February 27, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather:::
Hahaha! The forecast says thunderstorms this morning. That's not going to happen.

On my reading pile:::  
I'm fresh out of reading material. I need to find a good used book store.

On my TV:::
No time today.

On the menu for this week:::
Monday- Tortellini Bake
Tuesday- BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Wednesday- Chinese Lemon Chicken
Thursday- Tuna Monte Cristo Sandwiches
Friday- Shrimp with Mandarin Oranges
Saturday- Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas
Sunday- Cabbage and Sausage

On my to do list:::
Go to the bank

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Nothing this week

Looking around the house:::
There are piles of things that we have no room for. This house has no storage space. The piles have become permanent fixtures. I don't like that.

From the camera:::
This is the ponytail I cut off this weekend. My husband wanted to save it, but then I found it tucked in with my coupons when I went grocery shopping.

Something fun to share::: 
Try going into a hair salon and asking for a 'Joyce DeWitt'. The blank stares are hilarious. You can show them a picture to clear things up, but they will still be confused.

February 22, 2012

Squid Dogs

Some of you were interested in one of my menu items I listed on Monday. Squid Dogs seem to be all the rage. I found the recipe in a kids cookbook in the dollar bin at Target. It looked interesting, but I hadn't tried them yet. Then all of the sudden I saw them all over the internet so I decided to give them a try. It is the simplest thing to do: cut hot dogs into one inch chunks, stick uncooked spaghetti through the middle, and boil.

As I was putting the spaghetti in I started imagining a bunch of cool things you could create in this medium. For brave moms, this could be an art/cooking lesson. Give the kids a pile of cut up dogs and spaghetti of different lengths and let them build whatever, maybe the Eiffel Tower. When they're done, boil their project and let them eat it.

Stay tuned because I think I just might try this with my kids. I imagine it will be a lot of fun, and I will post photos of our creations before and after.

P.S. My family LOVED eating these, but I'm not much of a hot dog person. This may be a good time to make a real squid recipe that your kids don't like. That way, everyone is eating "squid" but there are no dinner table tantrums. (Thanks Sandra!)

February 20, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather:::
The sky is grey but the sun is out. We'll see who wins, the sun or the clouds.

On my reading pile:::  
Interior Desecrations by James Lileks. A picture book for grownups. There should be more of these.

On my TV:::

On the menu for this week:::
Monday- Lentil Soup
Tuesday- Squid Dogs
Wednesday- Epicurean Beef Casserole
Thursday- Yum Yum Chicken and Rice
Friday- Cabbage and Sausage
Saturday- Tater Tot Hot Dish
Sunday- Ham and Swiss Pie

On my to do list:::
housework :(

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Merit badges on my son's boy scout uniform

Looking around the house:::
Clutter everywhere! A two year old tornado struck this weekend. And an eleven year old tornado. But somehow the tornados cut down all the overgrown weeds in the yard. 

From the camera:::
My son gave me this plant after earning his gardening merit badge.

Something fun to share::: 
If you enjoy chess get (or make) a magnetic set for the fridge. I make a move when I notice its my turn, and then I have to wait until my son notices its his turn. Our first game started in the first week of January, and I just might win it.

February 17, 2012

Make New Friends

When it comes to blogging, I'm slow to learn. There is so much to do and see, and there isn't really an instruction manual. It took me 3 1/2 months to figure out how to include a photo in my posts. Well, today I'm going to try a linky. I don't know what it is or what it does, but here goes. Join my list and I promise that by June I will have figured out what this is all about! The linky is down below the comment area. See if you can be the first one!

I'm a Writer

If you have followed me for a while, you know that a few months ago I decided to publish a book. I have no idea how to go about doing that, but I imagine that 'real' writers don't know how their first time either. I thought about a time in the future when I would become a real writer and somehow all the answers would come to me. I suddenly realized that I am a real writer, I just haven't been published. I don't know what I was waiting for; maybe a big white flash in the sky and a booming voice that says, "You, Andrea, are a writer. Go forth and publish!" I was half right. There needed to be a booming voice, but it needed to come from inside my own head.

So, late last year I decided to self publish a book of short stories. Not that I had the book written or anything. I joined a fundraising website for creative projects. They give you one month to take pledges and if you reach your goal amount, you get the money. If not, you get nothing. I figured putting a time limit on it would force me to get busy writing and editing older material that I wanted to include. I wrote like mad that month and spent a lot of time going through my old computer where most of my writing is locked away. I accomplished a lot. But I didn't reach my fundraising goal. Since it was mid December when the fundraiser ended, I decided to put the book on hold until after the holidays. In January I started a new job, then came the announcement that we are expecting. Its been a busy year so far and its only February.

Yesterday, the writing bug bit me. I was picking my son up from school and I couldn't wait to get home. My little typing fingers were on fire. I thought to myself, even though I'm very busy right now, what's one more thing? I can write a little every day, and soon I will have enough material for my book. I'm already half way there. I will stay half way there if I don't make the time to finish. And if I believe that I'm a writer, then I won't feel bad that I spend time writing. No one gets upset with an executive for executing (or whatever they do) all day. So people (read I) shouldn't get upset if I write all day. That's what writers do.

February 13, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather:::
Its supposed to rain today!

On my reading pile:::  
Still reading Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut. Probably going to read everything I own by him when I'm done.

On my TV:::
No TV today.

On the menu for this week:::
Monday- Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Tuesday- Pizza
Wednesday- Spaghetti Pie
Thursday- Lemon-Feta Chicken
Friday- Stuffed Bell Peppers
Saturday- Fish Stick Hoagies
Sunday- Chicken Potato Bake

On my to do list:::
Prep for this weeks meals

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Nothing right now.

Looking around the house:::
A clean kitchen! What a way to start the week. Its pretty dark in here because its early and cloudy.

From the camera:::
Bobby has discovered how to use my camera. His favorite subject is himself.

Something fun to share::: 
Easy cake: 1 cake mix, 1 can diet soda. Mix and bake. Experiment with cake and soda flavors. Sweet and moist enough to eat without frosting. We have this every week.

February 10, 2012

The Joys of Pregnancy

My body is making a new little person, and it sure is taking a lot out of me. This is my third baby so I feel somewhat experienced when it comes to pregnancy. But somehow, I have forgotten how exhausting it can be. You know I struggle to just get by; now I struggle to get out of bed.
Anyone who has been pregnant before can relate. Its time to get up, and you want to get up, but you can’t get enough momentum to get your body upright. So you stick your legs in the air and swing them down quickly hoping your torso will be pulled up to sitting. The number of people watching you will determine how many times you try this method. If you are by yourself, you do it as many time as it takes. If your husband is in the room, you try three times, then give him a dirty look that compels him to quit his stifled chortling and help you. If any of your other children are in the room they will usually help you up before the struggle begins, and put your slippers on to boot.
Sometimes just the thought of a simple task makes me tired. If I’m downstairs and its time to take a shower, I have to decide if its really worth it to go all the way upstairs just to get clean. And once I have gone upstairs, someone else better do the dishes, turn off the lights, and lock up because I’m not coming down again until I absolutely have to, preferably tomorrow morning.
One thing I have no problem doing though, no matter how tired I am, is tuck in my not-so-little ones. I’m a sucker for giving night-night kisses, so much so, that I will suffer nine months of aches and pains, and swelling, and indigestion, just so I can have another little loveball to tuck in.

February 8, 2012

The Secret To Financial Success!

Ha! Gotcha! You thought I was going to give you a magic, easy answer like, "Buy a winning lottery ticket." Sorry, that only works one time in 23 million or something. You are probably looking for something a little more reliable. But I don't have a specific plan that will be the answer to your prayers either. If you read my post from Friday, you know the only advice I have is to DO IT. Pick a plan that makes sense to you, and then DO IT.

In the financial department, the plan I have picked is Dave Ramsey. Most of what this guy says makes sense to me, and his plan seems like something I can realistically do. I can't say that his plan will work for you or not. The only thing I know is that it definitely wont work for me if I don't DO IT. What got me hooked on him is that I didn't have to pay for anything. One of my husband's clients lent us a set of CDs as a 'tip'. I have often wanted to learn the secrets of wealthy people, but couldn't wrap my head around paying 20, 50, or 100 dollars to buy their stuff. If I'm in debt, I can't afford that. So when we were lent the CDs, I devoured them.

It turns out that most of his techniques are things that I already know how to do. If I already know how, then why am I still in debt? You guessed it. Because I didn't DO IT. Dave Ramsey gets this concept. He explains the concepts in words you can understand, and then pushes you to discipline yourself and follow through with them. Check out his website to learn more. Although I didn't have to pay, now that I've heard his stuff, I think it is worth it to at buy one of his books if you are serious about helping yourself.

Last thought: hang in there. No matter what plan you choose to follow, it will take time to dig out of the hole you're in. If you have a lot of credit card debt, it may be because you wanted instant gratification. That's what got you into this mess. Slow and steady wins the race.

February 6, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather:::
Its chilly and a little overcast. Who knows what it will turn into.

On my reading pile:::  
Re-reading an old favorite Bluebeard, by Kurt Vonnegut

On my TV:::
No TV today.

On the menu for this week:::
I'm getting off to a slow start this week. See to do list.

On my to do list:::
Make menu for the week
Go grocery shopping

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Nothing planned for now.

Looking around the house:::
My kitchen needs help but I have a pretty bowl full of camellias that my son gave to me. Now he is doing his morning exercises in the living room. I think we must have had a good weekend because the house is a mess.

From the camera:::
Still trying to figure out how to put pix here.

Something fun to share::: 
Just Dance, a game for the Wii. Its an easy way to get my son to exercise because he thinks he's playing a video game. When I play, I break a sweat after the first song.

February 3, 2012

Lose Weight, Get Out Of Debt, And Have A Clean House!

That title completely sums up my secret desires. Just three things. Why are three simple things so hard? Judging from the volume of self help materials on these three subjects, I'm not the only one who struggles with these. I have done a fair share of reading on each topic, and have found that there are as many approaches to solving these problems as there are people who write about them. Who is right?

When you go to the bookstore to get a book on getting out of debt, do you buy the most expensive one, because it must be good? If you're in debt, you should probably buy the cheapest one, but is the advice in there as valuable? In the weight loss aisle, do you get the book with the curvy woman on the front, or the stick thin chick? Looks like the curvy woman isn't as successful at losing weight, but the stick thin one may never have been fat to begin with.

Here is the secret I have discovered. Two words will solve any problem you have. Two words will simplify your quest for well being. Suspense and drum roll please. Here they come: DO IT.

What is 'IT', you ask? 'IT' is what ever you will actually DO. Pick any diet book. If it says to eat only cabbage and yogurt and nothing else, guess what? You will lose weight. The problems come when on the third day you realize you hate cabbage, and you're lactose intolerant. You give up and go back to your old ways. So when you pick a diet plan, make sure you can realistically see yourself doing what is required. If the plan requires that you make hot home cooked meals three times a day, but you work full time outside the home, you will fail. If you are a homemaker and you love to cook, this might work for you. Look for a plan that asks you to do things that you can reasonably see yourself doing.

This is not to say you should find a plan that makes you sit in front of the television and eat Twinkies all day. You need to put in more effort than that. But if there is something in the plan that you absolutely can not do, don't bother. Here is a legitimate example: "I can not afford to pay $3000 a month to have my meals prepared by a live in chef." Here is a lame excuse: "I could not possibly put aside a serving of the meal I just prepared to eat for lunch tomorrow. I must rush out of the office and grab a burger and greasy chili cheese fries, and shovel them into my mouth while I speed back to the office so I'm not late."

Find something that fits your lifestyle, whether you're wealthy or struggling, busy or not, and then DO IT. This will work for weight loss, getting out of debt, or getting your house organized. The biggest obstacle is usually yourself. It really doesn't matter what plan you choose. If you don't do it, it wont work.

If you have trouble with the same three things I do, here is another secret. Work on one at a time. You don't have to complete one before you start another, but if you get good at practicing one, the others seem to get easier, or just happen naturally. Sometimes you only have a problem with one thing, but it causes the others to happen.

For instance, if you have a lot of debt because you can't or wont control your finances, you might work long hard hours just to be able to stay afloat. Because you work so much, you don't feel like doing housework. Since you never do the dishes, you can't find your stove so now you have to go to Greasy's for dinner. Of course you pay for dinner with the credit card, and so you order twice as much as you need because you can 'afford' it. Next month when the credit card bill comes, you really intended to pay it on time, but it got lost in the pile of mail on the dining room table that you never eat at because its always covered in credit card bills with charges from Greasy's because you always have to eat out because you can't use the dining room table.

In this case, choose one thing to attack. Suck it up and clean off the dining room table. Now you don't get a late charge because you know where the credit card bill is, and you lose weight because you ate something at home instead of fattening fast food. I know this is over simplified, but it doesn't need to be over complicated either. Work on one thing, and as you find small successes, you will have more energy and be more motivated to work on the next thing.

Next week I will share some specifics on how I get these things done. They may work for you (if you are 34 years old, married, have an 11 year old, a two year old, one on the way, a cat, live in Southern California, and have brown hair, like me), or they might not fit your lifestyle. Either way, don't lose sight of the secret. My specific plans only work for me when I actually do them.

February 1, 2012

Fitting In

A few months ago I was the new kid on the block in the blogging world. I didn't know what I was doing, or what other people expected of me. Sometimes when I would write, it seemed like I was just talking to my computer screen because nobody was listening. Well, I'm finally beginning to feel like someone. I'm getting comments from people I've never heard of, and they seem interested in what I have to say! I have a long way to go before I reach the popularity level of the prom queen, but I'm happy for now with my few friends who inspire me and make me keep on bloggin'.

You meet the most interesting people here. I discovered a new fascinating blog (or rather, it discovered me) when the blogger commented on one of my posts. I have this strange obsession with abandoned buildings, roads, and urban decay. I've mentioned this several times before, but it always got lost among posts about housekeeping, sewing, and home schooling. When I got a comment that mentioned my obsession, and even suggested a new web haunt to check out, I suddenly felt less alone in the world. I thought I was the only one who could spend hours reading about a mall that closed in 1988, or an unused freeway off ramp. In the blog world, your people are here, whoever those people might be.

Thanks to Kathryn from Diary of a Smart Chick. Just one comment from her led me to her blog, another blog called The Steady Hand, and a website called Weburbanist.com. Just when I run out of ideas for my blog, I run into someone like this and the juices start flowing again. She's doing some pretty neat stuff over at Diary of a Smart Chick, go check it out.