Friday, January 30, 2009

It's like....Magic

When it comes to cooking, any meal eaten at our house around our table during baseball season is a victory. I promise, we keep Chik-fil-A in business all across Houston. Unfortunately, I have my firstborn so well trained, he now rebukes any other drive-thru suggestions under the premise they are unhealthy. Can you say 'backfire'?

Lately, I have been feeling like a new bride who only knows how to cook tacos and spaghetti. Some of this I can attribute to my youngest son preferring to eat out of a box rather than partake in the vast variety of food that exists beyond crackers. Ok, I am exaggerating a bit, but his food preferences can be counted on two hands.

I have a bazillion recipes on my computer that are yearning to be freed from my hardrive and given a chance to shine in the flourescent lights of my kitchen. And they just might get their chance because of my good friend and fellow blogger, Michele.

Check this out. She got wind of an ingenius idea when it comes to meal planning- choose 30 recipes your family will eat and rotate them each month. Sounds amazing right?

*You'll need a 3-ring binder, 20 plastic sleeves, dividers and a blank calendar.
*Start by choosing 20 or so recipes that your family really likes.
*Now find 5 more that you have wanted to try but have been resisting because it wasn't worth the grief. Make copies of each recipe and slide them into the plasic sleeves.
*As far as organization goes, you have a couple of options. You can organize them by main ingredient (beef, chicken, seafood), by category (Mexican, Italian, Crockpot, Grill, Pasta), or alphabetically. You decide what is the best system for you.
*Now take your blank calendar and decide which nights you don't need to cook (maybe you have date night once a week, order in pizza or have a night you eat out). Draw a big fat smiley face in those squares. You have the night off!
*The next step is to identify which nights need meals that are easily assembled or can be prepped ahead of time because of kids' activities, Bible study, Book Club, etc. Make a small red dot in the corner of those dates so you know that day needs a quick meal.
*The remaining days are free game. Choose any recipe you want!
*If you want to get super fancy, order your recipes by the day you'll be using them before filing them in the 3-ring binder.

Some things to consider when rotating your meals:

*Have dinner around the world each week: One night Mexican, another Italian, maybe Asian or Chinese food one night
*Get input from your family. Maybe they have a dish they'd like to see several times a month. Bonus!
*Consider meals that can double as a second meal. For example...barbecue chicken in the crockpot can make sandwiches, barbecue baked potatoes or barbecue chicken pizza.
*Breakfast for dinner is a quick favorite.

I'm counting-on Michele giving a shout out to how this is running in her home and what things I missed.

If you've done something similiar, give us your tips! Until then, here's three recipes to get you started.

Chicken in a Pastry

3 oz. light cream cheese, softened
2 tsp light margarine, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
1 8oz can reduced fat crescent rolls
2 Tbsp milk

Combine cream cheese, butter, salt, pepper, milk, onion. Pour mixture over chicken and stir. Separate crescent roll dough into four rectangles and seal perforations. Spoon 1/2 cup mixture into center of each. Pull opposite corners of dough to center and seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheet or pizza stone. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Lazy Lasagna

1 pound ground beef
1 (26-ounce) jar low-fat spaghetti sauce
1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking spray
1 (8-ounce) package precooked lasagna noodles
1 cup (4 ounces) pre-shredded reduced-fat mild cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook meat in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well, and return meat to pan. Add sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Combine cottage and Parmesan cheeses in a bowl; set aside.Spread 1/2 cup meat mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over meat mixture; top with half of cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup meat mixture, and 1/3 cup cheddar cheese. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining meat mixture over noodles. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Crispy Sesame Shrimp (Jenny, this is still one of our faves!)

¾ c. Pepperidge Farm Herb-seasoned stuffing mix, crushed
1 t. sesame seeds
¼ t. paprika
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. pepper
1 large egg white
Tabasco or hot sauce, to taste
¾ lb. Large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine first 6 ingredients in pie plate or shallow dish and stir well. Place egg white in small shallow dish; stir well. Dip shrimp in egg white, and dredge in stuffing mixture. Place shrimp on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat shrimp with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

*Cooking hints: To get more sesame seeds on the shrimp, save these until right before you bake them and sprinkle them directly on the shrimp. Also-to bread the shrimp, combine ‘breading’ mixture in one plastic container w/lid and the egg whites in another plastic container w/ lid. First add shrimp to egg white container, put on lid and shake. Then add shrimp 4 or so at a time to the breading container (after draining excess egg white), put on lid and shake to coat. Results-even coverage!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're Watching You, Mr. President

Accountability is a good thing. It keeps us motivated to do what we say we will do. And if we aren't, it moves us toward changing that behavior.

Our newest President made lots of promises, as most politicians do. Some are sure he'll follow through, some are sure he will not...and some are just sitting back and watching.

The Obameter is here to help. PolitiFact has compiled about 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking progress on the Obameter. They rate the status of the specifc promise as No Action, In the Works or Stalled. Once they find the action is completed, they rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken.

PolitiFact isn't Time Magazine for Kids, but it helps me with current events. Quite a fun little site. I think my favorite part is the Pants-on-Fire feature. I think People Magazine needs one of these meters as well. What? People Magazine isn't the factual version of Star and Us Magazine? Say it isn't so!

And in the meantime, if anyone knows of a Current Events for Dummies site, please pass it my way. Muchas Gracias.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Right Combination

Cold and flu season is upon us. You can't go far without hearing someone mention loads of kids missing school due to strep, a stomach bug or any assortment of viruses.

It is a well -known fact, I have OCD tendencies... Specifically, keeping the hands clean. Therefore, I am a LOVER of Purell or any other derivitive of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. If it was legal, I think I might just pour some of it down my kids' throats for extra germ-fighting powers. Put down the phone..don't call CPS just yet.

Those darn viruses can be picked up anywhere...not just on shopping cart handles and public restrooms (EEWW!). One thing that moms all have in common is the "Don't touch ANYTHING' speech we give our children before passing the threshold of a public restroom.

We are avid handwashers in our family. You'd better believe no snack is served until the boys have 'washed the day off', so to speak. We try to limit sugar because it suppresses your immune system. I feel like I am constantly on Nose Patrol...keeping fingers out. But sometimes, despite all my freaky preventative measures, the cold symptoms come and I must deal with them.

You would think I'd have an arsenal of medications to choose from, but I really do try to avoid massive amounts of medication. Remember...prevention is the key. But, often the right combinations can bring relief. It's just like hair products....when you mix and match products, only then can perfect hair be achieved. I'm still searching for that combination and I'm almost convinced that the Houston humidity hates me.

Let's hit the high notes of what the Mounce Medicine Cabinet includes:

1. Delsym- This orange-flavored liquid is pure magic to subdue a cough. This 12-hour suppresant can quiet itchy coughs and bring sweet sleep when needed. Bonus- Adults can take this too! I know you Robitussin lovers are shaking your heads right now....take it up with the FDA, not me.

2. Mucinex Mini-Melts- Grape, bubble gum, and orange flavored granules work to break up that goop that kids get on their throats that produce some of the worst coughs you've ever heard. In my opinion and JT's, the Mucinex grape liquid is 3-kinds of nasty. Stick with the granules and no one gets hurt or thrown up on. Trust me on this one. When looking for an expectorant, the key ingredient to look for Guaifenesin.

3. Motrin and Tylenol- We are berry-flavored Motrin and grape chewable Tylenol fans. Why do you need both, you might ask? Often alternating Motrin and Tylenol will bring a high fever down faster than giving one alone. I'm sure we all know that, being seasoned mothers and all, but just bringing it back up in case you've lost sleep recently and needed the reminder.

4. Rescon GG-This one was always good to have on hand when the kids were smaller. Often they would get all stuffy and then an ear infection came around the corner. This medication, found behind the counter in the Pharmacy, is formulated to relieve congestion in the sinuses and eustacian tubes. The more I was reading about this tonight, the more I'm thinking it needs to be in my stash again.

5. Triaminic Night Time Cough & Cold- My pediatrician is not a multi-sympton medication kind of gal and I follow her to the letter on most things (I get busted for not making the boys wear helmets EVERY dern year), but she is ok with this one. It helps suppress the cough so they can sleep and unstuff their head.

Now, my neighbor was swearing by warm-mist humidifiers yesterday BUT she says you must view it as disposable and get a new one each year. She also discussed Vicks vapor rub. I am midly curious about that smelly stuff, so if you have some experience, please share.

On a side note, JT also takes Zyrtec chewables preventatively for allergies AND has an air purifier in his room. I just recently added an air purifier to our master bedroom because of Glory, and Tray has noticed he wakes up almost completely clear instead of stuffy. Bonus! The reviews were right!

And last but certainly not least, I must mention Aquaphor. JT had some wicked diaper rash when he was small and this stuff was the only thing that would take care of it. We still keep it around because it helps with severe dry skin in the winter.

Your turn. Share your tried-and-true medications. And check out this very fun book, Mommy Calls: 101 Most Common Questions Parents Ask Pediatricans. I think that would have been a great resource to have in the early years, in addition to Ask Dr. Sears. Now, he is a wealth of knowledge, as are his wife and sons.

PS- You'll notice that this post is totally missing adult medication information. We still are yet to find something that clears up symptoms without keeping you awake all night or making you feel like a Mack truck hit you the next day. Suggestions? Bring it!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lost in Translation

Dear Mrs. Jones,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Home Depot and I told Sarah how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had. Then I found one more in the back room, and several people were fighting over who would get it. Sarah¢s picture does NOT show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot. From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.

Sincerely, Mrs. Smith

Friday, January 23, 2009

Set in Stone

I love the Men in Brown. Their squeaky brakes bring
serious joy and blessing to my home!

Looky what the UPS man brought me yesterday.

I just love it.

I love it more now because it withstood two boys picking it up to admire and read it and almost dropping it. For the love.

And as luck would have it, Big Mama is hosting a giveaway for one of these treasures!

Head over to her blog and throw your hat in the ring. She's announcing the winner on Sunday, January 25th. You'd better hurry!

If you are scared to enter drawings for fear of rejection, you can still shop in the safety of your home. She has a lot of other items that will catch your eye.

What a great Valentine's Day gift, right? And if you need to drop hints to your Hubs, just leave accidently leave this page up on the computer one night. It's a close second, only to Edible Arrangements, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Playing Favorites

Meet Glory Mounce... Glory-Belle Mounce to be exact. Not sure when, why or how her seconday name came to be, but it stuck.

Neither one of my kids have special endearing nicknames but my dog does. And for the record, JT and W don't count as endearing. Functional in a 'sprig-of-hay-in-your-teeth kind of way, but not particularly cute or fun. On the field, John Tyler is Mighty Mounce, but if we called him that around the house, we'd have to hire a contractor to enlarge the width of our door framings to accomodate his big head. And Weston thinks his nickname is Crash, but not something we broadcast in public. I'm just keepin' it real, folks.

There is just something about raising a dog that teaches you something. Glory is the first puppy I raised all by myself. I knew she was really going to be MY dog when we made the decision to bring her home for the boys 3 years ago. She is just love on a stick.

One of the things I love most about her is everything is her favorite. Her food she eats every day; her favorite. Walks to the bus stop each morning or every night after the boys are in bed; her favorite. Her blue water Kong and Nylabone; her favorite. Playing chase with Tray; her favorite.

My point? My dog lives in the moment. She enjoys all the things that make up her life as a dog in the Mounce Family. How unfortunate that a 3-year-old canine has grasped one of the greatest gifts of life that I struggle with at 35.

But I saved the best for last. My favorite Glory trait? She is thrilled beyond words to see her family each morning. It is as if she forgets we exist while she is sleeping and when she sees we are really still in her house as the morning light breaks...JACKPOT!

I want that for my family. I want them to know that I am thrilled beyond words that I have another day to live life with them; another day to live out the plans our God has for us; another day to choose to serve Him and shine His light to others.

I thought it so fitting that Bush's daughters's wrote a letter to Obama's daugthers, just as their father had done and left in the Oval office. They spoke of experiencing every moment possible because 4 years passes so quickly and treasuring the magic of the White House. But the piece of advice that stuck with me was their urging to cherish their pet because sometimes you'll need the quiet comfort that only they can provide.

I couldn't agree more. I've learned so much through the only other girl in my house that doesn't say a word. How's that for an oxymoron?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Distinctly Unique

Decisions, decisions....Blog...fold laundry....BLOG!

Let's talk about children's clothing.

Being the mother of boys doesn't come with the all-encompassing job of finding unique and fun clothing. I have to admit...khaki shorts and striped shirts were all I needed in the early years. As they have gotten older, the clothing has become more and more casual. Both boys live in those swishy athletic shorts and various baseball tournament and Nike slogan shirts. We try to select the positive messages rather than the 'I'm-going-to-enjoy-taking-you-down-while-your-girlfriend-watches' slogans. Some things just shouldn't be on the shirt of a 8-year-old boy.

One of my BFFs, Jenny, has an amazing knack for finding the most darlin' clothes that are distinctly unique. Truthfully, that should be her life slogan because her sense of style, whether decorating or choosing clothing is just that....unlike anything I find or put together but TOTALLY wish I could.

Case in point...check out the cutie patooties below.

Number 1- Could these girls be any cuter? Number 2- Aren't those shirts too die for?

See what I mean? And this is just the tip of the iceberg! She is an endless supply of vendors that cater to those who don't shop where everyone else shops. One exception....Target. And even there, that girl can find things that MY Target never carries. But I'm not bitter.

These darn cute shirts along with other darn cute designs can be found at EM Tanner Designs. And yes Ma'am, they have adult sizes! Hey, all the cool kids are wearing them, including Jon and Kate's crew of 8!

I wish I had other fun kids' clothing links to share, but I am a firm believer in sticking with what you know. So, I leave you with a no-fail Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Yes, the extra egg makes all the difference. Jenny can vouch for this as we made these after Hurricane Rita made a pass through H'Town years ago.


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. In a medium bowl cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until blended. Stir in chips with a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough by 1/4 cups at a time onto the prepared sheets. Cookies should be at least 3 inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges are lightly toasted then cook on sheets a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cover to Cover

When something comes across my path multiple times in a week, it might be time for me to pay attention.

Many people are starting the new year with all kinds of new plans, some of which include a brand new One Year Bible. I do own one and have read parts of it, multiple times, over the past 9 years. I really like my version because it has a reading from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day. But I have never read it Cover to Cover.

There are lots of way to go about this. Bible Gateway offers 4 different reading plans to read your Bible cover to cover in one year.

*The Comprehensive Plan allows you to read Genesis - Revelation, broken into 365 readings.

*The Biographical Plan focuses on Bible highlights from Adam to Zechariah in 121 readings.

*The Survey Reading Plan hits highlights from every book of the Bible in 61 readings.

*The Chronological Plan will show you key Bible stories in chronological order in 61 readings.

It's not too late to dive in. And missing a day or two won't be a reason to quit. Did you know Vicki Courtney purchased a new One Year Bible in 1999 and now reads through a new copy each year? Think of the things God has done that she has noted in the margins over the past 10 years!

These are just a springboard to get you thinking. There are several online options if you think that will bring more success.

Today can be that day! It doesn't have to be a Monday to start a new plan.

Turn Back Time

I am PC kind of gal, but I have lots of family and friends who have Macs. As you have seen by their commercials, they are so superior in so many ways..because commercials NEVER lie. Uh wonder weight loss is a 8 billion dollar industry.

My SIL was telling me about a Mac feature called a Time Capsule. This little miracle takes a snapshot of your hard drive every 15 minutes. She was working on a layout for my MIL's book yesterday and made a change that severly altered her document. No worries! She just reverted back to the version the Time Capsule had saved 2 hours before. Think of how much weeping and gnashing of teeth that saved.

How many of us wish we had a Time Capsule for our daily lives?

Um, that would be ME.

Like yesterday, when I failed my very first Fun Laurie '09 Test. If only I had a Time Capsule to revert back to the hours prior to my husband revealing to me 11 8-year olds would be sleeping at my house Friday night after their team building exercise at Velocity Sports.

Yep, that Time Capsule would have come in mighty handy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For All To See

Is there something familiar to you about the commercial of the kid suspended in mid air above the swimming pool...stuck forever because his mom has chosen not to transfer her pictures from her camera's memory card to her computer?

I can relate, but on a different level. Digital cameras offer us the endless opportunity to take as many pictures as we wish and guarantees we'll know when we finally get the shot we're hoping for, signaling us to quit snapping. 9 years ago, we could have blown several rolls of film and came up completely empty of the 'money shot'.

What in the world do we DO with the thousands of pictures we take?

I am the first to admit, I am not a scrapbooker. My friend, Jenny, offered me such freedom when she shared her secret with me: she finds clear sleeves with black paper, affixes her photos to the paper and writes commentary in silver pen. Love it! I have sense extended my freedom and simply slide those 4x6s right into those large albums, sans commentary. And let me just say....the covers of most of the albums have separated because my boys look at them so much. How fun is that? And all it took was uploading them to Snapfish, ordering the prints, getting them in some kind of chronological order and sliding them into those sleeves. I have learned to stay caught up...and I think we take a lot less pictures as they get older. Sad, but true.

Most of us also like to display photos around our houses. And I would even be willing to bet most of us have a large wall, somewhere in our house, that is void of any decorations.

You are going to love this!

Introducing...The Gallery Wall.

I had a gal come and help me decorate a large piece of furniture last Fall and she suggested I create a Gallery Wall on the wall leading to my gameroom. The added bonus is I can see this same wall while sitting in my living room. I cannot tell you how much I love it.

Let's break this apart.

First, you'll want to find an anchor piece. This could be a larger frame with a collection of smaller photos or could be plaque or piece of art with a meaningful phrase. Be on the look out for something with enough size to build around. My anchor piece says, "Family....All because two people fell in love!"

Next, sort through your pictures and find photos you absolutely love. These can include you and your husband, extended family or siblings, and your children at all different ages. I tried to find the 'best of' at each age. Be sure to balance the number of horizontal and vertical choices. Also remember, cropping a picture can create an amazing choice. One of my favorites of Weston was in the tub. JT was in the picture as well, but I cropped it really tight where all you see if the tilt of his head and his big toofy grin.

Once you have decided on the pictures, the hunt begins to find frames. Hobby Lobby will run their frams 1/2 off and they have a lot of styles to choose from. Try to find a variety of not only sizes, but shapes as well. An oval frame or two adds a lot to a grouping.

Another fun thing to add is what she termed artifacts. Her artifacts from her gallery wall included a set of rusty keys, an antique coin purse and a large G, for her last name. Some of my artifacts are a grapevine cross, a small red wooden mirror and a set of rusty keys. They add a lot of texture. I like them a lot!

Now lay out all your items, anchor piece in the center, and start playing with arrangements. I wish I could say this is the easiest part, but it will come together after awhile. Don't be afraid to group the pictures close together. Often it helps to work for awhile, walk away and come back to see if you want to keep things the same or make some changes and continue. My friend, Michele, also mentioned it helped to take a picture of it. For some reason, that helped with spacing.

Once you finish arranging all the pieces, grab that hammer and make some noise! You might have to remove the stand on the back of some frames for them to lie flat against the wall.

I'll admit, it was super overwhelming to me to get started, but I absolultey love it now. It will be something I'll add onto for years and I might even start another collection on the wall leading up my stairs. I have a sneaking suspicion those pictures would spend more time on my stairs than on the wall.

I know for a fact two of my fabulous decorator friends read my blog, so please, girls, offer your two cents. You both are SO gifted in this area and I am sure you could add a number of hints.

Go now....get those picture off your memory cards and printed off your computer. Pictures are so much more fun with they are put in a place for all to see.

Monday, January 12, 2009


This is what happens when your football team's reputation is in the toilet.

You are minding your own business in Marshalls and this stops you dead in your tracks. What the HECK is a fox doing wearing an A&M blanket like Reveille? This definitely reaches bad- carnival-prize status.

Give the girl some respect! At least make her head and body proportional!

I was not sure whether to laugh, be offended or go with my original plan of grabbing them all and hiding them under a rack of the men's silky boxer shorts. We all know Dudes don't buy their underwear at Marshalls.

As if the bad Aggie jokes and the losing football season weren't enough to send most of us into therapy..this just might do it.

They would never do this to that dang horned cow that resides in Austin.


That's all right, Reveille, I've got your back.

Marital Bliss

In an age where often a song or a video drives a point home best, Igniter Media comes in and produces some of the most thought-provoking and downright funny video clips I have every seen.

Both of these have to do with husband/wife relationships. One is below and one you will not want to miss is here (Boys and Grills) Feel free to casually watch this while sitting in ear-shot of your man. They will be drawn in by the humor....but the seed will be planted.

My favorite is the knee pump.

And Boys and many one-liners to even choose.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rabbit Food and Fruity Tea

What is it about a Tea Room that makes women flock?

Where else on earth would one pay almost $20 a head for lunch? It's the promise of girl time, good conversation and good food that bring us back. If only those chairs could talk....think of the stories they could tell? Some of your best heart-spillin' is at girlie restaurants where no men dare to enter...unless they are in serious trouble with their woman and are trying to get out of the doghouse. Tea Rooms are to women as barbecue joints are to men. 'Nuff said.

My exposure to Tea Rooms began while in high school. One of my favorite 4th grade teachers left teaching to open The Wonderful World of Cooking. I remember joining all the women in my family there to sip some of the most incredible tomato soup out of a clear glass coffee cup. Unconventional? Yes. But with those spicy cheese wafers....who needs a spoon?

We eventually moved across town to an Antique Mall that had a restaurant tucked in the back. My love affair with flavored iced tea began right there among those faux-finished walls. Strawberry-vanilla-rose petal tea and pumpkin bread sandwiches with strawberry cream cheese became a craving that had to be satisfied when I came in town from Texas A&M. Heck, I'd even get extra tea to take back with me. Sadly, the restaurant closed but I am happy to report that I must might have found a comparable replacement for the tea of my dreams through the miracle of the internet. Keep your fingers crossed.

Luckily, the Houston area has a plethora of Tea Rooms to keep a gal happy and return sanity, if needed. Tea for Two has two locations to serve the women of Northwest Houston and if you haven't discovered Idyl Hours, you are most definitely missing a blessing. Thursday is Tequila Lime Crepe day...the best!

If you are planning to 'leave the reservation' as my friend Michele would say, (aka leave your area of town) Ashland House is worth the drive...even though you may have your doubts on the way there. Trust me...the chicken in a pastry, cheese soup and apricot tea are worth the gas money spent AND the calories.

If you are a local gal, you probably have visited The Whistle Stop Cafe, introduced to me by my friend, Tami, and it would be a shame to not give a shout out to RJ Goodies. They might not be a Tea Room, per say, but they can flat bring it when it comes to desserts. Apparently they are needing some improvements in the customer service area, so have a bit more grace when you visit. Deal?

Game for one more that might be a bit of a drive to visit? This restaurant isn't a traditional Tea Room but still a great girl place, introduced to me by the one and only Nancy Monarch, the Nord Bistro. I swear, they should have a booth marked just for her. Her word-out-mouth advertising pays the light bill at the Nord. You'll want to take a bath in their crab bisque. Yes, I did just say that outloud. I love it so much I'll skip dessert. That should speak volumes.

Make an effort to grab lunch with a friend this week. In an age where texting and email have become the norm, opt for some real face time. You'll leave lunch with a spring in your step, promise.

I'm always game for girl time and the opportunity to try a new eating establishment. Do you have a favorite place for rabbit food and girlie tea?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

14th Anniversary

January 7, 1995
(being ambushed by groomsmen in the limo)

Today I celebrate my 14th wedding anniversary. We married just after Tray graduated, I was still finishing up my last semster and student-teaching. We were SO young, but thought we knew everything. Isn't that how love goes?

He is the love of my life. There is no man that sacrifices more or loves greater. The boys and I know we are never far from his thoughts and are always considered in every decision he makes. I am blessed beyond what I deserve; so grateful to my God that He had in His plans for Tray to choose me as his wife.

Fall 1994
(Aren't you jealous of my spiral perm?)

Happy Anniversary to the man I love and who I know loves me completely, all of me. Thanks for encouraging me to live life, not just go through the motions. Know that I all that I am and all that I have is yours. Forever.

Fall 2008

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Give A Little Bit

It is amazing to me how creative God has made each one of us. Each of us has different likes, dislikes, interests, passions and dreams. What I love more is when someone acts on an idea and it blesses the socks off others.

You are not only going to love Darla Shine's Happy Housewives Club but you will not be able to stop smiling when you see what she has done. Check it out: a Military Civilian Swap where military wives post what they need or what they wish for, and civilian wives donate what they have or what they can buy. It is very simple yet she has offered such a tremendous way to support those sweet families who have men fighting for our freedom. One of the greatest needs I saw was children's clothing. Who hasn't filled a bag full to take to BCAM or Goodwill lately?

And just so you know....when shipping, the Post Office offers Flat Rate Boxes for $9.95 and $10.95. Just fill those boxes to the brim, not to exceed 60 lbs. and you pay only one price! My little sis is in Germany w/ her Army man and these boxes were great for Christmas.

I know there are needs right here in Houston, Texas, but I sure fell in love with this idea. I hope you will too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today Is That Day

Does the site of Target unveiling their 2009 bathing suit collection make you break out into a cold sweat?

Have your comfy jeans become your favorites?

It's time, girls. It's time to get movin'.

I am not sure I have revealed one of my biggest weaknesses besides Salt Grass Steakhouse's Two Fork Cheesecake... Fitness Equipment Informercials

I know! How ridiculous, right? And this isn't a new thing, people! I fell prey to The Firm back in the day when they bragged of the Fanny Lifter...which was a 14" particle board step. That was back in '95 and I couldn't walk down the stairs for a week. But that same company is still around today minus the leotards, leg warmers and Janet Jones-Gretsky. Side ponytails, rule! And I STILL get sucked in anytime their infomericals are on TV. They are marketing this wacky thing called The Wave. Luckily, I have my eye on another one at this time and am hip to their schemes.

My lastest infomercial obsession features one of my favorite instructors, Charlene Johnson. You best know her for her leading actress role in Turbo Jam, but her latest is Chalene Extreme. Now, let's just ignore the fact the program is $120 plus shipping AND let's also put aside the fact that if you order anything from Beach, they'll keep sending you stuff and charging you for it even after you don't want it or need it (luckily, I know this not from experience, but reading reviews). There is just a part of me that believes I can have arms and abs like those actors in those informercials.

And I CAN...if I do the work.

You see, last February I teamed up with the bestest workout partner and lost 25 lbs. Was it easy? HECK NO! Did I sweat a lot! YOU BETCHA! I never knew I could sweat so much, but mountain climbers and squat thrusts demand everything you have and then some. No gimmicks, no pills, no pre-packaged food. Just cardio, resistance training, and eating more real food and less out of a box. And the is an every day kinda committment or it doesn't last.

A saying often spoken in our house around snacktime is "Choose something that grows on a tree or out of the ground". Works for them, works for me. And by the way....all those companies that say their program will produce rock hard abs. Bogus. All the ab work in the world won't deliver those abs. You have to change your diet and remove that layer of fat. You should have seen the Body Worlds exhibit. All the displays looked like amazing athletes when in fact, many were obese when alive.

What program did we follow? A combination of 3: Body for Life, Jillian Michael's Winning By Losing and Gunner Peterson's The Workout. All three have set workouts in their books and all three can be checked out from your local library. Jillian Michaels is my FAVE because she does interval training: upper body, lower body and then cardio. And her program gave me results. Proof. I dig that about her program.

If the idea of working out seems boring or overwhelming, I totally understand. But hear me... you need to move in some way each day. Walking is great! Start there, but please consider resistance training. As women, we are losing bone mass daily and the way to combat that is resistance training. You can use weights, resistance bands or your natural body weight. Pushups and triceps dips are some of the BEST exercises because they work so many muscles. Pilates and Yoga count too! There are hundreds of videos on YouTube that you can watch for FREE. There are also DVDs at the library you can check out. Netflix has an amazing selection as well. 30 Day Shred is my FAVE from Netflix. I checked it out, wrote down the exercises and still do it today. This one is a time-saver as she combines lower body exercises with upper body (shoulder presses with lunges). And finally, Women's Health Magazine offers an amazing email newsletter than includes most of the workouts they feature in their magazine. They are killer!

Today is the day. It's a Monday. Get movin'.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Out With The Old

Weston sprained his ankle yesterday and was hobbling something fierce this morning. So, while he was laid up on the couch watching Tom and Jerry, I decided to tackle my closet.

I have had a bee in my bonnet to clean it out as early as last week. Putting away Christmas and finding space for new additions does that to a gal.

Garbage bag in hand, I began to make piles: Give, Save for Later and SERIOUSLY? The 'Seriously' pile consisted of countless shelf-bra camisoles and multiple colored shirts in the same style. What is it about women that make them want to buy the same thing in multiple colors? Because it fits so well? Or maybe it is the fear that nothing will come along that is as cute as that style? Maybe I'm the only one who does this? I can receive that. Now, when it comes to jeans. If you find a pair that are stylish AND fit you well, for the love, buy 2 pair. That saves much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the future. I am confident that the collection of camisoles is due to excessive drying and shrinking. It happens.

Two items of clothing caused me to pause and seek internet help.

The first is the Velour Tracksuit. Now, mind you, the one I own has NO lettering on the booty. It is just a black tracksuit... Apparently it is Circa 2005, so to the bag it went. That piece of luxury has been replaced by black yoga pants from Old Navy and several thin fleece pullovers (North Face and Under Armour make cute and comfy choices). Just as comfy and a bit more stylish.

The second item in question was the oh-so-versatile cardigan twin set. I have black, white and a very fun hot pink. I couldn't bare to part with them although I am quite sure they need to not see the light of day for awhile. For the record, the purple one and maybe another color was put out to pasture the last time I did the exercise. And as it is in the 80's in January, looks like many of my sweaters will not be taken off the rack this winter.

Let's just cut to the chase. Dressing stylish while still remaining comfortable and modest is often a challenge. Often what I like or feel comfortable wearing isn't so stylish and what IS stylish is less than flattering, inappropriate or just flat uncomfortable. But I made a promise to myself to start paying more attention to what I purchase; to find clothes that are flattering to my body type rather than following a trend that makes people question whether we are adding a 3rd child to our family. I am a fan of the empire waisted clothes and tunics just like everyone else...

The internet didn't fail me today. This Sassy Blog caught my eye right away and one of my favorite shows, What Not To Wear on TLC has two message boards: One for Fashion Advice and one for those In The Know. Daily Fashion Cents and Style Cafe for Moms also seemed to offer some helpful articles and ideas. And speaking of makeovers, check out Meal Makeover Moms. They are taking some of our favorite recipes and making them healthier and more family friendly. Love it!

At the end of the day, fashion isn't a huge focus for me, but I do like to look nice for my man. And I can say, as we are about to celebrate our 14th anniversary this week, BOTH our styles have changed over the years. At least he doesn't have the embarrassing hair pictures like I do. Hairsprayed bangs, big bows and spiral perms. Good times, good times. Dressing stylish can be steps.
**Update: Tammy at A Mom in Red High Heels also suggested You Look Fab as a resource for great, practical fashion tips and the latest trends. Both sites are a wealth, take a look!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Cumulative Effect

It is no secret I like to read. And now it is no secret I not only check books out from the library but I DO actually buy books as well. See Exhibit A. For those of you who don't have your contacts in, there are approximately 20 books under my nightstand right now. When did they all arrive so neatly stacked? Um...that would be 2 days ago when I got a bee in my bonnet to be a better wife, mother and overall better human being. Let's see. What was the cause for such action? Family in my house for 7 days, kids out of school for 2 weeks and a lot of sugar-induced grumpiness. Anyone feeling me here?

I swear...I could offer my own self-help shelf right here in my bedroom. Um...that didn't come out right. What I meant to say is I could offer A LOT of self-enriching, life-changing literature just by offering the books under my nightstand.

Come on....aren't you at least a bit curious as to what I think will miraculously fix all my issues? Well, ONE will and the rest will save money for therapy. Um, did I say that outloud? I'm good enough, I'm smart enough...and dog-gone-it, people like me!

Let's break the books into three categories:

Books to Help Me Parent Better

*Praying The Scriptures For Your Children

*While They Were Sleeping

*Don't Make Me Count To Three

*Parenting with Love and Logic

*Shepherding a Child's Heart

*Creative Correction

*God, What's Your Name?

*1001 Ways to Introduce Your Child to the Bible

Books to Make Me A Better Wife

*Tozer On The Almighty God

*The Message

*¿Es eso todo él piensa de? (Well, I was just too embarrassed for this title to be in English. I almost didn't include this one, but it came highly recommended and if there is just one gal out there struggling with this, the embarrassment was worth it. Just keep it on the d-low, K?)

*The Love Dare

*The 10 Commandments of Marriage

*Our Covenant God

Books to Help Me Know Him More

*Secrets of The Vine

*The Sacred Romance

*Conversation Peace

*Her Hands

*No Other Gods

*Esther, It's Hard Being a Woman

Apparently, I have my work cut out for me. Guess my days of blog reading and Face Book will be few and far between. That's ok...I've been looking forward to curling up with a good book, or 2 or 10. And what better excuse to become that hot tea drinker I have always wanted to become?'s bunches of ideas for your What We're Reading feature! I bet you have a few of these on your shelf as well.

What about you? Read any good books lately?