Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Thanks Tank #172

Each Thursday I try to make a list of my thankful thoughts. Sometimes I jot it down on paper, sometimes I share that list here, and other times I just highlight one or two things that I am thankful for. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

It's been a while since I've posted a Thursday Thanks Tank. The only reason for that is that I haven't slowed down enough to do it during the day and by nighttime my energy (and brainpower) is zapped.

I am thankful for:

1. Basketball: My boys are having fun. They had their first games this week. It was exciting to watch. I love that they are trying something new.

2. Wisdom from a friend: I love when I share my thoughts and feelings with a friend and I get solid advice -wisdom- in response. I especially love it when that friend is my husband.

3. New recipes that delight the family. We tried 3 new recipes last week. My husband and I loved all 3. The kids liked 2 out of the 3. That's a win!

4. Winning: Speaking of winning, I won a $30 Radio Shack gift card from the Frugal Fairy just for commenting on a blog contest. Now, that's fun!

5. Organization in the Kitchen: I'm going on my third week of mega meal planning (I just made up that term) and it feels fantastic. I'm planing, I'm becoming more aware of what I already have, we waste very little food, there is no stress about what we are going to eat, and there are no unplanned trips to the grocery store.

6. Regular Exercise: I've been going to the gym 5 days a week and it feels amazing. As a result, I'm ready for bed (or falling asleep on the couch) about 9:30 or 10, which is a huge switch for me. I think my husband and I are both benefiting from going to bed at an earlier hour.

7. My new gym bag: Don't you love it? It was a gift from my husband. He's not a Bama fan. Oh how I love that man. I love him more than I love Alabama football, which is quite a lot. (Roll Tide to that!)

Well, that's my list for today. Tonight's grocery shopping night and I am trying to finish up my list before the boys get home from school.

Take some time to be thankful today. It will improve your attitude and allow you to appreciate the good in life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What-in-the-World Wednesday

Yesterday, I decided to dust the table that my son's rock collection was sitting on.

One of these rocks is not like the other.

Yes, that's right- the pink rock is a piece of gum.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Comforting Pasta Fazool

This past weekend we tried a pasta fazool (pasta and bean soup) recipe that turned out quite tasty. It was delightful comfort food. I had gotten the recipe years ago from my good friend Sharon (at least I think that is where I got it) but I had never tried it.

As soon as I gathered the ingredients, I felt certain it'd be tasty- so I took a picture and continued to take pictures while the house filled with the amazing aroma of the soup.

Pasta Fazool

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pd prosciutoo di Parma, cut into medium dice (double-smoke bacon or italian sausage can be substituted)
1 small carrot, peeled and diced small
1 small spanish onion, peeled diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
Coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 quart store bought, reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 quart water
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled
One 1 pound 13 ouce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup dried ditalini pasta, cooked and drained (I didn't cook and drain it. I just cooked it in the soup.)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring, until the prosciutto begins to render it's fat (about 5 minutes).

2. Add the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and peper and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste, stir to coat the other ingredients, and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the broth, water, and potatoes. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are very soft (a sharp knife should easily pierce their center, about 20 minutes.
5. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Mash the potatoes with a masher or large fork.
6. Return the mashed potatoes to the pot and stir them into the soup. (If making this for another day, let the soup cool, cover and store in the refrigerator or freeze up to one month. Then reheat before continuing with the rest of the recipe.)
7. Add beans and pasta. Cool over medium heat until the beans are warmed through, about five minuets. Stir in the rosemary, crushed red pepper, and cheese.
8. To serve, ladle some soup in bowls. *Top with some more cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. *We forgot to top it with cheese and olive oil and I really don't think it needed it.

My husband and I devoured our bowls of soup. Remarkably, all four of my kids enjoyed the soup, too. I did heat up extra broth, which I added to two of the kids bowls (One doesn't like potatoes and the other is picky about textures.)

Stop by Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday to check out more tasty recipes.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

One day she may marry

My mother's wedding dress was beautiful.
As a girl, I admired her wedding pictures. I imagined the day that I would marry. I imagined I would feel like a princess.

When I was ready to marry, I chose to find my own dress.

I love my dress...
and so does my daughter.

This is one of my favorite traditions. (You can click the collage to see it bigger.)

Now, if she get married and wants to pick out her own dress, I have already had the joy of seeing her in my dress.

These are moments I treasure.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crumbs: Little Pieces of my Mind

I went to my first spinning class this morning. It was so much fun. Hard work- yes- but rewarding. I'm already looking forward to going again.

I was thinking about forward progress as I loaded my dishwasher. Can you imagine when the dishwasher came out? (Google says that modern dishwashers are derived from an invention of Josephine Cochrane in 1887, while the versions with permanent plumbing didn't arrive until the 1920's.) I wonder if there were women who thought, "A machine that washes the dishes? Nah, it can't possibly clean as well as I can." It's hard to imagine someone not being excited about getting a dishwasher. It wasn't that long ago that I was skeptical about moving to MP3s over CDs. I know that's not as life changing but I was resistant to change. Resistant to change. That's my challenge with forward progress, I have to be willing to try new an different things.

Did I mention I tried a spinning class this morning? Ok, really, that has nothing to do with my thoughts on forward progress. But, I did try something new.

My 3 boys are now all playing basket ball. This is a first for our family. My oldest is most excited, except that he's also the most nervous because he's trying a new sport at age 10 when plenty of the kids his age have been playing for years. My youngest son isn't too thrilled. He decided the day of signups- when we got there to sign up- that he didn't want to play. I made a split decision to sign him up anyway. He cried during the first practice. He playing like a champ during last night's practice and then said, "I just tried to make everyone think that I was having a good time." That kid kills me sometimes. My second son is the tallest on his team and seems to play with ease. And he is neither dreading it or all that impressed. His comment last night was, "That was more fun than I thought it would be." I hope it will be a good season. Games start next week.

Just realized that my random thoughts seem to have a major theme- trying new things.

On that note, we tried a new Paula Deen recipe this week. It was too salty. Tasty, but too salty for us. It was called Cheeseburger Meatloaf. It wasn't bad but I am not sure I will rush to make it again. I got the recipe out of the Paula Deen Southern Cooking Bible cookbook that I got for Christmas. I'm looking forward to trying out more southern goodness from that cookbook.

I am working hard on grocery list making and couponing. I am a couponer wanna be. My grocery shopping had gotten out of hand- consistently running to the store during a week for this or that. So now, I go every Thursday night and if we run out of things, we wait. Week 1 of this felt good. If also felt good to tell the kids, "I can get that on Thursday" when they asked for something. At this point, coupons aside, just being more organized will make a big difference.

What else is new? I finally got a salad spinner. Seems I've wanted one for years. And, as expected, I love it.

What I want to be new- more chores for the kids.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C. S. Lewis

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I love...

I love laughter.
Having fun.
I love being an adult.
Free to do silly things.
I love dating my best friend.
and being married to him.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Head Meets Wall

I can't stop thinking about how painful this was.

Everyone is okay...
All I can say is, Ouch!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

An Ordinary Saturday

We began the day in our PJs. The kids were playing their DS's and watching a cartoon on the TV. When I came downstairs to grab a cup of coffee to drink, my husband had fallen asleep on the couch, next to the warmth of the fire in the fireplace. I took my coffee back to my room, sat on my favorite chair and continued reading my book.

Now two of the boys are practicing basketball with Dad. The third is excited about perfecting his bike riding without training wheels. Little girl is running circles around everyone, intermittently drawing with chalk on the driveway.

The day is full of the ordinary. It's the best kind of ordinary.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Industrial Strength Super Glue Love

I'm sitting at the kitchen table, sipping my coffee. My parents just left to return home. We had a nice long visit.

It's hard to put into words how I feel.

Thankful. Concerned. Relieved. Loved. I have so many feelings that are tied to them.

I love them, dearly. I love their enthusiasm. I love their desire to embrace family. I love them despite their imperfections.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen to them. My dad is a stroke survivor. He struggles physically and emotionally. My mom is a caregiver- a position that doesn't come naturally to her. She struggles emotionally. They feel exhaustion and frustration, often.

They have never given up.

It's a love story. It is a difficult tale of struggle and triumph. They struggle together. Sometimes they exchange words. They gripe. They are desperate to help each other and to attain their own happiness. Always, no matter what, they remain together. Dedicated. They love each other, not because they are required to but because their roots go deep. They express their love, daily, through dependence on each other. They are present. Intertwined.

It's difficult to explain and difficult sometimes for them to express.

It can appear nondescript but their love is vast.

So as I think about them leaving, I am certain of one feeling- gratitude.
I am thankful for their love- the love they have for their family and the love that holds them together. It's super glue: a powerful, industrial strength love that will keep them together until the day that they are not both in this world. In this age, that's remarkable.
Their love propels me to love deeply.

I will love deeply, despite circumstances, despite critical eyes, in spite of selfish longings, despite myself- I will love even when I don't know what I want or why I love.

I am thankful for my parent's visit and the love that I see in them.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."
Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sunday, January 01, 2012