Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To infinity and beyond.



Or at least Wisconsin.  I just returned from our first real camp out with our girls.  It was a great time, although I completely understand why my parents did not take my sisters and I camping until we were older.  We are tent campers... none of that rosy RV business for us.  It poured the very first night and we spent the remainder of our trip drying out.  The kids found every bit of mud they could to infiltrate... well everything.  (Glad I was thinking like a mom and packed twice as much clothing as I thought we would need!)

We had a fabulous quiet, secluded campsite, however, my girls were ravenously adventurous about EVERYTHING.  When we first arrived after our 6 hour drive, my sweet 4-year-old stood by the fire pit and after looking around, burst into tears.  After inquiring about this outburst, she very sincerely whined, "I need a TV out here!"  It was then and there that the Leapster, the Nintendo DS, and the portable DVD player were banned to the van.  Doggone it, these kids were gonna learn how to enjoy the outdoors. 

We were dealing with a triple threat here:  fire, water, and train tracks.  Yes, we were camping right on the lake, with a continuous fire burning, and only about 30 feet from active train tracks!  Thank God, the train seemed to only run at night after we were settled in the tent, but this girl nearly lost her mind keeping those 3 rugrats in the "safety zone!"  Perhaps I should also mention that about 2 am on our last night of camping, we had the pleasure of listening to a bobcat tear into his evening meal, accompanied by fierce yelping... yeah, not much sleep came after that.

At least I had the forethought to bring along a case of Starbucks Mocha Frappucino, because this trip was thoroughly exhausting.  We really had an amazing time and the girls loved every moment (well most of the moments, I think.)  So as much as I love the outdoors and camping, I think I can speak for Lee and I both that we have had enough "kid camping" to last the rest of the summer. 

On a happy note, while on vacation, I found an incredible cookbook full of all mushroom recipes!!!  I'll probably be posting about this some more later... can't wait to try it out. 

Pardon me while I recuperate from my vacation.  Curling up with a cozy cup of Chamomile tea and turning in early.  :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One of those nights.

It is 10:23.  At night.  That would be PM.  And I'm drinking freshly brewed coffee.  (Starbucks Caffe Verona again.  I'm really stuck on that stuff at the moment.)  I hate when I do this, but its one of those nights where I wish God would pretty please grant me just 2 extra hours to get everything done. 

So off I go... and praying that the caffeine will wear off when I'm finally ready for it to.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guilty as charged...

I did it.  I bought paper products... like kitcheny sorts of paper products.  I know.  I'm weird, but I honestly can't remember the last time I bought paper napkins or paper plates.  Other than buying toilet paper and Kleenex, we are pretty green in that area.  We use cloth napkins and instead of paper towels, a good 'ol kitchen towel seems to work just as well, if not better. 

I think my mother still shudders at the extra work of laundering such things, but when you're already doing laundry for an entire household, what's a trifle more?  There has been more than one occasion where my mother brings over disposable plates, cups, plasticware, paper towels and napkins because she is concerned about this.  She's amazing and I love her.  I LOVE YOU MOM!  See?

So why the paper products???  Camping, of course!!!  This will be our first camping trip since I have had kids.  I am sure its going to be terribly interesting in a good way, and I'm almost 98% certain I will forget something important even though I started my list weeks ago.  So if anyone has any "green" camping ideas, I'd love to hear them! 

I did buy paper plates so they can easily be disposed of in the campfire.  I also bought paper napkins (which happen to be recycled so that's a plus!).  I plan to refill our reusable water bottles so we do not have to use plastic cups, which cannot be easily disposed of in the campfire. 

I am also completely thrilled about the new insect repellent I have found!  I have often read of recipes for repellent, but have never ventured to try them.  I have a hard time slathering myself (or my kids) up with chemicals so I'm always looking for the most natural (and effective) alternative.  When I saw Coleman Botanicals Insect Repellent on the shelf, I instantly snatched it up, ignoring the nearly $5 price tag for only 4 oz.    Its deet-free and contains Lemon Eucalyptus Oil.  It seems to work really well so far.  One day at the park last week I came home completely eaten alive.  The next day I used the spray and not one bite! 

So I am off to pack and my resume my incessant list-making...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grocery Day.

I.  Love.  Grocery Day. 

I have many fond memories of grocery day.  There's nothing quite like opening the fridge and cupboards to a plentitude of choices.  For my kids (and even my husband!), grocery day is nearly synonomous with Christmas.  Its all I can do to shoo everyone out of the kitchen so I can get it all put away. 

Having 3 rather small children to tag along with me, I strive to grocery shop as little as possible... which means when I do go grocery shopping, I stock up on as much as I can to minimize my trips to the store.  I am one of those customers that people behind me in line will grumble about, because YES, I use coupons and YES, it will probably take forever to ring me up, and YES, my girls will most likely be running wild during the entire process. 

I abhor processed food... yes, abhor (to shrink back from, to shudder at).  So I make about 97% (roughly) of what my family eats from scratch.  Some people think I'm over ambitious, but with a little planning its actually much easier (and healthier!) than most people think.  My husband always says, "You invest in what you believe in," (which I think he borrowed from Dave Ramsey.)  I choose to invest a little of my time into preparing wholesome food for my family under the assumption that we will enjoy quality of health both now and in the future. 

One of my favorite tricks is in the way I prepare ground beef.  Most recipes seem to call for 1 lb. of ground beef, but I NEVER use more than 1/2 lb. for any recipe.  Don't get me wrong, we love our red meat, but consumption in high amounts can lead to health issues.

So in light of that, when I make anything calling for ground beef, I only use 1/2 lb. and subsitute the other 1/2 with brown rice (usually Minute rice because its quicker) or veggies, depending on the recipe.  For example, when I'm making enchiladas, I use 1/2 c. brown rice, red peppers, and onions.   If I'm making a pasta dish (like spaghetti), I omit the rice altogether and load it up with carrots, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.  If it were up to me, I'd just make a veggie sauce, but hubby loves his meat.  :)  For beef stroganoff, I use lots of mushrooms and onions... my whole family adores mushrooms so I can never go wrong there. 

It also really stretches our meat dollars because meat can be so darn expensive!  Double whammy.  If I'm bright enough to plan ahead for the week (which I usually do), I will brown enough meat ahead of time (and add the rice & veggies) for the whole week of meals.  This makes meal prep a snap, especially on busy week nights. 

So grocery day is done... at least for the next couple weeks.  And now its time to kick back and enjoy my coffee because nap time is almost over. 

Coffee of the day:  Starbucks Caffe Verona on ice with a bit of skim milk and a dollop of Edy's French Silk ice cream.  Delish!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life, Love & Coffee

Can I trust this day?  It is Monday, after all.  I stand in the midst of what is historically one of the most insanely busiest 2 weeks of my life every year.  I use the term "stand" very loosely.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I am suspended by puppet strings, otherwise known as COFFEE.  Oh heavenly brew... what would I do without you?

Yesterday, my darlings danced and tumbled their little hearts out at dance recital and this mama couldn't be prouder.  So in the end, all the money, costumes, makeup, endless chauffeuring and rehearsals were completely worth it.  Just look...




So now that dance is over for the summer, you would think we would be bored for the next few months.  But no fear!  This week begins T-Ball, Mega Sports Camp, 4-H Day Camp AND the summer reading program at the library. 

One word.  Coffee.

And now that its hot, I'm on the prowl for a new great iced coffee recipe!  I'll be posting it as soon as I find one...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I love the java jive and it loves me...

There's hardly anything better than my afternoon coffee break... EXCEPT for an afternoon coffee break with a Ghirardelli chocolate (extra dark, of course.)  Baby is napping and the big girls are cleaning their room.  Perhaps they are fooling me, but I will "carpe diem" this moment and relish the fleeting solitude. 

I love being a mom.  And I love being a wife.  And I love being home. 

Today, I got to perform surgery on my 2-year-old's beloved puppy, whose stuffin' was leaving a trail up the stairs, down the hallway and into her bedroom.  It was a 2 minute procedure and patient and owner were thrilled with the outcome.  "Puppy no boo boo!"

Coffee is kinda like that.  Stitches on an open wound, holding the stuffin' in... and "Mama no boo boo!"

"He makes me like down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul... "  Psalm 23:2-3a

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today.

Woke up this morning to a jumbo size bag of Ghirardelli chocolates (never knew they came in such a size!) and a talking Hoops & YoYo card.  The only thing that could make this morning better is jumbo size Starbucks... so off to the kitchen for some hot brew! 

9 years. 8 vacations. 7 vehicles. 6 houses. 5 family members. 4 states. 3 kids. 2 lovers. And a partridge in a pear tree. Happy Anniversary! Glad you picked me. :)

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