Saturday, February 27, 2010

Date night In--Tickle Challenge

Matt and I partook of this deliciously funny date last Friday night.  It's a great, free in-home date.


What to organize:


  • Get some time when you can be alone together.
  • Set the mood.  We did a fire with a comfy bed on the floor, a great Pandora station playing (deep relaxation), and candle light.
  • Dress in something VERY comfy.  I did yoga pants and a tank top (in Wyoming!). 
  • Get a big bag for you and your hubby.  (Nothing see-through.  You don't want to know what is in there).
  • Get a post-it and a pen for each of you/
  • Now it's time for the fun!


Here's how to do the date:

  1. You and hubby are both going to "bet" that you'll win the challenge and you're so confident that you'll do an act of service for your spouse if you don't win!  You'll each have a post-it note to write your wager on.  Make your wager something you know your hubby would like and have him do the same.  Whoever wins gets the wagered act of service from his/her spouse.  For example, my DH loves a back/hamstring massage so my wager would be a 20 minute massage.  I hate making the bed so his wager would be to make the bed for a week.
  2. Now, each grab a bag and set off in different rooms of the house collecting 5-10 random items (the more you get, the longer the date lasts).
  3. Here's where it gets fun.
  4. Take turns laying on your tummy with shirt pulled up and back exposed.  Now tickle with your random items.
  5. Your spouse gets 3  tries to guess what the item is.
  6. Switch roles after every item.  Set aside the correct guesses.
  7. Whoever has the correct guesses wins the act of service.
  8. If you really want to make this fun lay out all the items you each brought categorized by who brought what.  Is there a theme (like did one of you bring mostly hygiene/cleaning supplies)?  It's kind of entertaining to see how our unintended grabs of random items reveal something about our personality.


What Matt brought:

  • toothpick
  • toothbrush
  • cigar (I didn't even know he had one of these vile things.)
  • piece of paper
  • and something else we can't remember :)

What I brought:

  • an orange belt from Matt's martial art's gi
  • a soap/sponge dishwashing gadget
  • a ball
  • a Kleenex
  • a hanger
FYI, I won the date challenge and the award for the most random and eclectic assortment of junk (which kinda matches my thought life).


So how does this sound?  Is this something you and DH would do?  If so, share your thoughts (or let me know who won what!).

Garlic Herb Halibut

This is my favorite way to cook my favorite fish!


My parents and my sister's family fishing in Alaska!

Ingredients:

  • halibut filet
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 5-6 minced cloves of garlic
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 T parsley
  • 2 t basil
  • 1/2 t Kosher salt
  • 2 t pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in ziploc bag and mix well.
  2. Add filet and coat.
  3. Marinade at least 1 hour (I do it all day)
  4. Bake, grill, or boil until fish goes from opaque to white and flakes (but isn't dry).
**You can OAMC this meal.  Make the marinade, pour over fish, and freeze.**
Some tips:

  • Use fresh herbs and lemon.  It really makes a difference!
  • Don't overcook the fish.
  • To get the most juice out of a lemon/lime do the following:
      • Put the fruit on the counter and put your hand over it.  
      • Roll the fruit around pressing with your hand.
      • Now pop the fruit in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
      • Cut and juice!

Friday, February 26, 2010

What cookin' at my house this week? 3/1-3/7

So Matt DOESN'T have to go to Toronto this week. Yay!

Here's what we'll be dining on:
Monday--Steak and spicy fries
Tuesday--Spicy honey chicken and brown rice
Wednesday--Enchiladas in white sauce (yes, we eat this a lot because it's a family fav!)
Thursday--Cheesy Chicken breasts with broccoli
Friday--Pesto Pasta with salad and french bread
Saturday--Roast with veggies
Sunday--Garlic Herb Halibut with salad

Hope you have some great bites this week too!

Frickin'

When I was in high school we had this teacher who wouldn't let us say "suck" and in the early nineties, everything sucked.  This teacher's solution was to say "hoover"--like the vacuum that, well, sucks--literally.  Can you see me saying "My hair hoovers today?"  Not likely.  The gal who wants to make "fetch" a cool word in Mean Girls totally reminds me of this situation.  Anyhow, this always irritated me because the intent of what to say was the same even if the word wasn't (as in, if there wasn't an adult here I'd use a much nastier word to describe this assignment).

Fast forward to my teaching days.  My students always said "crap" and I got into a heap of trouble for allowing it (really, crap was nice compared to what I heard in the halls). Again my thought was this.  1.  It is better than other words they could be saying (like the ones in the halls) and 2.  Even if they say "Oh crumb" instead of "oh crap," the intent is the same.

I'm going somewhere with this.  Trust me.

On Wednesday M.E. and I had one of those days.  She whined.  I lost my temper. There was yelling and much needed alone time for cool offs.  But I definitely remember stomping around saying "I'm so frickin' mad!"  I really don't use the big F word so frickin' is my stand in F word (like suck and crap).  Perfectly harmless ... right?

Last night after I finished my run I found Matt and he was in a fit of giggles.  He and M.E. had been playing pretend in her room and she started stomping about saying, "I'm so frickin' mad!"

Oops.

It didn't sound quite so harmless coming out of her mouth (though we could laugh at her amazing portrayal of mom).  

Of course God chooses this moment to remind me of my Bible study.  I'm in 1 Kings reading a whole list, starting with Solomon, of families that continue to do wrong and sin because the sons are following the lead of their fathers.  Funny how I only think of the "train a child in the way he should go" verse when I'm doing something right!

What a delightful but convicting reminder that my children will learn about faith and trust and obedience by my words and actions.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Things I love--FES's


Javier.

Don't you love saying that name?  It's so chic and foreign.  Oh la, la.




Javier in 1992.  He shaved his head because he was a member of the BHS swim team.


But seriously, Javier was one of our three foreign exchange students.  He came from Uruguay to stay with my family in 1992; I was 13.  We had a lot of fun with Javo, as we called him.  It was sort of like having a big brother which means we giggled and set farts on fire and fought.  Sometimes a lot.



A visit to Mount Rushmore.  So Javo had NO hair but that's okay because my sister and I had enough early 90's hair for the whole family!

I had an easier time adjusting to Javo than my sister did because I didn't go to the same school.  At my old high school, FES's weren't seen as exotic hotties.  Nope--they were more like diversity lepers in a sea of white, rural snobs (sorry if you went to BHS).  Anyhow, my sis was ultra social butterflyish and Javo put a damper on the party scene for her.  Add to that the laundry incident and it's no wonder she and Javo didn't have a great rapport.

FYI, after two weeks of living with us, Javo took his laundry, dropped it on my sister's bedroom threshold, and told her to do it.  Bad idea for three reasons:
A.  We'd been doing our own laundry since we were 7.  You wash it, you wear it.  It's a family thing.
2.   My sister hates doing laundry, even her own.  She probably would give a dog a kidney before she'd do someone else's laundry. And I don't blame her!
D.  All 16ish high school girls are budding feminists.  Do your own darn laundry!

(Anyone catch that Home Alone connection above?)

I digress.

Anyhow, I loved having foreign exchange students!  Even when we argued I cherished the experience.


Javier from Uruguay front left and Keisuke, our other FES on the front right pose with the other 1992 BHS Fes's on graduation day!

My folks were great to FES's too.  We took them all over WY and SD, and MT, and Canada and showed them what a truly dysfunctional American family looked like.  And my family must have made an impact because 2 of the 3 exchange students have come back to visit us.  Coni was with us in 1996, came back in 1998 and then again last November.  Javo was with us in 1992, back in 1999, and back again RIGHT NOW!  He's a cardiologist married to a pediatrician.  He has one son and a daughter set to debut in June.

Our FES's are coming back to say bye to our "mom" who is battling CADASIL.  I find it very moving that they care so deeply about her and my family that they financially sacrifice to spend time with us.


Mom, Dad, Coni, Matt and Reagan on Thanksgiving Day, 2009.


So what do I think about FES's?  It think the experience is life changing.  And probably more for the host family than the student.

Open your hearts and homes to FES's.  You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What I think About--Blogs

There is a unique little event that happens every Friday in blogville called "The Friday Follow."  So how it works is blogs add their sites to a list and people stop by and check out your blog.  If they like it, they follow you and as a courtesy, you check out their blogs (and I'm pretty sure the unwritten rule is you follow them back). The purpose of FF is to find great new blogs; unfortunately, it feels like many people use FF as a business venture--build up the number of followers because in blog land, followers very often equal money.

I've participated in FF a few times and have, for the most part, enjoyed it.  I've run across some really great blogs--ones that make me laugh or think.

On the other hand,  I've run into a few blogs that just aren't my cup of tea.  Without divulging specific names, let me explain why I don't love some blogs.
  • I love to win giveaways as much as the next person but I really DON'T love blogs that do so much PR that the only reason they blog is to give stuff away (read: get free stuff in exchange for a good review).  Constantly signing up to win one thing or another is a huge time suck.  Ick.  On a side note, most of the giveaways are based on the blog author writing a review of a product.  I've yet to read a negative review (most likely because if the author is giving bad PR then PR will stop).  This is fancy advertising--like commercials for blogs.
  • Many bloggers want to be like Dooce and make so much money that they can blog for a living.  To reach their dream, bloggers have ad after ad after ad on their sites.  I'm not opposed to an ad here or there and I even love a site that does it well but when I get onto a blog that is more ads than substance I leave immediately!  
  • 2,368 followers.  A blog-reader novice automatically assumes that the more followers you have, the better your blog must be.  I've come to realize this is NOT true.  I follow a few blogs with a small following and have a blog with very few followers. What I've come to find is that these blogs are by people who blog for their enjoyment and to connect in a community of readers.  It isn't about money.  It isn't about getting free stuff.  It isn't about giveaways.  It's about enjoyment and purity of the written word.    P.S.  There are some GREAT blogs with lots of followers because they are great blogs--not because they constantly review or give stuff away.  Check out this one.
Now that I've ranted, let me share some blogs that I think have quality content, minimal to zero nonsense (and they won't fill up google reader or your inbox with reviews and giveaways either).

Blogs I love:

Frontier Kitchen--I feel like I plug this blog a lot but for good reason.  It's simple, straightforward, and sassy.  It's 100% true that Sarah is a friend (who brought her amazing hummus to mom's movie night last night and I ate way too much--again!) but it's also 100% true that she's one heck of a cook!  This blog is about real food for real families who really don't like casseroles.  Can I get an amen?

The Good Life For Less--I'm a woman who cares about how I look but I'm not willing (or able) to spend a fortune on clothes. On top of that, I might have fashion but I have no style.  Enter TGL4L.  This gal's got mad style.  If you need an "outfit formula" she's got it.  She'll even do a fashion consult!

Peace and Craziness--I just love the name of this blog.  As the title suggests, you can expect random, fun, and emotional posts about everything from house hunting to Lindsey Lohan.

Where does that leave me?  

My intent with Friday Follow was to find blogs to follow and find readers who might be interested in me.  I've found some great ones, like Chapters of Me, so my mission is accomplished.  I'll probably participate off and on to see who and what I find.  But I won't go following every blog I find in hopes of building up a false "follower" base.  

To followers who read what I write and comment or connect to what I have to say (and to my sister and husband for whom reading this is compulsory), please know how much I value our web-based relationship.  And know I'm not going to throw you under the bus for a food processor and a new book (but if someone offers me a new BMW you can consider my site officially sold out!).

I will probably never make money from this blog.  I'll probably never have Vera Bradley send me a tote in the old Java Blue pattern to review (but Vera if you're reading this, I'd take one!).  Eventually I'll probably get blog-burn out and stop posting.  Eventually you'll probably be tired of reading the rants of a Type-A with no boundaries.  

But until then--challenge me to be like the quality blogs I love.  That's all I've got to say about that!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Too Clean Tuesday--Cat Litter

I've had the Notorious C.A.T. (aka Nattie) for 15 years, which explains her name (okay, for you *really* young ones, she is named after the Notorious B.I.G. who was in the prime of his career in 1995).  She's a great little calico.  Unfortunately, she doesn't like my husband and the feeling is mutual.  On the bright side, I'm pretty sure my husbands intense dislike for her and her intense desire to absolutely irritate him will equal a long, healthy life for her.  I'm betting she'll live to be 22.  

I'd insert a photo of her right now but she's camera shy.  (That's code for "I still can't find the USB cord and apparently Nikon doesn't make extra ones).

I digress.

After 15 years of cat litter changing, minus 18 months of pregnancy when Matt took over, I consider myself an expert.  So how can you keep a box of tinkle and pooh smelling like it isn't a box of tinkle and pooh?

Easy.  Mix baby powder in with the litter.  Works every time.

On the downside, I've read that baby powder really isn't good for babies so maybe it isn't good for cats.  I'm willing to risk it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Time Management Junkie--Skill #2--Declutter!

Look around you right now.  Can you see your flat surfaces?  Are your counters there (somewhere, under the mail and the dirty dishes and the remnants of lunch)?  Does your coffee table need dusted (or can you not see under the remote controls, the magazines, the kid toys, and the kleenx)?  If you can’t see your flat surfaces, and I mean walls and floors, too, then it is time to de-clutter!

Here’s a quick challenge.  Get up right now, grab a plastic grocery sack and go shop for 10 items you can get give or throw away.  Go.  Now.  I’ll wait.

Think in these terms:

Really, do I want to dust that ugly vase again?  Do I really want to devote time to reorganize those DVDs I haven’t watched since I had the kids?  Are those used margarine containers and lids really worth re-using again and again as Tupperware?

Did you find 10 items (or more)?  Great.  Take a picture of what you just found and e-mail it to me.  Really, I want to see what you found.  

Now if you can throw it away/recycle it (meaning it is garbage or junk) do it now.  If you can give it away, rush out and put it in your trunk.  Yes, I mean now.  Out of sight, out of mind.  If you can’t see what you are giving away then you won’t think about all the ways you could use that item in the future (despite the fact you haven’t used it in 10 years and don’t like it).

Congratulations.  Now repeat this with a different room every day of the week.

WARNING:  Do Not get trapped into poverty thinking. 
What’s that?  
Poverty thinking is holding onto something you don’t like and haven’t used IN YEARS because you think you might use it someday.  

Why is this poverty thinking?  
Because you are neglecting to think that someone who lives in poverty RIGHT NOW might be able to use that item RIGHT NOW.  You are also assuming that if you need that third blender in nine years you won’t be able to afford it.

Be generous with your junk.

Take it to Goodwill or give it away on your local freecycle.org group.
If it’s worth money, sell it on craigslist or ebay

But for heaven’s sake, if you don’t love it, get rid of it.  Clutter is a time and energy drain!

The de-clutter rule: Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.

If you really want to get after it, get three large bins and label them: give away, sell, and throw away.  Now go through each room of your house (1-2 a day) and put 10 things in each bin. Your kids will love helping as long as it’s YOUR stuff.

Did you do it?  Prove it!

What cookin' at my house this week? 2/22-2/28

Awwww, Pax is 9 months old today!  Where does the time go?

Anyhow, DH is on a business trip Monday-Wednesday this week so the menu reflects 1 mom who'll eat anything with 1 kid who'd rather eat chicken nuggets 24/7 with one kid who'll eat anything as long as it's accompanied by warm milk.

I gotta tell ya', the menu around here is a little scarce when the human garbage disposal isn't home.  Hurry back babe; I miss you already!

Monday--White Lasagna with Caesar salad (my MIL will be watching the kids while I'm at school so I have to provide a great meal for her!)
Tuesday--Breakfast for dinner (which means fluffy omelets since I'm not wild about pancakes and waffles)
Wednesday--Matt's home!  WooHoo! Chicken Oreganato (we didn't eat this last week but there is a link to the recipe on last week's post if you are interested) with salad.
Thursday--Chili and cornbread (we got 10 inches of snow this weekend.  I'm all about comfort food!)
Friday--Balsamic Chicken thighs with wilted greens
Saturday--Taco Salad.  Click here to make excellent taco meat (but I use 1 T of spices instead of 1 tsp because we like it spicy!)
Sunday--Cranberry Chicken and wild rice with green beans.

Happy eating this week!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Days of Play--Kid

The Divine Miss M absolutely loves to play this game called "Kid."  Basically what we do is she is "mom" and I am her kid.  Try as I may, she won't give me another name.  I'm just kid.

I really suggest letting your kid be in charge when you play Kid but if you want some ideas, have your "mom":

  • tuck you in for a little nap
  • read you a story
  • feed you (messy but fun)
  • change your diaper
The best part of this game is getting to see what motherhood looks like from the eyes of your little people.

Warning: If your little person says things to you like "not right now" or "I'm too busy" or "KID A. KAUFMAN!!" you might want to re-evaluate how you talk to him/her!  Ha ha!