Friday, December 31, 2010

...and there she goes...

It seems as if 2010 just started and then here we are...done with yet another year. Twelve months...another calendar down....another year gone.

So like many others I have been reflecting a bit on what 2010 meant to me and what I'd like to do differently in 2011. And as such, this post was born.....

The year of 2010 saw much change in not only my physical health, but my emotional health as well. I lost 65 pounds and with those pounds, an immeasurable amount of emotional baggage. I worked through issues from the deaths of Schuyler and my Mom. I discovered that I have more inner strength than I had ever imagined. I developed a closer relationship to many members in my family, especially my niece and my Dad. The loss of so much shifted my perspective on things and helped me to see what things are truly important in my life.

One thing that I have realized is that a "HAPPY" life doesn't mean a life without sadness. I have a "HAPPY" life. I really do. I am happy with where my life has taken me, even if some of those trips have been dark, sad days that I never want to re-live. Those sad times and the happy times have shaped me to who I am today. And I am happy with that person. I see people who talk about the mundane "pains" of their day and it makes me sad. They stress out at the silliest of things. I hate that all I can think of is that if they knew TRUE SADNESS and SORROW then these small things would not be such an inconvenience in their life. Unfortunately it is a lesson that will probably have to be hard learned.

The new year bring the promise of many things for different people, but for me, the new year means much of the same.... times spent with the people I love the most, my family and dear friends
...focus on my physical and emotional health spent on meaningful things, instead of worrying about stuff that worrying won't change

Yeah, I have specific 2011 goals (resolutions of sorts, you might say) but those I tend to keep more to myself until I have honed the details.

I hope that 2011 is a year where you can gain perspective on the things that are really important in your own life and find a place where you are honestly at peace with who you are.

Happy New Year ~

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Several times over the past few months I have found myself teary eyed over the strangest things. These weren't times when one would expect to get teary eyed, like someone mentioning my Mom or Schuyler, or even seeing a soldier on the street.

These were times when I was, quite honestly, overcome with happiness. And as strange as it seems, it's been happening more and more. I wonder if maybe going through such a dark and sad place and knowing what that feels like makes the moments of sheer bliss even more dramatic, but nevertheless, I've been crying in public.

The most recent time was Sunday as we sat in the darkened theater watching the live production of The Nutcracker ballet. I looked to my right and saw Drake watching intently...then I looked to my left and saw Avery...completely mesmerized and fascinated at the activity on the stage.

...and my eyes started filling up...

So many seemingly ordinary moments, but yet, so very significant. I'm so thankful that I have these beautiful children, eventhough at times I want to hang them from their toes! I'm so thankful that I have a supportive and understanding husband who always gives me the leeway that I need, but knows when I need him to reel things in and have some family time. I'm thankful for our life...I know it's so-not-politically-correct to be thankful for the STUFF, but I am. I'm thankful that we've been able to work hard and have the home that we have, the wonderful neighbors and friends that we have, and the opportunities that our work has provided to us. Granted, I also think that if we were living somewhere else I would be happy as well, but I'm thankful that life has led us right here....right now.

There's your fair warning...if you see me on the street and see me dabbing at my eyes, I very well may not be crying tears of sadness, but tears of joy, because I am HAPPY....right here....right now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Soup in a jar!

I posted on Facebook about my "Soups in a Jar" gifts that I had done. We tested both recipes and are PLEASED with the yummy results. People asked, so I am sharing the recipes.

Here is the recipe for the JAR for Italian Tomato and Pasta Soup. The recipe card that you attach to the jar for preparation is after!

The recipe that you attach to the jar is:

1 jar Italian Tomato and Pasta Soup Mix
5 cups water
1 can (28) oz. diced tomatoes
1/2 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4-6 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled

1. Remove cheese packet from jar; set aside.

2. Combine water and remaining contents of jar into sauce pan. Bring to a boil and boil 10-12 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, spinach, and bacon. Reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4-5 servings

For a variation, use fresh spinach. I didn't use the bacon, and it was still awesome! As you can see, I also used Penne pasta, and it was great!

The finished product!

Jar #2! Home-Style Chicken and Rice Soup Mix:

For the JAR:

The recipe that you attach TO the jar:

1 jar Home-Style Chicken & Rice Soup Mix
6-7 cups water
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
salt and pepper

1. Combine contents of jar, water and tomato sauce in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover; reduce heat and simmer 1 hour or until rice is tender.

2. Stir in chicken. Cook over low heat 10-15 minutes or until chicken is heated through. Remove and discard bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 10 - 12 servings.

My only caution on the Chicken and Rice uses a PINT jar instead of a QUART jar! I had my quart jars all lined up and was tossing ingredients in like a mad woman and then when I finished I couldn't figure out why the chicken and rice soup jars were not full, and the other was was to the top. DUH...pint jar, blondie! So, I had to get some pint jars and transfer, and it's all good.

Have I said, we tried both soups and I was really impressed at the flavor with both of them. Jeff liked the chicken and rice soup a lot. He isn't a big fan of pasta or spinach, so he didn't even taste that one, but I REALLY liked it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Favorite Things

I figured if Oprah can have her "Favorite Things" then why can't I? Well, for one, me naming a Favorite Thing won't cause the stock to jump or thousands of people to run out and buy it, but still....

Here are a few of my favorite things this holiday season!

1. Coffee Mugs

I found these re-usable travel coffee mugs at Wal-Mart for $5. Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking "Big's a coffee mug". But, seriously folks, I LOVE THESE! The seal in them is such that you don't end up spilling. The seal is just awesome. That's really all I can say. LOVE LOVE LOVE these! I went back, bought a bunch more for gifts and a few more for me!

2. Christmas light card holder

A wonderful friend made this for me after I commented on loving it after seeing it on her daughter-in-law's blog. (did you follow that...) The felt Christmas light bulbs have a clothes pin on the back. You hang your Christmas cards by attaching the clothes pin to the jute twine that you have strung from point to point. Sadly, I am stalking the mailman daily so that I can get more cards to hang on my card holder! I absolutely LOVE it! Such a creative thing, and Susan didn't scrimp when she made this baby. Each bulb is sewn to a green back, and it's sewn in the color thread that corresponds to the Christmas bulb. She added her own touch of silver glitter paint as an accent, which just makes my eyes twinkle! Did I mention that I LOVE this card holder? Thank you Susan....I am smitten!

3. Cookie Exchanges. I have a cookie exchange planned for Tuesday, so I have no photo to represent this favorite thing, but I can tell you all about it. If you host a cookie exchange you pick the amount of cookies and then coordinate to make sure all guests are bringing a different cookie. So, each guest brings say 3 or 4 dozen of the SAME type of cookie. Everyone mixes and mingles and you take all of the cookies brought and divide them up into plates. Each guest then is able to take home a plate with the 3 (or 4) dozen cookies, but they cookies are assorted. Everyone goes home with a beautiful plate of Christmas cookie goodness! I have added a couple of twists to mine this year. First of all, I have asked all guests to e-mail me the recipe for their cookie. I will put those recipes into Word and then print off a mini cookie book with all recipes for everyone that attends. Then, since the exchange is the week of Christmas and all the kids are home from school, I made this a "Mom's Cookie Exchange" and hired my very favorite babysitter in the entire world to come and supervise all of the kids in the basement while the Moms are upstairs! I have printed off coloring and activity pages from the Internet and bought a few inexpensive craft kits for the kids to do. The toy room is ready for lots of fun! The kids will have their own "party" downstairs while us Moms party upstairs! I am hoping this is a huge success and that it will become a "revised" tradition for our friends and family.

I was going to close this post, but just remembered that I have some new website newsletters that I want to share with you.

First of all, Parent's Magazine has their "100 Days of Holidays". I think I got my first one in 2010 around September 24th. I never have time to look through them immediately, so I created a "Holiday Ideas" folder in my e-mail in-box and drop them all in there. Then, when I need a craft, recipe, or decorating idea, I go to that folder and ALWAYS find something awesome! To sign up, go to and find the "100 Days of Holidays" box and click "Sign Up".

My next web newsletter is a new discovery. A Pre-K Mom told me about it and I've gotten some GREAT deals. The newsletter itself is called The Screaming Penny. You can sign up at . Some days the deals they have are better than others, but I have bought 2 Christmas gifts on there that I would've never found had I not gotten the newsletter. Today, for example, I was able to pick up the ENTIRE Seinfeld series on DVD for

under $90, shipped. Jeff and I love watching those Seinfeld episodes, so I thought that might really be something fun to get him as a surprise. (but if he actually reads this blog, which I totally doubt, then the jig is up Momma!) This wasn't on my gift giving list, but at that price, I know it's something he'll like so I got it. The list price is $250.95. I paid $84.99 which was listed as 66% off.

That's not ALL of my favorite things, but for now it's enough. I hope you enjoy time with your families and friends this holiday season. Don't stress out...enjoy the time with people you love!


PS...I don't have blog sponsors or anything, so please don't think that I'm mentioning these products or services in exchange for sponsorship!