Friday, April 24, 2009

What am I worrying about?

Happy Friday Everyone!What in the world am I fretting about? So my kids are growing up! So I have a little more time on my hands! My days continue to be rich and blessed. If you are fretting, make a list of all the joys in your other words count your blessings! That is what I did and it made me feel soooo much better (not to mention all of the wonderful affirming comments from bloggers and friends!)
Here are a few of mine from this week:
  • Spent a day on the farm with 60 first graders, including mine (above).
  • Participated in a mini relay for life where our school raised more than $4,000 for cancer research. I look forward to the official Relay-For-Life this weekend.
  • Was able to visit a place where I felt the Spirit so strongly tears sprang from my eyes.
  • Helped out a friend in need by working for her two days this week. A bonus was surrounding myself with 20 amazing 7 year olds.
  • My husband offering to take us out to Costco Food Court for dinner, just because he knew I worked hard that day. Dinner for 4 for $9 and no cooking. Now that IS a blessing!
  • Being able to visit with four different women. Sharing their burdens and lightening not only their load, but mine as well.
  • Hanging out at a baby shower with friends, chit chatting.
  • Partaking of the sacrament.
  • The fish are still ALIVE!

I hope when you are feeling bummed, like I was here, you will 1. Reach out for support and 2. Count your blessings. Have a great weekend! ♥ Jen

Saturday, April 18, 2009

♫ Blog Music♫

I tried to add my new favorite song to my blog, but does not have Kris' latest song yet. "Falling Slowly" is so incredible and it gives me chills. Check it out here! The studio version is definately better than the live performance. His voice feels like creamy milk chocolate to me!
My American Idol 2 cents:
I do not think Kris will win. I am excited to see what Adam will perform each week and think he has the best voice and will win BUT I would not go out and buy an Adam CD. I definately would go out and buy a Kris CD!
To join in with weekly chats about AI check out BlogTheDayAway after each show. As a matter of fact they chat about each and every show you can imagine, check it out!

...on a more serious note...

Here I am!
I have been going through a bit of an identity crisis.
Let me lay it our for you:
  • People generally describe me as "fun" or "happy". I would tend to agree.
  • I have great faith, but like all, sometimes stumble on the journey.
  • I have supportive family and friends all around me.
  • I worked hard to become a stay-at-home mom after teaching school for 10 years, now I work part-time.


  • I am having a difficult time defining myself at this point in my life, I am 36.
  • I am in mourning that my children are not "little" anymore, they are 7 1/2 and 11.
  • My part-time teaching job is being taken from me due to budget cuts.
  • Despite my life being "full" I struggle with filling it with meaningful things. It's almost like I have the time, but not the direction.
  • I feel lonely and guilty most of the time.
  • What makes me happy (besides my family and faith)?
  • What are my goals? What do I want to "do"?
  • How can I still be a good role model for my children when I am going through this weird transition?
  • How do I move forward when money is tighter than ever for us?

Can you relate? I know that other women must go through this sort of thing too. What helped you? Any words of wisdom on finding joy in the journey?

I feel weird putting myself "out there" like this, so be nice! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Homemade soft pretzels

These yummy pretzels are courtesy of hubby. He has been in a baking phase, first with the donuts, now these. I am not complaining!
These pretzels are sooooo good and I am not really a pretzel fan. You can see what I am a fan of here.
The recipe is here or below.
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Spring Break

Sidenote- this will be the last time you see those wingback chairs in the background. I had always intended to reupholster them. Looked at tutorials, planned out making slipcovers, even got a very reasonable quote ($550 for both). We can't even afford that, no matter what a great deal it they'll be put out to the curb on our spring pick-up day! It's a bit sad since I am one to rescue things and re-do them, not give up on them. This project is just wayyyyy bigger than I am!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

a boy and his fish - chapter 2

if you would like to read the prologue and chapter 1, click here.
Chapter 2-
They say that everything is brighter after a good night's sleep. As Dayton tip toed down the stairs, fully expecting the fish to be floating on their bellys, he was not only excited to see them alive! But he was also excited to see his mom with a smile on her face. "We can give it a try."

His heart jumped! The day had finally come where he could have his very own pet! His mom quickly dove into all the warnings of, "...they might die soon...don't get too attached...we may not even want to name them..." Dayton barely even heard her, he was just so happy!

Finally the time came to get them a home. Dayton had a good amount of money in his bank account and knew he could buy the fish essentials. On the way to the pet store he asked his mom, "Is this a want or a need?"

His mom answered, "The fish were a want, but now the food and a home for them are a need."

Dayton thought about this and began to get nervous about using his own money. He said, "How can I earn money to put it back into my bank account?" His mom smiled and hoped he would not worry.

The pet store was fun and exciting. Dayton had always gone into the fish section hoping and wishing the day would come. Today was the day! He picked out a filtered tank, some gravel (after carefully evaluating each and every color) and a net. He even priced the goldfish and began to plan how to pay for replacement fish. The store worker explained that the fish would probably die within the first week since it is a fresh, new home. She also explained that when he replaced the dead fish the new ones would probably live much longer.

At that moment Dayton confirmed that these fish were named Nemo & Marlin : Set 1!

Nemo and Marlin: Set 1- Day 4 - still alive a kickin'

Sunday, April 5, 2009

a boy and his fish- Prologue & Chapter 1

Prologue- Once upon a time there was a young girl. She looooooonged for a pet. She would dream about having a pet that would be her very best friend. One day her dream came true and her parents bought her two goldfish. The bigger goldfish was named GONZO and the little goldfish was named OLIVIA. The little girl was so excited she could hardly step away from the fishbowl.

A couple of days later Olivia was gone. The little girl was sad, but happy that Gonzo had a nice, big meal. Something about Gonzo having Olivia for lunch was magical because Gonzo lived for many, many years. The little girl and Gonzo were very best friends, he knew all of her secrets. Gonzo even did tricks. He would come up to the top of the water and blow bubbles as if to say, "Good morning my friend!" He would also follow your finger and swim forward AND backwards. The little girl did not like the yucky job of cleaning out the fishbowl, but knew it was important to take care of her best friend.

Six years later the girl was not so little anymore. She was in 6th grade and loved music and hanging out with friends -not much has changed there- One night she was able to go to her first Duran Duran concert with many of her friends. She got home very late and was wearing a cool outfit and was singing "The Reflex" knowing that this night would be one of the most memorable nights of her life!

Cue sad music- When she went to say hello to her best friend Gonzo she could not find him. Her heart began to race. She quickly searched the small tank. She scanned the turquoise rocks and the plastic "no fishing" sign. She examined the artificial plants. NO GONZO! As she stepped back to get a better look she felt a squish under her trendy oh-so-cool flats. She looked down and saw Gonzo laying on the faux linoleum brick . The girl thought, "I didn't know goldfish have red blood." Then it hit her! She stepped on Gonzo! A scream shot from her throat. Her family ran from their beds to find her. All weeped as the girl's father picked Gonzo up with a serving spoon and put him in the garbage disposal.

Yes, that night was memorable for the little girl. Not because she had seen five British men dance and sing her favorite songs on stage, but because she lost her best friend. She vowed never to have another fish for the rest of her life.

Chapter 1- Dayton was a very imaginative boy. He liked to build things out of garbage. His imagination often took him back in time, to the moon, and inventing many cool gadgets to save the world. Dayton loved his dog, but felt he wanted a pet of his own. Whenever he asked his mom she quickly said, "No!" He even begged to visit the fish at the local pet stores to try to convince her. His mom would not budge.

He didn't understand. He knew his older sister had received fish for a couple of her birthdays. He knew they had died but wondered why his mom would not give him the same chance. ???

One night, when Dayton was 7 1/2 years old, his friends invited he and his sister to the local carnival. The colorful lights danced and danced as he went on ride after ride, laughing and giggling. Could the night get any better? Then he saw it. The "Win A Goldfish" sign- one of the great benefits of just learning to read! The father's friend saw Dayton's eyes and offered to let him play. Sure enough, Dayton had gotten those pingpong balls on two bowls! He couldn't believe he was now the owner of not one, but two! goldfish.

He was so excited to show his mom and dad! He couldn't wait! When they got home (very, very late) his mom was angry. She had been very worried about her kids. Then she saw the bag with the goldfish. Her eyes grew big and memories of her childhood friend, Gonzo flashed in front of her eyes. She immediately said, "You can't keep them!" Dayton's heart sank.

"I know mom, I can give them away. I'm sorry I didn't ask first." He hunched over and walked out of the room. His mom's heart sank with his...should she let him keep the fish?

To Be Continued...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

March Madness Update - I did it!

So, no picture...sorry! I was too excited to shop and forgot to take an "after" picture. But let me tell you, our pantry was not as empty as I thought. We could've "survived" physically for a couple of more weeks. BUT I don't think I could've survived mentally. This experiment definately stripped us down between wants and needs. Here was a common thought in my head "I want to make this for dinner but do not have that one ingredient, so I need to make this instead." We all need that right? It took away all freedom to just go grab something from the store. I also stretched my creativity in the kitchen and 99% of the time it worked out well. I did have to throw away an entire batch of enchiladas since they were too hot to eat. One surprise that I thought I would share is that my kids were great through it. There was less complaining about what was for dinner and they never complained about not having what they wanted. Although they did devour apples when we got some from a neighbor.

My March food bill = $38.90

I wanted it to be a big fat 0, but I am pleased. Thank you to all of my good friends who helped support me in this experiment. Oh, and my Costco bill was $227.80. Not as bad as I thought it was going to be!