Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What Am I Thinking?

I am definitely doing a happy dance that there were still some readers out there. Thank you for the kind comments. I know my issues are common to many of us and it is always good to feel your empathy. Just don't forget the occasional kick in the pants I need too.

Today I took a yummy snack to work - lots of raw veggies and hummus. As I was preparing it this morning, I really was looking forward to eating it with something from my freezer stash at work. Guess where it is now...yep, in the fridge at work. This week (both days so far) have been stressful at work. Today I just had to get away for a bit and ended up getting pizza and a brownie. Not my best decision, but I am not giving up on the day. I ate a reasonable dinner (later than my husband because I wasn't hungry yet).  I had planned to take a walk at lunch to the post office, but in my eagerness to get away from work I hopped in my car instead.

The crazy thing is that I feel like I am too stressed to workout (walk).  Yet I know without a doubt that it would make me feel better. Why don't I just do what I need to do?!??!  I think it is supposed to rain tomorrow, but I am going to keep my eye on the sky. I want to be able to report to you that I took at least a quick walk :)

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about what I really want to do with my life. For the most part I like my job, but not as much as I used to. I want to be doing something I really love with people I enjoy, but I can't seem to narrow down what that is. Perhaps my passions have been tempered by self doubt, so they never quite had a chance to bloom. I never really thought about it like that until I just wrote that sentence. Definitely worth pondering.

One of my friends (in our ladies' group) is blowing me away with all that she has on her plate right now. I definitely can not use the excuse that I don't have time to pursue goals and accomplish them. She is training for a marathon (that I will see her run in less than two weeks!), writing a book (I am currently reading a draft of it), adjusting to a work promotion, and raising twin (preschool) boys! I know she has her doubts too, yet she is doing her thing...really doing it! I don't advocate comparing yourself to others, but taking inspiration is a good thing. Obviously, I like writing or I wouldn't be a blogger (nearing my third anniversary of this blog!) My brother has always encouraged me to write children's stories. I seem to be afraid to try not matter how many times he tells me he sees the potential in my writing and photography. I've decided to do a little brainstorming on that front to see if there might be a story or two in my brain.

I just remembered a post I read awhile back on Little More Each Day about reverse bucket lists. Basically, instead of focusing on the things you haven't done, it is a list of things you have done. A reminder or celebration of sorts for the things you have already accomplished in your life. I think that could be a very good exercise for me.

An area I have been working on recently is when I think about doing something nice for someone actually following through. For example, taking a meal to a friend who had surgery or dropping off milk and cookies at the local volunteer fire department. I did both of those things this weekend. Not only did I feel good about seeing them enjoy it, but I got to enjoy cooking and baking without the guilt of eating all the goodies myself.

That is more pondering than I planned to write about tonight, but there it is.  And since I can't complete a post without at least one picture. I will share this one I found on Facebook after my cookie delivery...it definitely had me smiling.  "Our Department is so lucky to have such a great community to serve. Today a lady stopped by to drop off a gallon of milk and a pan of chocolate chip cookies to say thank you for what we do. We really do love to serve our community. Thank You!!!!!"

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Breaking Through Barriers

I have been wanting to get back to blogging for months, but I have been paralyzed by my need for perfection. I keep looking for the perfect time to resume and kept back on track with fitness and diet. At the New Year I was so sidetracked by our foster care situation. Our little sidekick went home in January - I was dreading it then trying to recover from it. I thought February would be a good restart...then March...then April. So many excuses so many bargains with myself - I will start Monday because... I know you know what I am talking about. I think anyone with weight issues has been through this cycle. So here it is - I am trying again. I am not making any grand plan. I am simply planning to track my food and get moving. I feel like I am walking a fine line between not setting myself up for failure by making an elaborate plan that I abandon the second some part of it is not executed perfectly and not planning enough which will lead to no accountability and failure. I know what it takes to lose weight. For me the biggest factor is controlling my diet. However, I like to cook and I like to eat. I need to look for other outlets for my cooking and change mindsets about how/why I eat. If you are still willing to join me on the winding path I am back to sharing. 

There are so many things that I have wanted to share in the last couple months, but was too overwhelmed to get it all out there in the best possible way. So in the next few weeks I will be doing a few flashbacks. For the momentm I am simply concentrating on getting back on the blog wagon. I will start with a no pressure flashback. For years I have had these two dressers intending to refinish them. As with many thingsm I had trouble deciding on a plan - nothing seemed quite right. 
Suddenly, ideas started to gel when I realized I wanted the two dressers to coordinate with each other to be used in my craft room I wanted something creative and unique. I wanted it to be fun yet have some sophistication. Spoiler alert: I think I achieved those goals for the most part. 

I did plenty of Pinteresting, but didn't see exactly what I wanted. First, I decided on stained tops and white painted drawers. If only I could decide on a fun design element. Somehow a sun motif got in my mind for one of them, but then I was stuck for the other one. When I found this picture, the second design fell into place. 
I drew up a rough plan. Projects can be a struggle for me because I end up with a definite picture in my mind and get frustrated that I can't execute it the way I see it in my mind. Let's see how I did. 
We got to work with sanding. The tops had to be taken down to bare wood. The drawers and bases just needed to be lightly sanded.
I wanted to stain the tops a dark color. They didn't come out as dark as I had envisioned, but I am still happy with them.
Three coats of white paint was applied. I thought the painting and repainting of drawers would NEVER end. I swear the drawers were multiplying. We actually added a third tiny dresser to the project for a total of 16 drawers/
I taped the measurements of each dresser on my craft table (which is coincidentally white like the dressers) to design tissue paper templates for the motifs.
I played with size and color.
 The templates were then taped to the dressers to get a final adjustment.
I tested a few different knobs. I was sure I would love the clear glass-like knobs, but they just got lost in the design.
I had the best partner in this project I would not have finished without him. Here he is gathering strength to begin the painting for his anxious wife.
He taped the sun design and the painting began. He painted the edges and I filled in the "easy" parts.
I was slightly panicked when the tulip paint began going on - I thought it looked hideous.
 It took a couple of coats to get over my panic.
Waiting for the base to dry enough to put the drawers in and get a sneak peek at the finished product.
I chose oil rubbed bronze knobs. I liked how they dark color picked up the darkness of the dresser tops.

Finally after a month of weekends we moved the dressers into place. 
The final phase of the project is organizing my craft and sewing supplies into my beautiful "new" dressers. I used wrapping paper to line the drawers.  
The little dresser was outfitted with its original pulls and Stormtrooper paper lining. My husband tried to talk me into painting the whole dresser like Stormtrooper...this was my compromise.   
 The "quilt squares in progress"drawer.
Summing up: Before....
 The plan...
The finished product.
I am super happy with how they turned out and how to true to my "plan' they are. They make my smile every time I walk into my craft room.  

Thanks for letting my jump back into the blogging game with a post intended mostly to break through the mental blogging barrier I had created in my own head.. In coming weeks and months, I hope you see even more barriers fall away as I take steps into the life I really want for myself.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Getting into the Spirit

Ooops!  Sorry to all you early morning readers. I loaded the pictures and then was planning to go back and write the text.  Evidently, I hit publish instead of save. Hopefully, some of you will come back and read.

We are off to a great start getting into the Christmas spirit. I will admit it is a bit bittersweet. So much fun to have a little one to share all the wonder with, but all the while knowing that the new year will most likely be seeing her go home.  I am super happy for them, but sad for us.  In the meantime, we are packing in all the memories and Christmas spirit we can.
The Friday after Thanksgiving we went to the Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo with my niece's family. We had a great time and the lights were gorgeous. I am ready for someone to come decorate my yard :)

I loved this guy behind the bench. We didn't get a chance to take our picture with him - he was popular.
This fun orangutan light display was fun. They turned off and on to show the apes moving across the vine. Incidentally, the St. Louis Zoo just had almost $200,000 worth of damage to their orangutan display. A disgruntled 12 year old orangutan was throwing rocks at the windows. You can read more here

Last Friday we visited a local church's live nativity display.They did a great job putting it together.

The cutest shepherd. Ever.
Afterwards we drove around and looked at Christmas lights. I enjoy the inflatables too.
We got an advent calendar for our small fry. I think the chocolate has been the highlight of every day :)
December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. My heritage is Dutch and we have celebrated St. Nicholas Day since I was a child. Children (and adults who act like children) put out their shoes filled with carrots and hay for St. Nicholas' horse. We actually skip the hay and carrots though. Then St. Nicholas leaves little gifts and candy. We went a bit overboard this year for our small fry (and maybe from the looks of the shoes, for all of us). Sadly, when my husband went to put his new Stormtrooper ornament on the tree he dropped it. Hopefully, I can figure out where St. Nicholas shops.
We got a little Christmas tree to put up in small fry's bedroom. She loves it. Under the Dora book you can see the traditional gold (chocolate) coins - she definitely loves her "tock-it".

Clifford and T-Bone are enjoying their new "night light" too. Thankfully she didn't wake up last night when I turned it off.
And now for the ornament parade....When we were kids my mom would buy us each an ornament. This particular year each of got a rocking horse with a different character on it.
Some years she would get a big set and we could pick out a few.

This year we all got wooden bears - each one holding a different Christmas item.
And a year for instruments.
I have lost track over the years when we got each ornament, but the memories are still there each year when we decorate the tree.

I will be sharing more of what adorns our tree this year.  We only put up one.  When I packed the ornaments last year we knew we were planning to do foster care. I put all the non-breakable (at least less breakable) ornaments in one (or two) boxes to be used if we had little ones in the house.  I miss some of my fragile ones this year, but having our small fry more than makes up for it.

I hope your holiday season is off to a festive start,

Friday, December 2, 2016

Wrapping Up November

The second half of November got away from me!  This will be a quick wrap up and then on to December.

Which of these two items do you think I purchased at our local Aldi? 

I do like spinach, but there was just something about the idea of spinach bites that just didn't' work for me. Maybe it was the picture - they don't look very appetizing.  So, I purchased the pea snacks. Yes, I agree, they don't look super appetizing either. However, somewhere in there is a cousin to my beloved chips.  My sidekick and I actually really liked them :)  My husband doesn't know if he likes them because he couldn't make himself try them. I am not touting them as a "healthy" food.  Probably better than potato chips...see label below and judge for yourself.
Of course, there was more marathon training and then lead to more fall scenery for me.

One day while stalking my runner, I noticed this...I wonder what goes on in here!!
Zommie likes snuggling with my tired runner.
I discovered a new breakfast and I am currently obsessed. Sliced Brussels sprouts, ground turkey and leftover sweet potato sauteed together with some spices then topped with an over easy egg.  I think I ate it three times Thanksgiving week.
These trees are right across the street from my office. I look forward to seeing them every fall.
I noticed this picture at the store the other day. I have never thought about carrots as being ripe. "I think the carrots are ripe - time to pick them" or "would you pick up some carrots - be sure they are nice and ripe." Carrots are just carrots in my world.
Of course, Thanksgiving means cooking new things.  Actually, this first one I have made before. I loved it and needed a excuse to make it again. Butternut Squash Lasagna.  I doubled this recipe.

First the squash is roasted until soft.
Scrape the cooked squash from the skins (save a little bit for later - see below).
Squash is pureed with milk, herbs and cheese. The lasagna is layered with squash, noodles and cheesy bechamel sauce.
Ready to enjoy!! Truth is only a couple of pieces got eaten at Thanksgiving, but I don't care because I had plenty to freeze in portions for winter lunches :)
We made Turkey Brownies. They were super easy (hardest part was finding the candy corn 3 weeks after Halloween). I think I am going to start putting candy eyeballs on everything!
These are simple Pillsbury Crescent rolls. Instead of rolling the dough into the traditional shape, you make the rolls using leaf-shaped cookie cutters. Then brush with butter and sprinkle with cheese to give your leaves some fall color.
Finally the pièce de résistance - Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce. One of my Lovely Ladies in Lousiana mentioned it was served at her work Thanksgiving party. I was instantly intrigued and put it on the menu. The bread is soaked with cream and egg mixture then white chocolate, fresh and dried blueberries are folded in
Bummer I just realized I forgot to load the finished bread pudding - I will add it later if you are interested. This is right before it went in the oven.
I didn't use the Amaretto for my cream sauce. I substituted almond and vanilla extract. At the risk of bragging, the bread pudding with the hit of Thanksgiving. My husband's grandma (who doesn't like blueberries) loved it and asked to take home some of the leftovers. My mom was said it is the best bread pudding she has had since her mom's. 
Poor buddy didn't enjoy Thanksgiving as much as the rest of us :(  He is pretty rambunctious and my in-laws didn't want to take any chances of him knocking down grandma. So he had to stay in the barn...whomp, whomp.
Maybe the highlight of the day was a little backyard football game. My husband was slightly horrified that instead of playing defense I was busy taking pictures of the action.  Our little sidekick had a great time. I wish I could post some of the other pictures, but she is in the middle of most of them.  Trust me she is ridiculously (or as she says dadicliously) adorable. Our team got slaughtered (not my fault, since I was taking pictures, right?)  In fact, I threw our team's only touchdown pass and got a safety. Can you win MVP if you are on the losing team??
Remember the extra squash I saved...it made its way into a veggie quesadilla with corn and spinach.
It was super tasty and will be happening again in my world :)
That pretty much wraps up November. We put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving so prepare yourselves for the ornament parade...