Monday, June 28, 2010

where's the beef?

alternately titled: don't have a cow, man!

This week we are the proud recipients of a quarter cow! My friend, Sharon, has connections so we were able to buy our first quarter cow. I am excited to try this beef because I've heard it is far and away tastier than what we can get in the store. But we need to eat what we already have in the freezer first. I'm afraid that once I eat what's in the little white packages I won't want to eat the other stuff.

The first box has various cuts of meat.  I'm going to have to pay a little more attention to what we are eating.  Honestly, when I buy meat at the store, I look more at the price than the specific cut of meat. I'll have to consult a cookbook or two to use this meat to its highest potential. The second box has 47 packages of ground beef. I'm hoping this quarter will last us at least 9 months. Maybe longer?

How much room does a quarter of a cow take up? About two shelves. (There's something behind some of the little white packages on the third shelf so I had to put the rest on the top shelf.)

Although they were afraid we'd be receiving some hooves, tails, and eyeballs in the mix ~ the kids are well aware of and ok with the knowledge of their dinner's original form. I'm glad they are not squeamish about that. In fact, on our way to pick it up, Heather asks, "Are we going to pick up some cow, now?"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

the day i had dinner with the queen

The Queen of England?


Although that would be impressive, this was better. We had dinner this week with Carpool Queen and her family. When I found out they'd be passing by in their vacation travels I went out on a limb and asked her if they'd have time for dinner. And she said yes! 

I was kinda nervous about dinner. I'd never met anyone in person that I'd "met" on the internet. You hear stories, you know. 

Susan is hilarious on her blog. She's fun and caring. Turns out, in real life (does that make blogs make believe?) she's even more charming than she lets on. When the evening was over I was really sad that she lives on the other side of the country! She's someone I'd like to force include in my circle of friends. We went to a restaurant that serves huge portions. I had such a nice time talking and the food was so good that I cleaned my plate without thinking about how full I was getting. I can't believe I ate the whole thing! (Raise your hand if you remember that commercial.)

I had to giggle when upon first meeting me, her boys gave me hugs. My children are the type who would rather hide behind my skirt for a while when meeting new people.

As we were arriving at the restaurant, the kids mentioned that they were a little nervous. They said they didn't know what they should talk about. Susan's boys took care of the conversation starters...and the middle...and the end. They completely put the girls at ease and were so sweet to them. It was great. Even the Misters got along well.

Now as they are making their way back across the country, I miss them. Hopefully, we'll be able to meet up again soon.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

elephants, tigers, and clowns ~ oh my!

We celebrated Father's Day with a trip to the circus. The kids have never been to the circus before and we decided it was high time.

Before the circus starts, they let you visit the animals out back. The baby elephant was sooo cute! He was trying to be really patient with the handler who was passing out the grapes, but you could tell he just wanted to snarf the whole bag to himself ~ forget his mama standing by.

After the seeing the animals, we headed inside for the pre-show on the circus floor. This clown's mannerisms reminded me so much of Stephanie's teacher!

We were all awed by the motorcycle riders in the spherical cage.  At one point there were seven of them in there! The girls were impressed at the end they rode out to take their bows and pulled off their helmets. One of the riders revealed her long, blonde hair. That's right ~ a girl. Let's face it, I was pretty impressed too. 

We also loved the trampoline stunts. Their movements were so fluid and looked effortless.

Oh, and there was a big stink during the performance. Quite literally! One of the biggest elephants decided to relieve himself in the center ring in the middle of his act. He pooped and peed for so long I thought it would never end. Ever. We laughed and laughed. The dog who was supposed to escort him, by lead rope, out of the ring refused to have anything to do with him and ran away. 

After the circus, Greg was talked into a Joann's shopping trip. Grin. It was really nice of Greg to do things for the rest of us on his special day. To reward him, we all took a nap when we got home. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

and then they danced

Throughout the year, you may hear me whine casually mention that I spend a fair amount of evening time warming the rock hard bench of the dance studio. I might go on and on comment about the 50 mile round trip drive to the dance studio twice a week ~ 40 minutes each way ~ part of it in rush hour traffic.

No matter how complainy I seem, the one special weekend in June when the girls show the world what they've been working so hard on all year long makes it totally worth it. And these girls work hard! Even though they may be pooped after a day at school, they get to class and give dancing their heart and soul.

I am lucky enough to see them practice all year long. But it doesn't compare to their on-stage performance in their fancy costumes. They shine. They bring a tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.

They make their mama proud ~ and their daddy too.

Besides the obvious health benefits of the physical activity, dancing has given these girls poise and confidence in many situations ~ not just on the big stage. And the stage is big! Their recitals are at one of the performing arts theaters at the university. It's a big deal. When they had their first recital with this studio, I was worried how they would react to the vastness of it all. Ha! No worries. They ate it up.

Usually they welcome the month and a half break from dance classes in the summer. No schedule. No place to be. Just a really nice break. This year they were both bummed that we would not be making the trek to the studio for several weeks.

Let's just say a collective "ouch" for the splits pose here! Heather has been able to do the splits since she was tiny ~ naturally.

This dance was to the Charlie's Angels song, which is the reason for the shoot 'em up poses.

Anything you can do, I can do better. Right? Hmmm. I don't think this time, hon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

it's coming

I've got so much to tell you!

There's the dance ~ and some elephants ~ and a little cow for good measure.


I promise.


I'm working on it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Use your manners and try not to knock people over as you rush to get these beauties!

In the shop now!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

how i saved my alfredo

The kids love fetuccine alfredo, especially Stephanie. Not wanting to keep making it from the packet or the jar (totally unnecessary preservatives) I found a recipe that is pretty easy. However, not so quick. Once you get it going, it simmers for 30 minutes. Honestly, I don't know if this is the norm or not ~ but it tastes so good.

Anyway, last night Mr. Al Fredo was coming to dinner. I decided to spend my 30 minute wait time on the treadmill so I instructed Stephanie to stir it periodically and turn off the heat when the timer was done. I'm certain she did as she was told just fine, but for some reason when I was done there was kindergarten paste in the pot. It didn't look or smell burnt so I continued on with the meal. When the pasta was done cooking, I added a few ladles of pasta water into the sauce until the sauce was back to the desired consistency and said a little prayer to the cooking gods.

Once the sauce was mixed with the noodles and the sliced, grilled chicken was on top, you never would have known the difference. It looked and tasted just the same as it normally does. Whew!

So next time your sauce looks like you could do an art project with it, don't give up just yet. Add some sort of liquid ~ pasta water, broth, milk, water ~ whatever makes sense with the sauce and the rest of the dinner.

P.S. The girls and I added peas to our bowls and it tasted quite nice. Greg turned his nose up at that culinary delight.

Monday, June 14, 2010

losing my mojo ~ and then finding it again ~ maybe it was under the couch

I'm a little behind on my goal to read 35 books this year.  I just finished number 12, when I should be approaching number 17.  We went camping over Memorial Day weekend and I had grand plans to have my nose stuck in a book much of the time. I brought a huge stack of books with me. I spent about 2 hours reading - in between daydreaming and taking in the goings-on of the campground. I just wasn't interested in the stack I brought apparently.

This past week I gave up on that stack and got a new stack from the library. Instantly, my mojo came back. When it was time for bed ~ or anything for that matter ~ Greg and the kids heard, "Just a minute, I'm almost done with this chapter." Then I'd sneak another one in.  At one point, when I said it once, then again 10 minutes later, Heather looked at me funny and said, "You're that slow of a reader?" I had to laugh and admit that I started another chapter. Luckily she found that amusing.

The book I read this week is Bidding for Love by Katie Fforde. She's an English author. Love them. It's a very light read and quite funny.

Flora, a pretty young woman, inherits 51% of an auction house, so she moves from London to the country to work at the family business. At first she doesn't think she is really cut out for the business, but in the course of the book she finds out otherwise. And, of course, it's a love story. I'm a sucker for the love story.

I've already started another book by Katie Fford, Practically Perfect. I'm back on track for my yearly goal!

What are you reading? For more book recommendations, visit Life as Mom for Booking it in 2010.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

the vintage pearl giveaway

There is a giveaway over at The Vintage Pearl. You can win one of four gorgeous items plus a $50 gift certificate. Here's just one of the pieces.

Go check it out! What have you got to lose?!

a peek inside the box

As promised, I took pictures of what I made for the kids' lunches this week. They only took their lunch three days this week.

Left over pasta salad, carrots, turkey rolls, boiled egg, and strawberries.

Peanut butter & jelly sandwich, goldfish, cheese slices, carrots, strawberries, and kiwi. Even an average lunch menu can look special in a compartmentalized container! Stephanie reported that she felt her goldfish got sort of soggy being so close to the sandwich. Duly noted.

Tortilla wrap (ham, turkey, shredded cheese, cucumber, tomato, & mayo), cucumbers, goldfish, apples with peanut butter to dip, nilla wafers. Heather reported that the cucumber and goldfish stayed in their little silicone cups and did not get soggy.

The only problem with this style of lunch is that have to turn the box on the side to put it in their lunch bag. I'm going to work on designing a lunch bag for them where it can lay flat at the bottom of the bag. Oh sure, I bet I could buy one! But it's more fun this way. I also want to buy them some containers that are more permanent. Sooner or later these will give way since they are semi-disposable. A few more Swagbucks and I'll have another gift card.

Are you interested in seeing more lunches?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

never really sure how to respond

The other day, this conversation took place in my classroom:

All Boy: Mrs. Robinson, I make fart noises when I walk.

Me: Um...okay....

All Boy: See? It's my shoe. (demonstrates for me)

Me: Okay.... (still unsure of what to say)

Thank goodness the noise wasn't coming from his pants!

Monday, June 7, 2010

menu plan monday - june 7

Remember cooking from the pantry in January? Well, this week I'm going to do a rerun of that. Greg will go grocery shopping tomorrow on his day off (what a sweetheart!) but I'm going to try to keep our list to a minimum. We'll see what actually happens when I sit down to make my list.

  • spaghetti & meatballs
  • black bean quesadillas
  • chef salad
  • grilled pork chops
  • hamburgers
  • sour cream chicken enchiladas

Remember the bento lunches I talked about? I'll take photos of the kids' lunches this week to bore you with show you at the end of the week. I know. Riveting stuff, right?

For more menu ideas, as always, check out

Sunday, June 6, 2010

box up your lunch

School lunch? Let's face it, it's pretty cheap and certainly convenient. When Stephanie was in first grade, she was hesitant to try many of the school lunches and took her lunch to school on most days. As the years went by, she tried more and more of them and seemed satisfied with them. Heather likes some of the school lunches, but would prefer to take a home lunch. There are many a day when I have begged asked the kids to have school lunch because I am running late.

All along, I have known that the school lunches were not the best choice for the kids ~ but I gave in to the convenience. Then we watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I was resolved to help them take their lunch more often. I'll admit, that resolve comes and goes with my organization level. The last couple of weeks? Not so good. The couple of weeks before that? Awesome.

I'm also trying to make their home lunch a little more interesting ~ more fun ~ with a little more variety. In comes the bento-style lunch.

I bought these compartment style containers (Glad brand, I think) for their lunches. These are convenient because there is not a jumble of plastic containers in their lunch bag to keep track of and make sure they get home. Plus we are not using plastic bags which can be pricey and bad for the environment. I did use paper cupcake liners, but on another day remembered I had some silicone cupcake holders. Even better. This was one of the first bento-style lunches I made for the kids. Turns out, they requested more cheese, meat, and crackers for the next time.

Stephanie and Heather have really enjoyed these new lunches. They even thank me for making their lunch when they get this kind of lunch. I realize this post is coming at the end of the school year for most of you. Many of you are even out of school already. Us? We have four and a half weeks left of school. But it's never too early to plan for next year! Or maybe you want to take a bento-style lunch to work.

If you want some more bento box lunch ideas, visit Another Lunch. These lunches are amazing!

What's in your lunch box?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

same, same

Two of my sweet second graders think it's just the bees knees that their teacher has the same sandals and that we wear them on the same day sometimes.

What does this say about my fashion sense?

Are bees knees supposed to be cute?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

what i wore wednesday

**Note: These pictures are a week old because there was no What I Wore Wednesday last week. I didn't take new pictures for this week. Too bad for you because we went camping this weekend and that would have been a lovely sight for you to behold. Also, it's not Wednesday, but I just realized that this morning. Is it a sign of age that I lost track of days??? I'm gonna blame it on having an extra day off. Anyway ~ enjoy, I guess.

Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy has been sharing her wardrobe each week with What I Wore Wednesday.  When I first saw it, I thought it was a pretty neat idea to chronicle your wardrobe for a week. It's fund to see what other people are wearing.

Then I decided there was no way I was going to do that! Come on, who would be interested in seeing that?

Ha! I'm such a copycat.

So, I enlisted the help of the kids and Greg to take pictures of my outfit each day. Even after the pictures were taken, I wasn't sure I wanted to put this mess on my blog for your gagging torture viewing pleasure.

If you care to stick around, here was my week:

Wednesday - going to work

shirt: Mervyn's
tank: Old Navy
jeans: Lane Bryant
sandals: Target

Thursday - going to work

shirt: Kohl's
sandals: Mervyn's
hair: please ~ what was I thinking?! It was a case of hot rollers gone wild. What can I say ~ it was hairapy day after school. 

Friday - going to work - again - seems like a trend here

shirt: school spirit shirt
jeans: JC Penny
shoes: Sketchers

Saturday - stayed home all day. I was in my pajamas for most of the day. The only reason I got dressed is because Papa was coming to drop the kids off from their sleepover.

shirt: Target
shorts: ???
shoes: none

Sunday - FedEx Family Day

shirt: Lane Bryant
capris: Lane Bryant
sandals: Target

Monday - going to work

shirt: JC Penny
pants: JC Penny
shoes: Kohl's

Tuesday - going to work - this just doesn't end

shirt: Lane Bryant
tank: Old Navy
pants: Dress Barn
shoes: Kohl's

My take on the week? 

I need new clothes. 

And I look like a marshmallow.

My favorite outfit? For looks, I'd have to say Tuesday was my favorite. I love that shirt. I wear it kind of a lot. For comfort, I'd have to go with Sunday. Those capris rock on the comfort scale. 

I'm pretty sure I won't be wearing the jeans I wore on Friday again unless I need to be grubby because I didn't realize how awful they look!

And because you had to look at me so much, here's a picture of the little lovlies. These girls were my photographers all week long.

Go see what other ladies wore this week over at The Pleated Poppy.

What will you wear?