Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I've seen this on a few other blogs. I think it would get a little redundant to do it every week, but once in awhile can't hurt. Most people only make a list of the things they are thankful for at Thanksgiving, if they do it at all.

That is an excellent idea, but I think it puts you in an optomistic mindset if you remind yourself regularly that there are awesome things in your life. It's easy to let the stressful things overwhelm you, and we all need a gentle reminder that life isn't as bad as it could be.

When asked what they are thankful for, most people have a standard list: my kids, my husband, my family, my friends, my get the point. I urge you to delve beyond that generic list and sit down once every month or so and make a list of two or three "extra" things that make life just a little bit better. They can be related to the things listed above, but try and be specific.

This is my (current) list:

1. In-laws that wouldn't dream of treating Nathan differently than Lily
Roy's parents didn't have any grandkids when we met. Nathan was the first and he was spoiled rotten from the second they met him. When they found out that we were pregnant with a little girl I thought his mom was going to die from excitement. I'll be honest: I was a little worried that Nathan would be forgotten once Lily was born. After all, he's not a blood relation. His parents came into town three days after Lily was born and any concerns I had went right out the window. Lily, being three days old, slept all day. Nathan was outside playing, riding bikes, going for walks, at the grocery name it, he was with them. It was the same when they came for Lily's baptism and when we went to visit them last weekend. They love him so much and I have no idea how to explain to them how much that means to me.

2. Music
Not just any music. The kind of music that makes you crank up the radio, roll down the windows, and belt out the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Because, for those 3 and a half minutes, the car payment isn't due, the kids aren't sick, there aren't a million things on your "To Do" list . . . you can forget about the drama that is your life and just let the music swallow you up.

3. Tony, the Target Pharmacist
So, aside from being really cute he's also extremely helpful. Whether I have questions about prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, infant medications, First-Aid or if Nate should still be taking toddler vitamins or "big kid" vitamins he answers them all. Did I mention he's really cute?


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Time for the Living Room

I've been bitten by the craft bug. HARD.

My living room is first on the list. I'm hoping to paint this coming weekend.

Here is my color scheme...I'm excited! (The brown is the color of my wooden furniture.)


Sunday, April 18, 2010

101 in 1001

The trend recently has been to create a bucket list. Basically, you make a list of all things that you want to do before you die (a.k.a. "kick the bucket") and as you complete those things you cross them off of your list.

Another trend that I find slightly less morbid is to make a "101 in 1001" list. That is, 101 things that you'd like to accomplish within the next 1001 days. That's approximately two and a half years, so there is plenty of time to accomplish a lot of things!

I finished my list and I intend to keep up on it.

You can view it HERE. I also hope to add a tab to my blog so it will be listed here, too.

Readers, I encourage you to also make a list. I found it inspiring!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homeless Shoes

My shoes are homeless.


We don't wear shoes in the house. So, this has accumulated inside the front door:

These are the shoes we wear most often. Except the royal blue flip flops. I have one outfit that I wear those with - and I wore it today. I assume the Hot Wheels are there as some sort of Home Alone-esque burglar deterrent, but you'll have to ask Nathan to be sure.

My closet (OK, our closet) is even worse. I just counted and, between the two of us, we have over 40 pairs of shoes.

The left side:

The center (In case you're wondering, all the little dangly things are the ties from my halter tops and empire style tops/dresses. Apparently I have quite a few.):

The right side (also known as "Roy's side" but Nathan has helped me put shoes away so often that my shoes are all over the place):

(By the way, did you see these in there? I lurve them! They're my sexy dancing shoes.)

You see my situation. The worst parts are:

A) The shoes in the living room always slide under the couch so I am forever crawling on the ground before we go anywhere.
B) The closet floor is in desperate need of a dusting/sweeping/mopping which only happens once every eight weeks or so because I'm way too busy too lazy to move 40 pairs of shoes every time the floors get mopped.

Sure, I could buy some cheap shoe racks that will break in a year or two, but I want something a little more study.

Here is my inspiration. I really don't want to pay these prices, so I'm going to see what I can find in the way of thrift stores to get the look I'm going for.

I like this one for the entryway. It would fit right next to the couch inside my door. Plus, the top would be great with a tray to act as a catch-all for keys, sunglasses, etc.

As for the closet, I'm thinking something simple. I have to be able to house 40+ pairs of shoes, after all.

This would be adorable on my side of the closet. I could put my 18 pairs of shoes that I wear most often on it. The rest could go on racks like the one below.

A good majority of my shoes are flip-flops, and they would work nicely on a rack like the one on the bottom. I could set them on their sides next to each other. I bet I would only need one or two if I got the clothes tree. . .

Stay tuned. Hopefully I'll have something to show you in a few weeks!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why Mommy Talks to Strangers

February 2007: A young mother (20 years old) is standing in the checkout line early in the morning at Target waiting to buy a can of formula for her five week old baby boy. The only cashier is doing a price check and the baby has decided that he is hungry. Now. He's screaming. The diaper bag is in the car, but it wouldn't matter if it wasn't, because she is completely out of formula. She needs this can to feed him. Money is tight and she managed to stretch the last can until payday, but he only had enough for half of a bottle this morning.

What is taking so long for this price check, anyway? She's trying everything she can to comfort him. Rocking him. Bouncing him. Shushing him. Forget the fact that everyone is staring at this screaming baby, her son is hungry and she can't do anything to help him feel better and it's breaking her heart.

A woman behind her in line gently taps her on the shoulder and, sensing the young mother's desperation, gives her this gem of advice: "Lay him on his tummy in your arms and swing him from side to side. It'll help hold him off until you can get out of here."

Willing to try anything, she rolls him over in her arms and starts swinging. He calms down almost immediately. Five weeks of sleepless nights, fussy days, dirty diapers, overdrawn bank accounts and now this. An overwhelming sense of gratitude hits her all at once and she is overcome with emotion. Turning to the woman with tears in her eyes, the young mother is speechless. The woman simply smiles and says, "I have five of my own. They're grown now, but that was my favorite trick."

I've always been a nice person, but I never truly appreciated the impact that kind words or selfless gestures can have on the recipient until that day. I never saw that woman again, but I will never forget what she did for me.

I now make a point to be a little friendlier. It's great to be nice, but even better to be truly friendly.

Example #1: The woman behind me in line at the grocery store the other day had on killer heels. And I mean killer heels. They were super sexy, but were not meant to be worn while wandering the aisles at the grocery store. I had a huge cart full of groceries. She had some French bread, some milk and a few other smaller items, so I said to her, "You're feet look like they're killing you. Why don't you go ahead of me?"

Example #2: I was leaving the post office last week carrying Lily in her carseat and holding Nathan's hand when a woman who had stepped out a few minutes before me dropped a huge stack of envelopes. She wasn't elderly or handicapped and I'm sure that she could have managed to pick them up on her own, but why? So I stopped and helped her. The best part? Nathan helped, too. That one was a two-for: I helped someone and taught Nathan a life lesson all at once.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn about what a wonderful person I think I am, although I'm sure it could be seen that way. Trust me, I have my weaknesses. I get very frustrated with people sometimes. Especially people who don't know how to drive . . . but that's a blog post for another day.

I'm just trying to illustrate how easy it is to make a difference in someone's day.

One of my favorite quotes: "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” - Leo F. Buscaglia.

It's so true.

Why have we become a society that is afraid to be kind to one another? Whatever way you slice it and regardless of your religious beliefs, we're in this together.

I am making it my personal mission to restore a sense of brotherhood to all those I come in contact with. Will you join me?


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wherein I Cook Dinner...And It Doesn't Come From a Box

I'm going to let you in on a little secret:




Dinners around here usually consist of frozen pizza or something from a box.

I can bake like there's no tomorrow. But baking requires zero creativity. You pull out a recipe, measure the ingredients, mix it up as directed and bake. Easy. Cooking requires a little something more...

I like to pretend that I can cook, though. I even go so far as to make something "from scratch" (spaghetti sauce from a jar is as "from scratch" as I get) invite people over for dinner and, being good friends, they choke down what I serve them.

After Lily was born I decided that we (as a family) needed to eat healthier. My husband and I could both stand to lose a few pounds and I want to set a good example for the kids. That means home cooked dinners with as many fresh ingredients as possible.

As of right now, I don't have the budget for a chef and my husband (who is an awesome cook, by the way) doesn't get home until after 6:00 PM. If we want to eat before midnight, dinner is my responsibility.

A few weeks ago, a friend turned me on to THIS BLOG. My favorite part is that she gives you nutrition facts for all the recipes that she posts and Weight Watcher's points (which is very helpful since I'm on Weight Watcher's).

After browsing her blog I decided that I could try a few of her recipes. I started with (of course) a baked good. These Black Bean Brownies are amazing! Seriously. I know the recipe sounds weird, but try it. Worst case, you're out $3.00 for the ingredients. (Hint: Don't tell the less adventerous types what is in them until they try them.)

When that recipe was a success I decided to take the plunge and make real food.

I was absolutely terrified.

OK, maybe not terrified, but I wasn't looking forward to it.

I decided to start with Cilantro Lime Shrimp. Here's how it went down...

The ingredients.

And a recipe printout, of course.

Step One: Rinse the shrimp under cold water for 5-10 minutes to defrost (per directions on package). Leave it in the sink to drain.

Step Two: While the shrimp drains, chop up the cilantro...

...and the garlic...

...the recipe says to "crush" the garlic but, as I am not usually one to cook, I don't have a garlic press. I decided to mince it and pray that it worked. You want to make sure that you mince it so that it's fairly small, otherwise you risk getting a mouth full of garlic at the dinner table.

(Also, the recipe doesn't say this, but you need to pull the tails off of the shrimp. I gathered this from looking at the picture on the website.)

Step Three: Heat the oil in a pan and add the shrimp.

This is where I panicked a little. The recipe says "Season with salt and
 pepper". Um, can I get a measurement? A teaspoon? A tablespoon? OK, deep breaths...

I just poured some salt in my hand and sprinkled it in until it seemed like enough. Same with the pepper. That was a big step for a "non-cook" like myself.

Whew. That wasn't so bad...

Step Four: (Sorry, no picture...) Let the shrimp cook for a few minutes. Flip it and add the garlic.

This doesn't seem to be so hard, after all.

Step Five: Remove from heat. Add cilantro and lime.

Serve hot.
I served it over minute rice. The picture isn't the greatest, but I'm not a photographer, either.

Honestly, it turned out great. I was afraid there would be too much garlic, but it was perfect. Next time I may add something to spice it up a bit. My family survived, my husband actually said it was delicious. And my brother-in-law, who only eat chicken nuggets and the occasional steak, absolutely loved it. I'm calling it a success!