Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goodnight.

Tonight was date night.  We attended a mixer at the Art Museum.  We chatted with friends. We had a couple few drinks. We looked at some amazing pieces of art. We connected. Because we love each other. We connected because we want to always love each other.  I snapped this shot right before I headed up stairs for the night. I ditched my heels as soon as we entered the house.  Seriously cute shoes, but completely impracticable. Last time I was in NYC these very shoes made me cry (I kid you not!). But it was date night, so I wore the shoes.
Because, did I mention, I want to be in love. 
With my husband. The father of my children.  Forever.  
I don't take this for granted. I don't. There may have been a time when I did. This is not such a time. So, we had a date night. There are flowers -- because every girl deserves flowers -- and fancy shoes -- because men cannot resist a woman in heels, especially snake skin heels. Enough said.  

Happy Friday, friends!  I wish you all a wonderful weekend!


I'd like to thank the Academy.

First off, some exciting news: Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! is now www.eatlivelaughshop.com!  That's right -- the ".blogspot.com" training wheels are off!  Please make sure to update your bookmarks. 
Your feed should transition automatically, 
but please double check and let me know if you experience any problems.  
(And if you aren't subscribed, well -- why aren't you?! -- 
subscribe right over here in the sidebar.)

And in other exciting news . . . 

Thank you to Mom of Two Boys who bestowed upon me 
this One Lovely Blog Award!  
It so nice to know that people are reading and enjoying my content!  
Thank you!


As per the official rules, I must:

1.  Accept the award and acknowledge the person who bestowed it upon me.  
Thank you, again M.O.T.B. ;

2.  Pay it forward to 15 newly discovered blogs I enjoy; and 

3. Let them know I think they too are lovely! 

Don't mind if I do! 
























Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Doxie love.

No, not another thought-provoking post. Not today. Today I thought we I needed a little whimsy.

Today I am simply in love with these darling notecards by Rifle Paper Co.. In fact, I'm in love with lots and lots of the designs by Rifle Paper Co., but the little doxie card especially caught my eye. Doesn't he look just like my little Shadow dressed in his winter sweater!? Too, too cute!

According to Katie Armour, the neo-traditoinalist, this series is available exclusively at Anthropologie stores.

So, who wants to go shopping!?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Forgiveness.



I've heard it said, "Forgiveness is like spinach. You might not like the taste, but it's good for you." I recently had the opportunity to "chew on" this wisdom. Sometimes we need to forgive a friend. Sometimes we need to forgive ourselves for not being who we want to be in a moment with our children or in a relationship with a friend or our spouse.

Often we are hurt or we hurt. Anger rings in our ears. Judgment covers our mind and clouds our vision. It is so easy to go from that cloudy state straight into an attitude of continued unforgiveness. Living in such a state, however, will corrupt our hearts and minds. It will seep into the crevices of our very being and allow bitterness and resentment to fester and take root. 

How many people do you know that live in such a state? Too many, I fear. And why is forgiveness, freely given, so out of vogue? Why do we feel we can be happy by simply cutting those people who hurt us out of our lives? It seems as if our culture is caught up in *feeling good* at the expense of living well. Feeling good will not last. The issue will rise to the surface the next time we face the friend who hurt us. Or the next time we scream at our children in frustration. Feeling good will not last. We cannot simply eradicate people or events from our lives and minds. We have to chew the spinach and swallow. Chew and swallow. Only then can we live well. And find true and lasting happiness.

I do have to constantly remind myself to "eat my spinach" as I continue to forgive those who have hurt me and forgive myself for hurting others. What helps me the most is recognizing that forgiveness is a continual process not a one time event. Matthew 18:21-22a, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." (NIV)

Forgive as many times as it takes. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Pass out forgiveness like Halloween candy. Give it freely. To everyone. On the other side of forgiveness is a freedom that can only come from a free heart.

Has someone hurt your feelings or been unkind to you? Have you withheld forgiveness from yourself or others? What is stopping you from forgiving freely?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Soup's on Sunday - Monday Edition

We woke up this morning and discovered a chill in the air. Maybe "chill" is too strong, but suffice to say it is not 85 degrees with 98% humidity. It is refreshing and clear. It feels like . . . Fall.

It is such a relief when the temps drop below 90 for the first time in what feels like an eternity. I'm not delusional. I realize it will warm up again throughout October. But I will enjoy this day or two of splendid Fall bliss. And to celebrate we'll do what we always do to commemorate our first "cold" snap:  we'll have soup!

This is the perfect Fall soup. It is a one-dish wonder which means less time cleaning the kitchen and more time in the yard throwing the pigskin around.  Yes, I just said "throwing the pigskin." See - I am simply giddy with excitement! I will restrain myself just long enough to share this recipe but then I'm going to get out and frolic about the bayfront!


North Woods Bean Soup

1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups fat-free, less -sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 - 15.8 ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 6 ounce bag fresh spinach leaves

Heat a large saucepan coated with cooking spray (or a glug or two of olive oil) over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and kielbasa, and saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes. Add broth, Italian seasoning, pepper and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Place 2 cups of soup in a food processor (or use immersion blender) and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to pan. Simmer and additional 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Add spinach, stirring until spinach wilts.

Easy-peasy!  Love this recipe and the soup is wonderful and satisfying. I serve it with a crusty bread or some warm pumpernickel. And while I think the country apple coleslaw looks like a nice accompaniment, what's the point of a one dish wonder if you have to make a side dish. Enjoy! The soup and this gorgeous day!


{source: torn from Cooking Light | Simple Suppers, but also found here}

Friday, September 24, 2010

Well, it's inevitable -- I am getting old.

I am not a self-conscious person. At least in the world of self-conscious people, I am no where near the top of the heap. I attribute this to my parents who instilled a strange, and sometimes unwarranted sense of confidence in me at a young age.

For instance, I played volleyball in high school {actually only freshman year} and sat on the bench 85% of the time. My parents nonetheless attended every single game and cheered as if I was single-handedly creating world peace. They told me I was great. Every game. Even when I didn't play. My coach noted otherwise. But despite the coaches lack-luster praise, I truly thought for years that I was good. I just chose to move on to other ventures. 

I see the same confidence in my daughter. So maybe it is genetic or maybe I parent in the same way as my own parents. I'm not entirely sure, but I will say this with 100% certainty: I did not teach little miss thang to pose like this. At age 3.


Suffice to say, a healthy dose of confidence streams through my veins and I clearly have passed it down to the next generation one way or another.

But I digress. A decade birthday is looming large in my life. I can see it on the calendar and my precious hubs is planning a lovely gathering of friends. I love a party, so I keep focusing on the party and not on the inevitable aging! 

And truly, it's just a number. 

I am confident. 

And, I feel young. 

I am certain I still look young. 

My kids still think I am cool (though I fear this may be more a product of their age than mine). 

And, I swear I can still remember high school and college and law school so vividly. It could not have been that long ago. 

Clearly, I am still young.

Despite this raging sense of confidence, yesterday I was humbled. In many ways. It was like my entire young personality came crashing down on what will soon be a decrepit old lady.

Here were the clues:
  • I found myself driving 60 mph on the freeway.  60!  I used to drive wildly around people driving 60 and flip them off.  Yesterday, 60 felt just fine. 
  • While driving 60 I was listening what could only be called "soft jazz." Oh dear Lord! It is one thing to listen to soft jazz when having dinner with friends and creating a swanky, hip vibe. It is an entirely different thing to listen to soft jazz while driving 60 on the freeway. Embarrassing. 
  • I needed a few new bras so while out I stopped into Victoria's Secret. Well let me tell you this: Victoria has no secret. She is letting it all hang out for every Tom, Dick and Harry to see. I was mortified by the store alone. The pictures. The overt sexuality of it all. When did I morph into such a prude? A puritan! I did, however, purchase 3 bras {you really should try the new Incredible series - but that's another post} and matching panties {score +1 for still being young enough to care about my bra and panties matching}, but I left the store wondering if Victoria has changed or was it me?!
  • Returning from the mall to my car I also noticed something was amiss. My car is relatively clean and free from the trappings of toddlers. This makes sense since I no longer have toddlers, but it was nonetheless a bit surprising. I no longer have Cheerios smashed into every crevice. There is no longer trash strewn about the back seat as if an explosion occurred on the way to or from school. When did my children become old enough to clean up after themselves {and even more importantly, why can they not do so in the house?!}.
  • My eyes are improving. This sounds positive, right?! I have worn glasses or contacts since age 9. I have horrid vision. The last three years, however, my eyes have improved. I smiled when my eye doctor told me they had improved again this year. With a slightly sadistic smile she then said: This generally happens before you start needing readers! Ok, now that is where I draw the line. Readers?! My mother wore readers. And that *cute* little chain to hold them around the neck. Ugh. 
  • The hubs returned from a trip yesterday. I hadn't seen him in days. So good to have him home. But he was limping. Like an old man. What is wrong with you, I inquire? Apparently he played tennis with a young friend and hurt himself. Well, at least he is still out there getting after it I think. Until, that is, he pulls out an arthritis rub!!!! I kid you not. Oh my! I tried in my mind to attribute this only to him. I didn't pull a muscle. I am not using arthritis rub. It's just him. But, then the confidence waned. We are the exact same age and he is generally in very good shape. We are just getting old. Both of us.
  • I also came to the realization that I have lost the eye of the tiger. I have always had a competitive streak. I believe my competitive edge served me well - in law school, in obtaining a job, even in raising children {that too is entirely different post}. I always say I'm just competing against myself: to be the best I can be. But truth be told, the motivation comes from being better than others. There, I said it. Yesterday, however, I realized I just don't care anymore. I am no longer motivated by beating someone. Did kids do that to me? We always talk about just having fun, not winning. Did I take my own advice to heart?! I no longer care to be better, look nicer, or run faster than anyone else. It just isn't worth all the energy. I am just me. Just Amy.
So, here I sit this morning reading blogs and wondering: where have all the years gone?! And will the uncanny sense of confidence wane as the years tick by or will it provide for a gentle transition into my golden years?!  


What about you, sweet readers? What signs of aging have you noticed recently? Do tell. This girl woman needs a little boost today! In addition to the boost provided by my new bra, that is!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Apples + Pork Tenderloin = Delicious Family Meal.

Real Easy Apple Cider Pork Tenderloin.

I found this recipe on Cookstr and simply had to share!  It has the makings of a perfect weeknight family meal. It is simple. Requires so unusual or exotic ingredients I cannot locate or do not generally stock. And - and this truly is the most important - it can be ready in under 40 minutes.

To make the kids happy (umm, and me), I think I'll serve baked apples on the side.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Two 1-pound pork tenderloins
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground back pepper
1 cup fresh apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspo0n dried thyme

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet with a lid or in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the tenderloins with the salt and pepper. Sear the tenderloins until brown on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Add the apple cider, vinegar, and thyme and simmer, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

3. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Cook, turning once after 10 minutes. Cook for 10 minutes more, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 150ºF.

4. Transfer the pork to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Put the skillet with the cider juices on the stove over high heat and cook until the liquid is slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Slice the pork and serve with the sauce spooned over.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A new mag in town.

Hot off the presses:  A new lifestyle magazine discussing home decor, travel, design, entertaining and culture.  In print. Yes, a new magazine in print. Which means we can all take a step away from our computers for a short bit each quarter and savor the written words and beautiful pictures on a printed page!

The inaugural issue, out now, focuses on the slow life -- the idea of taking it easy and enjoying simple pleasures. A healthy dose of simple pleasures. Yes, please!

To find out more, click here


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Must read. That is, if you are an 8 year old boy.

This is my new go-to gift for My Little Guy and all his sweet, but goofy friends.  It's only $19.95 and full of all the stuff little guys need want to know:

How to Skip a Stone, How to Do a Wheelie, How to Hang a Spoon from Your Nose, How to Really Annoy Your Older Sibling — all painstakingly explicated and illuminated with full-color photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and the occasional footnote.

To see more click here.

Is happiness overrated?

It seems that everywhere I go and everyone with whom I speak I encounter conversations about "finding happiness." As if I may turn a corner and find it lying under the dirty clothes on the floor.

I'm not certain why this surprises me. Maybe I take happiness for granted. Others ponder and fret over how to obtain the elusive state. Some seem to feel the need to make a major life change to radically shift their route to happiness. Many think it will arrive with the next promotion, the next house, the next child. Still others add more to their schedules as if activity alone will make provide the key. Am I shallow and just easily sated? (The hubs would say no, without hesitation and I'm certain quite fervently.) Or is happiness, or rather the search for it, overrated?

What does it even really mean to "be happy?" Let's look to the experts (and by experts, I mean people who provide little snippets that are easily quoted):

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
- Abraham Lincoln

The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.
- Denis Waitley

Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
- Thomas Jefferson 

Or, I suppose we can define happiness in the same way the Supreme Court defined pornography:  "I know it when I see it."  

Truly, if you are looking for happiness resources abound. There are aisles and aisles of books devoted to the topic of happiness. Happiness blogs are a dime a dozen. And life coaching has become a formidable industry. But if everyone has the answer, why are so many people still looking? And why are people so innately hard to please? Why oh why can't everyone just be happy?!

I suppose I will not solve this problem here and now. Though, as a great thinker once said: “Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” {Andre Gide}

So here are a few conventional ways to get your happy on:
  1. Meditation
  2. Prayer
  3. Follow your dreams
  4. Stop comparing yourself with others
  5. Appreciate nature
  6. Find your inner voice
  7. Help someone less fortunate
  8. Count your blessings
  9. Smile
  10. Forgive yourself
  11. Forgive others
  12. Accept what you cannot change
  13. LOVE.
I think the final suggestion, love, is key. The very act of loving feeds our own happiness. By giving and accepting love, we are happier.  Isn't that obvious?! And never does it ring more true than in the truism: happy wife, happy life (or the least common denominator: if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy).

Consider further the relationship with children: We all say our children bring us happiness, though most of us also complain about the many moments in life in which our children drain us of our very being. They wear us down. They bring us to the precipice of despair, but yet, they bring us immeasurable joy and happiness. That relationship encapsulates the very root of happy: love. Our happiness does not come from waking up in the middle of the night for the third month in a row. It does not come from cleaning vomit off our shoes as we walk out the door in the morning. And it certainly does not come from hearing a child scream "NO" over and over and over again. Happiness comes, instead, from the love we pour into our children and the often undeserved and always unconditional love they offer in return.

And no, I am not suggesting that we can only find happiness through our children. That is simply an example of love that resonates almost universally. If we can apply that same concept to all our relationships or life, happiness may indeed be lurking just around the corner.

If we love our job, we will most certainly be happier. If we love our spouse, truly pour love out and accept the love given, we will be happier. And maybe most important: If we love ourself. Truly, love who you are. Love your faults. Love your wonky ways. Love your thighs. Love yourself in your very own skin. If you can accomplish that task, I am certain you will be happy.

Easier said than done, I realize. But I do believe that loving is a choice. I believe love is a verb, an action we take, not something we feel. I do not believe in fairy tale love portrayed in movies. That love fades. I believe that continuing to love another human being or yourself is a choice. A choice we can make every single day. We can choose to love or we can withdraw our love. It's your choice.

As for me, dear friends, I choose happy. Today. Right now. Right where I am.

What about you?  Are you happy where you are now? Are you searching? Or do you think "happiness" is simply overrated?





Monday, September 20, 2010

Family + rain = heavenly weekend!?

This weekend we had the hub's cousin and wife join us for a few days. We planned a night out for the adults and golfing for the guys. We hoped to sandwich those activities between a little pool and/or beach time. Reservations made. Check. Swimsuits packed. Check. Golf clubs packed. Check. What was not planned nor even anticipated, however, was tropical storm-like rains. All weekend. We received over 9 inches of rain in the 48 hours they spent with us.  And it was not just a steady, annoying rain, but spurts of torrential downpours followed by a steady rain. Miserable. Soccer games were cancelled. Roads were impassable. 

With no feasible weekend plans we did what any other God-fearing American family would do -- we sat in front of the TV and watched football.  The entire weekend. We don't generally spend much time watching TV, much less an entire weekend. 

The kids were in heaven. Little Miss Thang, quite predictably, opted out of football and instead watched much too much Disney Channel in a separate room. My Little Guy has become intrigued by obsessed with the books series and corresponding computer game The 39 Clues.  He was glued to the computer trying to decipher clues. Heaven.

At one point, however, I realized they were both watching a Hannah Montanna marathon and insisted they come down so we could all play a game. I could literally see their brains atrophying inside their skulls. It was time to switch it up a bit. And we are a family who loves, loves, loves games. So I pulled out Parcheesi and rallied the troops.  


I suppose, I should back up and provide a bit of background on our guest: The hub's cousin, T, is a bit of a character. I can say that. Even on my blog. I promise he is not at all offended. He joked with the kids all weekend. At one point Little Miss Thang said "Uncle T should be a funny guy in the circus." This is, of course, the highest praise. So when we sit down to our family game of Parcheesi, T begins the trash talking. He even drops this line:  "You know I won a gold medal in Parcheesi, right?" My kids are literally rolling they are laughing so hard. My Little Guy, responds with "there is no Parcheesi in the Olympics, Uncle T." This goes on and on and on and on. As it turns out T killed us all at Parcheesi and reminds us that it was too be expected. After all, he did win a gold medal at the Olympics. Queue kids rolling on floor in laughter again. And again. All weekend long.

It was a good day. A good weekend. It was totally unexpected and not at all what we planned. By Sunday we were little scouring the house for food (certainly not how I generally like to entertain). But isn't that the beauty of family? It didn't matter one bit. I didn't feel self-conscious that the food wasn't Martha Stewart perfect. We were lazy and happy and ate perfectly well. It was a wonderful weekend with family. All pretenses gone. 

And it made me wonder: Do all those traditional activities that usually fill our days and nights provide the memories that last forever or is it the unplanned, the unscripted which are seared into our mental  scrapbooks? I think it the latter. I think it is the unusual that stands out in our minds. The weekends we couldn't plan. The moments that take place over a family game of Parcheesi on a rainy day. I guarantee my kids will remember this weekend and their Uncle T for a long, long time. To ensure that result Uncle T emailed this photo to me this morning.


Memorable indeed.  

What about you? What childhood memories do you remember most -- the big planned events or the little unexpected moments?




Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekend Words of Wisdom.



All it's missing is:

Eat. Most problems can be solved over a good meal shared with family or friends. 

And sometimes shop! Because everyone feels better when wearing a new frock. 

Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Time for dinner.

I was apparently one of the few loyal subscribers and readers, but I loved Cookie Magazine. It was just the right mix of mommy and chic. Not too mommy. Not too chic. I constantly attempt to strike that balance (though, I have yet to ever feel too chic. Sadly the pendulum only swings the other way).  Since the magazine closed it's doors I have been following one of the editor's blogs -- Dinner: a love story. I often site her recipes and strategies.

A cookbook has been in the works for some time and at last the wait is over -- time for dinner -- is available now!  It contains over 200 recipes -- half from the pages of Cookie, the other half brand new and just as fun and easy -- plus tons of strategies and inspiration.

One of my favorite features in the magazine was "So you have . . . " where they would help you create a dinner from a few items in the pantry / refrigerator (e.g., orzo and spinach . . .  and voila three steps later a yummy dish). Loved that inspiration! Apparently, there is an entire section in the book which continues that tradition.

I ordered my copy today from Amazon and  cannot wait to start incorporating the simple, delicious ideas into our family meals! To order your copy click here.

And because I was already there and I'm clearly a sucker for free shipping, I also ordered, or rather pre-ordered, Tyler Florence Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better.





Yum!  Sounds like I need to start planning a fall dinner party!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pain.

I saw this over at freckles and fudge and simply had to share. 


Isn't it true?! 

The trials and tribulations we experience are what allow depth of character 
and provide the perspective required to truly appreciate happiness.

It is raining like crazy right now in my little 
corner of the world (figuratively and literally speaking).  

Here's to looking for the rainbow! 

10 Things to Pray for your Children.

We all worry about our children from time to time. Sometimes more than others. Sometimes one child more than another. One of the most powerful ways to affect our children's lives is through prayer.  There is nothing I pray for more fervently, more diligently or more desperately than my children. Can anything evoke that same level of passion as praying for their well-being and character?

But beyond, "Lord, please keep him/her safe," "Help him/her stay out of trouble or away from evil." and "Dear Lord, make me a sane parent today" we can often get lost in our own emotions and concerns. My mind wanders. Luckily, a friend shared this list with me years ago. It has helped my focus my prayers and hone in on what is truly important.

I hope it helps you too!

1. FOR GODLY WISDOM:
1 Corinthians 3:19 tells us, "The wisdom of this world is foolishness before God," and Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world." With that being said, we need to pray that our children will have godly--not worldly--wisdom. James 1:5 promises, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." Ask for your children to receive that supernatural application of godly wisdom.

2. FOR CHARACTER:
This is probably the most difficult thing for a parent to pray for a children, because we know that character is developed by through trials in a persons life. In fact, Romans 5:3-4 says, "We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope." As hard as it is to pray for troubling times in the lives of our children, we know that challenges, disappointments, and even heartache are what will help them grow into the godly men and women they were created to be.

3. FOR A SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE:
Daniel 6:3 says, "Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him." And 1 Corinthians 10:31 instructs, "Whether, then you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Pray that your children will give their best to everything they attempt, because if they're followers of Christ, they place His name on whatever they do.

4. FOR HUMILITY:
We live in a world that frequently admires pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness. Yet James 4:6 tells us that "God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble." And in Matthew 23:12, Jesus promised, "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." Pray that your children will appreciate their infinite worth as children of God but, at the same time, will recognize that God expects them to walk with Him--and their fellow man--in meekness and humility.

5. FOR A DESIRE TO KNOW GOD:
We pray they'll make the team... or pass the test... or fit in at school, but is there anything we can ask for our children that will offer them more happiness, fulfillment, and success than a personal, intimate relationship with their Creator? Ezra 8:22 tells us, "The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him," and Psalm 86:11 implores, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Pray that your child will have a hunger and thirst to know God more every day, and an undivided heart to seek and serve Him with abandon.

6. FOR DIRECTION:
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight." And Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Pray that your children will learn at a young age to seek God's direction and guidance in all things, so by the time they make big decisions--like college, career, and marriage--they'll be in the habit of following His perfect plan every step of the way.

7. FOR FAVOR:
In chapter two of the book of Esther, many young women were brought into the palace to be prepared and presented as potential brides before King Ahasuerus. Verse 8 and 9 tell us that from the moment Esther arrived, she found favor with all who saw her. (The king made her queen, which put her in the perfect position to save her people from annihilation.) Luke's gospel tells us that Jesus grew in favor with God and man (2:52). There's nothing wrong with praying that your children will have favor with teachers, school administrators, coaches, and eventually employers--as well as with classmates, teammates, and coworkers--and that they'll be liked and appreciated for who they are.

8. FOR DISCERNMENT:
In 1 Kings 3:5, God gave King Solomon an open invitation to ask for anything he wanted. Anything! Solomon requested a heart to discern good from evil in order to judge God's people, and the Lord was so pleased that He showered the ruler with riches and honor, elevating him beyond all of his contemporaries--and blessed him with a long, healthy life. Pray for this same kind of discernment for your children: ask God to let them see as He sees, be attracted to what pleases and glorifies Him, be repelled by the things that displease him, and understand the difference clearly and consistently.

9. FOR THE RIGHT FRIENDS/SPOUSE:
The Bible is clear on what type of person a believer should marry--another believer. Second Corinthians 6:14 warns, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers." Pray that your children will value God-fearing friends, that the Father will 'pave' their way with faithful Christians, and that they'll eventually find their way to godly mates, as the Lord intends. Also, pray for their future spouses' upbringing. One of the greatest things I've ever heard my Dad say; was when he told Audra on the day of our wedding, "I've been praying for you since the day Jordan was born." Praying for your children's friends and spouse needs to be a daily commitment.

10. FOR RESPECT TOWARD AUTHORITY:
If this generation had a slogan, it would be "No Fear!" Our children are conditioned by media, movies and music, not to respect parents, teachers, school administrators, police officers, government officials--being rude is not only acceptable, it's cool. Yet Romans 13:1 tells us, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is not authority except that which God has established." Pray that your kids will have proper respect for everyone from the President to their nursery worker, to the boss at their part-time job, and appropriate fear toward God.

It is never too late or too early to pray for your children.  Whether you're in the foote-jammies and sippy-cup phase or your world is filled with prom dresses and drivers' permits. Philippians 4:6 tells parents, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God." Easier said than done, I realize, but a worthwhile goal.

{source}

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Girls' lunch.

I need a day like this: 
a day surrounded by friends,
without 
judgment,
worries,
or interruptions
but
with 
good conversation,
delicious food,
oodles of wine,
and 
no end in sight!


What about you?  
When was the last time you had a leisurely lunch with really good friends?
And why don't we make time for it more often?


Monday, September 13, 2010

Friend making Monday.

A little something new for me:  Friend Makin' Monday. I have a sick little miss thang at home today. Which, of course, means I have plenty of time to sit down learn a little more about my fellow bloggers.  Here's a little insight  on me:

1) What was the most enjoyable part of your weekend? Sunday morning bike ride described here.

2) List two or three material possessions that you can't live without:  Computer and car. Truly. I do love to ride a bike, but I could not bring home groceries (much less the kids from school) on a bike. And much to every one's surprise, I do think I would survive without my iPhone. Truthfully, I don't adore instant accessibility at every moments of every day (accessibility to me, that is. I clearly expect the hubs to be accessible 24/7/365).

3) Which day are you looking forward to most in the coming week? Wednesday night book club.  Any day which concludes with a girls' night out is bound to be a fav! 

4) Share one of your most embarrassing stories. Hmm, what to share?!?  There are so many from which to choose. OK, our wedding. A friend gave me a little wedding "thong" as a bachlorette party gift. It was very thong-ish with a little veil covering the booty.  Did I say little veil?! Very little. We were married in Cabos. After the ceremony we moved to the beach for pictures. All our guest and my in-laws were standing around watching hubs and me scamper through the surf. The wind was relentless, though, and kept blowing my dress up. I couldn't understand at first why my friends were screaming and gesticulating wildly. Then I saw my new father-in-laws face -- beet red -- and realized I'd been flashing my friends and family each time the wind blew. Best daughter-in-law ever.  


5) List three of your "must-read" blogs and tell us why we should read them too! 

Dinner: a Love Story - I too love getting the family around a family table.  I'm not quite the chef, but I can follow directions.  I love the stories and recipes from this blog. 


The View from the Johnsons - This is one of my best friend's sister, Ali. I love her self-deprecating wit and ability to find the humor in the mundane.


The Kludgy Mom - A new blog for me, but on the top of my list right now. 




A day in reverse.

Sunday was a glorious day. It was a day in reverse. And I loved it in reverse.

We are church people. We are generally in our pew by 9:00 am. Yesterday, however, our church celebrated it's 150th anniversary and our regular service was moved to 5:00 pm for a celebratory service. So our day was reversed -- relax in the morning, church in the evening. And given that we never get to "relax" on Sunday morning, I was completely enthralled by the concept of staying in my jammies with my coffee and the paper. For hours. Or at least, that is what I had planned.  

The hubs, however, thought we should take a bike ride. I said no thanks, you take the kids. It is still super hot and humid and I hadn't even had a full cup of coffee. Who would blame me, right?! Then my little miss thang (who is suffering from a bit of a head cold) looked at me and said, "pleaseeeeee, Mommy, it won't be a family bike ride without you." Dagger to the heart. So, of course, I put down my still hot cup of coffee and folded paper and found the energy to join them for a touch of fresh air. What we found along the way completed unexpected. The bay was calm. The air was still. The water was just barely rippling. The sea gulls, also oppressed by the heat, sat still on their perch. 


To our surprise, as we cruised down our Ocean Drive path, we noticed dolphins frolicking just off the coast. Maybe thirty feet out past the sea gulls.  No, I was not able to capture it on film. By the time my sweet hubs biked home, retrieved my camera and returned to this spot, they were too far to catch. But the beauty of the day is evident still. 


We sat and watched the dolphins make their journey down the coast. We encouraged other passing families to do the same. Within only a few minutes most of the bikers, runners and other passing by had stopped, sat and watched as the dolphins made their gentle glide in and out of the water. It was not a once in a lifetime sighting, but a magical and unexpected family moment nonetheless. And it was a wonderful start to our day in reverse. God took our relaxing Sunday morning and taught us a little something we didn't expect:  take advantage of every moment and be amazed, constantly amazed, by creation.  

When we returned to our house a little overheated boy jumped straight into the pool. He immediately discovered a froglet (his word, not mine) "floating"near the edge. He saved the little guy and reunited him with his "mother" (read: a larger frog we found in the front yard). My little guy absolutely loves animals. Frogs top the list. Saving this little froglet made his day. He was still talking about it at dinner time. Of course, he had completely forgotten about the dolphins, but I suppose it's only appropriate. Maybe God was only speaking to me through the dolphins. If you want to impress the heart of a seven year old boy, you clearly use a frog.  Err, rather, froglet. 




Sunday, September 12, 2010

The story of my life.


I adore these modern family trees by My Tree and Me!  Aren't they simply magnificent?!  Simply chose your design (clearly the hardest part!), fill out the genealogy form and eagerly await your custom-made family tree!

What a wonderful anniversary or birthday gift!





Friday, September 10, 2010

oohilove. or not.

I was not able to blog yesterday. I was busy. I also did not make it to the grocery store (though we really needed food). Very, very busy. And, I do not mean running-errands-for-my-family busy or or working-on-a-big-project busy. No, I actually wish I had such an excuse. It's a tad embarrassing to admit, but here it goes: I was busy staring at an auction ticker at oohilove. All day.

If you have not yet been introduced to oohilove, I apologize in advance. I am still refusing to speak to the "friend" who introduced me. Yes, you know who you are and no, we are not speaking.

It all starts innocent enough -- authentic designer digs at ridiculously low prices. Too good to be true?  Well, yes and no.

Yes, some people are winning auctions for Tiffany necklaces having expended less than $10.  I've seen Gucci bags go for less than $30. And this is authentic merchandise, not back-alley knock-offs.

So what's the catch? Well, you have to pay for the privilege of bidding. Yes, that's right: you pay $0.99 for each bid placed. And no you cannot simply pay $0.99 and bid a reasonable price for the item. The bidding is set so that each bid (remember it costs nearly $1) increases the price by $0.02. Only $0.02 for each bid -- imagine how long it takes to reach a reasonable price. And, knowing that everyone is paying $0.99 for each bid, imagine how much money oohilove is netting off each item they sell for these ridiculously low prices.

An example:

Yesterday I had my eye on this darling little bag. I previously purchased a bid pack of 50 so I was invested in this venture and ready to capture my prize. From previous auction experience I know enough to not bid early in the bidding -- it all happens in the few seconds of any auction. I also researched and was aware that the last bag like this had gone for $78.  Totally reasonable. I'm happy to pay $78 for this little tote!

Towards the end of the auction I start watching. And watching and watching. When someone bids within the last few seconds of the auction, the auction timer  immediately resets to 20 seconds. If multiple people bid at the same time, it resets to 30 seconds. So, with every last-second bid, you have to wait another 30 seconds. It's like groundhog day. Over and over and over again. And with each bid the price is only increasing by $0.02!  I watched for an hour (or was it two) and the price was only at $12!

Unfortunately, at this point I'm a woman on a mission. I want to beat the system. I want to use as few bids as possible to snag the item. Hours pass. I walk around all day holding my iPad so I can hover and watch the timer. During dinner my husband gasps when I prop the iPad by the table (we have a no gadgets at dinner rule). I was indignant. I cannot turn back now. I am certain I am smart enough to beat the system. Or at least stubborn enough.

I finally explain to my husband why I am staring at a screen without blinking. And why I cannot possibly take time to floss the kids' teeth tonight. I expect a lecture about not getting something for nothing or something along those lines. But, alas, I am not dealing with my dad here; this is my hubs. He encourages me. He tells me to buy more bids so I have a better chance. He says, "well, if you really want it then just spend the time and do what you need to do." Seriously. I do not need to be encouraged in the ways of scouring after designer goods for a fraction of the retail price. I need someone to pull me away before I do further damage to myself, our bank account or, at this point, the iPad I want to hurl across the room.

At 7pm the bidding is only at $28.00. At this point let's look at the numbers: to increase the bid to $28 in $0.02 increments, means oohilove has grossed $1400 in bids alone. And the auction is far from over. Are you following this? Each bid is paid for. You never see that money again. You pay to bid. If you win, lucky you. If you do not, you've thrown your money away. Brilliant, right?! For oohilove, that is. And this, of course, is how they can afford to auction off gorgeous luxury items at a fraction of the cost. It's as if all of the other suckers in the world are subsidizing your new Gucci. Capitalism at its best.

Back to the example: the bag I was watching sold for $52.36. The "winner", however, bid 769 times!!! Yes, that means in addition to the $52.36 auction price she also paid nearly $769 for her non-stopping bidding (and I mean non-stop, I was watching). Her total price: $813.67. The retail price for the bag was $887. Hardly a steal. But consider it from the other perspective. At that sales price ($52.36) divided by each $0.02 bid, oohilove grossed $2,618 off just bidding alone. I suppose this nice little profit makes up for the Tiffany necklace I saw sell earlier for only $.28 and 2 bids. Holy smokes Batman!

The moral to the story: I'm undecided. Part of me thinks I should never again visit this heinous sight. The other part of me thinks I should watch it nonstop so I am one of the lucky few who snags a less-desired item at a bargain price. I do still have 41 bids from my $50 bid pack. Hmmm.

Should I write-off those funds as a lesson learned or persevere towards something, anything to show for my money?!?!  I fear I'm hard-wired for the later. What would you do?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pop culture.

It's an age-old dispute: what do you call your favorite carbonated beverage?  
Pop? Soda? Coke?  
See how you stack up against others in the US by clicking here

{via Very Short List}

A brilliant man.

I don't know why I'm posting so many tidbits I find inspiring. Maybe I just need to be inspired through all this dreary, rainy, tropical stormish weather. Maybe it's the kids going back to school. Maybe it is the big decade birthday looming large in the distance. Or perchance, it is my friends' troubles wearing on my heart. 

Whatever the reason, I really need another little bit of sunshine today.  

Today I found it in Johnathan Adler's company manifesto (which I saw when reading Sweet Nothings). His innate sense of whimsy puts a humongous smile on my face. 

Our Manifesto

We believe that your home should make you happy. 


We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right. 

We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences. 

We believe minimalism is a bummer. 

We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing. 

We believe tassels are the earrings of the home. 

We believe in our muses: David Hicks, Alexander Girard, 
Bonnie Cashin. Hans Coper, Gio Ponti, Andy Warhol, Leroy Neiman, 
Yves Saint Laurent, and Madonna.

We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown. 

We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always.

We believe in infantile, happy emblems like butterflies and hearts. 

We believe celebrities should pay full price. 

We believe in rustic modernism: Big Sur, A-Frame beach houses,
raw beams, and geodesic dome homes. 

We believe in Palm Beach style: 
Louis chairs, chinoiserie, Lilly Pulitzer, The Breakers circa '72. 

We believe our designs are award winning even though 
they've never actually won any. 

We believe in Aid to Artisans. 

We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants. 

We believe in mantiques - suits of armour, 
worn chesterfield sofas, heraldic tapestries. 

We believe you should throw out your Blackberry 
and go pick some actual blackberries. 

We believe colors can't clash. 

We believe in blowing your nest egg on our pots. 

We believe our lamps will make you look younger and thinner.

We believe in irreverent luxury.


To read more of his witty tidbits and other musings, click here.

Or read his husband's hysterical book,
by Simon Doonan. It will put a smile on your face and in your heart!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inspired quote.

{I should really tape this to my bathroom mirror and read it everyday.}

{image via La Dolce Vita}
  


No more chicken nuggets. Part II.

I am happy to announce: my "no more chicken nugget threat" was not hollow. I have not purchased a bag of chicken nuggets since June. The last bag is actually still in the freezer with only a lone, or possibly a few, now freezer-burned nuggets. My children are still horribly picky eaters. I have not yet solved that problem. And, in truth, I do think I've only made my life harder (as my husband loves to point out). That being said, I have eradicated the store-bought chicken nugget from my life. This is a success in my mind, however small.

So here is my recipe (if you can call it that), compiled from various friends, websites and simple trial and error:

A couple of things I've learned: First, season every step of the way with salt and pepper; you want the chicken to be flavorful throughout. Second, cutlets are easier to fry the thinner they are. Pound the ever-living daylights out of the chicken (involving the kids works well at this stage).  You are looking for even thinness so cooking is easy and quick. And yes, I prefer chicken breast tenders, not the full breast, solely because of the size.

1. Sprinkle boneless skinless chicken breast tenders with salt and pepper.

2. Meanwhile, set out three large plates or pasta bowls. Fill the first with flour, the second with two beaten eggs and the third with a pile of panko. Season each with a little salt and pepper.

3. Using one hand (so the other remains clean or let the kids participate - it will be a huge mess but they have lots of fun), dip a piece of chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip it in the egg wash and shake off excess. Finally, plop it into the pile of panko and thoroughly coat it. Place it on a plate or sheet tray. Repeat until all the chicken is breaded. Replenish the flour, eggs or panko as necessary.

3. You can stick the chicken in the fridge at this point if you’re working ahead, or you can start frying.

4. Place a couple of large frying pans filled with a generous amount of olive oil or oil of choice (you’re not exactly deep frying, but pretty close) over medium high heat. When hot, lay the cutlets in. When golden brown, flip and continue cooking. Depending on the thickness of the chicken, this should only take a few minutes. Just make sure the heat isn’t too high, or the panko will get overly browned.

5. When the panko is a nice golden, beautiful brown, remove to wire racks set on a sheet tray.

For now we are all content with this homemade goodness. The leftover cutlets are stowed away and used the next few days as an alternative on nights when Mommy and Daddy are eating sushi or salmon or the myriad of other foods my two refuse to eat.

On the night the chicken is cooked, however, the hubby and I also partake in my version of chicken milanese.  For this, I combine baby arugula and tomatoes and avocado in a large bowl. Dress with a lemon vinaigrette. Plate the cutlets, top with the salad, set out some lemon wedges, open the rosé, and voilà! A meal we can all enjoy! Oh, and don’t forget the ketchup.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Wheel Deal.


Genius!  I’m heading to the paint store for some color strips!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Relax.


With the first two (hectic) weeks of school behind us, I am very much looking forward to a long and relaxing weekend.  Here are some of my activities of choice:

Lounging by the pool...
my pool does not look like this, but a girl can dream.

Catching up on my reading...

I'm not this cute in glasses, either.


Leisurely dinners in the warm summer air...

we'll be further north this weekend, so I'm dreaming of
low humidity and no mosquitos!
Enjoy your long weekend wherever it may take you!

images via Kristen Hutchens, Kate Spade

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rosemary Essence


We all need a few easy recipes in our back pockets for impromptu parties or unexpected guests. Or, for that matter, snacks or unexpected cravings!  The newest addition to my list is these rosemary skewers I found at Framed. They are charming, easy and, I'm certain, quite tasty.  And imagine the possibilities . . . . She uses mozzarella, salami and artichokes hearts. Yum. But I can also see grape tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Or feta, artichokes and olives. Seriously, you are only limited by your imagination or the contents of your fridge if you are in pinch.

image via Framed
for the recipe click: Rosemary Skewers


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