Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - June 21, 2010

Last week was crazy, and with the boys out of town for most of it, I didn't bother planning a menu. This is another busy week, but I've got a few things in mind.

Black Bean Quesadillas
Southwestern Style Rice (from a frozen Bird's Eye package; we'll see.)
Chips w/ Fresh Guacamole, Salsa, and Sour Cream

Black Bean Burgers
Sweet Potato Fries
Fresh Fruit

Spaghetti Squash (first time!) with Grilled Chicken, Garlic Butter, and Parmesan
Caesar Salad

??? - My in-laws will be here, so I'm not sure if we'll go out or pick up something quick.

I'll be out of town taking a wire jewelry class with my mom, so it'll be a fend-for-yourself kind of night.

sandwich night - It's our home group night, so we'll just eat something quick before we go.

I don't have a clue! The boys will be out of town for the next week, so who knows what Billy and I will find to do?

For more menu plans, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time for a Change

I liked my old page design, but I don't know how long I've had it. When I logged onto my Blogger account this morning, there was a large banner proclaiming some new template designs. After looking through them, I thought, Why not? So here is my new design. I'm really into reds, oranges, and golds right now - comforting warm tones.

That's the color scheme through my house, too. I've moved away from blues and greens (though I still have some warmer greens). Years ago, I had an Italian villa/grape theme in my kitchen and my other colors were primarily green with some blues and plums mixed in. After we relocated to Dallas, I kept some of the Italian theme and everything else was just a mish-mash of things. Since we were renting, I didn't want to put any money into redecorating. Why do that when you don't know what the next place will be like?

he kitchen in the last place we rented (for 3 years) had terra cotta/burnt orange counters. At first I hated it, but it started growing on me. After a short time, I started liking the warmer tones. When time came for me to get a new comforter for the master bedroom, I went with oranges and golds. I loved the change, but I didn't want to fully commit to redecorating since we were still renting and had no idea how long that would go on.

Last fall we were able to buy a house again. The colors were neutral and my leanings were to give up the Italian grapes for something new. I decided on flowers, mainly sunflowers, for the kitchen/dining area. From there, the reds, oranges, golds, and browns just flowed through the rest of the house.

Most recently, I bought curtains for the boys' room - in those same colors. They have bold stripes, and they don't look feminine. The boys love them. Ever since Billy hung them last weekend, they've kept their curtains closed because they like the darkness. The sun shining through seems to make the room glow.

I still have more to do in the decorating area. I just need to get a few pieces of furniture, which is just a matter of actually going out and looking for something. The main thing is artwork for our walls. I don't want to buy something someone else did. Since Billy and I love photography and have quite a collection of various things we've photographed, it's just a matter of deciding what to print and where to hang it. I think we've decided on a sunset picture Billy shot in Greece for the boys' bathroom. I want to use flower prints in our bedroom, and I have tons of those. I need to take the time to go through them all and decide which ones will carry through the colors I like. I also need to decide if I want one large poster-sized print to go over the bed or if I just want to arrange three or four coordinating prints... Decisions, decisions.

I feel my house is both comfortable and comforting, and I hope others feel that way when they're here. The same goes for my blog.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I wish I didn't watch as much television as I do. During the summer months, when all my favorite shows are showing reruns or on hiatus, I'm more likely to be found reading a book. But during the regular season, there are too many shows that I like to watch, including reruns of canceled favorites like Seinfeld and My Name Is Earl.

The funniest show on television right now has got to be The Big Bang Theory. Some would argue that it's The Office, but it doesn't make me belly laugh as often or as heartily. I think The Office ranks third, behind My Name Is Earl.

There are several other sit-coms I like to watch, all of them only in syndication now: The Andy Griffith Show, Leave It to Beaver, Happy Days, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, The Cosby Show, etc.

The best drama ever, hands down, is LOST. I can't think of any other show that held me captive the way that one did. We started watching the first season on DVD shortly before the fourth season aired - and we caught up in time to watch all those episodes as they were shown. Now that the show has ended, I want to go back and watch all the episodes again, in order and without all the loooonnngg time lapses between seasons. Knowing the end, I want to see the show from a different perspective.

Other favorite dramas, past and present, are ER, CSI, CSI: New York, Chicago Hope, Three Rivers (which only ran for half a season before it was canceled), and Homefront.

As for the so-called "reality" shows, which are more like unscripted game shows, I've watched The Amazing Race, Survivor, and American Idol in the past. The only one I still watch is American Idol, and depending on who replaces Simon Cowell as judge, I might not watch that one anymore, either.

Then there are the documentary-type shows like Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, and Deadliest Catch that catch my attention. I like seeing all the variety they have to offer.

With all the channels available now through cable or satellite, I can almost always find something to watch. Almost. It's hard to believe that even with all that, there are some times when there's nothing good on. Thank goodness I always have a book handy.


I don't like velvet. It makes me feel like I'm smothering. I don't know how long it's had that effect on me, but I remember wearing velvet dresses when I was a little girl.

I don't understand why I still feel the urge to run my hands across velvet when I see it. Knowing how it makes me feel, you'd think I'd run the other way when I see it - especially when sometimes just the sight of it makes me start taking deep breaths. Maybe I'm just curious to see if it still makes me gasp. It still does. And I'm sure it will the next time.

The Welcoming Bark of a Dog

It's hard to imagine the welcoming bark of a dog when you live next door to Buddy. Most of what I hear from him is whining, and it's not welcoming. At all. It makes me want to run the other way. Actually it makes me want to contact the neighborhood office and complain, in hopes that they'd tell the neighbors to control him or get rid of him. Thankfully I haven't heard him in quite a long time. I don't know if that's because he's learned to shut up or he's content with the warmer weather or if they actually did get rid of him. He'd probably be better off since they rarely took any time with him. *grumble, grumble, grumble*

There's another nuisance related to barking dogs that makes me not think of them as welcoming. Every time I open my back door to go outside, all the surrounding dogs start barking. Excuse me, but it's my back yard and I should be able to go out and enjoy it if I choose.

I want a dog whistle or another high-pitched instrument that I can use whenever I go out back that would make them shut up and let me enjoy my yard. Then I might find the occasional bark of a dog welcoming. For the time being, though, it's just annoying.

A Pillow

I don't know how I came to have it, but when I was a little girl I had a small down pillow. It was about half the size of a regular pillow, and softer than anything I had ever known. I loved the way I could feel the little feathers inside, and if I worked my fingers just right, I could get a feather shaft to poke out through the cloth and pull it out. I'd tickle my face and arms with it, then probably leave it laying around for Mama to throw away. As I grew older, I didn't outgrow my pillow. I slept with it every night, even when I was in high school.

I don't remember when I finally put my little pillow away, or if I did it by choice. My younger middle sister would often see something she liked and claim it as her own. All I remember is that one day I realized it wasn't there and I couldn't find it. I still think of it from time to time and wonder what happened to it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 2010 Book List

25. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

It's the early 1960's, Jackson, MS, and the civil rights movement is building up. Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is back home after graduating college with a degree in journalism. Her mother would rather her tall, lanky, frizzy-haired daughter have found a husband. Her family's maid, Skeeter's dear Constantine, left suddenly and no one will tell Skeeter why. As Skeeter sits with her married friends at their weekly bridge game, she begins noticing the way they treat their maids. It chafes her and she begins a secret writing project that is bound to destroy her future in Mississippi if she is found out.

Aibileen is a middle-aged black maid who dearly loves her 2-year-old charge, Mae Mobley. She is determined that "Mae Mo" not become prejudiced against blacks the way her parents and their friends are. She builds Mae Mo's self-esteem as her mother and grandmother tear it down. She teaches her to love and respect all people. And she's afraid her time with Mae Mo may be cut short.

Minnie is a sassy, outspoken maid and the town's best cook. She's also a harried mother of five and abused by her drunken husband. Her mama tried to teach her not to sass her white ladies, but she can't hold her tongue or her temper. When she crosses Miss Hilly with the Terrible Awful pie incident, she's afraid she'll never find work again. Fortunately there's a new lady in town who doesn't know the gossip and she hires Minnie to work for her - in secret because she doesn't want her husband to know she can't clean or cook. Her job and her life are threatened when truths start coming to light.

These three women come together to work on a project that can threaten their jobs, their lives, and the lives of their friends, but one that holds a hope for a better future.

This is Kathryn Stockett's first novel, and it's a masterpiece. I had to get used to reading the Southern dialect, but that was relatively easy after a while. The only real problem I had was Stockett's overuse of ellipses. In some cases, they're useful, but too many of them can make reading awkward.

The story is both heart-breaking and heart-warming. I felt disgust, outrage, sympathy, joy, and fear. I cried. I laughed. And laughed. And kept laughing after I'd closed the book - and that was mostly due to the revelation of the Terrible Awful pie incident. And I'm still laughing about it. (You must read it for yourself.)

26. Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton

Drafted into major league baseball straight out of high school, Josh Hamilton looked like the next big thing. He was an all-American boy next door - handsome, athletic, polite - who placed a high value on family ties.

He was rocketing his way through the minor leagues, ready to take on the next challenge that would put him on the map, when an accident initiated more changes than he was ready to handle. His parents, who had been an integral part of his life, had to return home for his mother's recovery. With his own injury slowing him down and no family around to keep him balanced, he soon turned to alcohol and drugs. The addiction was immediate, and destruction soon followed.

Banned from professional baseball because of several failed drug tests, Hamilton sank even deeper into the pit. Not even marriage and a new baby could pull him from the grip of drugs. Rather it seemed to tighten around him and threaten to destroy everything he once stood for.

Once he realized he couldn't clean up on his own, that he needed God's power to overcome his addiction, he turned his life over to God completely, ready to face whatever would come. In a relatively short time, he was able to get sober, reclaim his family, and return to baseball - quickly landing a position as an outfielder for the Texas Rangers.

Uplifting and encouraging, Hamilton details the horrors of his addiction, the struggle to succeed in sobriety, and the impact he is honored to be able to make in the lives of people who are going through similar circumstances.

The book was published before Hamilton's early 2009 short relapse. Rather than hide the truth, he immediately admitted his failings to his family and his teammates. While the truth wasn't publicized until later in the fall, it seems he has held to his renewed promise to sobriety.

I'm not much of a baseball fan, but Hamilton's story is intriguing. Knowing what I do about him, I might be interested in watching him play.

27. Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert is probably best known for her role as Laura Ingalls on the long-running hit Little House on the Prairie. I watched it faithfully as a child, and occasionally catch reruns even now. If I had to imagine what Gilbert's childhood was like, I probably would've thought it to be much like Laura's, though in modern times. Not so.

Adopted as a baby and loved fiercely by her overprotective mother, she was expected to swallow her feelings and let everyone believe everything in life was perfect. This led to problems in her late teens and early adulthood, once she was able to break away.

From an on-again, off-again romance with Rob Lowe (which included a devastating miscarriage), to an unstable marriage to an insecure man (and the birth of her first child), to her strong relationship with husband and fellow actor Bruce Boxleitner (and birth of her second son) - and everything in between - Gilbert doesn't pull any punches. She's finally able to be honest.

I enjoyed all of the book except for the chapter about the Screen Actors Guild and all the politics involved with it. Thankfully the book doesn't end on a dull note, but rather details her work to provide hospice care for children, as well as her current role as Caroline "Ma" Ingalls in the Little House musical. It'll be interesting to see what she does next, whether in the entertainment field or in the field of health care.

28. Against All Odds: My Story by Chuck Norris

While I'm not a huge fan of martial arts or martial arts movies, I do have a lot of respect for Chuck Norris. Billy and I used to watch Walker, Texas Ranger regularly, and even now I'll watch a rerun every now and then. I saw him in person (though from a distance) several years ago in Dallas when I was attending a Mary Kay convention. Several of us were outside a West End restaurant that had been cordoned off for a private party. We saw Norris and several of his co-stars arrive. I think we were all a little star-struck.

Norris' childhood was marked by hardship - a low-income family with an abusive, alcoholic father who later abandoned the family. He wasn't much of an athlete or a scholar, but he had determination. He joined the military and was introduced to martial arts while stationed in Korea. At first it was something to pass the time, but he grew to love competing and learning new skills.

After returning to the states, he began teaching martial arts and eventually opened a chain of studios under his name. His excellence in the field led to encounters with several Hollywood actors and eventually a spot in a film. From there, his acting career took hold and grew.

Norris, a conservative with friendly ties to the presidential Bush family, began working to establish a martial arts program in schools, designed to improve the self-esteem of teens in low-income areas and encourage them to reach beyond their surroundings to achieve their goals. The program started out slow, but has grown considerably in the last several years. Students from the early years of the program have proven its effectiveness, giving it strength to be implemented in new places.

Throughout the book, Norris is honest about his faith, his faults, his failings, and his future. He continues to grow in his Christianity and looks for ways his family can minister to others. He really is an inspiration.

Menu Plan Monday - June 7, 2010

Now that Blogger is back up, I can finally post this week's menu...

Last week's grilled meat was great! We enjoyed every last bit and are looking forward to doing that again in a few weeks.

Now I'm back to cooking this week.

Taco Layer Dip

leftover Taco Layer Dip

Scrambled Eggs

Garden Salad


Snack Night! Our small group is having a game night and everyone is taking a snack to share. Can't wait! I also can't decide what I want to take...

Fresh Fruit

(This was so delicious last Sunday evening, I think we'll just do it again!)

For more menu plans, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.