds). Yesterday night I planted a row of jalepenos, a row of peppers, carrots, radishes, mint, tomato, lettuce, spinach, and corn. This time I also added more FLOWERS--Clarkias, 4 O'Clocks, Petunias, Sweet Peas. I also purchased the cat some Cat Grass--I hear that inside cats do need some sort of greens, and will usually stop eating your plants if you give them some Cat Grass or Catnip to munch on. We'll see.

-My parents are Spring Breaking in SoCal right now...my dad called me today just to tell me that it was 75 degrees and they were walking on the beach. Yeah, it snowed here yesterday, I don't want to hear it. He DID tell me that there is a movie store next to my aunt and uncle's house that's going out of business and they're selling the movies dirt cheap. Knowing J's movie obsession, he offered to pick some up for us. Here's what's on my list so far: Face Off, The Replacements, The Usual Suspects, Big Trouble, Kill Bill, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, Big Fish, Bruce Almighty, Role Models. Any other suggestions?

PS- I was looking at a list today of "The Greatest Guy Movies Ever", and I've determined that when it comes to movies, I'm pretty much a guy. Resevoir Dogs, Fight Club, Revenge of the Nerds, Wild Things, Sin City, The Negotiator....those were all movies that I owned before we were married--not even gifts to Justin!

Payton Day

So, we've been talking about having Payton come over all by herself for a couple of weeks now. She always talks about how it isn't fair that our other niece gets to come over by herself (she's an only child), but that Payton has to always come with Logan. So after church yesterday, we asked if she wanted to come to lunch with us all by herself, and she was THRILLED. It was too sweet. We went to lunch, then took Payton to the "Tree Store" (The Dollar Tree), where she got to pick out 4 toys because she's 4. We then came back to our house and ate cake. And we dubbed the day "Payton Day". It was great fun.

Reading an old Dr. Seuss book.

PAYTON took this picture of Justin with my big fancy camera--she's like the girl in those PC commercials!
And I finally made my jello cake--it was a good weekend!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Song

Today's Sunday Song is "The News" by Jack Johnson, from his Brushfire Fairytales CD. I loved it in high school, and it's still one of my favorites. The line, "Why don't the newscasters cry when they sing about people who die?" has always struck a chord with me.

Starting Over...

UGH! It looks like I am going to be starting over in terms of my gardening. BAH. We previously transplanted the peas and morning glories to bigger planters, and left them in J's man room so the cat wouldn't get into them. The other day, I also moved all of the plants that were still in Jiffy planters back to that room. Justin and I hadn't connected on that fact, so when the cat did get into his man room on Friday, he didn't think to look to see if those had been knocked over. So, I went in this morning to water the plants, and only the peas, cherry tomatoes, and the morning glories were left. Everything else had been knocked onto the floor and was broken and dead. Not good.

Actually though, I'm wondering if this is for the best. Another one of those Jiffy planters is like $6 at Wal-Mart, we still have a lot of seeds for the things I want to plant again, and I wasn't really happy with some of the things that we DID plant. Maybe this is a chance at a "do over". Plus, I actually think we had started them indoors too early--I would have had to transfer almost all of them to individual pots indoors here pretty soon, and I'd rather just start them and transfer them right outside.

Friday, March 20, 2009

La La.

Almost everyone at work has been out sick the past couple of weeks. I know this sounds terrible, but I'm almost wishing that I were sick just so I could lay in bed for a few days and read. I'm taking this as a sign that I probably need a vacation, and I'm trying to think of how I could work that out since we're not actually leaving town for vacation until August.

I suppose I have a bit of an extended vacation starting the end of next week--while I have to forego my usual Monday off (too many people are out of the office for spring break), I do get that Friday and the following Monday off--which means a whole 4 days out of the office!

J has the day off today. Lots of the husbands at work have had days off this week, and have almost all showed up at the office to surprise their wives with coffee/lunch, etc. I would love it if Justin were to do the same, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up about that (or that the house will be clean when I get home) because that just isn't Justin's style. Sometimes I get frustrated about that, but I'm trying to reign that in a little, because that's really NEVER been something that Justin does.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's Going On...

-So, the computer is still over-writing the hard-drive. Who knew that would be such a long process?!

-Went to the first spinning class since I hurt my knee--goodness sakes. I thought I was going to DIE, and my butt is still incredibly sore.

-I was offered to move up to full time at work--I told them I'd like to play it by ear. Basically, I will if absolutely needed, but I really don't want to. My concern is three-fold...first, I'm already WAY above the number of kids I'm supposed to have on my caseload. We're talking 69-80. Additional hours wouldn't be given to justify my over-worked caseload, they'd be given to allow me to supervise more kids...which is something I'm just not sure I could do while also staying sane. Plus, I'm hoping that in the next year or so staying home with a bebe might be on the radar, and I don't want to take on 20-30 more kids only to dump them on someone else. Lastly, I've been bumped up before, and my take-home on my checks was actually SMALLER than when I worked part time, because it bumped me up to the next tax bracket. Plus, with J working 50 hours a week, we already struggle with getting things like laundry done and grocery shopping--I do almost all of that on my day off. I think I would lose my sanity if every weekend were devoted to chores. I know that's reality for a lot of people, and in other jobs I haven't minded as much...but with this job, I really need that down-time.

-The band is now thinking and praying about whether to start their own non-profit, be a ministry of the church, or become a small business (this all came about because we're now receiving checks made out to the band as a whole, and really need a bank account for the band). This is all way over my head, but either being a ministry of the church or a small business makes the most sense to me. There was concern that as a small business, we'd have to pay taxes even if we weren't making a profit as of yet--my limited understanding of small businesses is that the business would have to pay payroll taxes if any of us were on payroll (which we're not). But we shouldn't have to pay general taxes if we're not making a profit, right? So far all of the money we've received has gone directly to equipment, producing shows, and the cost of playing concerts (gas, fliers, etc). The goal is that eventually the band will be able to do this full-time, so to me a business makes more sense than a non-profit. Any advice from y'all out there?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Well folks...after three days I am STILL in the process of over writing my hard drive before sending it back to Dell. Posting today is gonna be short sweet and from my phone.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Add some color!

(Please excuse the non-matching bedding! This picture was from our apartment RIGHT after we got married
and we were too broke at the time to buy anything that would match. Of course, once I did, I never took another picture! )

So, I thought that I might include a little tutorial on something that I came up with in order to add some color to our home while we were still living in an apartment and couldn't paint at all. All you need is a 36 x 36 painting canvas, paint, superglue (I used both Gorilla Glue and Clear Superglue), hanging hardware, and an Empire West ceiling tile.

When I made these, you could order 3 sample tiles from Empire West, but only one of each design. I lucked out and my mom had ordered some that she wasn't going to use, so I snagged them.

1. Okay, first thing's first--paint the canvas any color you'd like. I just used your basic tempra paint. Slap on several coats for a nice even finish.

2. Once the paint has dried, place your ceiling tile on the canvas where you'd like it to be. Use a pencil to lightly mark the corners and a small line (about 1/2 inch) along the middle of each side. Remove the tile, and quickly apply some super glue along the inside of the marks you've just made. I used Gorilla Glue's white puff-up superglue for this step. Hold the tile in place, making sure that it's making contact with the glue, but also not smashing the tile. Once the glue has set, I took a clear superglue, and placed half the brush on the tile and half the brush on the canvas, and ran the brush all the way around where the tile connected with the canvas to seal the edges together. Now, the number one complaint I've heard from nesties is that the ceiling tiles look "flimsy" by themselves. This superglue step helps to remedy that issue in my opinion.

4. Lastly, you'll just have to figure out how you'd like to hang the canvas. I just nailed your standard picture frame holder to the back and then used Monkey Hooks to hang them.

Ta-da! You're done! As you can see below, I've received so many compliments on these babies that they're up in our new house as well. Most people (including my interior design saavy uncle) are SHOCKED when they hear that I made them and what they're made out of. Really though, they were a great way to add a pop of bright color to a room when we weren't able to paint!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blessings and Cookings!

-First of all, a wonderful thing happened this weekend--as I believe I may have mentioned, the band that J is in (and I am a part of as well, though not musically) played a fundraiser on Friday night. During that time, several people in attendance asked the band what sort of things they need to continue playing. About half (or more) of their current equipment actually belongs to the church, and so we've been working at slowly replacing it so that the band will have their "own" equipment in case anything is ever broken during a concert or both the band and the church need the sound system for separate events on the same day. Also, the sheer amount of equipment has been growing so much that we now need several SUV's to haul it, so on our future list of things to buy is also a small trailer to haul it all in. So anyway, on Sunday morning, one of the people that attended the fundraiser presented the band with a check for over $2000! Another congregation member offered to help purchase us a trailer, and yet another member donated a van.

Really, I'm blown away by the graciousness that has been extended towards the band over the last few days, and I have to say that it really couldn't have come at a better time. I know the general consensus of the band was that we all love to play, but have been having a little bit of a difficult time finding people to play FOR. Although we've offered free outreach concerts all over the area, few people have actually taken us up on the offer. So, I think most of the band had been praying something to the effect of, "Lord, if it's your will for this band to continue, make it apparent to us." Well, we're still not exactly sure where to go from here, and we still don't really have too many concerts scheduled, but it looks like we ARE going the direction we're supposed to be going.

-Mondays are my day off of work, and one of the things that I LOVE to do most Mondays is to cook a big meal from scratch. I love to cook, but not when we finally roll in at 6:30 and we're both STARVING and I have to think of something to eat and make it. I know we should do meal plans, but I never really know when we'll actually be home for dinner. Anyway, Renee and I have been alternating cooking for the band on Mondays and Thursdays. On our "off" day, we usually try to connect and bring a side if needed. It's nice because we both get a day off from cooking, and we're actually eating good food instead of grabbing pizza or Taco Bell on the way. Tonight, I tried Pastor Ryan's Cajun Meatloaf and also made Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos for the boys. I thought the Meatloaf was pretty good for meatloaf--it wasn't dry at all, and it had nice flavor. I didn't try any of the jalapenos, but I heard they were good.

Veggie Tales

So, I'm starting to wonder if I bit off more than I could chew in terms of the vegetable garden for this spring. First of all, J has not actually constructed me any garden beds (tick, tock babe!). Second of all, quite a few of the plants seem to be dying already--and they aren't even outside yet! I'm not sure whether I haven't been watering them enough, they're out-growing their starter kits, the cat has been secretly attacking them at night, or all of the above. And then some of the seeds, namely the mint, sweet pea, and strawberries, haven't sprouted at all!

The peas do seem to be doing okay--we bought a bigger planter and a trellis for them yesterday. I'm guessing we'll probably have to do the same with the tomatoes, or else grow them in a bucket. Really though, it's all a little overwhelming because I don't know which plants need a trellis and which don't--and I just googled "growing cantelope" and "growing corn", and both articles I read referenced how difficult it can be for a home gardener to grow those things. Crap...maybe I should have done some research?!

Either way, I plan to get the "Vegetable Gardening For Dummies" when I get paid this week. Maybe that will help a bit...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Song

Rest of My Life by Unwritten Law

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Jello Cake That Wasn't Meant To Be...

Have any of y'all ever tried to do or make something that just WON'T turn out correctly, even though you KNOW that you're quite capable of making it? Take for example, the Jello Cake that I tried to make this morning. I've been craving it all week, and it's super, super simple. So I trekked to Wally World this morning and got all the supplies. If you haven't heard of Jello Cake, basically you make a plain cake, and then poke a bunch of holes in it. Once it has cooled, you pour a Jello Mixture over the top into the holes. The cake basically gets infused with the raspberry or strawberry jello flavor.

It quickly became apparent that the cake making just wasn't going as planned. As I was poring the cake batter into the pan, I noticed that it just wasn't the right consistency--it was almost like a fondant rather than a cake batter. Yeah, I forgot to add the water. So that all went back into the mixer, and I blended it up, but it was still kind of a funky texture. Decided to go with it, and baked as usual.

Once the cake was finished, I pulled it out and stuck it on the oven top to cool. Simultaneously, I turned on the tea-pot to bring the water to boil for the Jello. Anyone see where this is going? Justin and I then proceeded to transplant all of our sugar snap peas and Morning Glories into bigger containers with trellises. I start to smell some sort of burning, so I go over to make sure that the oven was off. As I'm walking away from the oven to the dining room table, the glass pan that I had cooked the cake in completely shattered. I turned around to see what happened, and proceeded to step on a piece of glass. Not only had my only glass 9 X 13 pan SHATTERED, but it also apparently shot glass shards ALL. OVER. THE. KITCHEN.

Yeah, turns out I had turned on the wrong burner, and rather than turning on the burner that the tea kettle was on, I turned on the burner directly under the glass pan. Nice. To add insult to injury, I then had to clean the whole dang thing up, and I didn't even get any freaking cake out of the deal!

Friday, March 13, 2009

If I Fall...

"If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." -Ecclesiastes 4:10, NLT.

This verse has always sort of been a 'flip-over' verse for me. I'd come across it and think 'yeah, yeah, I know...help the needy, feed the hungry, what we do for the least of those we do to Him, treat others like I want to be treated, yada yada.' However, when the verse came across The Daily Bible Verse blog as the verse of the day, I started to think of it a little bit differently and had a little mini revelation.

I've always looked at this verse in terms of me being the one to help others--but really, it doesn't specify who is doing the helping and who is receiving the help. I think the point of the verse is not only that we are called to help others in the time of need, but also that we are to accept help from others when we are in need. Does that make things much more challenging for anyone else?

I'm the type of person that loves to help others, but I have a hard time accepting help myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best at everything that I try, and so it's hard to admit that I can't do something on my own and need some help. I'd much rather be the one doing the helping. It's a humbling experience to admit that you need assistance from someone else, but one I'll readily admit that I don't particularly like experiencing. Still, I think that this idea that we should be ready and eager to help others in their time of need, but to also graciously and thankfully accept help in OUR time of need supports the idea that the body of Christ (the church) functions much like the human body:

"A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it." -1 Corinthians 12: 14-18, The Message

It's interesting, right? Here, we're being told that it's OKAY if we aren't able to do everything in life. We don't have to be the brain, the fingers, the ears, the mouth, AND the heart. And when it comes to something that we can't easily do, others should be there to help with that task, and I should not be ashamed that I need that help! So, I'm going to try to remember that it isn't a bad thing to ask for or accept help when I really need it--in fact, it seems that's exactly God's plan.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Photo of the Day and Thinking

In the above photo, I was playing with shooting with a custom color profile. I bumped up the saturation to almost max and I also bumped up the contrast a little bit. I'll let you all in on a little secret--the sky did NOT actually look like this when I took this picture. It was a cloudy, rainy day. This is something that I both love AND hate about digital photography--the more I play around with custom color settings on my camera and actions in Photoshop, the more I'm becoming convinced that very few professional photographers are able to shoot good quality shots straight out of the camera. Anyway....

Folks, do y'all remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about being surprised that I had had baby fever for such a long stretch of time rather than just a couple of days? Yeah, the baby fever has never gone away. So, I'm quickly approaching three solid months of baby fever...which I'm not sure even qualifies as "baby fever" so much anymore as just wanting to have a baby. Eeeek...did I just type that out loud? But when it comes down to it, I'm still not quite ready to take the plunge, there are so many things that I'm stressed about and worried about right now in regards to having a baby (um, how will we pay our mortgage?), and inside I still often feel "too young" to be pregnant.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tried These?

I picked two of these up at the store the other day, and I'm eating it right now...and it's surprisingly pretty good. With all the food posts lately, you may be wondering if I'm being paid to endorse these products...I assure you, I'm not...I just love to eat.

Anyway, Healthy Choice's website lists a whole slew of flavors of these. Locally I've only been able to find ziti with meat sauce and sweet and sour chicken, but both of those have been surprisingly good. I'm usually not a pre-packaged/frozen lunch girl, but I've been looking for something that I can keep in my desk in case I forget/don't have time to make lunch in the morning. These are a fair amount of calories (340 for the Ziti and Meat sauce), but their one downfall is that they're pretty high in sodium, as most pre-packaged meals are.

What about you guys? Do you all have any pre-packaged or forzen meals that y'all actually like?


One of the odd things about my job is that it often requires giving parenting instruction and advice to foster parents and biological parents. Specifically, it often includes modeling discipline and redirection. Sometimes I feel like a total sham doing this...who am I, someone who doesn't even have kids yet, to be giving parenting advice? But you also have to keep in mind that with some of the folks we're working with, common sense approaches like giving a time out aren't always obvious. Anyway, while some of the techniques used by child welfare to teach about parenting are a little hippy-esque, I DO feel blessed to be learning so much about parenting before actually having kids. For example, I learned yesterday that with children under five, the praise to criticize ratio should be 20:1! The parenting instructor advocates accomplishing this by "positive re-direction". So instead of, "Stop jumping on the couch right now or you'll all get time outs!" you'd say, "Feet on floor, bottom on couch, right now."

They don't advocate threatening time outs (which is something I'm totally guilty of even with the nieces and nephew), but rather creating the expectation with kids that they follow instructions the first time, every time, or they receive a time out. For the first couple of weeks, that means a LOT of time outs, but most of the kids quickly learn to follow instructions the first time.

Another thing that they try to implement with kids under 8 who have really bad behaviors (but I think that this could be modified for any kid), is something called Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. This therapy is a concentrated way to implement the two above ideas--positive reinforcement, and following instructions the first time. PCIT is a focused five minutes a day that a parent spends with an individual child. During that time, the parent and child do some activity together like drawing or playing with building blocks. The parent focuses on praising the child's positive behaviors as much as possible, PARTICULARLY when the child follows instructions the first time, and completely ignoring any negative behaviors unless they're destructive, or dangerous. If the child's behaviors become destructive or dangerous, then the "special time" ends immediately and the child is placed in time out. If the child makes it through the session, at the end of the session, the parent reinforces with the child that they expect the child to follow instructions the first time, and gives the child a specific example that they'll be expected to follow for the day (i.e. "Today, when I ask you to get on your shoes, it's my expectation that you will put on your shoes the first time I ask.") Parents continue to add another task every day (so the next day would be shoes AND something else) for about a week before the expectation becomes "Today, I expect that you will listen to and follow mommy's instructions the first time."

Now keep in mind that the kids that we're working with in the above scenarios have REALLY hard behavioral stuff going on--many of them have PTSD diagnoses, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. So while some of this seems more praise focused than discipline focused, that's partially because some of these children really didn't ever receive praise growing up (and did receive horrific discipline), so it's essential that they receive focused and intentional praise now in order to build up their self-esteem and enforce their positive behaviors. But I think the 20:1 rule is a great thing to keep in mind for ANY parent--especially with kids under 5, you really can't praise them enough!

So anyway, I hope this didn't come off as presumpuous--the "non-parent giving parenting advice that isn't at all practical in real life." I just thought that I'd share some of the things that I've learned so far...it will be interesting to see whether or not J and I are actually able to implement some of these things when WE have kids.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One of those days....

Do you ever have one of those days were everything seems to go wrong and you just want to go home and gorge yourself on chocolate and go to sleep? Yeah, that's my day today, and I can't do either of those things!

First of all, I think I'm having an allergic reaction to my allergy shot. I'm still SO swollen, and I feel like crud. I'm all congested and itchy. I took a bunch of Benadryll, so I'm in a haze too.

Second, work is crazy. I'm just now taking my lunch break right now at 4:15pm. It's just been one drama after another, including one of the people I supervise going against a direct order from me. He just totally disregarded what I told him and did what he wanted to do anyway. And it's really not good.

I've still only been doing the stupid bike because of my knee. This morning, I tried the Biggest Loser Cardio Extreme DVD and home, and it did NOT end well. I've been limping all day because of it.

The only ray of sunshine is that it's looking like J might not have to go to Washington this weekend. What a blessing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Turquoise Inspiration

Okay...so here's the deal with the turquoise room. Though it's currently "my" spare bedroom, it will eventually be a nursery. I hope to keep the room turquoise even when it turns into a nursery--I think turquoise and white can work for either gender. I can picture having Renee paint the white outline of a tree on the wall by the crib, and LOVING it.

In the mean time, it would be nice to have somewhere for guests to easily sleep. I'm thinking that eventually, when we have a bambino AND a guest, the guest could always sleep in our bedroom, and we could sleep with the bambino for the night.

Goings On...

-I'm doing pretty good on my March goals so far. I've got my spare bedroom almost completely cleaned out. I have a plan for that room, that may or may not include bright turquoise paint.... and white accents. It's pretty bold, but I've always wanted a room that color. We may have to wait until we have some money for that plan to come to fruition though.

Other than that, my goals are going well...yay for vitamins and working out every day! The vitamins especially have been a huge help.

-I'm excited for the crockpot BBQ pulled pork that we're having for dinner tonight. Seriously folks, it's the easiest recipe ever. Slice an onion, put it in the bottom of a crock pot. Put a 4 pound pork roast (rubbed with salt and pepper) on the onions. Pour 1 cup of ginger ale over the roast. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Remove the roast onto a large cutting board and dump out everything in the crock (you can strain to keep the onions if you want). Use two forks to shred the pork. Return to crock. Add in at least a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce and cook for another 1-2 hours. At this point I also usually add some spices--typically a mix of cayanee, chili powder, and garlic powder. Tonight I might try adding a few red pepper flakes for an extra bit of kick. So easy, and so good. Leftovers freeze super easily.

-In honor of "Not Me Mondays", it was most definitely NOT ME who found two bags of clothing she had completely forgotten about in the garage last night. And it was definitely NOT ME who left them there because both of her two closets are full and so is the laundry room. And it's absolutely certainly NOT ME who still feels like she has nothing to wear.

-I feel like I should be doing more cleaning right now, but after I work out, I think I might just take part of a "me" day and relax. I'm dying to finish American Wife so that I can start on Jodi Picoult's new book.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Song

Today's Sunday Song is from Marie Digby--it's only fitting that I feature here on this weekly column, as it's typically You Tube videos that I post, and Ms. Digby got her start on You Tube. This particular song is called "Beauty In Walking Away." We've all been in a situation--whether a job or a relationship or something else--where walking away has been incredibly painful, but has also produced something far more beautiful than what we started with.

Deja Vu....

A few more pictures....this group looks markedly similar to another one of my picture groups, but OH WELL.

My little plants are doing well. Only a few of them haven't sprouted yet. I'm THRILLED that I haven't killed my little plants entirely! ETA: I spoke too soon--we woke up this morning, and the cat had eaten/trampled almost ALL of the Morning Glories--little shit. Not to mention, I just discovered that morning glories are on the "bad" list for cats. She seems fine--completely her normal self, so I think she's probable okay, but into the locked room they go.

Seriously? Why didn't they think of this years ago? It is my new favorite spring/summer drink. I'm a sucker for raspberry lemonade. Too bad it's listed as a "special edition"...I just might have to seriously stock up on a few cases of these.
And a little tipsy self-portrait

Another Bones picture, in honor of the NEW EPISODE of Bones coming out this next week.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

17 or 27?

This weekend, J and I went to see two different movies. The first was The Watchmen on Friday night. The movie was rated R, so they had a guy at the door checking that all the people entering were either 17 or with their legal guardians. J and I were walking in, and the guy stopped us and said, "Are you his legal guardian?" J and I both looked at each other oddly--we were alone, so we weren't sure who the guy was talking about. We told him that we were by ourselves, and he said, "Oh...I thought the 10 year old behind you was yours." Um...if that were my 10 year old, I would have had him when I was 13. And even if I had had him when I was 18, that would have put me at at least 27. J and I both laughed a bit and headed in to watch the movie (PS--I was SHOCKED at how many 8-12 year olds were at The Watchmen with their parents last night...not really a kid appropriate movie.)

Fast forward to today...my parents called and offered to treat us to see The International. We accepted, and met up with him at the theater. He went over to buy the tickets, and the lady at the box office said rather snottily, "Um, sir, who exactly are you buying tickets for?" My dad gestured at J, my mom, and me. Box office lady said, "Um...this movie is RATED R. Anyone not 17 must be a parent or legal guardian of the children. Are you their parent or legal guardian?"

My mom started laughing hysterically. Without missing a beat, my dad said, "Well, I'm their parent, but they've qualified as their own legal guardians for about 5 years now...they're long out of the house and married. I think they're probably allowed to see R rated movies."

So, in the course of 24 hours, I went from being mistaken as being at least 27 to being mistaken for under 17. LOL!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Fun

- I only have to work until 3pm today! Hopefully Renee and I will get to hang for a couple of hours before she has to pick up her kids. Yay!

-We are actually going to see a movie tonight--J has been absolutely dying to go see The Watchmen. He's really into superheros and comics, so he already knows all about the movie. I know nothing about it. I just hope it's good--I'm a scrooge and I hate paying full price for crappy movies.

-I had this crazy dream last night that we went on a road trip. We got to this big hill, walked up the hill, where there was a gothic cemetary, and it was all snowy. I was having a blast taking pictures with my camera, but all of a sudden, it broke and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. We ran into a few people that we knew in the dream (I don't know them in real life), and they brought us over to the edge of a cliff where you could see the ocean--and it was a gorgeous sunny day. I kept talking about how incredible it was to be able to see the ocean and snow at the same time. I haven't had a dream that vivid in a LONG time, so I decided to look some of it up in a "dream dictionary."

Cemetary: Rebirth and/or fears about death
Broken Camera: You're ignoring an issue or can't see the big picture
Snow: Signifies needing to release emotions and inhibitions
Ocean: Signifies the state of emotional feelings, indicative of spiritual refreshment and renewal.

Goodness sakes--anyone care to take a stab at psychoanalyzing me?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chocolate Replacement

So, I was in Rite Aid today and stumbled across these:

Ummm... how did I not know about these? They are absolutely FANTASTIC. For those of you who can't see in the picture, they're Cinnamon and Sugar Sweet Potato chips. I love that every single thing on the ingredients list is an actually recognizable item that I could go purchase rather than crazy chemicals. I have a feeling that these will become my chocolate replacement over the next while.


-Last night, I made this recipe of Chicken in Garlic Broth. It wasn't bad, but it was just really greasy and made angel hair pasta taste distinctly like Ramen. J isn't a big garlic fan, so I don't think it was on his top list of "make again" dinners.

-J's oldest sister is officially engaged. For those of you not up on the story of Justin's sisters, it goes like this: Justin's younger sister is dating Justin's best friend (also named Justin). Justin's older sister is dating his best friend's cousin. Still with me? This is all compounded, as the two big "clans" at church are our family, and J's best friend's family--it's rather humorous to think that the two "clans" will now be joined. They'll be getting married this August, so I anticipate that this is going to be a busy summer.

-We finished watching Horton Hears a Who last night. Too cute. We're such nerds.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Picture Fest & March Goals

There was a great sunset last night visible from our backyard.

I can't believe my little plants have grown so much since Saturday! I have these labeled as Morning Glories, but I am thinking they might actually be watermelons. We'll see.

Sweet, funny, rambunctious Bones Cat. She's in a bit of a hyper phase, and is really liking to climb the clothes in my closet, so my new best friend is now a spray bottle.

And now...for my March Goals:

1. Take a prenatal vitamin every single day. (No, I'm not pregnant, no we're not trying at the moment. My obgyn recommends taking prenatals as far in advance as absolutely possible, and I previously didn't take ANY vitamin at all).

2. Go to the gym or do equivalent exercise at least three times a week.

3. Do at least one photo shoot with the fancy-schmancy camera

4. Clean out my spare bedroom and get it at least somewhat organized and usable!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bad News Bears

I got an urgent call from Justin in the middle of the day today, which is never a good thing. He's going to Washington again next week which is crappy for more reasons than I can list...the job should only take 3 or 4 days...so will they send him up during the week so that he'll be home for the weekend? Nope. They're going to wait until Friday the 13th to send him up, and he'll have to work all weekend...which also means that he'll be missing the upcoming concert that the band has scheduled on the 13th. I am so over this traveling crap...and also means that I won't really get to see him until the FOLLOWING weekend.

The ONLY good news in all of this is that they may open the apprentice-ship back up (they haven't accepted new apprentices for over a year due to the economy). But that could also be bad for a number of reasons...like Justin could end up working for a different company altogether, which could technically pay him MUCH less than he's making now (basically, all the apprentices are thrown into a ranked pool, and whichever plumbing company needs an apprentice must take the guy in the number 1 slot. The company typically tries to strike deals with the other companies to get "their" guys back, but it's never a sure thing). Fun all the way around with J's job! At least he has one...

House Progress

(These are located behind the loveseat you see in the left-hand corner above)

The living room is finally almost done! All that's left is doing the transition strips into the kitchen and putting the trim back up. I'm pretty impressed with ourselves--I think we really changed the whole feel of the room. Looking back, I think that if I could do anything different, I might go for a tan microfiber sectional instead of the leather sofa and love-seat...but hey, maybe we'll go there a few years down the road after animals and kids have destroyed these! I REALLY love white with the color of the walls and flooring, but there is NO WAY that I could get away with so much white with J and our family in general--sure, I could say to heck with 'em and try anyway, but more than anything else, I want our house to be somewhere that people can come over and relax in--I don't want people worried about babies breaking valuables or getting the sofa dirty (it's pretty hard to stain brown leather). So, I'm trying to meet somewhere in the middle...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mission (Almost) Accomplished.

1. Work Out. Yeah baby! Although, being an ex-rower I have such a hard time pounding away on the elliptical and watching the trainers at my local gym instruct people INCORRECTLY how to use the rowing machine. I offered the lady at the front desk to give a demo on how to use the rowing machines properly since they way they're teaching is setting people up for serious injuries, but she looked at me like I had three heads.

2. Target: New sheets, and looking for a few additional seeds. New iPod connector cord (mine got lost in the move). Maybe some organizational things. Okay so I forgot the iPod connector, and accidentally grabbed a flat sheet instead of a fitted sheet. But that's okay 'cause I have to go back tomorrow to get the new Jodi Picoult book anyway.

3. About 8 loads worth of laundry. -I only accomplished one.

4. My spare bedroom needs a SERIOUS organize and clean. -I cleaned almost the entire house, but just didn't get there.

5. Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie--Justin's dinner request.

6. Check out fabric for a possible do-it-myself headboard a la Emily at Imperfect. I found some remnants for less than $2/yard that I think will work!

7. Meet up with Renee (if kids are feeling better) to re-do fliers for the band's concert next Friday. Done and done.

Okay, so I must confess--I probably could have gotten more laundry and cleaning done, but a significant portion of my day was spent reading the latest book that's caught my eye:

It's really very eye-catching so far--though a bit more sexually explicit than I would have anticipated for a fictional book that's based loosely around the life of Laura Bush. However, not being a particularly big fan of any of the Bushes, I find it more fascinating than insulting, as others have commented. As this book suggests, I suspect the Bush family as a whole is a much more interesting and complicated person than their public personas suggest.

Today's Mission....

Here's what's on the list for today (maybe I'll even check back in at the end of the day to see how much I accomplished):

1. Work Out.
2. Target: New sheets, and looking for a few additional seeds. New iPod connector cord (mine got lost in the move). Maybe some organizational things.
3. About 8 loads worth of laundry.
4. My spare bedroom needs a SERIOUS organize and clean.
5. Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie--Justin's dinner request.
6. Check out fabric for a possible do-it-myself headboard a la Emily at Imperfect.
7. Meet up with Renee (if kids are feeling better) to re-do fliers for the band's concert next Friday.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Open the doors, see all the people...

I've been having a hard time with church lately. I feel like by splitting our time between two churches, we aren't really engaged in either one, and now that there are two services at one of the churches, I feel even less engaged. Justin plays music at the 8am service both of the two Sundays that we attend that church (don't get me started on this...that's another point of drama entirely). No more than 10 people seem to attend the 8am service--all of the fellowship events are directly before or directly after the second service at 10:30am. Now, if one service was a traditional service and the other was a contemporary service, I wouldn't mind occasionally attending twice the same day just to get to participate in some of the fellowship. But I have absolutely no desire to sit through the exact same service twice in one day. I keep hearing to be patient, and that eventually more people will start coming to the early service, but honestly, they don't even have childcare for the first service, so I'm not sure how that's realistically going to happen.

So Justin played the first service today as usual, and I was frustrated by the whole situation as usual. Ryan and Renee were planning to attend service at a completely DIFFERENT church at 10am to talk to someone who was potentially interested in being a drummer for the band. Coincidentally, it's the same church that J and I have been going to (yes, that right...we're up to THREE churches that we're regularly involved with). It was a blessing to go--the church felt so full of LIFE. There were so many young people our age the service was very similar to the Lutheran church that I grew up in--they typically started with 30+ minutes of contemporary praise music, and then went into the order of service. Only, this was a fellowship church, so they just went into a study of the word, and didn't do the confession/absolution, creed, or any of that.

The only problem? While it was a great blessing for me, it really wasn't for J. Even though we both grew up Lutheran, our churches were so completely different (J's was very traditional, and mine was very contemporary), and we both really enjoyed the churches that we grew up in, and look for things that we grew up with in order to feel spiritually fed. For me, being spiritually fed comes mostly from the praise music, having people our age to be engaged in Bible Studies with, and the outreach ministries. For J, it comes mostly with the rituals--the pastor wearing robes, having an actual altar, and the complete order of service. A few years ago, I took a Sociology of Religion class, where part of the class was going around to various churches in the area--J's favorite was the catholic church, my favorite was the fellowship church. Because we're so different in terms of our history and what makes us feel connected, it seems like no matter what we do, one or the other of us isn't being fed spiritually.

When we have kids, I don't want to be jumping around back and forth between three different churches--I want to attend one. However, I just can't see us attending ANY of the churches that we're involved with exclusively and having both of us be happy in terms of our faith. I don't know what to do. Justin is adamant that he only wants to attend a Lutheran church, but also doesn't seem open to visiting any of the other Lutheran churches in the area. I don't know what that means for me, unless we go to church separately...which isn't something that I want either.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Blog Archive


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.