12.20.2012

Lovin' Local: RotoClean Services

We have lots of carpet and two big dogs. Good combo? NO! We love our dogs. They were our "kids" before we adopted Amelia. I am convinced, on this side of things, that they are messier than kids. However, they are worth it! They are super sweet and provide hours of entertainment for everyone. They also cause hours of vacuuming, sweeping and...how should I put this?..."duty". 







Back in September, we had just come home from the beach and the next morning, woke up to a mess in our den, due to one of our "kids". I immediately went into "freak out" mode because that next week I was beginning to babysit a toddler. Everything we did was making the mess messier! Then, I called Eric at RotoClean. He came over THAT AFTERNOON and cleaned our carpet. He did an amazing job! We were so pleased with his work!

The number one thing that has always annoyed me about professional carpet cleanings is that it takes a LONG TIME for the carpet to dry.  Seriously, our carpet was dry in just about an hour! 

I highly recommend this company for carpet cleaning. Soon, we are going ask Eric to clean our grout. I attempted that before Amelia's birthday party in August. Good workout, but not a fun job. I'll leave it to the professionals! 





Here are a couple of before and after pics that I found on their website....



Three chihuahuas and Three ferrets made this mess. They cleaned it to perfection!

 



A drab entryway made warm, clean and inviting!
















You can view more before and after pics here.
You can check out their Facebook page by searching: RotoClean Services.
Angie's List has over 65 reviews on them. They have been #1 ever since they started.
If you are in need of professional cleaning services, I highly recommend these folks.

On a personal note, these are incredible people. They love the Lord and seek to serve Him in all they do. 







12.18.2012

33 Things I've Learned in 33 Years

I don't claim to be wise or learned. However, I do know who has walked with me through the majority of these years on this earth. Some of these are examples of lessons learned and some things are just silly. I hope you enjoy and may be so compelled to follow suit when the anniversary of your birth comes around.



1. "Obedience begins in pain and ends in blessing." -Mullins

2. Marriage is hard, but if entered into in God's will, it will be the most fulfilling, sanctifying relationship ever experienced.

3.Children are a joy...and a trial...to "get". Also sanctifying...daily. She remind me of the immense responsibility I have to guide her on this nasty, sin sick planet. 

4. Waiting for something is super hard and annoying, BUT I have found...every time, that I appreciate "it" because I had to "suffer" time to get it.

5. True, honest friendships are golden. My two bosom buddies, my honest, loving lifelong friends live, one in another state and the other on the other side of the world. We may never dwell in the same town again, but because of the road we once walked alongside one another and the road we travel together as followers of Christ-- we will never truly be apart. For that I am eternally grateful. These women have breathed life into my soul. I cherish the few moments we see each other face to face on rare occasions, phone calls, Skype dates and brief texts. (We are all in the throws of toddler-hood and newborn babe-hood. Our quiet times alone are few and far between, but we know this is but a passing season. Maybe, just maybe, one day in about 20 years, we can meet somewhere exotic and sit along the ocean water's edge and have "deep talks".

6. Coffee is good. It's a part of my soul. (I know that sounds silly.) Way back at my Mem and Paw Paw's house, I would sit at their kitchen table and listen to their spoons stir in the cream and sugar in a simple white porcelain mug. Ahhh...music to my ears. Then was when my sis and I took our first sips of that good ole brew. Granted, we had a little coffee with our cream and sugar.  

7. I feel like I grew up at Starbucks. After a brief stint at a "big girl job" at a law office, I exchanged my computer and transcription head phones for a green apron and an espresso bar. I wore that apron for about four years. I would recommend that job to anyone. I learned so much about life from the partners and customers I got to know. Some of them have become dear friends. There is something to be said about meeting people out of your comfort zone and out of your "bubble". You have no history with them. You can get honest, unbiased responses from them. Often when we know one's past and belief system, we hold back in honest, frank responses. I am thankful for my stint as a coffee/espresso slinger. I feel confident to sit down and chat with people of all faiths, walks of life and job title. (I'm not intending to sound arrogant. I am meaning to be open and honest.) 
Paul said, "I've learned to become all things to all people so that I might save some." I Corinthians 9:22-23 
My hope is that at the end of this life, that might be true of me.

8. I'm pretty obsessed with running. I'm sure if you have known me for a minute, you have gathered as much!
~cheap therapy ~don't need a buddy, but sometimes it's nice ~pretty much an all weather sport ~long runs are the best ~clears my head ~yes, it's hard, but what's not hard when yo have to work for it ~produces perseverance ~it's biblical (ok, it's a great biblical analogy:) ~I won't always have the ability to run, but--TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY. ~marathons are nuts, but, what can I say, I am nuts ~it's a drug-Endorphins ~a cross country coach in high school once told me that because of body mechanics,  I'll never be fast. Well, Carol, I'm thankful for those words of discouragement. They are propelling me to do much speed work ~I will run a sub 2 hour half ~I will run a sub 5 hour full (hopefully before I am 40)
My parents always said, "Who told you that you can't do something?" Philippians 4:13

9. Bear says that if I weren't a Christian, I'd be one of the leading women in the N.O.W. organization. I laugh at that. I am passionate....about everything! No, seriously, I am passionate about spurring women on to be truthful "iron sharpening" sisters in Christ, image bearers and ambassadors to their fellow men/husbands/children/friends.
 "We are not to be those who shrink back and are destroyed." Hebrews 10:39
"For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth." II Timothy 3:6-7 
I will strive to never be considered a "weak woman", not in a women's lib sort of way, but to always live "knowing who I am and Whose I am" (paraphrase from Dr. Rogers).

10. I love my city. Having grown up in Cordova, I still feel that it's beautiful. I love to talk about Shelby Farms. I could easily set up camp in the middle of that amazing park and live (ever so close to the visitor's center because I don't "go" in the woods!) I am passionate about raising my children to detest racism, segregation and the like. It is ungodly, unbiblical and an idea that was formed in the mind of Satan. The idea that one is superior to another (in any way) is utterly detestable. It's sin, plain and simple. I know it will never be solved, but I vow to do my part to never tolerate the jokes or ever make one feel inferior. (End of soapbox:) 

11. Our hearts were pricked by the Lord for adoption way before 2009. I think, for me, growing up in a church that supported Life Choices, standing along Poplar at The Life Chain and learning about adoption, ushered in the desire that the Lord would use to fulfill his purpose to grow our family. It's neat when I can see the Lord's hand clearly as I look back in a situation and see where he started a "thread" and carries it through my life. This journey has changed us and will continue to change us and we approach another adoption, Lord willing, in 2014. One night, while in the early stages of filling out paperwork and such for our first adoption, I had a conversation with a man at a wedding. I explained our journey to get to that point and then the process to adopt. He responded like no one has responded before. He simply said, "that sounds like it's going to be hard." I thought about what he said and didn't take it as a negative comment. All the sudden at about 10:30 that night, I sat up in bed (as a light bulb came on over my head:) I looked at Bear and said, "this is hard". The Lord has "gifted" us with this struggle to become parents. He has chosen us to bear this burden. He knows we can handle it and He wants to teach us something through it. We shouldn't shrink back from all that it brings. That night, I saw so many difficulties in my life in a new light! The tough things He brings in our path are there specifically for us. Just as he has tailored our blessings, He has tailored our burdens. Everything that comes at us, goes through His hands first. It is all for His glory and our good. In some ways it seemed a simple lesson. In other ways, it seemed profound. I have to remind myself of it, often.

12. I have become extremely concerned with what we put in our bodies/on our bodies and with what we clean our home. Over the past two years, I've learned about natural foods, how to make homemade body products and cleaning solutions. In the coming months, I hope to post weekly about each of these topics. I don't wish to "preach" to anyone, but I feel like the word needs to be spread about the truth and lies that the FDA spreads about what they deem as safe products. I am often overwhelmed with the responsibility to raise our daughter in a safe/healthy environment. I know we can't live in a "bubble", but I know I can provide healthy options and she can operate in those parameters. I chose to make her baby food, which was super easy. I knew exactly what she was ingesting. I try to stick to cooking with as many whole foods as possible. At this time, if my body products aren't homemade, I have purchased them from NYR Organic. I am most likely going to be selling this in the next year. Check out their website

13. Bear is the most amazing servant leader. I am truly thankful and eternally grateful for his leadership and wisdom. He is the best daddy! I knew in January 2000 that I wanted him to be the father of my children. We visited our niece, Corian, in the NICU at Vanderbilt. When I saw him sitting there holding that tiny baby and how he held her with such care, I just knew! 

14. I am a terrible housekeeper. I come up with lots of creative ways to get myself to do it, but they don't last. One thing that keeps me cleaning, however slowly, are the homemade cleaning solutions. I just think they are cool, so I want to use them. Whoever said, "oh, I have bleach! I'm going to de-gunk my shower today!" My most recent Pinterest find is a cute print that has itemized lists for everyday, once a month, etc. I framed it, so I could check it of using a dry erase marker. (that wasn't an original idea either) Oh well! Someday I'll get to cleaning. Thankfully, Bear doesn't mind cleaning. He helps me A LOT!

15. I love babysitting!!! I am hardly ever overwhelmed. I honestly know that this is my calling for this time in my life. If it were up to me, I'd have 5 kids by now. I love playing with all these little people. By the end of my "career", I will enjoy seeing these children grow up and am excited to see who they become. I have been fortunate to babysit children that belong to friends. It makes for a comfortable situation for both of us. Amelia loves being with them. 

16. I really like ice cream. My neighbor, Katie, and I know that when one of us is craving ice cream, we must call the other and accompany the other to Sonic. Sometimes we walk there, just to even it out. :) 

17. I recently joined a gym (sort of). I think this is the most excited I've been to be in a gym. I have two friends who go at the same time as me. It's always motivating to know that you will have company at 6 am. I prefer to be outside, but when it's 28 degrees, to the gym I go. This time, I am motivated. I want to get lean and mean! :) 

18. Kind of piggy backing on the I heart Memphis part, I love Memphis Tigers Basketball! It's not shaking out to be the best year, but that's not the point. I've cheered for the Tigers my whole life. In 7th grade, when I was asked where I wanted to go to college, I said, "Memphis State". :)

19. I still love Charlotte and Colby. Charlotte is getting really old. She is about 14 years old. She's got some health issues, but still going strong. Colby...well, I still love him too, but some days I want to just open the front door and let him run. It is really a challenge to manage dogs and babies and toys and carpet and poo in the backyard. 

20. I am a social media junkie. I do admit that I am addicted. It is hard to spend all day with people who can't really talk. I can't communicate on the telephone. I must text friends. I resort to Facebook often to catch a glimpse at what's going on in the outside world. It has proven to be a good way of communicating casually as well as a great way to network.

21. I love our neighbors. We almost bought a house closer in the town of Cordova. The deal didn't pan out, and, boy, weren't we glad! I'm sure there are some swell people over on Sun Vista, but over here on Green Moss, well, we've got it goin' on! We know at least nine families within walking distance of our house. I think that is a rarity in this day and time. We are going to the annual neighborhood Christmas party next Saturday night and we are excited! 

22. I like birthdays. Ever since I can remember, my mom has made a big deal about our birthdays. My sis and I were born on the same day, two years apart. Weird, huh? We have almost always had a double party. When my step bro and sis came into our lives, we had two more b-days in December and my step dad has a b-day at the end of the month! Craziness! Michelle and I used to have huge sleep overs and then, as teenagers, we invited everyone to my parent's house for a huge party. We rode the four wheeler, jumped on the trampoline, watched movies, and just had a good ole time. Parties have gotten smaller over the years. No more big groups or four wheelers, but I still like to celebrate. 

23. I love NASCAR! This is something else that I can say is in my soul. Ha! When Garry came into our lives, he introduced us to this. I spent just about every Sunday afternoon watching the start of the race. I'd snooze through the middle to the hum of the engines and wake to see the finish. I pay more attention these days, but do catch at cat nap here or there. Bear and I hope to go to Bristol in March. We will celebrate our 10th anniversary. Go ahead! Call us rednecks! We don't care! I say, "Go Kahne!" He says, "Go Jr.!"

24. I've really gotten into blogging. I started out with the purpose of telling about our adoption journey, took a break for about a year and then slowly got back to it. Now I don't usually go a week without posting. I don't post for others. I like feedback, but I post to journal my thoughts and events. I'm not a scrapbook-er or paper journal-er, so this will be the only written record of my life. I can't lean solely on my Facebook statuses. :)

25. I really enjoy going to the beach. I'm not picky about which beach. Some people love going to the Gulf, others prefer the Atlantic. I just want to put my toes in the water and...you can finish that one. This past trip was like none other. Amelia made it an interesting week! It was unique in many ways and I know we will continue to have many "firsts" in our future vacations. I dread going to Disney World. I don't exactly know why. The first thing that comes to mind is: exhaustion. The second is: sugar. They both go hand in hand. My deal is that if we are going, I want to go to the beach in the same trip. I don't want to be that close to the open water and sand and not see it!!!

26. I like a good bath. I go through phases where I go weeks with taking one every night. I'm in that phase these days. It is relaxing and proves to be a quick escape after a long day. Sometimes it's coupled with a little persistent knock and a tiny voice that says, "mommy, what'cha doing?" :) 

27. I have chosen to embrace the "gift" of barrenness. (I'm sure you didn't expect to stumble up on that one!) As I said earlier, it's all about Him. 
"It's all about you, Jesus. 
And all this is for you, for your glory and your fame. 
It's not about me, as if I should do things my way. 
You alone are God and I surrender. 
To your will. 
And to your way."
I don't recall who wrote this song, etc., but it states how I feel, especially with this heart wrenching situation in my life. I will never get over the hurt of barrenness, but I believe that to be a good thing. If it is his will to keep his finger on me in this way, I agree that it's a good thing. It keeps me humble and in complete dependence upon him. If for some reason he changes my situation, I will have learned from it and will never be the same because of it. It is difficult for me to talk to people about it, especially if they are in the throws of infertility treatment. I understand that the want to be pregnant so bad, but that's just it "THEY want to be pregnant". I am much more comfortable talking about adoption because I know how that has turned out for us. I don't desire to pursue pregnancy. It is a sore subject for me. I still get emotional in certain seasons. Many times discussions rip that "band aid" off my wound. It's not always a bad thing, but it is extremely difficult. I believed him from day one. He had a plan and he would bring it to pass. I haven't doubted him and he has remained faithful. 

28.This year I've tried to make more about Christmas than just the gift buying/giving and leading up to the big day. I've attempted to celebrate Advent in several ways. I got together a calendar for her, using a mini muffin pan and magnetic numbers. I placed candy and stickers/temporary tattoos in each spot. Each day, she gets to take a treat out. We are also memorizing the Magnificat, which is found in Luke 1:46-55. It is the sweetest thing to hear Amelia say, "And Mary said..." :) I've attempted to read through Piper's Advent devotional. I'm currently behind, but hope to finish before the end of the year.

29. I'm a country music junkie. Another thing that's part of my soul. I grew up from a wee little girl on that genre of music. I remember sitting in the Grand Ole Opry many times. I took it for granted too. Now I would love to go back! Of course there are a lot of sorrowful songs, "there's a tear in my beer, etc", but there are also many upbeat and uplifting songs. Many days on the way home from work, I'd click over to the country station and I could just feel my shoulders relax. People make fun of me for it, but I don't care. :)

30. I want to move to the country. That's where I started, so I guess you could say I want to go back to my roots. :) I've come to know a family that lives in the country and when I go to their farm, I just feel like that is really living. It's gritty and dusty and real. You don't need make up or a fancy purse. Just some jeans and boots! Hopefully one day that dream can come true!

31. I have a love affair with chocolate. (Shhh....I have at least a little bitty piece a day) And now it all comes together for ya! That's why I run! :) I prefer dark, but any variety will suffice. 

32. I miss those that have gone before me. They aren't gone. They are just having the most amazing time and I will see them sooner than later. This year, we said goodbye for now to two dear family members. I regret that I didn't spend more time with them here on earth, but distance prevented that. It will be a great reunion one day. (Paw Paw, Grandma, Grandaddy, Aunt Rene, Uncle Elvon, Uncle Dale, Uncle Roy, Lynn, Uncle Bobby, Aunt Nell, Tony, Grandmama and many more)

33. The Lord had really been ministering to me in song over the past month. At least once a day, a song comes to mind that soothes me and puts me back on track. It is so sweet of Him. I love how he faithfully meets us at our point of need. He knows us so intimately. I find such rest in that fact, as I navigate my way on this terrestrial ball. Many times I feel alone and misunderstood, but He is there and he understands. I find comfort in that. Many years ago, I claimed these verses....

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30




12.11.2012

Lovin' Local: A.N.D. Custom Frames



I am becoming pretty passionate about buying local items, eating from local restaurants and eating local produce. There are various reasons: a. we are supporting our fellow Memphians or those in the surrounding areas b. food tastes better because it's either fresher or cooked fresh instead of arriving frozen on a Sysco truck c. you have to admit there are some pretty cool and crafty peeps that produce some sweet stuff in these parts!

Well, I've decided to devote a blog post every so often to one of those super cool Memphis area peeps! Today's post is devoted to A.N.D. Custom Frames. This little company is owned by Angela Nixon. She custom designs wooden frames and they are made to order.

I have purchased several as gifts and some for our own photos. Here are some pics I've taken of the frames we have.

(Diclaimer: I'm not a good photographer. I leave the picture takin' to my professional sis in law JoLaura. We will talk about her one day:)



These are just a few of the designs she has available.


Above is showing all these available designs with a price list to the left. (You can click on the photo and it will appear larger on your screen.


This is a 4X6 frame



Another 4X6 (i'm keeping this one!)


A sweet lil 4X6


An 8X10

If you are interested in purchasing a frame, you may contact Angela at: angelanixon@mac.com.
I've been very pleased with the product. Each comes with glass and metal hinges on the back to hold the pic and cardboard on the frame. There are two separate holes in the back of the frame, so it can be hung horizontally or vertically.

**Keep a watch on these lovin' local posts. There may be a giveaway one day!**

12.06.2012

Homemade Yogurt

Sometimes I ask myself, "why are you blogging about what everybody already knows about?" Either they've done it before or they saw you did it on Facebook and probably don't want to hear about it in detail! Well, I guess I'm writing for my own personal journal or you are reading this because you actually want a detailed account of what I did/made or whatever besides: Amanda Cline: is making homemade yogurt. Amanda Cline: That was good yogurt! HA!

So here goes...A few months ago I saw a recipe for homemade yogurt on a blog and I read through it and thought, "Yeah, right! Too time consuming and why?!" But then I thought about it a bit, realized how much I could save because, if you have read past recipes I've blogged about, I use a lot of yogurt! That's the number 1 reason I wanted to make it. I am perfectly comfortable with the Stonyfield and Fage Greek I buy at Kroger. Also, Amelia has begun to like it too. :)

It all started because I found a local raw milk source. I know, I know. At this point, I've already lost some of you! Well, know that you don't have to be using this type of milk to make the yogurt. You can use whatever kind you'd like. Kroger milk works just fine. I was just excited about buying a gallon of milk fresh from "Bessie" and using it soon! :) In the meantime, I've learned, from my source, that using raw milk with fresh, good cultures, is a bit contradictory when making yogurt. I won't be using my "gold" for yogurt in the future. :) 

I got my trusty ole crockpot out and started to work! I poured a gallon of cold milk into the crockpot. Turned it on high and periodically checked the temp of the milk over the course of 5 hours. I used a meat thermometer thought directions called for candy thermometer. Not sure about the difference, but it worked nonetheless. After the milk reached a temp of 160 degrees, which sterilizes the milk, (this is where using raw milk is redundant), I took the lid off the crockpot and let it cool to a temp of 110. This is the proper incubation temp. I turned the oven on to 200 degrees to preheat.  I poured a small amount of the milk into a bowl. I added one cup of plain Fage Greek yogurt. This acts as a "starter". In the future, I'll have my own homemade starter. :) I mixed the milk and yogurt together until smooth. Then I put that back into the crockpot and mixed it all together. 

 Now the weird/funny part comes in....

I put the milk/yogurt mixture in glass jars. (I'm sure you read that I was looking for unwanted glass jars. :)  Then, I turned the oven off, placed jars in the oven and turned on the light. (The light is said to keep the heat going a bit. Some think it doesn't matter, but I chose to stick to the script for this first show.)



Tuesday morning...


Voila!!!



The bitty baby food jars are the cutest!!! (And perfect for single servings for A!:)

Here is a recipe on a blog that is more organized:



Let me know if you try it!!




11.26.2012

Skipping Thanksgiving



This year's Thanksgiving week was totally different than past years. We found out about a week ago that my mom would have heart surgery in Rochester, MN on Monday the 19th. My sis and I quickly made plans to be there for the surgery and recovery. I had the oddest feelings while getting ready and leaving for the trip. While I was glad to be able to spend the time with my mom, I wasn't looking forward to the trip, nor was I looking forward to being away from Amelia and Bear. My flights to MN were uneventful and boring. You know that I'm a talker. No one wanted to talk. That was okay because I had an early flight of 6 a.m.  When I arrived at the airport at 5:15 Saturday morning, a huge line quickly formed behind me. I was about 6 people away from the desk. I only had to check in. I prided myself in the fact that I fit all my belonging for 3 days in my carry on. If you know me well and have traveled with me in the past, this was a huge feat! I only packed one pair of shoes. My running shoes, of course. :) There was only one attendant at the desk. I was getting antsy because I didn't know how long it would take for me to get through security and on to the plane. I decided not to worry too much because all those people had to be getting on my plane! I got my ticket, managed to get through security after being frisked because I had my cell phone in my back pocket. (Michelle and fam were right behind me and I was trying to alert her of the situation.) I took a quick look at my ticket, didn't buckle my shoes and quickly walked toward my gate. As I approached the gate (which I quickly noticed was deserted) I heard my name being called over the intercom! I had looked at the wrong number on my ticket! I looked at the seat number/letter! It was the only thing in bold print on my ticket. So at that point my heart drops and I start running (with shoes unbuckled) toward my gate! 5 minutes later I arrive...nearly a sweaty mess...at 6 a.m.! I board the packed plane and then wait 10 more minutes for all the people still in line! So, at that point, I was awake sans coffee!After a short layover in Chicago, I headed to MN with no problems.

We all met up in the airport and took the shuttle to the hotel and then on to the Mall of America.


I really can't find a photo to do it justice. There's no way to wrap your head around the size of this place! After walking almost all of the floors, I can say that the first floor has the best stores. The second had the teeny-bopper stores and third was mostly restaurants, while the fourth had fast food and a movie theater. So, that made it smaller to me. So if, for some reason, I ever go back...I'll stick with the first floor. :)

I was a little excited to go to the mall, but about half way through, my 4 a.m. wake up call was catching up with me. :( I was dragging. We were there all afternoon and into the night. Needless to say, I slept very good that night!


Hudson and I taking a break in a shoe store. I love this little man!



 My breakfast buddies! :)

The next day, we took a van to Rochester, which was about an hour and a half away from Minneapolis. 


We arrived and checked into our hotel. It was called The Aspen. It was so nice! It had a ski lodge theme.


This is the lobby. I spent about an hour down here one night waiting for my clothes to finish washing. :) Very cozy.

We all hunkered down in a big suite to watch the last NASCAR race of the season and eat pizza. It was a fun afternoon. Later that night, my mom got word that she was to be at the hospital (Saint Mary's) across the street at 5:45 a.m. After making a few phone calls and texting the info, she started feeling really bad. Her heart went into a-fib rhythm. Michelle and I decided to accompany my mom and Garry to the ER and Sammy stayed with their kids. It was a scary/funny thing. We zoomed downstairs, ran across the street and put my mom in a wheelchair. We followed all the red signs to the ER on the other side of the building. After just a few minutes, we were able to go back where they were trying to stabilize my mom. We stayed with her until they moved her to the ICU for the night. At that point, we didn't know if they would continue with the plan to do surgery. We were praying that her heart would go back into regular rhythm, so the surgery could take place as planned. 

Our prayers were answered. A simple thing as my mom sitting up on the side of the bed caused her heart to go back into rhythm. Weird! 

My sis and I headed to the hospital at 7 a.m. on Monday morning. We waited for the nurses to come and get our mom for surgery. Even though we knew it would be okay, it was an aweful feeling as we watched them wheel her away. A nurse met us in the hall and told us that she would call us several times during the surgery. At that point, we felt like it would be all day! We all settled into a waiting area and it wasn't long before the nurse called and told us she would be taking us to meet the surgeon. We met with him and he said everything went well. We were relieved! 

We waited for about another hour for them to settle her into the cardiac ICU and then we were able to go and see her. This is what I wasn't prepared for...she was still sedated, tubes and iv's everywhere. I was so emotional. I knew she was okay and the worst part was over, but I could tell there was a long road ahead.  We decided to let her rest and go to lunch and then we went back to the hotel to get some rest. Everyone else rested but me. I got on the phone with the airline and moved my return flight from the next day until Friday. I decided after seeing my mom that I really wanted to stay until she was more stable or released. Two hours later I had new flight plans. (My sis really wanted to stay as well, but it would have been too expensive for her to have changed flight plans.)

We returned to the icu to see my mom and sweet Garner wanted to go and see her. She was still resting and Garner put one of her Spiderman band-aids on my mom's hand. :) She is such a sweetheart. She was trying to wrap her little mind around what was going on. On Sunday afternoon, my mom told her she had a boo boo on her heart and the doctor was going to fix it. Garner kept gesturing with her hand and asking her why. She did so well with all the waiting, etc. 

Photo: So sweet watching Garner say " night night MawMaw" then she told the nurse to keep her safe. Oh my heart!

My mom stayed in the ICU for the remainder of Monday and got moved to a private room mid-day Tuesday. Michelle and fam went home about that time. 

After my mom got settled in her room, Garry and I set up camp there. We were glad we were able to be with her around the clock. It was truly amazing to see how she grew in strength each day. I couldn't believe that she would come home in the same week after seeing her post surgery! The body is an amazing mechanism. 

Garry began spending the night in the room on Tuesday and I would go back to the hotel each night and stay. We had moved to a smaller room on Tuesday. This was the first time I'd ever stayed in a hotel by myself. I asked myself it I was creeped out or if it was cool. I never felt scared, but it lost it's cool fast. It became a bit lonely. Tuesday night I entertained myself with a movie I'd never seen. It's called Safe House.  It was action packed. I would like to watch it one day with Bear. I was hoping it wouldn't keep me up because I watched it right up until I went to sell. No problems there. Every night I went to bed earlier than I do at home and I slept like a baby! I think the main reason was because I was just emotionally drained. I'd never experienced such a thing as this as an adult. When I was a child three grandparents passed away. Two had long illnesses, but it's different to experience something like this at an age where you absorb so much.  It was good for me, yet hard enough that I never wish to experience it again.

It was a really difficult decision to stay and not spend Thanksgiving with Bear and Amelia. For the past 13 years, Bear and I have gone to Alabama to spend Thanksgiving with his parents.  I knew it would be sad to "skip Thanksgiving", but I felt like this year was different and I needed to be with my mom. I didn't know if I wanted to stay more for me or them. Either way, I stayed.

Wednesday it was unseasonably warm in Rochester.  I decided to take a walk a few blocks away to a strip mall. I happened upon a consignment shop with tons of great clothes.  It is called All In Vogue.  I just realized they sell their clothes on their website. They sell designer jeans at great deals. They also have a liquidation room. A liquidation room in a consignment shop? Yes! I scored a pair of Gap jeans for 3.95! Crazy! That totally made my day! 

At this point in the trip I had worn every piece of clothing I had packed.  And, at this point, I was wishing I'd paid that precious $25 to check a larger bag so I would have more variety. Oh well! I had these new jeans and I wore them! 

Thursday was Thanksgiving. I knew it would be a bit depressing to be at the hospital and be away from Bear and Amelia.  It was a weird day, but I pushed through.  After a "lovely" lunch at the hospital, I headed out for a run along a paved trail a few blocks behind my hotel. It was really nice to breathe fresh air. I ran twice on treadmills earlier in the weeks. This was great! It really broke up my day. I believe I ran about 4 miles. 

After showering, I met new friends down in our hotel lobby and we had a Thanksgiving dinner! My sis and Sammy introduced me to a couple that was there because their six month old daughter was having heart surgery.  She is a twin and her brother, Aidan was there.  I got to hold him for a few minutes one day. He is a sweetie.  I never got the opportunity to meet Ava Grace, but I heard a lot about her. Here is her blog, if you want to check it out. Her parents are super sweet! 

I got to sit across the table from Christina's dad at dinner. We covered many subjects in the hour or so that we chatted over dinner. You could tell I hadn't talked to many people that week. :)  He is an expert on the Native Americans. It was an interesting conversation.

Friday was my last day and I spent the morning at the hospital. It was a chilly 18 degrees! Yikes! I don't think I've ever experienced that cold before! I can honestly say that I could live without experiencing it again! 

Right after lunchtime, my mom was released from the hospital. Amazing! I had to say what I thought was goodbye until Memphis because I had to catch the van back to the airport.  Garry wheeled my mom over to the hotel lobby right before I boarded the van! I had to snap a "welcome home" pic!

Photo: They're baaaack!!!

I was so glad to see her smiling and I knew she was glad to be released from "jail". :)

I had a good conversation with the van driver on the way to the airport. I was the only passenger! Haha! 
We discovered that we both shared a love for running! He isn't able to run anymore, but told me about the Minneapolis/St. Paul Marathon. He talked about how beautiful the run is as it goes from one city to the next. 

In no time I was at the airport and ready to get home! I was so looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.  When I arrived at the Charlotte airport, I immediately noticed the rocking chairs in the waiting areas. I knew it! I had arrived on Southern soil. :)  After dinner, I headed to my terminal.  I thought our flight would never get to leave. We waited, it seemed like forever, to take our turn to taxi onto the runway.  I'm too nervous to sleep on the plane, so I just sat in the dark, waiting for the landing.  It finally came! I couldn't wait for Kelly to pick me up! I'm so thankful for this sweet friend! 

It felt super weird to come home and be here by myself for almost a day. I got a lot done, but was ready to see Bear and Amelia. Saturday afternoon they got home.  It was a great reunion! 

This was definitely a different Thanksgiving and though I skipped the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't skip the opportunity to give Thanks and be Thankful for all the ways the Lord has blessed me.


11.14.2012

A Protein Packed Snack & A Request







A Snack














Method:


  • melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring half way
  • slice the banana in about two inch pieces
  • spread a dab of almond butter onto each banana slice
  • drizzle the melted chocolate on each piece
  • cover the dish with plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour   

(i placed the pieces in a corning ware dish, but next time i'll put wax paper down first. it was a bit difficult to separate them from the dish.)


Let's just say.. these didn't make it to my post-workout...Amelia and I devoured all of them after dinner tonight! :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Request


My mom will be having heart surgery this coming Monday at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. We learned of this news this afternoon. She has been there for testing this week. We are all a bit nervous about it, but do have a peace that she will be ok and that she is in the Lord's hands. I would like to ask that you pray for her as she has the surgery and that the doctors and nurses are able to do their work to the best for her. A few family members and I will be traveling there on Saturday morning and will return on Tuesday evening. We also ask for prayer for safe travel. I will be updating everyone on Facebook. Thanks so much!

11.13.2012

Golden Cauliflower Soup and Not Your Mama's Oatmeal

I've had many days, lately, where I am hungry, but nothing in the house looks good to eat.  I found a couple of things that were really yummy and I want to share them with you.

I decided to hurry and make soup with a head of cauliflower that I had laying around in my fridge. I made a recipe called Golden Cauliflower Soup. It was fairly simple, but took some prep work. I did this during the kid's nap time. Here are a few photos of the steps....


First, I chopped a head of cauliflower.


Then, chopped one onion and two large carrots.


Then, after simmering carrots and onion in melted coconut oil, I added the other veggies. They cooked for about 30 minutes.
The next step was to add the mixture to a blender and blend it all together. It was a very simple recipe to follow. The extra special thing was that Amelia loved it! 
In regular fashion, I don't have a pic of the finished product. I was too hungry. Ha! Here is a pic from the source.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Later last night, I read a post from my friend, Grant. He began a blog about his journey as a vegan. It has been really inspiring for me. He posts lots of yummy recipes. Breakfast has become a hard meal for me to desire to eat. I was on a serious egg eating kick for about a year and for some reason I haven't wanted them consistently for the past few months. This oatmeal recipe looked good, so I tried it this morning. It was great! I followed his recipe and added my own twist.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup oatmeal, I used quick cooking oats
about 1/4 cup raw vanilla protein powder, I used Garden of Life
about 1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup blueberries
half a banana
a couple splashes of maple syrup

Method:
I simply mixed all this in a bowl and nuked it for about 1 1/2 minutes.

It was fantastic! I will be making this again! This is the pic of the finished product. I know, it looks like garbage, but it is great!


11.11.2012

Bertie the Bird and a Fun Filled Weekend

This weekend has been filled with a bunch of fun and quality time with sweet friends and family! Friday night I spent time with my ole high school buddies at Chrystal's house. We had a spa/mexican food night. Jess brought a foot bath and we each brought beauty products to trade. After enjoying dinner and taking turns pampering our tootsies, we Skyped with Laura and called Christy and got to all have a great time catching up together. I love technology! It was so awesome to be able to hear everyone's voices. It's wonderful that across the miles and through the years, we can remain friends. That is so neat how the Lord knits our hearts together. Jess snapped this pick of us "all together".


Next up was my long run with two buddies I haven't run with before. We met at Patriot Lake at Shelby Farms and headed across Walnut Grove toward the Germantown Greenway. The weather was beautiful and there were lots of people out for a run. We even saw two deer running along side our trail. I love when that happens. We ran for about two hours. We aren't sure exactly how far we went, but I'm pretty sure it was a little under 10 miles. We had a great time catching up/getting to know each other. I'm thankful to have met these ladies who are "farther down the road than me" through my church. I look forward to running with them in the near future.

After that, I headed to a sweet family's home to babysit their son, Cannon, while they attended a precious family member's memorial service. I just love this little boy and his family. I have the privilege of watching him on a regular basis. (He makes me wish for a boy for us, in the future. :)  Bear and Amelia met me and we all had a great time together. Here is a pic of Cannon from last week at the playground.


Then after heading home to get ready, I made the road trip to Atoka to attend my friend, Missy's baby shower. It was worth the drive! :) My sis and I enjoyed good food and fellowship as we watched her open many gifts. Here's a pic of my ole running buddy and I. I can't wait to meet her sweet baby girl in January!


Sunday, we went to church and had lunch at SkiMo's with our Sunday school class. It was great! Many hadn't been there yet, so they got to experience a great local place.

After a little bit of chill time at home, I ran to Kroger and got a few things. I had a great idea! I decided to cook a whole bird! I thought, what do I have to lose? Well, I had about $5 invested, so that was about it! I just followed the directions...oiled her up..(I affectionately named her Bertie)..put her on a make shift roasting pan, i e, broiler pan and popped her in the oven at 350 for an hour and forty five minutes.

Meanwhile, Bear stayed home to tend to the bird and Amelia and I walked over to our neighbor's first birthday party. We had a great time catching up with neighbors we seldom get to see. (By the way, we have an awesome group of neighbors in our 'hood! There are so many sweet Christian families surrounding us. Such a blessing!) Here are a couple of pics of the festivities.


                                               Amelia got a butterfly painted on her face. :)


Singing "Happy Birthday" to Etienne.

So back to Bertie...When we got home she was just sitting on the stove, cooling off. After a bit, I pulled her apart and...ok, I've got to stop referring to the bird as a girl...it was so simple to do this. I just refrigerated the meat and we can eat it all week. We saved a few bucks by cooking it ourselves and had a neat experience!

Finally, this coming week is a big one...My mom will be flying to Minnesota to Mayo Clinic tomorrow. She will be having testing done to determine if she will be having heart surgery in the near future. We covet your prayers as we walk through this with her. 

Thanks for reading, folks! I hope you had a great weekend!

P.S. GO TIGERS! 
The season opener is tomorrow night and I'll be there! Woot!

10.31.2012

Strawberry "Flatcakes" Redeemed!

So yesterday I saw those three pretty flat strawberry cakes in my freezer and I got one out. As it defrosted on my kitchen counter, I thought about what I could do with it. I decided to Google icing ideas. I found an icing made with Greek yogurt. (of course! :) So I was able to simply whip it up and I cut the cake into little squares and dabbed a bit of the icing on it and it was a yummy little dessert snack! I will be using this icing recipe more often! I got the recipe from here.

Here it is:


  • 1 C Greek yogurt (I used Fage Greek yogurt)
  • A good splash of vanilla extract (I used 1 t)
  • 1/2 C powered sugar, sifted
  1. Whisk all ingredients until they become a bit thick.
  2. Place in the fridge to thicken even more (at least 30 minutes). (I skipped this step)
  3. Spread on cupcakes (or little slices of strawberry "flatcakes" :)


Read more: http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2009/05/greek-yogurt-frosting-healthy-frosting.html#ixzz2Au90GcuD

10.30.2012

Baking Woes and Wins

Last week I had a baking FAIL. I decided to bake my grandmother's birthday cake for her 91st birthday party. She loves strawberry so I picked a recipe for a homemade strawberry cake. It looked simple enough. I decided to bake the cakes on Monday. I mixed something wrong and the cakes didn't rise. I came out with three 8 inch round strawberry pancakes. :( I froze them anyway because I thought they might still taste good. 

I scrambled for an hour or so on Wednesday morning to find a professional baker that could produce a strawberry cake by 6pm that night. Through a trusty friend via Facebook, I found Miss Muff'n bakery in Germantown. They were a life saver! They had their strawberry cream cake ready and they wrote "Happy Birthday Mem" on it. It was a hit!

On to my baking win...a few years back, my sweet friend Lee got me the cookbook called Mom-a-licious by Domenica Catelli.  It is a great cookbook that features lots of simple and healthy recipes. I mixed up her homemade shake 'n bake mix. I used these ingredients to make it.

I mixed all of these in a plastic bag and throw in boneless skinless chicken breasts that I cut into strips. I just shook them a bit and then placed them on a cookie sheet. I baked them for about 20 minutes and they turned out great. Add a little honey mustard or bbq sauce for dipping and they are delish!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup white or wheat flour, or a combo of the two (i used white wheat flour)
1/2 cup panko or bread crumbs
1/4 cup granulated garlic (I used garlic powder)
3+ tablespoons of combined dried spices such as paprika, celery seed, oregano, dry mustard powder, curry powder, etc.
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or thyme or a combo, minced (I omitted this step. Just didn't have any on hand.)
4-6 chicken breasts or one whole chicken, cut into pieces (quartered)
drizzle extra virgin olive oil

the process:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Place all ingredients (except chicken and extra virgin olive oil) in a large plastic bag and shake well to mix. Rinse chicken and then shake in the bag.
-Place the coated chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes to one hour, depending on the size and quantity of chicken. ( i didn't line my baking sheet.)
-Bake until golden brown, crispy, and juices run clear when poked with a knife. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil afterwards.

10.21.2012

Pumpkin Guts, anyone?

When my friend/neighbor/running buddy told me that they were going to carve pumpkins this weekend, I asked if she would save me the guts. So today after church we picked them up on our way home! I had a recipe in mind. I made Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup.

Here it is in pictures...


After chopping one medium onion (with my trusty Pampered Chef chopper), I put it in this pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. It cooked for about 5 minutes.


Then I chopped four carrots and two celery stalks and added them to sauteed onion.


I'm missing a couple of steps in pictures. After the chopping, I added vegetable broth (some chicken stock because I didn't have enough vegetable stock), spices, coconut milk, sliced up sweet potato and real pumpkin guts. (my take on that is that it was neat to use it, but until I learn that there is something wrong with canned pumpkin, I'm going to continue to use it. :)
The soup simmers for about 35 minutes on medium heat. Then I blended it in my blender. I could only fill the blender half way full, so this took three rounds. The blog suggests using an immersion blender. Then I poured the soup into a large dish. (My roast dish, actually).

The above pic is the finished product with two buttered slices of Ezekiel bread on the side.
Delish! It was time consuming, but cooking real food from scratch is very rewarding!
I will be enjoying this with a grilled cheese sandwich tomorrow!

10.20.2012

Getting Crafty

A few weeks ago, a sweet friend showed me how to make bows. I was so excited to try my hand at this craft. The other night, I got out some ribbon that I had on hand and started crafting. I made these!








Tonight I finished them up with hot glue and attached clips. I'm excited that I've learned how to make these. I will be stopping by Hobby Lobby soon to buy ribbon that will go with Amelia's outfits. I may try and tweak my skills and make some as gifts for Christmas. Who knows? The possibilities are endless! :)

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

I decided to make my go-to dish for a family that has been sick this week--Poppy Seed Chicken. I've made this dish many times since we've been married. It seemed to be something everyone loves. This time, I decided to be a bit daring and change it up a bit. I used Greek yogurt (Fage) instead of sour cream. I just substituted it evenly. Then I decided to try my hand at making cream of chicken soup to avoid the MSG and other yucky ingredients that are in the can. Success! I was so excited! AND it was so easy! Why haven't I been doing this all along?!

Here is the recipe from Bun in my Oven :

Ingredients:

-1 tablespoon flour (I used white wheat flour)
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/2 chicken broth
-1/2 milk
-salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. When melted, whisk in the flour and continue whisking until smooth and bubbly. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Return to the heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly, until the soup thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Substitute this for one can of cream of chicken soup.

This is not an exciting picture, but this is what the soup looked like after I finished. A quick taste and it was good.

I talked to my friend later last night and she said the Poppy Seed Chicken was really good. Yay! 

Just in case you haven't made this dish before. Here is the recipe...

Poppy Seed Chicken
-4 chicken breasts (boiled, shredded)
-1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
-1 can cream of chicken soup or equivalent homemade cream of chicken soup
-1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers or any cracker crumbs
-poppy seeds (i don't measure. i just scatter over crumbled crackers)
-3 tbsp. butter

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350. Boil the chicken. Shred it. ( I used my Pampered Chef chopper. Love it!) Put the chicken in a 9X13 pan. Mix sour cream or yogurt with cream of chicken soup. Pour it over the chicken. Crumble crackers and put over mixture. Sprinkle poppy seeds over crackers, liberally. Melt butter in microwave for about 20 seconds. Pour it over the dish. Bake for about 35 minutes or until bubbly. Serve. 

This dish should yield 6-8 servings. 

Let me know if you try this for the first time!

10.18.2012

Homemade Taco Seasoning

This doesn't sound too exciting, but after the security of leaving out the yucky ingredients, it has its appeal. I've been making my own taco seasoning for a few weeks now. We cook dishes that call for it at least once every other week. Last night I made chicken fajita spuds and I put the taco seasoning on the shredded chicken. It was yummy! Here is the recipe for the taco seasoning...



homemade taco seasoning Homemade Taco Seasoning



Ingredients

- 1part chili powder
- 1 part garlic powder
- 1 part ground cumin
- 1 part onion powder
- 1/4-1/2 part crushed red pepper

Directions

- Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. I keep mine in the freezer.
- Use sparingly or liberally!



I found this recipe from http://www.5dollardinners.com/homemade-taco-seasoning/ via Pinterest (of course:).

Next, I'm going to make homemade cream of everything soup mix. :)

10.01.2012

The Detox

Sunday morning I began the Dr. Oz' 48 hour detox.  It began with a quinoa porridge, which was actually pretty good. I could eat that on a normal day. It included prunes and ginger. Pretty tasty! I thought this wouldn't be so bad!



This is the quinoa breakfast.

We went to church and I got pretty hungry during the service. I was looking forward to whatever would be my lunch. Well, at first I blended up a pineapple kale smoothie. Just like it sounds....YUCK! He suggested juicing it and I'm just not sure that would have helped the taste. I made it three quarters of the way through a glass and gave up. It was such a strong, grassy taste. It included fresh mint and that was a very strong smell. 



No words needed. :(

I also mixed up another drink that was suggested to aid in detox. It was pomegranate juice, pineapple juice and water. It was great! The plan states that you can drink as much of the green drink and juice drink as desired throughout the days. I just stuck with the juice drink. 

The actual lunch was the smoothie pictured below. It was yummy! Ground flax, frozen blueberries, and  almond milk. Amelia even had a few sips of this one. :)



Both Sunday and Monday I had a tough time between lunch and dinner because                                 I got really hungry. It suggests snacking on raw green beans, cucumber and radishes with olive oil mixed with lemon juice and pepper. I've eaten many green beans in the past 48 hours! Not too bad, really. It won't be my go-to snack anytime soon though.

Finally, dinner was a cabbage soup. Thankfully, Bear helped me prep everything for the soup. Everything had to be chopped and then it had to boil then simmer on the stove for an hour. It takes a looooonnnngggg time for a big pot of soup to boil! I got so hungry. It actually smelled so good! This was the best tasting part of the plan. It didn't look very appetizing, but was great. It probably was so great because I was so hungry!

Here is a pic of the soup on the stove.


It was very filling and both nights I had two bowls. I could eat cabbage soup on a regular basis.

A funny thing...at Kroger, I was surprised to find that they do sell fennel bulbs. It was an ingredient for my soup. When we got to the check out, the lady didn't know what it was and then it took her a while to figure out how to charge for it. She kept calling it a "fennel bowl". HA! It really smelled great. Kind of like licorice. It was neat to try something new. 

Over all, the detox wasn't too bad. I did get hungry between meals. I did see bloat reduced in my stomach. I haven't had any negative effects from the plan so far. I would recommend it to someone, but would recommend getting a juicer to try the pineapple kale drink. I do think the cleanse would have been more effective had I drank that more. 

I do have a confession...I went to Sonic tonight...and ate a Resse's blast. I really don't feel bad about it though. I was so hungry. I went ahead and ate dinner with the family because I had to eat my soup at 4:30. Dinner was so good. But to kind of even things out, my neighbor and I ran before we ran to Sonic and then we walked home. :)