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Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 Goals...January progress...



I'm starting slow...don't want to get overwhelmed and give up.  :)  But small changes have been made that have improved things.

PERSONAL MONTHLY GOALS
  • Lose 2 pounds
    • 0 / 2
  • Turn computer off by 9:00 pm on work nights
    • 9 / 16
  • Begin bedtime routine by 9:15 pm on work nights
    • 9 / 16
  • Get back to a more Paleo eating plan
  • Make my iced coffees instead of buying them 4 times a week...I only drink coffee on my way to work, and I only work 4 days a week
    • 6 times...then I gave up iced coffee altogether
  • Take my lunch to work twice a week
    • 7 / 10
  • Cook twenty meals at home per month                               (excluding breakfast/lunch)
    • 14 / 20 (I think we did better than this, but I lost count)
  • Cook / freeze two meals per month
    • 4 / 2  :)
  • Stretch for ten minutes 15 times a month
    • 1 / 15
  • Walk for fifteen minutes 15 times a month
  • Visit one new church a month until we find a new church home
  • blog 20 times a month
    • 14  / 20
  • have one or more of the kidlets overnight once a month
    • 1 / 1
PERSONAL ANNUAL GOALS
  • Lose 25 pounds
  • Complete one Bible study
  • Organize home office / craft room
  • Organize photos
  • Paint cabinets in guest powder room
  • Reorganize laundry room
  • Paint laundry room cabinets
  • Complete the 2013 Reading Challenge
    • 1 / 12

GIVING GOALS (for the year)
  • Knit 12 hats to donate
  • Donate 12 boxfuls of household goods / clothes to Goodwill
  • Donate 12 books to the library
    • 2 / 12
  • Donate to two good causes

FINANCIAL GOALS (for the year)
  • Be more deliberately mindful of finances
  • Contribute maximum to our IRAs
  • Add $100 to each of the five college funds
  • Build / finish the garage apartment
  • Price / plan future kitchen remodel

CREATIVE GOALS (for the year)
  • Hand quilt Rita May's quilt top
  • Make 52 cards 4 / 52
  • Knit 6 dishcloths 3 / 6
  • Sew 2 hot pads
  • Knit 1 cowl
  • Make 6 Pinterest projects

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I'm reading Wednesday...


Half Empty by David Rakoff

I heard an interview with the author on NPR one day.  He was funny, and honest, and I loved the way he used words.  Then they announced that they were rebroadcasting the interview in memory of the author who had recently passed away.  I came home and ordered all of his books. 
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bedtime...


Today I spent my lunch hour napping while parked at Sonic.  Seriously.  I really hope the people in the car parked next to me did not see me drooling, because that would be WAY more embarrassing than them just seeing me with my head tilted back and my mouth open.

I had been doing so well at getting to bed earlier until last week.  Tonight I will recommit to the earlier bedtime.

G'night.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Blinded by the light...


I usually like to give myself a little cushion in my morning commute by leaving early.  Traffic is lighter.  I'm not as stressed.  And when I leave the house just a few minutes late, this is the price I pay.  About at my halfway point, I top a hill, and bam!  It's only for a minute until the road curves, but it's always a shock.

This morning was cloudy.  Which is good, because I was definitely running a few minutes later than usual.  Overslept.  Lucky for me, I woke up my husband talking in my sleep, and he in turn woke me up to get ready for work.

I talk in my sleep pretty often.  Sometimes not even in English...but that's a whole other post.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What I'm reading Wednesday...


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

The Challenge of reading books off of my shelves, is that they probably have languished there far beyond the apex of their popularity.  I rarely read what is hyped by the masses while it is being hyped, but I may read it later...much later.  I picked this one up at a used book store several years ago.

I've been having a little trouble delving into my stack of challenge books this month.  Not sure why.  (That's not true...I do know why...Doc Martin on Netflix is why.)  But spending the past couple of days curled up under the covers was the little push I needed.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sick day...


I made it till about mid morning at work today.  Then I called for an angel to fill in for me and headed home.  Turns out that exhausted feeling I had over the long weekend was a bug coming on.  

I thought the hour-long drive back home would never end.  Could not wait to crawl back into bed.

After my nap I found myself peckish, but not wanting to overdo it I opted for the age old remedy for a queasy stomach.  Toast.

Mmmmmmmm.  It may be silly, but the taste of toast feels like a hug.  
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Monday, January 21, 2013

A quick catch up...


Last week seemed very long.  My four-day weekend was JUST in time!  :)

I've been cooking more.  I've been taking my lunch.  I've been knitting, and completed two dish cloths...two new patterns and I just realized I wrapped them up before I took a photo!

Saturday was SO frustrating!  But after a nap, I was able to laugh about it.

Last night I had two little girls spend the night with me.  They took a bubble bath.  We all went to bed and watched TV till we fell asleep.  They requested cinnamon toast for breakfast.  We made cards and wrote letters to their great-grandmother.  

And here I am at almost eleven o'clock.  I really have been doing pretty well at turning off the computer and going to bed earlier.

But not tonight.
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shrimp Gumbo...


I'm really, really trying to cook things on the weekend that can either make two meals, freezing one for another meal later, or at least that will make a couple of lunches to take to work.

Tonight I made Shrimp Gumbo.  It's not a traditional gumbo made from roux, but it is really fabulous.  It even gets compliments from lovers of authentic Cajun gumbo.  It's become our Christmas Eve dinner tradition, but we didn't have it this year, and I've been craving it.

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon, cut into about 1 inch lengths
1/2 cup ham, diced (optional)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups hot water
2 15oz cans of diced tomatoes
6 to 8 drops hot sauce
2 cups sliced fresh okra
2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
salt and pepper



In a large pot, fry the bacon (and ham if using).  Before bacon gets crispy, add onions, celery, and green peppers.  Stir.  Saute till vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.  


Add water, tomatoes, seasonings, hot sauce and a dash of Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire.  Stir.  Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.



Mix cornmeal with a little salt and pepper, and dredge the okra.  (OR just buy a bag of breaded okra ready to fry like I do.)  Heat oil in a frying pan, and fry the breaded okra until brown.  Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.



Now, ideally I would use fresh shrimp, but tonight I was trying to use up what I had on hand, and I had frozen cooked salad shrimp.  Pour the flour over shrimp, and stir to coat.  




After the vegetables have been cooking for their 15 to 20 minutes, add the fried okra to the pot.  And by hand, add the shrimp, leaving any extra flour (not sticking to the shrimp) in the bowl.  Stir gently.

Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  (During which time you can cook some rice.)  At the end of the cooking time, the gumbo should be adequately thickened from the cornmeal and flour (from the okra and shrimp), but if it needs further thickening, use a little more flour.

Serve over rice.

YUM!
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday's snail mail



My endeavor to mail 52 letters in 52 weeks continues.

I feel really good about starting it over for the new year.  It's been very rewarding for the past two years having a distinct goal and making a real effort to meet it.  I know that there's nothing better, when collecting my mail, than seeing a hand-addressed letter in the pile.  I like knowing that my outgoing letters may carry that feeling with them.

I've been trying to write a bit lengthier letters...newsy...with a photo or two enclosed.  I won't do that with every letter, but when it's appropriate.

accountability stats:  2 weeks / 3 letters
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I'm reading Wednesday...

 
The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
 
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Calendar girl...

For quite a few years, I have made my own calendars, I know.  OCD.  But I want my calendars to have large squares with lines to write in appointments neatly.  It has to be on a non-glossy paper, so I can write with pencil...you know, 'cause I don't like how messy it looks to scratch out.  I also like to have room to write notes.  Thanks to Microsoft Publisher, I have been making them to my exact needs, and printing them out on cardstock.  Added benefit is that the 3-hole punched pages can go in a binder to refer back to things like oh, doctor appointments etc.
 
But it's kind a pain to check and double check to make sure you get all the dates and holidays correct.  It could be disastrous if you get off by a day.  Especially since I also made a duplicate for a friend who somehow convinced me that I needed to keep her on track and on schedule.  :)
 
Then last fall I happened to come across a commercially made calendar that ticked almost every single box on my 'needs' list.  The paper is a little glossy, but a pencil writes on it just fine, so it's good.  It has some cute artwork, but it doesn't waste the whole top half...there's plenty of room for the large squares...with lines...and a place to write notes. 
 
And the best calendar tip I ever learned was from flylady who taught me to hang your calendar where you actually see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night...the bathroom!  TMI?  :)
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Seven random thoughts on the 7th...




 


Okay this is gonna be quick, because I was supposed to have the computer turned off thirty-five minutes ago.
 
1.  %^&#%!! BLOGGER!
 
2.  Why can automotive engineers not admit that they made a mistake and put the dimmer switch back on the floor where it belongs?  I know it wouldn't solve all the idiots driving around with bright lights on...but now that they are driving around with cell phones, they don't have a hand free to dim the damn lights on the column even when they do remember!  (just my opinion)  True story...I was driving behind a sheriff's deputy tonight on the way home, and a car topped the hill in front of us with its bright lights on.  The deputy flipped the lights on top of his cruiser, and the moron oncoming driver dimmed swiftly.  Oh how I wish I could flip on those blue and red flashing rooftop lights.  sigh.  Yes, I do know I'm venting...but I have to drive in the dark BOTH to-work commute and home commute, and I'm cranky.
 
3.  So today was the first day back to school after the holiday break.  Caitlyn stayed home sick.  She had the nerve to blame it on me.  Here's how our phone conversation went this afternoon: 
"Hi, Caitlyn."
"Hi, Grandma."
"Are you sick today, sweetpea?" 
"Yes.  It's because you made me eat that whole root beer float yesterday."
"Oh, I'm so sorry.  From now on we will only get you the little bitty ice creams."
"No...that's okay...I'm fine."
 
4.  So I spent all weekend finally finishing an 800+ page book.  Never will I read this author again.  What a waste of my time.  I quit watching soap operas decades ago, and now I'm through reading them.  Yes, I'm talking to you, Diana Gabaldon.  Didn't I say this same thing about Jean Auel's last book about this same time last year?
 
5.  Today I sent a letter to a friend.  My second of the year...2/52.  Right on target.  :)
 
6.  My menu for the week is planned.  I spent my lunch hour doing the grocery shop.  I've been making my own iced coffees for the morning commute.  I took my lunch today.  And I have tomorrow's dinner in the fridge ready to drop into the crockpot in the morning.  Yea, me!
 
7. My Christmas tree is still up.  Hey, nobody's perfect.
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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chicken and dumplings for ten...

This photo does not look very appetizing, but I assure you the contents of that bowl was delicious!  The photo was taken in a rush after feeding the entire family.  

I only ever make the drop dumplings that cook up light and fluffy.  (I know that there are people who prefer the denser, rolled variety of dumplings, and they are welcome to them, but I do not share or even understand their preference.)  

I used to make Chicken and Dumplings pretty often when our family was younger.  Lately it has been rather difficult to make for the whole crew...involving making it in two batches, because the size of our family has outgrown the size of my pots. 

This year I invested in a much larger pot.  Stainless steel.  With a glass lid.  Perfect for watching the cooking process without lifting the lid (not lifting the lid is essential for successful fluffy dumplings).  


Pretty, huh?  That is my six quart crock pot behind it and my large skillet beside it.  It kind of dwarfs them.  It easily stewed two whole chickens with vegetables.  The only trouble I had was straining out the vegetables from the stock...I didn't have anything large enough to pour the stock into!  

Happily we have a nice deep sink that makes clean up easier.


And it has a home above the oven that fits it perfectly.

I'll try to put my recipe up soon.  It took me years to find a recipe for dumplings that I was really happy with and assures the fluffiest texture almost without fail.  
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Movie matinee...


 
Thought I'd take advantage of the day off today and go see Les Miserable.  Carey didn't really want to go, so I called over to see if one of the boys might want to see it.  Chandler (the only one of the boys home today) said he would go.  I'm not usually a Hollywood musical type of girl, but I really liked it.  All of the actors were excellent.  I've not read the book before, so I really didn't know much about the story.  I will admit that I cried a couple of times.
 
It was really beautiful.
 
Kasey said that Bobby had been wanting to go see it too.  Maybe I'll take him next weekend.
 
Happy New Year, everyone.
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