Saturday, February 27, 2010

God's Hands

I've had a hard "blog" week.

I started out the week on Sunday pretty sick, not sure if I had a 24 hour thing or food poisoning, but whatever I had was nasty.  And I missed an afternoon with my in-laws that were in town for the weekend.  I was sleeping at home as the family all went to church and then out to lunch together, that always makes a person feel like they've missed something.  So my week started with me feeling yucky and kinda down.

Monday morning had me still getting back on my feet, feeling way better but not 100% yet and then BAM we get a phone call that no one ever expects, that you can't prepare your heart for...

My father-in-law, Pat, called to tell us that Kathy, my mother-in-law, was in a horrible car accident.
Here is the facebook note that Pat wrote that describes the accident...
This is Pat. Kathy wanted me to thank all of you who are praying for her. For those of you who don't know what happened, she was the third car stopped on Highway 29 and Bottle Rock, waiting for a large truck to turn left on Bottle Rock. She saw the '94 Ford pick-up in her rear view mirror and knew it was not going to stop. She tapped her brake lights to get his attention but he only left about 10 feet of skid marks before he hit her doing 55 to 60 mph. Right before impact she said, "Jesus, Jesus, help me." The first lady, whom we do not know, came to her and said, "Jesus sent me here to help you." She called me at school and let me talk to Kathy on the phone. She also got someone to brake the window because the gas fumes were terrible and she also prayed for Kathy. We are so thankful for this. The chain reaction involved 5 cars. She was the only one taken away in the ambulance. At the hospital they checked her out for broken bones and internal injuries, found nothing, shot her up with morphine so she could get in the wheel chair and sent her home. The chest trauma from the seat-belt/air bag, has her pretty much immobilized. Her neck is not able to support her head when she is trying to get up or lie down. New little aches and pains are showing up. We have a doctors appointment today and will know more latter. Today is the third day and everyone says the third day is the worst, so hopefully things will start looking up. Thank you again for your prayers and well wishes. Pat


My in-laws live about 2 1/2 hours south of us, and although it's not far, when you get this phone call it feels like it's across the country.
The first phone call from Pat was letting us know of the accident, but really not sure what sort of injuries, if any, that Kathy might be suffering from.  
The phone calls between Beau and his dad went back and forth all day keeping us informed, 
and each one seeming more and more like a miracle...
"no broken back or neck, but her ribs and sternum  are probably broken, not sure of any internal damages..."
"no broken ribs or sternum..."
"no internal damages..."
"they're sending her home..."
God is truly amazing.  
He covered Kathy in his protection and allowed her to walk out of the hospital hours after the accident without any major damage.
She is still in lots of pain, and has a long road of recovery ahead of her, but we are praising God for his many miracles
*She is alive
*Her back and neck are not broken
*NO other bones are broken
*No internal damage
*No one else was injured in the accident (5 cars total)
*That he sent someone to pray for and comfort her in while waiting for help to arrive...God has angels here on earth!
*Modern medicine to help relieve her pain
*Insurance-medical and auto

Other things that God "arranged"...
*Pat and Kathy had two weekends in the past month that they were able to get their "grandkid fix"...All 3 of their grandkids live at least 2 hours away, and they were able to spend two different weekends this past month with the two different "sets" of Chambers grandkids...
*A job that allows Pat to take time off to care for Kathy...
*A church family that will take care of both Kathy & Pat since their extended family is too far away to help (so hard for me, I want to drive down and make meals and wash laundry and clean toilets, and hold hands)...

God is amazing...

here are just some Bible verses that he was given to me this week and some photos of Kathy, you can see God's love shining from her face, she is truly an amazing gift in my life that I praise God for!


I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalms 139:14



For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (my husbands favorite verse)


"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
Isaiah 43:10



Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O Lord, have done it.
Psalms 109:27

This is why my blog week was a little off...
I felt like going on with my "normal" posting of recipes and the "fun" crafty something-or-other that I made was very trivial.  I know that God rejoices with us in all we do, but my heart was not here.
I never got around to making our bi-weekly menu and therefore I never went grocery shopping (been doing a little fridge/pantry cleaning to make it through the week).
I didn't post any recipes this week.
I really didn't make anything crafty or fun.
I spent a good part of my week just focused on my family and in a fog of trying to get motivated.

I also spent lots and lots of time just praying for Kathy.  She has been such a blessing to my life and the life of my children.  I listen to others talk about their mother-in-law with a sneer, or with a grimace, or just snickering of disrespect.  And I feel so overwhelmed with the blessing I have in Kathy.  I have never called her 'mom' because she's not my mother (I have a pretty great mom too)...I feel that she does deserve the title mom, she raised two amazing sons that love and respect her deeply...but I feel that I have a different relationship with her.  She's the mother to my husband, the grandmother to my children, an amazing Christian mentor, a Godly example of what a wife should be, and she's a friend.

I thank God for the gift of her in my life and in the life of my husband & children.  I thank God for his protection over her this past week.  I thank God for the big and little miracles that he has allowed us to see him do this past week.  And I thank God for the continued healing of Kathy's body throughout the next few weeks and months.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I DID It!!!

Okay, not just a little proud of myself,
I'm a lot proud of myself!

I went to the pool yesterday,
and please note that it was raining and cold...
yes, I know that it's been beautiful and sunny since my challenge to get into the pool, but I've been busy and then sick...so today was the day that I was healthy and that swimming fit into my schedule, so today HAD to be the day...
FYI: had I not gone blog public with my challenge to hit the pool this week, I promise you I would not have been anywhere near that pool!

So I did it...and my friend Kristie joined me.
Kristie is amazing!  She's also doing the triathlon, but doing the duo-version since she can't swim...yep, CAN'T swim...guess how she supported me today?  She put on her suit, in the rain, and strapped on a very attractive flotation belt, and swam right next to me!...in the rain...next to lanes of actual swimmers, here I feel all weird about my "form" and swimming style and she gets in with her belt and swims right next to me, well, actually ahead of me...because I forgot that I have asthma and that I have an inhaler and that without it I'm down to only one lung, not a good thing when you're in the water....

Anyways, Kristie and I swam 200 meters yesterday...yep, 200 meters!  That's half of what I need to do for the triathlon!!!

There we were, in our swimsuits that were made for moms to sit nicely by the side of the pool, to splash around in the pool with the kiddos, NOT to train for a triathlon suits...and we had lanes of other people, swimming in their speedos, swim caps, & goggles, their perfect stokes, those people that know how to turn when they reach the end of the lane...not just stop and turn around like I do...

I don't care how bad my form was, how pathetic my stokes were, that I swan on my back for at least 100 of those meters...I did it...
no, sorry,
WE did it!  we got in the pool, and we started the pool portion of training for the triathlon, and it felt great...

a few things that I learned yesterday...
*swimming in the rain is kind of cool, I'm already in the water so does the rain really matter, NO!
*I was right!  My suit is NOT meant for triathlon training, and the back stoke almost exposed "the girls" to the guy swimming in the lane next to me!
*swimming requires two lungs, so next time I will bring my inhaler!
*that a good friend is one that will swim with you in the rain even when she can't swim!
*that if I need a goal completed I should go blog public to guarantee that I follow thru...(note to self, maybe I should go blog public about deep cleaning my house...no, that's just crazy!)

and now I must just keep up this pool thing...once I get a triathlon appropriate suit...and Kristie said she'd keep coming with me...

Oh, I know my new goal...I will go shopping for a good suit!  Okay, I've now gone "blog public" with that so it MUST be done...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sew, it Finally Happened


I've had a few sewing projects that I wanted to conquer and I was able to sit down today and finish two, YES 2, aprons...

here is a little story about my aprons, with pictures even...

The first apron I made, Apron A, started out with a pattern...
you might not know me, but I don't do patterns...
but I figured that since I'm really not a pro at sewing I'd take a crack at what professionals (aka: the pattern makers) say I should do...But then I started reading the pattern...something that they need to offer college level courses in how to read...and after a little bit of confusion, decided that I wasn't thrilled with how they wanted me to do the pockets, I sort of felt it was a HUGE waste of material (material = gold in ChambersMade land)...so smart little me decided to ...modify...the pattern...the pattern that I wasn't completely sure that I was reading correctly in the first place...and after my "mod'ing" and a few frustrating moments I finished my apron, and realized that my frustrating moments could have been avoided had I just followed the pattern like I was supposed to...but it turned out and I saved a ton of gold...I mean material...

...so I discovered if I take my own pictures in the mirror
 the flash flashes out my face so no need to crop the pic, 
but I must remember to wash my mirror next time...
so I think it turned out okay,
things I didn't like
* how high the pockets were
* I wanted the waist band to be thicker
* it didn't wrap around my waist and thighs as much as I wanted

...so now that I've mod'ed the pattern why not just totally throw the whole pattern out the window and make a new one...
so new, but very similar pattern...
* I used the same base, but just cut it about 2 inches wider all around
*cut the waist band and ties twice as thick (6 inches, that will be folded in half = a 3 inch waist and ties)
*decided to go with just one pocket and place it down lower on the apron (my problem last time was dealing with the pocket, bias tape, and waist band...so not having the pocket up by the waist line elliminated the entire problem!)

I want to stop right here and thank my friend Rayna for introducing me to Bias Tape...I am now in love.  I'm also sure that at some point in my life my mother tried to teach me the finer points of Bias Tape and I didn't pay attention, so sorry mom!  When trying it on my own on an apron I made last year, I become totally frustrated and just decided that it was not needed, then Rayna showed me how using an iron with the bias tape will change your life...thanks for that life changing lesson Rayna...

adding a little heat will allow you to mold the bias tape anyway you want !  magic!

My finished project...I really wanted to give you all the steps, but I'm a beginner sewer...
(not a word right?...think seamstress is the right word)... and feel that trying to walk you step by step through a project that I threw the pattern directions out the window on, would be the blind leading the blind...probably more like the blind and deaf leading the blind.....
but here is my apron, Apron B... thicker waist band, wider overall apron, covering more of my waist/hips/thighs, and only one pocket!

lessons learned today...
*don't "mod" a pattern until you know what you're doing
*bias tape is my friend
*taking pictures in the mirror with the flash on allows me not to stress over how bad I will look in a picture
*wash my bathroom mirror before taking pictures!

that's the story of two aprons...and I really did make both of these today!  I can hardly believe it myself.
...and YES, my family had a home cooked meal, with vegetables and everything!
And the boy child even got a bath!
and YES, it's past my bed time...good night!

blog edit...or add on...
after a good nights sleep I re-read my blog and looked at the pictures and you can't really see how cute the material is, so here's a closer look...





it's a blue with coffee beans (brown) and then a cream with a pretty brown pattern and teeny tiny blue hearts every once in awhile.  so cute!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Where'd Those Muscles Come From

Okay, so not only have I been "training"
(I use that term loosely just because it sounds weird for me to say it)
for this upcoming Sprint Triathlon since January...
...I've also been "working out" (another loosely used term), about 5 days a week since my birthday in October...so that's about 4 months of exercising...haven't been that consistent since I was getting graded on it in high school (yikes)...

So, all that being said, I'm not dropping the lbs (not even ONE, 1!!!) and my pants are just as tight...seriously, I haven't notice them getting ANY looser...ARGH...
But I am feeling stronger...
my muscles feel loose...
my heart feels good...
I feel better...
I can run with the kids and not get winded...
and I'm not doing any of this to get a number...
this isn't, and has never been about me loosing a certain amount of weight (I really have never cared too much about weight....I didn't like surpassing Beau by a good 10 lbs when I pregnant...but other than that!)
I really don't care too much what size pants I wear (it's a size 14 for those who might be wondering)...
I just want to be healthy, and I am feeling that...

So WHY?
WHY????
I spent the morning yesterday gardening with the boy child.  We (mainly me) pulled weeds (weeds that look like grass but I know will turn into something dead and not pretty very soon) that covered a little hilly strip of land to the west of our "driveway"...
Key word in that..."hilly"...
I spent a good two hours basically doing lunges on this hilly...

 
almost mountainous...like, pretty close to Mt. Everest!
patch of earth...and then I had to loosen up that earth on that mountain side...using one of my favorite tools...the CLAW!!!...

And then digging holes to plant our 200+ bulbs into...(no joke, someone gave us a few grocery bags full of bulbs back in the fall, I had also purchased a few, and dug up some of our 100's of daffodils that were in a spot a didn't want...these were all sitting in containers and bags on our front porch and they were beginning to sprout just sitting there...yelling at me every time I came home, "plant us, we want to grow!")

(pretty sad huh?)
Wilson had a snail farm going...


then when he learned that the snail eat the good plants, he killed all the snails with a rock (don't worry I have no pictures of that!)...

some "treasures" we unearth



Wilson planting the bulbs, he really does love to plant.








can't believe how much it looks like I didn't do...but notice the "green" trash, it's completely full!  And all 200+ bulbs are planted...

And now the sad part...my muscles are SCREAMING at me!  I am having a VERY hard time standing, walking, sitting, turning...WOW!  Where did ALL these muscles come from?  I was under the impression that I had been "training" my body and I can't even garden for 3 hours without doing some major damage...really, I'm hobbling around like...well, like someone that owns a Buick!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh, Canada

I was trying to figure out a way to celebrate the Olympics...

I thought making something that was Canadian would be good...
So, after visiting a few other blogs (yes, it's true, there are other blogs out there, I'm not the only one...crazy...oh, and guess what, my blog isn't a secret so you can share ChambersMade with all your friends)
okay blog tangent over...
I found these Canadian treats out there in blog land...

Nanaimo Bars...not sure how to pronounce them...
we're calling them Nan-eye-mo Bars here at ChambersMade
...anyone know how bad we're butchering it???

There are a few different stories out on the world wide web about the origins of the NB (oh, and that's their nickname in Canada)...but something like a house wife named Mable entered this recipe into a baking contest around 1950 and named the bars after the town she was from...Nanaimo...and thus the rest was history...

These no-bake, three layered bars are delicious; they start with a crumb base, followed by a layer of light custard buttercream, topped with a smooth layer of chocolate.  Really, what's not to love?  Well, coconut if you don't like coconut (but I love it), and pecans (but I love those also)...and well, there's just a tiny bit of butter in these...but it's the Olympics...so don't we burn calories just watching all the exercise on TV?


So, back to 2010 USA...I wanted to celebrate the Olympics (that we haven't watched any of, which is weird because I love the Olympics, but I've been getting all my updates online and haven't sat down and watched any...like ZERO...), so I found this recipe and here is my attempt, had to adapt it so this is the

ChambersMade version of Nanaimo Bars...

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup  granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs, about 1 1/2 sleeves
1 cup coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

FILLING:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 - 3 tablespoons milk or cream
3 tablespoons vanilla pudding powder (this is were I made the biggest change, the authentic recipe calls for 'Bird's vanilla custard powder', something that you can't find in little ol' Redding CA... )
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar (fyi, those Canadians call it Icing Sugar...)

TOPPING:
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch pan.

BOTTOM LAYER:  In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

FILLING:  In your electric mixer cream the butter.  Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

TOP LAYER:  In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the filling and refrigerate.

TO SERVE: To prevent the chocolate from cracking score the top layer of chocolate when it's cooled but not hard yet...

Yield: Makes about 25 squares..really, you will want to cut them into the normal 3x3=9 bars out of a 9x9 pan, but this are REALLY rich and you can cut 5x5 getting you 25 squares out of the 9x9 pan...


the children in the ChambersMade household loved these little squares of heaven...




I will be honest, I thought the middle layer tasted not so good when I was constructing the bars, but in the finished product I LOVE it...the combination of all 3 layers are just the best thing ever...
and I will also be honest, Beau did not like them...but he's weird and we know that...he also does not like cheesecake...oh and a friend that will remain nameless (but is a fellow blogger) also didn't care for them, but she doesn't count because she doesn't like coconut, but her husband, Mr. Smith did like them...

Oh, and there is just one more left in my fridge and I can't have the children in the ChambersMade household fighting tomorrow over that last one, so I will have to go take one for the team and eat it all gone!  That's what kind of mom I am!


blog edit
forgot to mention that we had friends over the night I made these and the NB's...they were so good that they made one fall off her diet wagon and then when I sent them home with 3 their marriage came to a really rocky moment in deciding who would get the last one!...Sorry Kim and Brad if the NB's might have done to your marriage!  I think we are all in agreement that we can just blame Canada!
end of blog edit

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming Swimming...

or, maybe Just START Swimming, Swimming, Swimming...
How's my training?
I've been slowly...very slowly..
training for my upcoming triathlon...don't worry, it's a sprint triathlon...still a crazy, very crazy thing for me to do, but it's not as crazy as doing a full triathlon (not even sure what all those distances are, but probably something way crazy!!!)...

So I hit the treadmill 3-4 times a week, jogging/very fast walking for at least 2 miles...then the stationary bike is my friend the other 3 days a week, trying to "ride" at least 8 miles every time...
and then the swimming...
well...
My original plan was to hit the pool sometime in February, and I still haven't gone in yet...February is half over, almost 1/3 over...

why not...well, I can't say it's because it's too cold, we just had a week of 70+ weather, (that's going away only to be replaced with rain!)...
I'm scared of the water...well, not really water, I'm not scared of actual water, and I like to swim...well, I like to float and let the water very casually wash over my body...
I'm scared of swimming...like real honest to goodness swimming, with like a real stroke...
oh, and...
I HATE my swimsuit...
*it's a sit in a chair on the side of the pool suit...not a swimming (or training to swim) a triathlon suit * it's cut too low in the front (but really, I don't think there's a suit not cut to low in the front for me!) * last summer might have been it's last summer *  the 'girls' are just not that happy in it anymore *  it's too floral for a triathlete *
I don't want to commit to the shaving that's required of me to get into a suit...
It's ONLY February, gosh I have like...ONLY 3 more months...YIKES....

3 months...

Okay, so now that I JUST realized...
like JUST now...
I was thinking 4 1/2 months when I sat down to write this blog...
I plan to hit the pool sometime between today and next Wednesday...
I am going blog public with that new goal...I promise sometime in the next week ..okay, I just said week, so that means that I should have a good 168 hours (24x7) to complete this "goal" so sometime between Thursday the 18th @ 7 pm and Thursday the 25th @ 7 pm I will get into the pool, and yes I will overcome my swimsuit issues (and no, I will not go buy a new one), and I will swim...
at least one lap...
I'm committing to one little lap, my form may suck...okay, my form WILL suck...
one little lap with no form in my horrid suit!
and no worries, I can promise you one thing...
there. will. be. NO. pictures....
time to hit the pool...maybe tomorrow...

The Family Motto

"Everything's Beddar with Cheddar"
...("Better", for those of you who don't read "Wilson")...

And really, most everything could use some more cheddar, when a recipe calls for 1 cup, 2 cups will be better...
With a motto like this you can assume that we eat a lot of cheese over here at the ChambersMade household, and you would be correct...
We love cheese on eggs, cheese on English muffins (thanks to my college roommate, Susan), cheese with nuts, cheese with fruit, cheese on veggies, cheese and crackers, grilled cheese, and of course Mac and Cheese.  With all the cheese in our life/menu you'd think I would have discovered the best mac and cheese recipe. But, you'd be wrong, the kids still prefer the kind in the blue box (oh, don't judge, you know you have a box in your pantry!)
So how come I can never find a homemade Mac & Cheese that we all like...

Well, the search for the ChambersMade Shells & Cheese is over...
I found the recipe and I'm sticking to it.  I took a different recipe that called for 1 jar of store bought Alfredo Sauce and modified it, changing a few ingredients, making my own Alfredo and I found it...
the best Shells and Cheese that we as a family have EVER had...
and sadly, no leftovers!  It was THAT good...I really wanted some the next day for lunch and we had scraped the pan clean the night before...possibly a ChambersMade first!

ChambersMade Home-Style Shells &Cheese
10 oz Shells (or macaroni, whatever you have on hand or your kids like better)
1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
1 recipe Alfredo sauce (recipe follows)
3 cups Cheddar Cheese (I've already doubled the amount, so although our motto is "Everything's Beddar with Cheddar," doubling this amount might put your family into major intestinal cramp-age!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 375 & grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
2.  Bring water to boil add chicken bouillon and shells, cook following package directions.  Prepare Alfredo sauce (recipe follows) while shells are cooking.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining shells.
3.  Transfer the shells to the casserole dish, add the Alfredo sauce, 2 cups of the cheese, the reserved pasta water and salt & pepper, and stir until the ingredients are will combined.  Cover the shells with the remaining cup of cheese, scatter the top with bread crumbs.
4.  Bake until the shells and cheese are bubbly and the bread crumbs are lightly browned, 25-30 minutes, serve at once.

Alfredo Sauce
2 Tbl Butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the cheap stuff)
1 cup cup half and half (or milk will do in a pinch)

1.  Melt butter in a saucepan add cheese and half and half, stir until all is melted...3 minutes.

(don't you just love the casserole dish...thanks Julie, it looks great holding out Shells & Cheese.)

Serving Suggestions
I steamed some brussels sprouts (and yes, I googled it and brussels has an "s" on the end...I've been saying it brussel sprouts all these years!) seasoned with butter and salt, yummy with the cheese sauce from the shells.  other veggies that would be good; Broccoli or Cauliflower

Monday, February 15, 2010

He Lied!

Yep, the little guy's full of lies!

All Lies!

We give him one day a year to speak to us and he told us a lie.

Spring is NOT 6 more weeks away!  Spring is HERE...
but that chubby little groundhog told us it was 6 weeks away!


proof that he was lying...my crocus's... blog edit ...Crocuses?...
known for being the first flowers of spring...


mine are blooming...


So, to celebrate the arrival of spring, in February...
I decided it was time to adorn our door wreath with some "spring"
here's my ChambersMade Spring door wreath...

supplies
*1 natural grape vine wreath, (this one is at least 5 years old, maybe older...I just decorate it for different seasons so you only ever have to buy one, usually they run between $2.50 and $10 depending on the size and time of year)
*2 steams of cheap pink (or any other color you want) fake flowers (got mine today at Michaels for $1.75 each)
*1 cute pink hummingbird (also on sale at Michaels today for $1.75)
*2 stalks of real leaves off of my Camila tree, these leaves stay green for a long time, other good leaves are citrus leaves.



now just cut up your pink steams and start sticking them into your wreath, add your greenery, and then clip on your hummingbird...



there you go...our ChambersMade Spring Wreath already on the door, I might add some small fake Easter eggs towards the end of March (Easter's April 4th this year)...but so far, this is our spring door, and will probably stay this way until summer!

oh, and meet Hummy...


isn't she cute!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Some Not-So-Random Things I Love About Him

Valentines Day is such an odd day.  Some celebrate it with a passion and other's avoid it like the plague saying that it is a holiday invented by Hallmark to sell more cards...  I really don't know any other holiday (non-Church related) that so many people feel so passionately about.  If you hear about a family that's celebrating say St. Patrick's Day no one ever responds by saying, "That's such a stupid holiday, it was invented by the Irish to sell more beer!"  Or "Thanksgiving, such a stupid holiday, invented by the airlines to increase sales in November!"

Well, the history geek in me had to research the who-what-where of Valentines...and to my surprise it's way older than Hallmark, in fact Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. 
(looks like a romantic guy)

My Beau and I (I call him "my Beau" because beau is French for boyfriend and that's his name...it kinda makes him gag, but secretly I know he loves it!), have an on again off again relationship with the Love Holiday...it really depends on our checkbook if we celebrate it or not, and guess what, I really don't care, I know that he loves me and I don't need to wait for one day a year for him to show me what he already shows me everyday.

So, I've decided to tell the world (or my 33 blog followers, you represent the world to me!) why I love him...

He loved me first *  He has eyes that capture me EVERY time he looks at me *  He sings Bon Jovi songs to me * He washes the dishes *  He loves God *  He serves God *  He told me he would NEVER go into "the ministry" yet when God called him he said yes  *  He dances like he's at a 1993 high school prom, a VERY white prom too *  He plays the piano with his soul *  He loves our children beyond measure  *  He teaches me how to be a better mom  * He can't fix a car to save his life *  He bought us a fixer-upper when I was 9 months pregnant even though he's not a fixer-upper kind of guy, knowing that I've always wanted one *  He laughs at me every time I ask if we can buy another fixer-upper, when we're still in our current money pit! *  He never leaves the lid off the toothpaste *  He always leaves the seat down * He makes our bed * He makes the best scrambled eggs ever  * He dances with our kids * He likes Murder She Wrote * He doesn't care what the world thinks about him *  He's deep, deep in the dork forest, and loves being in there *  He does Madison's math homework with her  *  He loves his mom VERY much *  He has strong values that are unbending * He respects me *  He can't stand when I'm sick, and always wants to take me to the hospital if I'm sick or hurting *  He looks really good, I mean REALLY good, like back-off-ladies-he's-mine good, in dark jeans 

and many many more...


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Maybe I'm Driving the Right Car

Okay, so I've never been a night owl.
I was the child that my parents tried to keep up till my bedtime.  I was ALWAYS the first to fall asleep at slumber parties, I knew that they there going to do things to me when I fell asleep, but I just couldn't stop myself. I think I was the only one in college that enjoyed taking the early classes, because I was wide awake.
Side Note: I married a HUGE night owl!


So, I go to bed early, so what....
Last night I was all geared up to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, had the kids in bed, and myself with a hot cup of tea all ready to watch.  Next thing I know, Beau is waking me up at midnight telling me to go to bed.  Yep, I missed the whole thing, it started at like 8:45 and I was sound asleep on the couch before it even began...I saw NOTHING...it started at 8:45 and I missed the WHOLE thing...and I really wanted to see it!
Okay, so I might not be a night owl...does that matter?

I have another confession to make...
I'm going to put it in type, out on the world wide web...
Here it goes...
Beau and I like to watch Murder She Wrote...
Yep, the show that retirees in the 80's loved...that's the one.
and we discovered the NetFlix has it online so we can stream it...and we did just that and just finished the first season...it was great!
And most nights as we sat watching Angela solving those crazy murders I sat crocheting away.  Yes, I'm 32 years old and I spend my nights watching Murder She Wrote and crocheting.  Well, as long as it's not too late that is, I need to be in bed by 9!

Okay, one more confession...
now this is a biggie!

I LOVE Diagnosis Murder.  I've been a closet watcher from way back in the day.  Not sure why I love it so much.  Okay, that's I lie...
since I'm on a confession role this morning I might was well tell you that I have a major crush on Dick Van Dyke.  But it's a slightly weird crush...
it's not a crush on this Dick

my crush is way more serious, it's on this guy


Seriously!  I have a crush on him...but it's not a normal crush, I call it my "Grandpa Crush!"  I love Dick Van Dyke and I want him to be my grandpa...I never had a grandpa so I have visions of visiting my grandparents house and Dick Van Dyke opening up the door and giving me a great big hug!  I have visions of the wonderfully funny times we'd have over the Thanksgiving table, the laughs and tears we'd share.  He'd be a grandpa that I could call up and talk to about stuff...okay so I know it's a little weird.

So lets sum up my confessions...I go to bed WAY early, I love to watch Murder She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder, I crochet, I have a crush on Dick Van Dyke...

oh, and I drive a Buick LaSabre...I've been complaining about my car, but now that I see it all in print I'm pretty sure that I'm driving the right car, maybe I'm in the wrong body?  I need to find a body about 40 years older than the one I got!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Taking a Little Artistic Liberties...or Cooking Liberties

Made a recipe last night for the first time...
The name of the recipe, right out of my favorite new cook book (thanks again Julie), The Dinner Doctor, is Meaty Ziti...I'm sure this recipe is great just the way it was written in the book...but I decided to use half the amount of meat in this "meaty" dish and then couldn't find any Ziti so I used Penne (whole wheat too), and I also couldn't find the called for "frozen creamed spinach" (think it a southern thing) so I had to make my own and it was double what the recipe called for...so rather than Meaty Ziti...I think I ended up with Creamy Spinach Penne...I will list both recipes for you...

The Dinner Doctor's Meaty Ziti
1 lb ground beef round (or my sister-in-law suggested adding Italian sausage)
1 can crushed tomatoes, or 1 jar of marinara sauce
1 clove garlic- crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
8 ounces ziti
1 package (9 oz) frozen creamed spinach, thawed
1 package (2 cups) pre-shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 375
2.  Brown ground beef in large skillet, 4-5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and basil.
3.  Spoon 1 cup meat sauce on bottom of 3-quart casserole dish.  Arrange the ziti in an even layer on top of the sauce (no need to pre-boil the pasta, but check the done-ness before toping with cheese in step 4),  Pour the remaining meat sauce over the ziti.  Spread the creamed spinach evenly over the top.  Cover the baking dish with foil.
4.  Bake the ziti until bubbling, 30 minutes.  Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the aluminum foil and set aside.  Scatter the mozzarella evenly over the top and re-cover the dish with the foil.  Let the ziti rest until the cheese melts, 10 minutes.  Serve warm.


Creamy Spinach Penne
1/2 lb ground beef 
1/2-3/4 jar of marinara sauce (depends on how much sauce you like)
1 clove garlic- crushed
8 ounces Whole Wheat Penne
1 recipe Creamed Spinach (recipe follows)*
1 package (2 cups) pre-shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 375
2.  Brown ground beef in large skillet, 4-5 minutes.  Stir in Marinara sauce and garlic 
* I made the creamed Spinach at the same time that the ground beef was browning, so not really more time, just a few more steps.
3.  Spoon 1/2 meat sauce on bottom of 3-quart casserole dish.  Arrange the Penne in an even layer on top of the sauce (no need to pre-boil the pasta, it will cook in the oven with the marinara sauce, but check the done-ness before toping with cheese in step 4),  Pour the remaining meat sauce over the Penne.  Spread the creamed spinach evenly over the top.  Cover the baking dish with foil.
4.  Bake the Penne until bubbling, 30 minutes.  Remove the baking dish from the oven and carefully remove the aluminum foil and set aside.  Scatter the mozzarella evenly over the top and re-cover the dish with the foil.  Let rest until the cheese melts, 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

Creamed Spinach
3 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk, cream or half and half
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup water
1 package chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1.  Melt  3 TBS butter in small saucepan, stir in flour and salt until creamed together, slowly add milk, increase the heat, stirring constantly with whisk until mixture is thick and smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.
2.  Melt 2 TBS butter in med saucepan, add onions and cook until transparent.   Add spinach and water to pan, lower the heat, stir until all warmed through, add white sauce and sour cream.  Heat through

....
Okay so when I made this I used about 16 oz of Penne (didn't look at the box, oops) so there wasn't enough liquid to completely cook all the pasta in the oven, but I will read the directions and boxes better next time and I'm sure it will turn out better...but the family loved it anyways even with a few not-so-done Penne's here and there...
And don't worry about the "S" word...the spinach was a nice mild flavor.  I think spinach has gotten a bad rap over the years, but it's such a great vegetable that you can sneak into so many different dishes.
I also think I'm going to add this recipe (or both, the Meaty Ziti and Creamy Spinach Penne) to my make and take meals that take to families with new babies, or that have someone in the hospital, or whatever.  You can make it all ahead of time and refrigerate it for 3-4 days before baking it...what a perfect thing to hand over to someone needing a meal...just don't forget to give them a bag of shredded cheese to top it at the end.
Also, first time I've ever made a creamed spinach, it was so yummy, I'm going to make it again with fresh spinach and serve as a side dish, I was licking the pan after I put it into the Penne dish!...might use some pearl onions rather than chopping up an onion...maybe topped with some crispy bacon crumbles?!?!

Serving options for this meal...French Bread...the meat, dairy, pasta, and vegetables are all in the dish, so no need to make anything else.  Maybe a nice big salad.


Almost Magic

Madison was star of the week this week in her class...
So, that means on Friday (today) she gets to bring in a treat to share with the whole class,
EVERYONE brings in Rice Krispie Treats (the pre-made store ones)
...Madison wanted that but, "a little different" she said...
After some brainstorming we decided to make the Fruit Loops Rice Krispie Treats...and since I never have Rice Krispie's, Fruit Loops, or Marshmallows in my house it meant a trip to the store after school yesterday ...any mother will tell you that this is
the WORST time of the day to take a child to the store!
...so I'm dreading the trip, knowing that it's going to be filled with Madison whining asking if she can get everything she sees...
 and then asking about dinner tonight...
deciding that she doesn't want that and trying to change my mind!
The whole time I'm trying to fight the crowd of other mothers that had to bring their school aged kids to the store who are also whining like crazy...
I'm repeating my favorite little ditti to myself,
"I will not yell, 
     I will have a nice mommy voice, 
          I will not let the whining get to me."
over and over again when it happened...

Magic happened... YES, Magic!

right there in WinCo...
Madison was in a great mood after school...I was in a great mood...all the other mothers at WinCo were in a great mood...
We walked casually to the baking aisle to pick up the marshmallows, we had a few choices, regular, strawberry or chocolate marshmallows (yes, they now make chocolate marshmallows!).  Madison, of course, chose the strawberry (pink) ones, then a nice casual walk to the cereal aisle.  My plan was to go "healthy" on the treats and use the new Fruit Cheerios...healthy plan foiled when they were more than twice the price of the generic Fruit Loops (Fruity O's, or something really creative like that)...
And this is when the real honest to goodness magic happened...I saw Chocolate Cheerios (ON MAJOR SALE) right next to Chocolate Chex (ON MAJOR SALE) and remembered the Chocolate Marshmallows....so we bought the Fruity O's, some Rice Krispie's and BOTH Chocolate Cereals and went back to grab the chocolate marshmallows...
mommy's got a plan....a magic plan!

Madison and I came home and made the Strawberry-Fruit Loops-Rice Krispie Treats.  Okay this is were the magic gets a little sticky.  Everyone always says how EASY Rice Krispie Treats are to make...I have a problem with this statement.  Okay, yes there might be just a few ingredients and yes the steps might be few...but the whole process is VERY sticky...
I HATE sticky!
I think this is why I never make these sticky treats, they're sticky to make, they're sticky to eat, and then you have sticky kids to clean up afterwards, not to mention the sticky that has now found itself onto every surface of your kitchen!
Anyways, I powered thru, braved the sticky and conquered these "easy" treats...

Strawberry-Fruit Loops-Rice Krispie Treats
1 bag Strawberry Marshmallows
1/4 bag of regular Large Marshmallows (this was a very rough est)
1 stick (8 Tbl) butter
1 tsp vanilla
5 1/2 cups Fruit Loops (or Fruity O's, or Fruit Cheerios, or any other Fruit type cereal)
5 1/2 cups Rice Krispies

In VERY large microwave safe bowl melt the marshmallows and butter together (high for 1 minute, stir, high for 1 min stir, continue until melted), stir in vanilla and then slowly add cereals...(you will now have sticky up to your elbows, some in your hair, and just a little behind your left knee) .  Spread onto a grease cookie sheet and let cool.

Time for mommy's Chocolate Magic!

Chocolate Cereal Marshmallow Treats
1 bag Chocolate Marshmallows (think they may be Chocolate/Vanilla swirl)
1/4 bag of regular Large Marshmallows (this was a very rough est)
1 stick (8 Tbl) butter
1 tsp vanilla
5 1/2 cups Chocolate Cheerios (or another Chocolate cereal)
5 1/2 cups Chocolate Chex (or another Chocolate cereal)
2 cups Chocolate Chips, or M&M's or other chocolate treat (optional)

In VERY large microwave safe bowl melt the marshmallows and butter together (high for 1 minute, stir, high for 1 min stir, continue until melted), stir in vanilla and then slowly add cereals...gently fold in optional Chocolate Chips or M&M's.  Spread onto a grease cookie sheet and let cool.


So, I overcame my fear of sticky (by the way, this is genetic, passed down from my father who has a fear of sticky, I have a fear of sticky and my daughter has a fear of sticky!), and now have some wonderfully magic treats on my kitchen table...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How'd She Do That?

Recently my friend (and Blog Reader) Chanonn asked me a question that I felt was worthy of a blog answer...

...Blog Warning...
If/When you leave a comment on my blog I may or may not use it for more Blog Fodder.  You have the right to leave your comments to yourself and inside your head, but your heart wants you to share it, and I promise that I will probably not use it against you in a court of law, but you also have the right to have an attorney present before you leave a comment.
...End of Blog Warning...

Chanonn asked,  "How in the world do you stretch a family pack of hamburger and a bag of chicken breasts 2 weeks or more???? Holy Moly!"
Well I had never really thought about it too much before, but I think there is a few ways...

1.  Let me clarify although we are a 4 person family, 2 of those members are under the age of 10...our 9 year old sometimes-vegetarian daughter and our 4 year old randomly-changes-my-mind-about-what-food-I-will-eat son.  So, my family eats less than the normal 4 person family.  And my husband eats less than the normal American male is expected to eat... Three years ago he started cutting back on food and losing weight (he's lost over 40 lbs and has kept it off for those 3 years ) and one of the major things he did was just becoming aware of how MUCH he'd been eating (me too, I lost 4 lbs!) and so he/we just STOPPED eating that much, (crazy concept, right?)...anyways all that to sum up, we probably eat 3/4 of what a "normal" 4 person family eats at dinner (maybe less) so that also equals less meat.

2.  I buy about a 6 lb pack of ground beef (low fat, try to keep it under 10% fat) and then split it into 8 packs of beef, wrap and freeze them...why 8 packs instead of 6...well it's not that much less meat per meal and it stretches the meat to two more meals, so one 6 lb family pack of ground beef  equals at least 8 meals if not more with leftovers and such...

3.  Chicken Breasts...I buy the large bag from either WinCo or Costco...(prefer to get it from Costco, but HATE dividing my grocery shopping into more than one spot so I only get the Costco chicken if I'm there for something else!...)...and then yes, back to the crazy small amount of meat/food that my family consumes, when making a meal that calls for cut up/cubed/shredded/sliced chicken I only make one (1) chicken breast...yes, one...for our entire family...(we are getting to the point that I'm going to have to go up to two breast soon...our sometimes-vegetarian daughter has started eating a lot more food recently...someone's getting ready to grow a few inches...she's gained 13 lbs since August!)...anyways, not really sure how many chicken breast come in a family pack, but even if there's only 7-8 pieces that gives me 7-8 meals...so now between the beef and the chicken we have 16 meals...

4.  I have other items on my menu that don't include ground beef or chicken breast...like a whole chicken about once a month (usually buy a package with 2 whole chickens use one and freeze one for the next month)...a beef roast (both the whole chicken and beef roast end up equaling more than one meal, I use the leftover meat for some sort of casserole or something), pork chops or tenderloin, pre-made meatballs (the last recipe I posted), etc...

5.  There is usually at LEAST one, if not more, nights in a two week "menu" that we won't be eating at our house...

So, Chanonn, I hope that answered your question about how I stretch the meat...and I hope I didn't bore the rest of you with our ChambersMade meat habits...is this a weird blog topic???

Could it Get Any Easier?


Okay, I've already shared my crazy Wednesday's with you and that I the only way that Wednesday's are manageable are with wonderful throw-down meals....I also love a great crock pot meal and when the two become one and you have an throw-down crock pot meal, well, I just love those days...

here is a recipe that my friend Jennifer Lorenzen shared with me via facebook...

Cheese Tortellini with Meatballs
24 oz frozen meatballs ( I used turkey meatballs)
26 oz tomato basil pasta sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
9 oz refrigerated cheese tortellini
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves chopped

Put meatballs, cheese, pasta sauce in crockpot. Cook on low 8-10 ho urs. Put pasta in 1 hour before done. Top with basil and serve.

This was SO good...and Beau finished up the leftovers today for lunch, not even heating it up..

Serve with Garlic Cheese French Bread (just discovered wheat French bread...just as good and better for us!) and steamed asparagus.

Thanks Jennifer, my family LOVES this recipe!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu for Feb 8-21st

Okay...so the meal planning is going, okay...
I have found one of my problems that since I started blogging and meal planning is that I have only planned meals for one week out, yet we get paid twice a month...so I should be planning at least 2 weeks of meals so I can grocery shop for those meals all at once...
what's been happening is that I plan a week of meals, shop for that week of meals and try to brainstorm while shopping what I might be able to make next week for dinner and also get those things while shopping...
NOT working so hot...
I even starting writing a 2nd week of meals on the back of my grocery list while I was shopping...knowing that if I bought a bag of tortellinis that I could use 1/2 for a meal this week (Chicken Breast w/Cheese Tortellinis & pesto sauce) and 1/2 next week (Cheesy Tortellinis with Meatballs), a family pack of ground beef and chicken breast would spread over 2 weeks or more, rice and potatoes are a given...etc....
but the problem with that 2nd list I made at the grocery store was that it never got onto my computer, somewhere between the dairy section of WinCo and the stair-master that is our house I would lose that list or throw it away in the unloading-hauling up the stairs-unpacking-putting away-dividing meat into freezer bags-chaos that follows grocery shopping...
So, new plan...actually make the menu a 2 week menu and shop for those items ALL at the same time...
GENIUS....yes I know!

Monday Feb 8th
     Lunch-egg salad 
     Dinner-Taco Soup
Tuesday Feb 9th
     Lunch-Nachos
     Dinner-Cheese Tortellinis with Meatballs
Wednesday Feb 10th
     Lunch-Tuna Pita Pockets
     Dinner-Meaty Ziti (didn't get made off last weeks menu)
Thursday Feb 11th
     Lunch-Leftovers
     Dinner-Lemon Chicken with Alfredo Pasta and broccoli 
Friday Feb 12th
     Lunch-grilled cheese
     Dinner- Date Night
Saturday Feb 13th
     Lunch-leftovers
     Dinner-Respite Event @ church...pizza
Sunday Feb 14th
     Lunch-out to lunch?
     Dinner-Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Sweet-n-Sour Chicken
                 (in honor of Chinese New Year)
Monday Feb 15th
     Lunch-Egg Salad
     Dinner-Cheddar Roast
Tuesday Feb 16th
     Lunch-leftovers
     Dinner-Maple Glazed Pork Chops 
Wednesday Feb 17th
     Lunch-taco salad
     Dinner-Western Night @ Church...chili I think?
Thursday Feb 18th
     Lunch-fish tacos
     Dinner-Ground Beef Stroganoff
Friday Feb 19th
     Lunch-soup
     Dinner-Mom's Night Out for me
               -breakfast for dinner for the family-French toast 
Saturday Feb 20th
     Lunch-leftovers
     Dinner-family date night
(Beau with Madison @ 5th Annual Father Daughter February Feast @ church & Wilson and I... who knows where we'll go...)
Sunday Feb 21th
     Lunch-?
     Dinner-Tacos

Oh I Feel Special, Oh So Speical

Saturday night, although I was sick, I dragged myself out of the house, picked up a friend and went to the ReddingHandmade event here in town.
ReddingHandmade is a group of artist and crafters from Redding (that's in Northern California for those that might not know) that are supporting each other in their creativity...and I think most of them have an Etsy shop (don't know what Etsy is???  it's an online community/store where people sell vintage, crafty, cottagey stuff...so cute)
Those are some amazing ladies...I think it's all ladies, didn't see any men...

A good friend of mine (and fellow blogger), Mrs. Smith

had a table at the event and she was showcasing these adorable, cute, trendy, sweet, lovely little flower lapel pins.  


I was planning on blogging on how cute there were and that everyone needed to head over to her Etsy shop and buy them all up...




...but shhh, don't tell her, because she gave me one...
GAVE it to me...
just asked which one I wanted and gave it to me...no strings attached... 
(I chose the one that looks like it's made out of men's boxers!)


well...she might have mentioned that it'd be nice if I happen to mention it in my blog...but I was going to anyways because they are so terribly sweet!


So head over to Mrs. Smith Blog, read about the life of Mrs. Smith and all the ways she uses burlap (a challenge that she stole from some of us in the Children's Ministry department at the Church!) and you can become a follower of her too, I don't mind...and then head over to her Etsy Shop and buy yourself one of these flowers...
now I just need help figuring out how to wear it...any suggestions...