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Interior Motives

Decorating and DIYing our house to make it a home.

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Good Enough To Eat

Tried and true recipes my family loves.

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Life Lessons

Navigating motherhood through life's little lessons.

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I Heart Pinterest

When all else fails, go to Pinterest!

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Pretty As A Picture

Photography tips and tricks for the average person.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Apology To Apple Inc.


No, you're not having deja vu. This is a follow-up post to this post. Apparently the people at Apple are the most patient people. You see, my iPod Nano (after installing an update through iTunes) began to give me problems. It would play a song and after 30 seconds it would stop, or go into sleep mode.

I was not happy.

So after phone call #2, my iPod was sent away to be "serviced," since the nearest Apple store was about 2 hours away. I was hesitant, as I mentioned in that last post, because I didn't want to have to pay anything, due to the following facts; that my iPod was a) a gift, b) less than 3 months old and c) there was no way I could run (meaning on a treadmill) without it.

My iPod came back, in quite a timely manner, with the diagnosis being; "nothing was wrong with it."

That's like when you go to the doctor's office and they say it's "viral," and "there's nothing we can do." Then you say, thanks a lot and shuffle out of there all sick, as you hand over your money.

Well, there was something wrong! It kept stopping! And I went on to tell her how this was my first Apple product that I owned, and it was a gift and how I didn't want to send it away and...blah, blah, blah, I was about to put the ear bud to my phone so the Apple rep could listen, when she said:

"You do have your ear buds plug, plugged all the way in, right?"

Of course, I do (duh!)

"That means no silver part is showing, correct? You need to push that plug all the way in"

Huh? Wait, yeah there is a silver part showing (fumble, push plug in, hear a "click.") oops... (Hence, Exhibit A, pictured above, the evidence was right on my blog.)

Well, I told her I felt really dumb, because guess what? I had never plugged the ear buds plug all the way in, ever. I also started to apologize profusely for my ignorance with my iPod. (Silly Apple newbie...)

She was incredibly kind and proceeded to tell me that if the plug wasn't completely in, my iPod would think that I wasn't using it, so it would go into sleep mode...after 30 seconds. Good to know.

*crickets*

So, people, what have we I learned here? That Apple products still rock (as do their customer service representatives,) and for those of you who didn't know, push the plug all the way in until you hear the "click." Problem solved. Thanks Apple. Back to the treadmill for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wonderfully Made

I'm a mom to 3 usually healthy kids. I struggle with all things moms struggle with. Yesterday I spent half my day with some very precious children. Children I'd never thought would grab at my heart strings, almost as much as my own children are capable of doing.


A boy born with half a brain, 3 boys whose autism spanned the entire spectrum, a young lady with cerebral palsy, and others whose "special needs" don't even have a name. It took all my mental strength, and at times, me biting down on my lip, to not burst out in tears.

Learning and cognitive disabilities were far from my mind, my focus was on them, as beings. Their disabilities did not hide their endearing personalities.

What can I do to communicate with them? What can I do to help them? What can I do to love them? And then it became instinctive, my love would come out in the form of drool wiping, in handing over crayons so a fifth grader could color a map, love would pour out endlessly, almost as if I was their maternal mother.

As someone who likes to take pictures, it's typical for me to see God's beauty outside amongst the landscape of nature. It's possible at times to feel God's presence in a church setting on a Sunday morning, but if I could describe what I saw yesterday, it was God's marvelous creation in these middle school children.

Later that evening as I ran on the treadmill, my husband said he'd look over and see how hard I was running. I don't typically run hard, I hate exercise overall. I told him I was running from demons, from pain, from my heart that was breaking with those kids' faces on my mind and without question on my heart.

I kept thinking, "God, I love those kids."

My hardships are so puny in comparison, I only have an inkling of what a parent must go through seeing their child in this capacity. How this must weigh heavily in their lives.

My day which was hard on my heart, was perhaps necessary for my spirit. More lessons about thankfulness, blessings, and humility...

I don't know why these children moved me so much, I don't know why I did end up sobbing over them, all I know is they are a product of God's own hands and each of them, with their own personalities, are so wonderfully made.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bacon Ham Chowder


If it's the end of March, why am I still shoveling? The snow hit us so hard, we had a snow day last Wednesday! On a positive note, these crazy below-average temps are allowing me to cook comfort food for at least another week. Here's a family favorite. (For my friends everywhere else in the country, save this for next winter!)


Bacon-Ham Chowder

Serves 6

1 lb. bacon                                      4 c. whole milk
4 chicken bouillon cubes               1/2 c. flour
2 c. water                                         1 1/2 c. ham, cubed
5 potatoes, cubed                         1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 bunch green onions                    cracked black pepper
1 c. carrots, sliced                           1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook bacon until crisp and set aside. When cool, crumble into bite-size pieces.

Combine bouillon and water in large pan. Heat to boiling. Add potatoes; cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Add onions and carrots and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Whisk milk and flour together. Add to vegetables. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until bubbly and thickened.

Add ham, bacon, pepper sauce, pepper and cheese and heat until cheese is melted.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Endurance


I used to think motherhood was about balance. But today as I tried to keep up with my husband's run, I realized that "endurance" was a more accurate word.

There are times when all a mom can do is hang on. Sleepless nights with sick little ones, looking around her home and seeing all that needs to be done, wondering when this ______ will pass (fill in with: weaning, potty training, whining, etc.)

And so as my husband and I set our goal on 2.25 miles, I tried to go faster, thinking, let's be done with this, enough already. But I couldn't hang on, I couldn't keep up.

Sometimes just running the race is good enough. I can deal with "good enough" better than complete defeat.

Some days, good enough is all I've got.

Photo credit - Amana stock photo

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

http://www.littledaisymay.blogspot.com/
I'm in love with where I can play my music~


Loving that we have four seasons to enjoy~


I'm in love with everyday beauty~


The comforts of home~


And finding moments like these~

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Easiest Snack Ever


I don't know anyone who isn't looking for an easy salty/sweet snack once in awhile. I decided to combine Nutella with Ritz crackers. The combination was great. But don't use a Townhouse cracker, it just isn't the same...


Spread some Nutella on a Ritz and top with another cracker. My oldest said they reminded her of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. Hmm.


Simply divine.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guilty Pleasures


I'm an avid reader. Everyone in our family reads. I prefer books to anything online, probably because most of my reading is done at night after everyone is in bed (hence the reading glasses for my tired eyes.)

That's why I never went online to read The Pioneer Woman's (Ree Drummond) blog posts about her real life love story (swoon.) I sit at the computer enough (oh how I wish for a Macbook!) so when I heard that the book was coming out, I was very excited! I don't know what chapter I'm on, but I'm hooked already.

Reading anything is a guilty pleasure for me so I get all my books at our local library for free. At least the guilt has nothing to do with the cost. Anyone else reading Ree's newest book?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sometimes All It Takes Is A Little Glue

Some mornings, that first hour with the kids, is basically a test of a mother's patience. Breakfast options are being chosen, lunches are being packed, forms are getting signed and fires are being put out. Not literal fires, but fires that cause a 6 year old to cry, a 13 year old to question her attire and a 10 year old boy to ponder over choices he needs to make.

This morning was that kind of morning, like re-gluing googly eyes on a penguin to pacify my youngest daughter. And offering fashion advice to my 13 year old daughter who was in a conundrum over what kind of shoes to wear to with that polka dot top. For my son, the middle child, deciding whether an after school activity trumps the weekly chess matches at the library.

And this all goes on all at the same time. Oops, let's not forgot about the 50+ lb. puppy who is sniffing the two, yes two, urine spots on the carpet from the night before (that were cleaned, mind you) but still evident this morning.

I'm thankful that I did not raise my voice even though there was a lecture-ish tone in it. I'm thankful that I did not cry over my spilled (beloved-home-brewed-by-my-husband) Starbucks coffee. I'm thankful that allowed my son to make his own decisions without influencing him with my own thoughts. I'm thankful that somehow, some day, my husband will steam clean the heck out of those urine spots.

I wasn't always this patient, let me restate that, I'm not always this patient, I'm still learning. Still learning with 13 years of motherhood under my belt. Still learning that these moments, even the bittersweet ones, like holding my youngest because she can't stop coughing, will fly through my hands leaving me with only faded memories of what it was like when my nest was full.

I linking up to A Helicopter Mom, Take It From Me's Welcome Wednesday, and Follow Me Wednesday!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Plea To Apple Inc.


Dear Apple,

I have just handed over my iPod Nano to the FedEx driver. I did this reluctantly. Because a) to get me to run on a treadmill takes a great deal of encouragement; the prodding of my husband, the right kind of attitude, the stars and moon in alignment and a kick-butt running soundtrack. And b) because of the email you sent me:

Apple may charge you a diagnostic fee, including shipping charges, of no more than one hundred ($100) dollars US, plus applicable tax, if Apple inspects your product and determines based on the inspection that the product does not require service. If Apple determines, while inspecting your product, that service is needed due to the failure of parts that are neither supplied by Apple nor Apple-branded, Apple may return the product to you without servicing it, and may charge you the diagnostic fee plus applicable sales tax.

Please note that if you decline service because the repair is not covered by Apple or no issue is found with the product, a diagnostic fee of no more than $100 USD may be charged.

You are entitled to a written estimate of the cost of repairs. The estimate must include all costs for parts and labor. Apple will not charge for work done or parts supplied in excess of the estimate unless you, the customer, approve the additional charge. This estimate of repair charges is valid for 30 days from the date of estimate. You must notify Apple if you claim a tax exemption and provide Apple with a tax exemption number at the time you receive this estimate. The cost of shipping is included in the estimate.
Apple Inc., 800-APL-CARE (800-275-2273), 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014


This iPod was a gift, I don't have $100 to spend in repairs. Better yet, I didn't send you my iPod, for fun, just to waste your time. My hope is that you will fix it based on my warranty and not charge me. Otherwise, you'll have to keep it. :(

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Just Wanted To Say


I think the highlight of today was when my husband bought the wrong dog food. This bag had little pieces and some were shaped liked dog bones. I thought that was cute. Slow day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ten On Ten:: March 2011

ten on ten button

I'm participating in Rebekah's Ten on Ten photo linky party. I love her idea of taking pics of your day. But the best part is finding the artistry in those photos, because almost anything can be made beautiful. Let's begin with how I typically start my morning, 5:30am::


Then I take the kiddos to school and how about a trip to the doctor's office to re-examine my possible carpel tunnel (blog much? How much is much? Yes, that's a splint I'm wearing.) 9:30 am::


Moving furniture, because vacuuming is needing to be done (and dusting and laundry)...10ish::


Waiting for Spring, but it alludes us right now...(give me a few minutes to dream)


Instead we have this...at least the sun is shining! 11:30ish::


And as usual, lunch is an afterthought, but I am craving homemade Whirly-Popped popcorn, so that will have to do...12noon::


Then I'll keep at my tasks which often includes finding things our dog has chewed...1pm-ish::


Soon, I'll have to practice...before picking up kids, 2 ish::


For tonight, I'll have to get back into the kitchen...3:30-4:30 pm::


Happy Ten On Ten. Link Up, or wait for next month's party! :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And Everything In Its Place...

Brown & White Home Office eclectic home office

Photo credit - Eclectic home office design - HOUZZ

Let's pretend this is my home office. Loving the white desks and mocha walls. Everything in its place. Ah, a Type A's dream. But I am not a Type A nor do I pretend to be. I do however, like to be organized.

My desk looks like this:

Anyone notice my spray painted terra cotta pot? Spray painting is an illness.
Everything I need, for the most part, is at my fingertips. Now where did I put that Macbook? Ohh, I don't have one! Maybe someday...

Anyway, I put in a lot of time at this desk, job stuff, blog stuff, husband/kids/school stuff. It's never ending. Facebook and emails are not my friends, but they seem to think so because we correspond on a daily basis.

I found a fun site that carries the most awesome desk accessories. You will convince yourself you need to be organized when you see what See Jane Work has to offer!

You'll find so many cute must-haves like the collection by "Bob's Your Uncle" (I laughed so hard at that name, okay, maybe I just thought it was funny) featuring these adooorable punctuated page markers. Or maybe you'll be inspired by the beautiful desks and home office photos like I was.

Page Markers from See Jane Work
Take a peak and look around. What's your best organizational tip? Do you have a home office or craft area/room? What can't you live without?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Now, Look Who's Blogging...

My husband (a public high school teacher) started a blog last week. He's writing about a hot topic in our country. He arms himself with knowledge, wielding it like a sword. I never told him to blog about it, but I have encouraged him to make his voice heard.



He is much braver than I am in that respect. He shows no fear in confrontation and I've always admired his gumption to move forward. Sometimes in my overly cautious tendencies, I stalemate, too worried about the "what ifs." Yet worrying is wasteful.

Instead, I mull over decisions humbly. I have never questioned my motives as much as I do now. Because believe it or not, so much of the trouble we encounter seems rooted in selfish motives. I unfortunately speak from experience.

But back to my husband, he is a Wordsmith in my eyes. His prose is poetic, so much so that when he asks me to read his writing, many times I have to re-read a line because there is much to "chew." Jane Austen (one of my favorite authors) would be quite proud.

Talks in our house have involved "doing what is right," and "being informed." But on those same levels, there is an undercurrent of fear (just being honest...) Typical fear of the unknown, common amongst all of us.

And so we do what we can, whether it be wielding that sword, or pen, fighting the good fight...and waiting for the inevitable outcome, whatever that may be.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Who Likes Cupcakes? We Do! We Do!

 
Lemon Cupcakes with Citrus Icing


We're only weeks away from Spring right? We need to celebrate! Here's the recipe for the "I-made-these-from-scratch!" Lemon Cupcakes. They're so yummy. Enjoy!

CUPCAKES

1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1  cup sugar
2  teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup safflower oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1  teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

ICING

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2  tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

2. To prepare the cupcakes: Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Combine the oil, eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Add to the flour mixture and stir until smooth.

3. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 17 to 19 minutes or until lightly golden and the cupcakes are springy when gently touched. Place pan on a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan, transfer to the rack, and let cool completely.

4. To prepare the icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar, orange juice, and orange zest in a bowl and stir until smooth. Spread some of the glaze over each cupcake with a small spatula and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.


NUTRITION PER SERVING

316 calories
3 g protein
45 g carbohydrates
15 g fat
1 g saturated fat
35 mg cholesterol
183 mg sodium
0.5 g fiber

55 MINUTES       12 SERVINGS        316 CALORIES

Recipe from: Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Smorgasbord Of Blogs

Photo credit - Zefa
So I was thinking, when I first started blogging with my friend Kate way back in 2008, ('CityMom, CountryMom, A Tale of Two Moms') I swore that I'd be witty and funny. That happened on occasion and I learned that I was a closet techie.

On the next blog, in which I partnered with another friend, ('Gracenotes95') was going to wreak of my faith. That lasted a year, it was a good year though. I learned that I would overtake that blog with my posts and need to have a blog of my own.

The third blog (which shall only be revealed as 'MMA' due to serious privacy issues) was going to be about "transparency," that was the new blogging buzz word (or you might have read "authentic.")

Too much transparency however, taught me that you're life will not be private. (Hello! We're on the internet here. EVERYBODY can read your stuff, do you really want EVERYBODY reading it?) Yes, I do. Okay, not really.

The fourth blog was going to redeem my blogging efforts and show what a good sharer I was ('Share The Wonder'.) Then I did a 360 (within a month) and thought, let's keep it professional and niche-y (just in case your boss is reading.)

But, here's the thing, I can't have a niche, because everything I think about/feel about/am passionate about, is all melded together. Some people (like my husband) might call it whimsical, I call it being unable to compartmentalize. (Or, I am female, this is how it works.)

Writing, photography, random thoughts, recipes, DIY projects, cool techie things, blogging tutorials (ooh, I had lots of those,) are all a massive ball congealed together in my mind. Picture the rubber band ball. That is my brain.

That's why I can't have a niche. No matter how hard I try. And I did. Five times.

The lesson here? That we all blog for different reasons, that if a rubber band ball is what I am in real life (maybe I should change the name of my blog...just kidding.) then my blog is going to reflect that. (I smell transparency.)

If something in my life moves me, then I have to blog about it (oh, faith-> read this post.)

And if I really love taking pictures of food, then gosh darn it, scroll down some more and see my dessert photos!

In the end, to wrap up this plethora of excuses reasons of why I continue to blog, I must quote Descartes and write,

"I think, therefore I am."


Or better yet, I think (too much,) therefore I blog.
 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Top 10 Desserts Of 2010

Caramel Cheesecake
To my surprise, I spent a lot of time baking and eating last year.

Hello Dolly Bars
Because there are always moments to celebrate. Like, hooray it's summer, let's pick strawberries.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
Or how about, I just want to decorate cupcakes:

Vanilla Cupcakes With Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Pink Cupcakes For Our Princess
Lemon Cupcakes - From Scratch Baby!
And sometimes you have to give in to "quick" and "easy" and resort to a box mix *shudder*

Raspberry Bars
Raspberry Strudel (from a tube that you bought at Aldi)
Maybe I just can't be "Super Mom" today (box + a real banana.)

Semi-homemade Banana Bread
Cravings for chocolate however, will always win in the end.

Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Chips

I'm linking up with 5 Minutes For Mom


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What An Autistic Child Taught Me One Morning


With delusions of grandeur since I was a teenager, I never knew that the 'smallness of humanity,' as Emily, from Chatting At The Sky calls it, could possibly become a meaningful part of my life.

I wasn't aware of this as I was called to help (as a sub for a paraprofessional) with a special needs child in my kids' elementary school. I was too concerned with the discomfort of my situation. I never trained for this, all three of my children were (Lord willing) "fully functional." This wasn't my specialty, or my degree, in fact, I wasn't even sure if I was remotely gifted in this area.

Other than a need to pay the bills, I wasn't sure what lesson was in store for me. Surely, God would find me another job, one that was "easier" less "heart-breaking," more "up my alley." There had to be something else for this "jack-of-all-trades."

As I cried inwardly of the difficulties I'd endured that day, I was sure God was saying "you see, you had it so easy, now you know how good you had it." So, like a petulant child, I prayed a thankful (yet selfish) prayer, "Yes, I know now. Now please find something else for me to do."

Two days later, in the midst of clanging breakfast dishes, papers to sign and lunches to pack, I would get another call, this time to assist with a 4-year-old autistic boy.

You see in this bevy of political upset in our state with words like "cut backs" and "layoffs" looming over the people (and I speak specifically about our teachers and paraprofessionals,) it's easy for us to forget about how this may affect the families, the marriages, the children. These children, the ones who need more of our time, more of our love. Somewhere there is little boy or girl who needs a community of caring people willing to take on his or her world with eager hands.

And so, if I were to dwell on my own needs, I might miss the lesson in all of this, that there is always someone needier than my family. That there is someone with bigger issues, harder choices, seemingly insurmountable pressure. So to quote my husband, when so much is being taken away at this time (wages, benefits, jobs) "may I always seek to do what is right, sacrificing self, for the greater good."

To be continued, I'm sure...