Thursday, January 24, 2013

Desperate; Hope For The Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson

I just finished reading this book and, as a mom who was feeling a bit worn out and worn down, this was wonderful!  Through this book, the authors share the intimacy of their friendship in order to help mothers who are feel less-than-wonderful, effective, loving, or ___________ (fill in the blank).  Being a mother is hard work.  REALLY hard work at times.  And we need help.  I know in my own life there have been numerous time (too many to count in fact!) where I had wished I had someone who had been through child-rearing already to come alongside me and help me through the mountaintops and valleys of raising children.  

Titus 2:3-5 says:  Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.   

Sally Clarkson sought out, and became a mentor to, Sarah Mae when Sarah was struggling with raising small children and also battling depression.  How I wish more older women would do this for younger women!  What a difference it would make in the life's of both of them!  Each chapter of the book starts out with a letter from Sarah to Sally telling her what she's struggling with and asking for advice.  Then Sally replies to the letter.  Then the chapter deals with that particular issue(s) in order to offer practical advice and encouragement to the reader.  I can't tell you how many paragraphs I highlighted in this book!  There is so much useful information that I know I will call on next time I'm feeling lonely and overwhelmed with my mothering.  

Most importantly, this lit a spark in my soul in regards to being truly intentional in raising my children.  Not just to go through the daily issues that arise, but being intentional in how I act and what I say to them, especially when I'm feeling exhausted.  My children are watching me and I need to set the example for them to follow in everything I do.  Although it is hard work now, my hard work will become fruitful as they get older and eventually leave the nest and then I will know that all this hard work was worth it.  This book has helped me to gain God's perspective of mothering and to see my role as a mother in a whole new light!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for this honest review. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Recipe Adventure #6: Scrumptious Ham Loaf

Hello, my name is Jen and I am addicted to Ham Loaf.  

It is on my list of Ultimate Comfort Foods.  I like it because it's not super common so it's a real treat when we do have it.  However I didn't have a recipe.  I would just sort of throw a bunch of different ingredients into a bowl and pray it tasted good.  Sometimes it was wonderful and other times is was just ok (which is super disappointing when you can't wait to sink your teeth into it!)  After doing some searching online, I came across a recipe that makes the best ham loaf in the world.  I'm serious when I say that.  Ham loaf is not a joking matter.  

I have no idea where I got the recipe online so I can't give credit where credit is due...sorry to the amazing person who created and/or posted this recipe online!  If I knew who you were I would probably kiss you.

Here is the recipe:

Ham Loaf
2 eggs
1/2c milk
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
3/4 c dry bread crumbs (or graham cracker crumbs)
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb ground ham
1 lb ground pork
1 can sliced pineapple (reserve juice)
1/2 c brown sugar

Combine all ingredients except pineapple and brown sugar. Make into loaf after well mixed.  Place in baking dish.  Place slices of pineapple on top of the loaf.  Mix brown sugar and 1/2 c pineapple juice and pour over hamloaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr 15 mins.

*Do not just go down through the ingredient list throwing everything in the bowl to mix up...like I did.  Once I added the brown sugar I then started reading the instructions to NOT put the pineapple and sugar into the mix.  (I was smart enough to know the pineapple didn't go in the mix thank goodness!)  So I had to add more sugar with the juice, which resulted in a sweeter loaf, but it was still divine!  

*Also, in your extreme excitement about eating this ham loaf, don't overlook ingredients.  As I was typing this I realized that I had forgotten the worcestershire sauce entirely!  But like I said, it was still Dee-vine!

Bon Appetit!

Recipe Adventure #5: Cheddar Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

Something sounded soooo yummy delicious about chicken mixed with cheese, ranch, and bacon!  I couldn't wait to try it!  I used THIS RECIPE.  However, I of course had to make a few adjustments.  I used bacon from the pig we raised last fall, and I didn't have as much ranch dressing mix as I thought AND I didn't have a short pasta so I used a whole-wheat linguini.

THE VERDICT:  This dish lacked flavor.  It definitely needed more ranch mix.  And I would scratch the whole wheat pasta next time and use regular.  I was disappointed big time.  I think I had in my head that it would taste like a carbonara sauce, but it didn't.  So all the leftovers are sitting in my fridge waiting to be eaten.  And leftovers that don't taste great end up as the unidentifiable food items in the back of the fridge that you forget about and find them later growing your child's next science project.  Thinking I will try to revamp it and add some more cheese and ranch mix (I would like to try making my own this time!) so it doesn't go to waste.

This Week's Hit List

Here's how I did on last week's Hit List:

1.  Run/Walk 3x and strength train 2x:
Well, I got the 3 run/walks in, but didn't nothing for strength training.  HOWEVER, I did make up a few strength training workouts and a schedule of when to do them over the weekend and I'm hoping to start it tonight when I get home from work!

2.  Start Tax Prep:
I did fill out a few papers from the accountant, but didn't get as much done as I was hoping.

3.  Organize the kid's clothes:
Not sure what happened, but this what sure didn't.  It's still on my list of things to do!

4.  Take down Christmas decor:
Check!

5.  Plan a girl's night out:
I did text my friends to see when would work for them, however we don't have an official date set yet.  So this one gets a check mark anyways in my book.

6.  Pack up 2012 papers:
This one got partially done.   The house papers are packed up however the box hasn't made it to the garage yet.

Now, for this week's Hit List.  I'm not expecting much this week because I only have one day off (two if you count Saturday).  Usually when I work this much I don't get much of anything done.

1.  Run/walk 3x & strength train 3x

2.  Pay sales tax for the business.

3.  Organize the menu for this Sunday's small group gathering at my house.

4.  Plan a menu for this week.

Honestly, I think that's enough for now!  If I accomplish anything more it will be a bonus!

What are your goals for this week?  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Training, anyone?

Well, the running bug has once again bitten me...or should I say the racing bug?  I have officially signed up to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Half-Marathon this May!  I'm excited to run another half (did I ever tell you that halfs are my FAVORITE race?) but I hate training for them!  I wish I could just randomly run 13.1 miles without training for it.  And I probably could...but I'd prefer not to be injured in the process.  So at some point around the end of February I will start training for it officially!  A couple of years ago when I ran my first half-marathon with running BFF Jenny, we decided to run different half-marathons each year and collect finisher medals from each (you see, when you run a 5K you get a t-shirt...when you run a half you get a medal...sort of like the Olympics but with a lot less training and less press covereage.  And no torch.)  And boy to I feel like a champion to cross those finishlines!  If only they gave out massages!  So we have run 2 different half-marathons in Columbus and this will be our first race in Cleveland.  I loooove race weekends!  Our hubbies join us and we have a nice relaxing weekend (aside from running 13.1 miles, and chafing, and sore muscles, but that's another post) seeing the sites, going to dinner, and staying at a hotel.  And of course there's the pride I see in my hubby's eyes after I've finished the race...that in itself is priceless.  

So...wish us luck!  I will be sure to keep you updated on the thrills and woes of training!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Recipe Adventures #3 & #4: Texas Roadhouse Rolls & Cinnamon Butter

Four new recipes in one week...wow!  I'm on a roll...literally!  I was craving some yummy white bread...or in this case rolls, so I tried out a copy cat recipe for Texas Roadhouse Rolls and Cinnamon Butter!


The recipe for the rolls & butter can be found HERE

These seemed like they were labor-intensive, but I was surprised at how quickly I found myself taking these yummy rolls out of the oven.  And eating them.  Lots of them.  Did I ever tell you I'm a sucker for warm white bread?  Well, I am.  It's the ultimate comfort food in my opinion!


And those of you who know me well know that me and bread-making haven't exactly made friends yet.  Very rarely does a bread recipe actually turn out well for me.  And I thought this one was another one for sure...but it totally would have been my fault..not the recipe's.  The recipe calls for 3 Tbsp melted butter added into the dough.  So I put mine in the microwave and nuked it but it wasn't quite melted yet, so I nuked it a bit more.  Then forgot about it until I was already kneading the dough.  So I tired adding the butter at that point and just crossed my fingers.  And they turned out anyways!  So I would call this recipe a no-fail!


THE VERDICT:  We really liked these rolls!  I don't think they taste exactly like Texas Roadhouse's rolls, but they are still good.  And it made 36 rolls!  I ate a few (ok, more than a few) and decided to serve the remaining rolls at our small group gathering that evening and everyone like them!  The cinnamon butter was super easy to make and it made A LOT of butter.  So I would recommend cutting the recipe in half.  Unless you are making to give as gifts.  It's definitely more butter than you will use on one batch of these rolls...so keep that in mind!  The butter was good, however I personally thought it was way too sweet.  So I would try cutting the amounts of powered sugar and honey down a bit and add more in after trying it if you think it needs more sweetness.

This Week's Hit List

Now that the holidays are over and life has slowed down a bit, I thought I should get back to posting some weekly goals...known as my Hit List. I'm such a list person (as long as I don't lose my list) and I love love LOVE crossing something off that list!

In addition to my Hit List, I will TRY to post my current weight each week.  The scale said 171 lbs this morning.  Not too shabby for not working out much AND dealing with all the holiday food.  I'm hoping to be down to 165 by the first Monday in Feb.  So, wish me luck!

Here's what I would like to accomplish this week:

1.  Plan my meals for the week as well as put together a grocery list.  I've been slacking on this royally...which means I've been spending too much on groceries AND not serving the healthiest of meals.  Shame on me!

2.  Run/Walk 3 times this week and strength train 2 times.  Again, been slacking on this one.  Although in my defense I was SUPER busy at work and subbing at school most of December.  And once things slowed down I was hit with Influenza and was down for a good week.  But before that, I just lost my running mojo.  But today I think I found it!  I headed out bright and early for a 3.75 mile walk/run and it felt awesome!  Since I've slacked off on working out in general, I'm feeling a bit flabbalicious...and that's never a good thing!

3.  Get a jump-start on tax-prep for the business.  I want to get our taxes filed asap, so I'd like to use my days off to spend some time in the garage catching up on bookkeeping so when our accountant asks about our info, I'll be ready!

4.  Organize the kids' clothes.  They have too many and their clothes are out of control.  Time to purge and find the off-season keepers a home.  I'm envisioning pretty labels too...

5.  Pack up all 2012 papers and store them.  Who doesn't love less papers hanging around their house?  Nuff said!

6.  Plan a Girl's Night Out for sometime this month.  I need me some girl time!

7.  Pack up Christmas tree/decorations.  I've totally been slacking on this one...everything is usually put away before Jan 1st!

Hmm...I imagine that's enough for now.  Don't want to overdo it...I would much rather cross everything off a short list than to cross only a few things off a long list.  I think I will keep a running list of projects/tasks I want to accomplish this year and then I can use that list when deciding what my weekly goals are.

Hope you have a great productive week too! :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Recipe Adventure #2: Creamy Chicken Spaghetti

Two new recipes in one week!  I'm such an over-achiever!  This time I made Creamy Chicken Spaghetti.  You can find the recipe HERE.  This was one of those recipes where, after reading down through the ingredients list, I realized that I had all the ingredients needed...so why not make it?  

The Verdict:  Hmm...this one has mixed reviews.  Hubby loved it and I thought he would hate it.  The kids thought it was ok...and I did too.  It's definately creamy, but I think the look of it was deceiving.  My mind was expecting it to be cheesy tasting but it wasn't.  I did make a small adjustment...I didn't use tomatoes with chiles in them...I just used petite diced tomatoes.  And I didn't grill the chicken; I fried it.  It's winter in Ohio and who wants to stand outside to grill a few chicken breasts in 6 degree weather?  Not this gal.  Although I do think the grilled taste would have added a bit more to the flavor of the dish.  I guess I thought it was a bit bland.  I think I will try this one again and follow the directions completely and then give it another try before tossing the recipe altogether.

Recipe Adventure #1: Glazed Doughnut Muffins

The New Year is off to a great start cooking-wise!  Have I introduced you to my new best friend?  Her name is Pinterest.  She has LOTS (like a bazillion) of recipes on her site and I just can't stop pinning them!  And, so I down turn into a Pinterest recipe hoarder, as part of my 2013 goals I have decided to try 52 new recipes...and I bet they will all most likely come for there!

I made Glazed Doughnut Muffins.  You can find the recipe here:  HERE.  I whipped up a batch of these and they were easier than I thought.  I especially love how you dip the tops of the muffins into that yummy glaze and it hardens just like on glazed doughnuts!  I know, it doesn't take much to amuse me....

The Verdict:  My kids liked them!  And they were gone in a day.  They made a nice big muffin, not the sort of flat wimpy muffins that some recipes produce.  I don't habitually use white flour, so I made them with whole wheat flour.  To me they had a drier texture and I think it was the flour's fault.  So I would like to try them with unbleached white flour sometime and I bet they would be even tastier!  I will keep this recipe in my recipe box for sure!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My 2013 Goals

Well, I was planning to have my goal all ready to go by yesterday and I'm not sure what happened. I know posting my goal sure didn't happen!  So this morning I thought I'd check up on my goal from last year...and I couldn't find them...so maybe I didn't have any. (I AM a smart woman at times)

When I spent 5 days in bed last week battling Influenza I thought a lot about my goals.  But did I write them down?  Nope.  So now I don't remember them.  Nice, huh?  All that thinking right down the tube!  Ha!

Alright, enough small talk...time to get to the nitty gritty.  (Where did that saying come from anyway?)  Here they are:

MENTALLY:  
I would like to focus on who God says I am.  And believe it.  No more negative self-talk!  

PHYSICALLY:  
When discussing with hubby what weight he thinks I would look awesome at, he said 150.  So that's my goal....reach 150 lbs.  The last time I weighed that I was probably in college, so it would be rockin' awesome to weigh that again.  Once I reach that weight I will see if I need/want to lose more or stay at that weight.  

SPIRITUALLY:  
I'm ready to commit to, and execute, a habit of morning devotion times.  Life is hard when you don't routinely plug in to the One who created you!  I don't like feeling disconnected.

FINANCIALLY:  
Build up our savings enough so we have 3-6 months of living expenses in there.

HOMEMAKING:  
GOAL #1:  Declutter and organize our entire house.  We have way too much stuff...and no place to put it, so it's time to pare down!  The thought of a clutter-free home makes me giddy!
GOAL #2:  Try 52 new recipes in hopes of finding some new favorites!  This amounts to 1 per week, but I'm not going to be that structured with it.

FAMILY:  
GOAL #1:  Start implementing the MoneySmart system and teach my kids about responsibility and money.  
GOAL #2:  Play with my kids more.

ATHLETICALLY:  
Run at least 1 half marathon and PR.

MARRIAGE:  
Really focus on showing love and respect to my husband through my words & actions

FRIENDSHIPS:  
Plan a Girl's Night Out at least 4 times this year.

There...all finished!  It sure is easier to set the goals than to reach them, but I think I've done a good job at making them easily attainable. (Except for organizing my entire house...whose idea was that anyways?)  

I think I'm going to print this list out and keep in somewhere that I can see it often and be reminded of my goals.

What are your goals for 2013?