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Thursday, May 21, 2015

A New Collection

#3 left for her choir Disneyland trip early this morning. The last thing she needed to collect before leaving was some money for food and mementos. Both my husband and I told her not to buy us anything.

In jest, I asked her to pick me up a napkin and straw from every restaurant where she eats while in California.

Well….it expanded from there….She has agreed to write where she was, who she was with, and what she ate on each napkin.

Silly, but I'm really looking forward to what she brings home on Tuesday…


Gotta confess....If I found a cookie wrapped up in one, I wouldn't be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Monthly Lunch Date

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a program called Visiting Teaching. In it, you are assigned a woman or two or three or four to go visit once a month. I've heard people say that you're "assigned a friend." Umm...Okay. This has annoyed many people. As for me, I love it!

Over the years, I've gotten to know so many great women, and when you live under a rock, that's a HUGE deal. The support system is awesome!

I also have Visiting Teachers that visit me. I remember one day a number of years ago when I was swimming in clean, dry, unfolded laundry. During their visit, these two women came in and offered to help me fold the massive mountain that was my reality on that particular day. It was such a kind, charitable act, and although it may seem like a small thing, when you're dealing with nine people's laundry (that was before I hollered "Uncle"), it's a HUGE deal.

I have a companion and three women to visit. I love them all. We each have common points in our lives--I have more with some than with others, but it's always entertaining to go visit with them.

With one of these women, we have decided that each month we will go to lunch together. Today is the day! The first time we visited with her, it was in her home. For the second visit, we decided to do something a bit different. We opted to meet up at my favorite Mexican restaurant. She had never been there before.

While we were munching on our chimichangas, we decided that this was such a fun thing that we'd do it every month. So far we've had Mexican food, burgers at the best burger place in town, and today, we're going to have gyros. I look forward to our outing all month.

The gyro place is great, but the gyros are HUGE. I have only eaten one muffin this morning in anticipation of overdoing the WW points during lunch.

I wish I would've taken advantage of this kind of Visiting Teaching in the past. My friend and I have decided that even when I'm not her Visiting Teacher anymore, we're still going to lunch once a month.

Gyros, here we come! Hmm....Now, where to go next month?....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You've GOTTA See My Lunch!

I stumbled across the idea of a salad in a jar a few months ago....You've probably already heard of these, but please remember, I live under a rock, so I just may be a bit behind the times.

I pinned a few recipes on a Pinterest board, but I really just wanted the underlying concept. I wanted to create my own with all the things I like. I didn't want to be tied to someone else's recipe.

Today, this is what I had:


While at the store today, I pondered all the yummy things that could go in a salad, and I bought them....ALL.

Just in case I climbed out from under my rock before you heard about this, here's basically how it's set up (You can use any size Mason jar that you might have lying around. I used a regular mouth large jar):

  1. salad dressing of your choice
  2. harder veggies--those you have to chop up to get into the jar
  3. beans, grains, or pasta (I didn't add any of these things this time)
  4. cheeses and proteins
  5. softer vegetables/fruits
  6. nuts or seeds
  7. greens

When I first heard of this, I thought, oh, you just shake it up and the dressing coats everything, and I assume that if you pack it lightly or use a runnier dressing than I did, you might be able to do this, but let me tell you, I crammed that puppy about as full as was humanly possible. Those ingredients weren't going anywhere. Totally portable without worries of the wet stuff making the other stuff gooshy and gross.

So...when all is said and done, you pour the salad into a bowl. I was blown away by how big that salad was. I'd say if you're going to use a big Mason jar, you'd probably better have a pretty large bowl as well.

Also, I learned that if you want to, you can prepackage these for about five days, but if you're going to do this, it's best to add the cheeses/proteins and the softer fruits/vegetables on the day you plan on eating the salad.


I liked that I had options....My house felt like a salad bar you'd find at a restaurant; only, it was personalized with all the things I like. Here are some ideas of what each layer might contain:


Layer #1: salad dressing
Let's be real here....The sky's the limit. I opted for Thousand Island because clearly it's the salad dressing of the gods, but you could do whatever lesser dressing you might be tempted to consume. ;)


Layer #2: Hard, chopped up vegetables
I used cucumber, green and red bell peppers, and broccoli, but was kicking myself later that I hadn't added celery. Snap peas would be good too. Carrots are another obvious option, but they make my mouth itch, so I left them out.


Layer #3: Beans, grains, or pasta
Like I mentioned above, I didn't add any of these kinds of things, but I had garbanzo and black beans on hand just in case, and I think those would've been great. You can add grains like cooked rice or barley, but that was more work than I wanted to put in at the time--saving these for the future. Pasta-wise, corkscrews, bowties, macaroni, etc., etc. might be a fun layer in the jar and might add a little something texture-wise to the salad.


Layer #4: Cheeses and proteins
This is my very FAVORITE layer. I LOVE salads with cheese and hard boiled eggs. I also love chicken. I had cooked up some chicken in some enchilada sauce in my crockpot the other day and have been using it in a lot of things lately. It was a great addition to this salad. Ham, canned chicken or tuna or chopped lunch meat might be good in a salad. Do I even need to mention bacon? Man, oh, man! Bacon would take it over the top....YUM!

I used Tillamook medium cheddar just because that's our go-to cheese in this house, but you could crumble some feta or cube any ol' kind of cheese to give it a fun flavor and texture.


Layer #5: Softer vegetables and fruits
I added the less-sugar-added Craisins to my salad today. Wow! I love a little sweet zing. I was thinking Mandarin oranges, pineapple, olives, peas, tomatoes, avocados, dried apricots or even papaya, or berries might bring some yummy flavors to the experience.


Layer #6: Nuts and seeds
Here, I threw in some sunflower seeds, but you could really go with anything with a little crunch--almonds, walnuts, etc. I also strayed from the path a wee bit and threw on some dry chow mein noodles--SO GOOD! These, of course, you'd want to throw on when you ate the salad so they didn't get soft...EEK! Croutons would probably be this way too....You might just want to hold off on those until you've got the salad poured out.


Layer #7: The greens
It's funny to throw the greens in last. Somehow it seems fitting to me. The thing I'm least excited about in a salad is the greens, so with the way this all plays out, at least for me, you throw in all the things you enjoy eating, so you get all excited about what you're about to partake of, and then you add the part that makes it a salad--the obligatory greens. Somehow it's like eh, alright, if I have to, but by then you don't really care anymore--just let me at the chicken, cheese, and Craisins.

I put in green leaf lettuce. I pulled off a few leaves, rinsed them, and tore them up with my hands and stuffed them into the top of the jar. You could use spinach, red leaf or Romaine lettuce, iceburg, etc. Really any green you'd throw in any other salad is great here.


So, there you have it. Put your lid on, and it's good to go for that day. Pour it out into that bowl you've had sitting aside, and you're good to go. When I got the greens poured out, I put the lid back on and tossed the rest of the ingredients so that the dressing would coat it all. I did have to use my fork to get some of the toppings out. Croutons and softer, bread-like toppings might be best tossed on at this point.

They say you can store it for up to five days with the lid on (without those ingredients that I mentioned above--add those in on the top on the morning you plan on eating that jarful, and you're set).

If you have other ideas, leave a message. I'd love to hear and try some new things.

ENJOY!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Just Life on a Monday Morning

I am convinced that this blog got me through times when my brain was on overload--raising kids while going to school....Once I graduated, I found that I didn't need it that much. It was nice to have it to empty my brain a bit at times when it seemed to be overly full, but for the most part, life was pleasantly busy but not over the top.

Lately, I've been feeling the need to return. There are things to write and share and more than any of that, there are things I need to unload. I also need to feel some accountability, and that is for sure one of the major needs this blog has filled for me.

For today, I just need to dump a huge amount of debris from my brain. This will probably be a long post, and I really don't expect anyone to read it. This post will be just for me....To clear some much needed space.

I missed #2's email this morning. Typically, I've learned that he doesn't write until noon-ish, but this morning, I checked email at about 6:45, and he'd already written. DARN! I was supposed to sit down and write last night, but I took the risk that I had a good three hours this morning in which to write. He beat me to the punch, so I missed him already. The kids all wrote yesterday, so at least he had their words.


THINGS LEARNED RECENTLY:

  • When writing to my missionary, I always send him a "pictures of the week" email. I post many of the photos I've taken in the past week and attach captions to them to describe the week's activities. Makes writing so easy....Most of the explanation takes care of itself--"a picture paints a thousand words."
  • When you've got the finances all figured out, NEVER give that job away. 
  • Don't blog in a series---I'm just too darned random in my way of thinking. Blogging in a straight line is just too difficult. It'll keep a person like me from ever blogging again--too much pressure.


THINGS TO BLOG ABOUT:

  • Finish what I started with last year's Portland to Coast.
  • Finish the series on picking up missionaries.
  • Jamberry nails--love 'em.
  • Started WW again. I have less than 20 lbs to lose, but it HAD to be done.
  • Vitamins


THINGS ON MY MIND:

  • The girl stuck in Idaho with the broken down car....How wonderful not to worry about this young woman who knew how to work her way around a foreign country. She can definitely handle this. LOVE what the mission experience did for her and does for me on a daily basis with reassurance of her maturity level.
  • The young man in Texas who gets a new companion this week. His first was AWESOME! They had some very interesting experiences together. Makes me wonder what lies ahead. I'm really blown away by how hand-picked mission experiences seem to be for each young man/young woman.
  • Nursery toys that I'm working on shipping to the Philippines. Boxes are sitting in my family room. There are many, but there need to be more.
  • Christmas for missionaries is starting up....working on getting reps for each mission. Next will be a letter to the Mission Presidents to see who wants to participate.
  • Dying dryer, dying car, dying dishwasher. I've heard of this kind of stuff happening to others. No question we'll get through it, but I guess we can go back up to point #2 listed under the "Things Learned Recently" section.

WHAT'S COMING UP:
  • End of school. Always a busy time for our family because of my husband's job.
  • Jury duty. I've never had this opportunity. With so much going on, I really hope I don't make the cut, but if I do, I guess we just roll with it.
  • Taking #3 to Utah to live and work with her sister. Jury duty could really screw this one up.
  • A cruise to celebrate my parents-by-marriage's 50th anniversary. Never been on a cruise before--so EXCITED!
  • Christmas packages.

THINGS I WANT TO LEARN/DO:
  • How to have enough energy and not get overwhelmed by the upkeep of a house.
  • Plan summer.
  • Create a summertime menu so that things are easy, breezy.

The big thing I'm trying to wrap my brain around is that I'll be down to entertaining four kids this summer. FOUR! These four are easy....Anything makes them happy. They're all, for the most part, go with the flow. I guess that's what happens when you're used to being dragged around to older siblings' activities your entire life.

With issues I am currently dealing with and those I can see on the horizon, there are things I MUST implement into our summer plan. We HAVE to have reading and math practice. Chores are a VITAL part of this plan as well. I hate that it will probably mean that I'll be nagging and urging them throughout their "vacation" time, so I'm going to have to come up with some kind of system of consequences--If this, then this.


FOR TODAY:
#7 is home sick today. As soon as she threw up last night, she said, "Does this mean I get to stay home with you tomorrow?" When the answer was "yes," she cheered. I love having her here too, but for me, it means getting less done, and heaven knows that Monday morning seems to be when the pile up needs to be dealt with....Thus this blog post this morning, I guess--an attempt to clear up confusion about what takes top priority.

Life is funny....When #7 started kindergarten, I pictured that I'd have ALL of this wonderful free time to get everything done that had been growing on that list I'd been keeping for so many years. Two and a half hours just weren't enough to get much done--darned half-day kindergarten (full day kindy will start at my kids' school next year...figures). When #7 needed extra reading help, they increased her time by another hour and a half. She got the help she needed, and I got a little more time to conquer life--definitely a win-win. BUT as soon as she started this increased school time, #2 broke his ankle and needed surgery. He ended up on my couch for six weeks and lost his job. That kept him home until he left.

Since he's been gone, there has not been one day go by when one child or another hasn't said, "Mom, I'm sick" or had some excuse for staying home from school. Had I caved, I would've had a little (or big) buddy every single day since February 25th. I guess I'm just one of those people who is meant to have an unfinished list until the day she dies, but I will never be lonely.



I've got to get my house in order (an on-going battle). I'm going to set up a plan for the day. Laundry's gotta get done so I can get it to the laundromat to dry tomorrow. That's become part of my reality. My husband can fix the dryer, but well, it's May. His life is crazy busy. Do I dare fix it?...Umm....No. I haven't a CLUE what I'm doing. I really don't mind the laundromat either. Everything gets done in one trip. NICE!

I've got to sit down and write to #2, and there's an air shipment that I sent to the Philippines that has un-updated tracking....Frustrating. Of the hundreds of packages I've sent, every single one of them has made it. There are 11 packages that they say have made it to Manila, but the tracking remains the same. I just keep waiting and hoping for the tracking to change, but so far, no. Ugh! I don't want to give up hope....They WILL arrive. I'm sure of it. So, #1's going to get on the horn and call the Philippines for me today. I love it when she does it. When I do, they start rattling off in Tagalog, and I can catch an English word here and there, but otherwise, I'm completely lost.

Waiting to hear if #1's car is fixed so she can get back on the road. #3 leaves for California on Thursday for the school choir trip to Disneyland--so much has gone into this.

Okay, enough stalling....I'm off to get my house straightened up....Cleaning up the Sunday aftermath.


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