Monday, June 30, 2008

It's What Memories Are Made Of! (and Monday Menu Plan)

This weekend was a bit of a blur. Busy picking berries, crushing berries, jamming berries... but more about that in a later post. Promise.

But, in the rush-about of this busy weekend, I also managed to squeak a trip in to Costco on Saturday, and was shocked at how much MEAT is going up! Now, you need to understand something -- I'm TOTALLY a beef girl. And to see my precious and beloved meat SKYROCKETING in price just breaks my heart! Even ground beef!!! Phooey!

I must have looked at all the meat for over a half hour trying to decide what to do, and finally chose a pack of fat tenderloin pork chops (not my favorite, but cheap), some ground beef, a package of London Broil, salmon, a big bag of frozen chicken breasts, and some asparagus. And when I grabbed the package of Salmon, I was only thinking of my sister and brother in law, because they are practically the only people we can enjoy grilled salmon with. They love it as much as we do, and for some odd reason, I really enjoy Costco's salmon over any other! Maybe it's because it is farm-raised, and lacks in that wild-sockeye-fishy flavor (oh, don't get me wrong -- it's fishy, just not OVERLY fishy), or maybe because I'm spending less on the package at Costco. That really makes me happy.

So when I got home, I called my sister-in-law (forgetting they were at the beach for the weekend) and invited them for dinner on Sunday. They called back to say they would join us! YAY! Hunter was over the moon with excitement!

So Sunday, we enjoyed a wonderful meal of Caesar salads (with homemade dressing, of course), Asparagus with a lemony mayo topping, Teriyaki Grilled Salmon, and Pene with tomatoes, onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese and a splash of cream... and a yummy fruit salad with a dollop of homemade whipped cream with Splenda on top. It was such a wonderful and delicious way to cap the busy weekend off. So good. So easy. It's what memories are made of!

And let me just say -- my boy can chow DOWN on salmon. At one point, he even reached over to the serving dish and grabbed a second slab of salmon without us noticing! Naughty boy! But how can you fault him when he's eating something so healthy!

Moving on to Menu Plan Monday -- You simply must join Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for TONS of tips and ideas for fresh and easy menus for your busy week! This week, it's being hosted by Laura at Heavenly Homemakers... Here's mine:

  • Hamburgers, salad, leftover Pene with added sauteed sweet onion slices, chunks of tomatoes, squash and zucchini chunks
  • Rigatoni and meat sauce, salad, whole grain bread
  • Shredded Pork tacos with corn tortillas, fresh corn and black bean salad
  • Salmon and Cheddar Impossible Pie, sauteed garlicky spinach
  • Marinated London Broil, salad, grilled potatoes and carrots
  • 4th of July picnic at my in-laws home (I'll be making a coconut cake for my FIL, and individual cheesecakes, and maybe a side)
  • Dinner out at the Japanese Steak House with out of town guest (maybe -- depending on budget)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Weekend Goals -- It's Good to Have 'Em!

So... my personal goals for this weekend are:

1) Pick strawberries -- LOTS of them -- maybe some other berries, too!
2) Husband might be goinging out of town for the day
3) Make jam and can, can, can -- by myself -- ugh
4) Do all the above with a 32 month old in tow AND without overheating
5) Keep sanity
6) Clean house for out of town guest arriving on Friday
7) Laundry
8) I can do it
9) I can do it
10) I can do it
11) Pass out with a pantry full of canned jam and a clean-ish house

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Older parents desperately seeking one complete night of sleep without interruption, possibly with the added fortune of sleeping in the following morning.

Uninterrupted night should include toddler staying in his own bed and sleeping past the crack of dawn.

If anyone has seen this particular night, please contact me immediately.


Have you been over to Sandy's blog... 4 Reluctant Entertainers? She's got a FUN summer giveaway that includes a beautiful pink apron (customized just for you), along with Harry & David chocolate-covered cherries, cherry towels and potholders and a Picnic cookbook! YOU could be the next winner... hop on over and see what you need to do -- winner will be announced on Sunday, June 29!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WFMW: BBQ-ing with Charcoal Chimneys

I updated this post to add links back to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer, who hosts the weekly edition of "Works for me Wednesday", where you will find oodles and oodles of valuable tips. Click on over and join the rest of the blogging world at Shannon's blog! (I'm getting very forgetful in my old age)

Nothing says summer like a beautifully grilled fat, juicy, hamburger, steak, ribs, chicken... well -- you get the picture... And, while a gas grill is easy, it just doesn't taste as good as a charcoal grilled slab o' meat.

We own both a charcoal grill and a propane grill, but we rarely ever use the propane grill. In fact, we grill year round -- with charcoal. Yup! It's that good! Well, actually, "we" don't grill, my husband grills, and that's who this tip comes from.

Most people don't like to grill with charcoal because it takes so long to start, takes so long for the coals to get perfectly hot, and if you use fluid lighter -- well, that's just nasty. So, here's a tip to all the charcoal grill lovers that have been living under a rock... and I say that lovingly.

The easiest, quickest way to get your charcoal lighted and hot is to use a charcoal chimney (or starter). It's a metal cylinder with a grate a few inches from the bottom, and a handle on the side. You fill the cylinder with charcoal, and place about two or three pieces of crumpled newspaper on the bottom part of the cylinder (under the grate). You light the newspaper through the holes on all sides. Remember not to use more than 3 pcs of newspaper, because it will smother the fire.

The charcoal on the bottom lights first, and then ignites the rest of the charcoal. It smokes away for about 10 minutes until the coals are turning ashy white and are red hot. Perfect. Then, you just dump the hot coals in the grill (carefully, of course), and grill away! My husband is an EXPERT at this, but I did find a video on You Tube so you can actually see it being done (below), and I've included pictures of our chimney in action.

Most of the time, we use briquettes without lighter fluid on them, but the best charcoal to use is Cowboy lump hardwood charcoal, which we get at our hardware stores and grocery stores. One thing we've noticed... hardwood charcoal burns hotter and tastes far better than charcoal, but doesn't last as long.

One last thing: My sweet trendy-church-friend just started a weight loss ministry at church. She's doing an awesome job. She just emailed out a great recipe that I thought I'd share with you for your healthy summer BBQ-ing... I make something very similar to this (I use lime juice instead of balsamic vinegar, and add finely chopped onion, a teaspoon of brown sugar (Splenda) and no oil), and trust me when I say... it is very, VERY easy, and yummy! We usually eat it with a Caesar or tossed salad. I hope you enjoy it!

Marinated Flank Steak

1/3 cup light soy sauce
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 flank steak

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Put all ingredients and flank steak into a ziploc bag and marinate for at least an hour. Grill or broil the steak and eat with a baked potato and vegetable.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Loving Well - A Retreat in a Box

The women of our church have a retreat each fall. Normally, we invite a guest speaker, but due to the rising cost of our venue, the inability to locate a new place so soon, the rising cost in travel and food... this year, we just can't swing it. Well, we could ... but we would have to charge our ladies way too much. Pooh.

So this year, we're doing the Beth Moore Retreat in a Box. It looks so good. Any time I get to hear Beth Moore is a plus in my book, but a whole weekend? It should be awesome. Even better??? The colors of the kit are lime green and violet (or purple, or lavender) ... so pretty. The flower? Daisy. LOOOOVE it. I know, I know... it's the little things that excite me. But as I was reviewing the contents on line, I had a serious goose-bump-hair-raising moment. That's usually my cue that I'm being prompted by the Holy Spirit. As in ... DO IT. Pastorman's wife was pretty confident it was a good God thing too. Confirmation in numbers.

The only downfall that I can see is the lack of one-on-one interaction with a speaker. But ... we will have lots of one-on-one interaction opportunities in small breakout groups, during the craft time, and during some of the fun activities planned. It will be a great weekend, and it should be interesting how it turns out.

Sadly, though... I missed the opportunity to win a used kit on eBay for $64 (instead of $99) and I'm just SICK about it! Good GRIEF!!! Every penny counts! Drats, drats, double DRATS. This is where I add: If anyone out there has this wonderful retreat in a box by Beth Moore (Loving Well), and it is in good shape - fairly unused - and would like to sell it to me for $64 ... let me know!

So, I'd love to hear from you if you've used this retreat before!!! Good and bad comments will be welcomed!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What Makes Me Smile...

For some reason, Hunter has not been able to sleep a whole night in his own bed. He will come into our room and try to get into our bed, and one of us will pick him up and take him back to his own bed, tuck him in, kiss him, and come back to our own bed. Three or ten thousand times a night. Every night.

Last week, grandma and grandpa spent the night, and Hunter was so excited, that he couldn't fall asleep. So, we told him he could fall asleep in our bed and we would take him to his bed once he was asleep. The lights were off. The room was quiet ... all but the hum of my husband's cpap machine and the fan. The three of us were lying in bed quietly, trying to fall asleep. Hunter's little body was pushed up tightly next to me.

Out of the blue, I felt this tender, butterfly touch on my shoulder. Hunter was rubbing my shoulder lightly, and he whispered in my ear... "yuv you, mommy ... yuv you."

It melted my heart. I whispered back, "thank you, honey... I love you too!"

Then, I could feel him toss and turn as he found a comfortable position, and all of a sudden, there were two little feet in my face, and Hunter saying... "Kiss piggies mommy! Kiss piggies!"

Ahhhh ... it's the sweet moments that bring a smile to my face.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

WFMW: Ground Beef Tips

One of these days... I'll learn to keep my WFMW tip SIMPLE!!!

Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer hosts the weekly edition of "Works for me Wednesday", where you will find oodles and oodles of valuable tips. Click on over and join the rest of the blogging world at Shannon's blog!

Here are a few tips for using ground beef...

1. Prevent ground beef from sticking to your hands: This is so simple, it's not even funny, but so appropriate for the grilling season... before shaping your ground beef into patties for grilling, wet your hands. When you pat the meat out with wet hands, the water prevents the meat from sticking as badly, and makes it simple to clean up afterwards. This also works when you're making meatloaf, or meatballs. By the way... see number 2!!

2. Season, season, season: Always, ALWAYS season your ground beef before you cook it. For instance, add salt, season-salt or garlic powder to the raw ground beef so the flavors cook into the meat... even if you're making spaghetti sauce, tacos, etc. Other yummy things to add to ground beef for burgers are: 1 envelope of beef-onion soup mix; 1 envelope of ranch dressing; 1 envelope of good seasons dressing mix; Pampered Chef chipotle seasonings ... just don't put all of those seasonings in at the same time.

3. Tender and juicy burgers: When making hamburgers, meatballs, or meatloaf, don't "over-work" the ground beef, because this will cause the finished product to be dry and tough. The heat from your hands and the friction of mixing and squeezing the meat can break down those itty-bitty bits of fat that you want to keep in the ground beef for juicy results.

4. Get leaner ground beef without buying lean ground beef: Buy the cheaper ground beef instead of the leaner ground beef. Brown it as you would for tacos, spaghetti sauce or soups, then pour the cooked meat (grease and all) into a colander in the sink, and rinse with hot water. Drain well, and blot dry with paper towels. When you do this to regular ground beef, the fat content is reduced down to that of the more expensive lean ground beef. Tight times call for wise actions.

5. Prevent a lot of shrinkage when cooking meat up: The higher the cooking temperature, the greater the shrinkage, so cook ground beef at a medium heat rather than high heat. At the same time, make sure your grill or pan is hot when you place the meat on it so that it will sear the outside and seal the juices in.

6. Don't loose the flavor: Never use a fork to poke holes in your burgers or smash them down with a spatula while it is cooking because you will squeeze out all the juice and flavor.

And... here are some easy recipes for ground beef:

Gourmet Ground Beef Stroganoff
Shepherds Pie
Salisbury Steak
Baked Ziti
Chili Mac
Beef Enchiladas

Monday, June 16, 2008

I thought it was diaper rash ... PROMISE!!!

And THIS, friends... is where I'm presented with the Best Mom in the UNIVERSE award. NOT!

So... last week, we found out Hunter has strep. In his fanny. Yup -- you read right. His fanny. Who woulda thunk???? Seriously -- NOT ME!!!

Anyway, poor baby has been complaining that his fanny was either itching or hurting him for close to a month, if not more. In fact, we thought it was his diaper causing the redness (I don't know... maybe it was giving him a wedgie or something -- I told you -- mom of the universe, so leave me alone, already!), so we moved him into larger diapers (note to husband: yes, honey, that's how long he's had this). We had been applying Desitin, because we thought it was a rash ... and not on the "cheeks," mind you... elsewhere... and I won't get into details. Oh, okay. I will. He was bright red, constantly itching, complaining that his fanny hurt, and I saw a small flap of ... skin... hanging out, so naturally, my first thoughts were that my child is a freak has hemorrhoids, because we are trying to potty train, and he loves to sit on the toilet and strain... and strain... and strain. Even when he doesn't have to do anything.

So after some debate, I decided to take him to the doctor. The doctor said his skin was demarcated (a bit separated, hence the flap I mentioned) and ... weepy. Imagine my surprise when he said he wanted to swab for strep type-A ... and not in the throat, mind you. My reaction was, "STREP!?! In his FANNY??? You think his fanny is weepy, just wait until you swab him." My sense of humor was lost on this young doctor who was out to change the world... one fanny at a time.

I think it's "officially" called: Perianal Streptococcal Dermatitis ... or more commonly known as: strep bu++ (sorry, I just HATE using that word, but it is what it is). Hunter is now on antibiotics. Oral and topical. Three times a day for ten days. And the more I Google it, the more freaked out I get at what could have been if we had left it unchecked.

Anyway, I can NOT for the life of me figure out how Hunt got this... other than in one article it said something about communal bathing, and I'm wondering if sharing a pool with other kids might have done it. Another article said you can get it from the inside out... Not sure what THAT means.

In any case... wash your hands, people! A LOT! And if your child develops an odd rash with a few odd pimples here and there, and if it itches and hurts, and if it is really red... well, you get the picture... just go see a doctor, even if you DO think you're crying wolf. And, keep sores and cuts clean because strep can get in there too, and then you have a whole mess of new problems.

Oh, the indignation.

And just so you know I'm not alone in this... here are a few other bloggers that have had the same problem with their child... and note: some of these are not "family friendly"* or Christian* blogs...

*Edited to add: I am referring specifically to the community message board

Kami's Khlopchyk
Autism Speaks Community Message Board (AMAZING what a Google search will find!)
Faith Kids Online

All righty then.

Updated to add: Any time I come near him with his medicine he immediately says: "I feah bettah mommy, I feah bettah." So cute... BUT ... when I tell him I need to change his diaper ... he has a melt down. So sad!! Breaks my heart.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WFMW: Affordable and Quality Household Items

Updated to add current prices. Please see disclaimer at bottom.

Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer hosts the weekly edition of "Works for me Wednesday", where you will find oodles and oodles of valuable tips. Click on over and join the rest of the blogging world at Shannon's blog!

For all of you who are money conscious (and really, who isn't) ... yet still cherish QUALITY ... than bring your eyeballs closer to this screen because I'm going to share with you four of my biggest household money savers... (yes, I know this is a long post... but it is worth it!) By the way... This post is for the person that always wondered, but didn't want to put out the money to find out first hand...

#1: Baby Wipes

Okay moms... I know you are all picky about your wipes -- each mom having a preferred brand -- especially when it is your first baby. So am I. When Hunter was first born, we used a boat load of wipes that were given to us at showers -- all brands, scents, sizes and packaging. But the wipes I loved the very best (and still do) are ... drum roll please ... Kirkland Signature Unscented Baby Wipes.

In my humble, yet picky opinion, these wipes are high quality for "generic" wipes. The box contains 8 packages of 88 wipes for a total of 704 wipes. The individual soft plastic packages have plastic flip tops, and are each sealed with a piece of plastic sticky tape, but once the tape is removed, the plastic flip top does a great job of keeping the wipes moist. And to be honest, I occasionally leave the top open, but only the top wipe dries out, while the rest stay moist. According to the package, these wipes are not flushable... but... I've been known to flush them, and our toilet hasn't clogged (although, I would NOT recommend this for a septic tank).

Things I love about Kirkland Signature unscented Baby Wipes:

  • They are affordable ($15.49 per box = $1.93 per package, or $0.02 per wipe).
  • They are strong.
  • Each individual sheet is very large (7.1" x 7.9").
  • They are alcohol and scent free.
  • They are gentle -- enough for me to use them to remove my makeup and my eyes don't burn or sting.
  • They last me forever!
  • Enough said.
#2: Toilet Paper

I am a stickler when it comes to toilet paper. It has to be soft but not too soft, strong, and work. I hate Scott brand, Angel Soft brand, and others because they are too scratchy... but still, I like affordability, as I'm sure you do to!

I also hate buying new things just to try them out -- especially when they are in bulk. If I don't like it, it becomes a waste of my money! So ... imagine my surprise when I was at a home group meeting a few years ago at my TrendyChurchFriend's house and saw that she was using Kirkland brand toilet paper! Basically, I got to try it out for free, plus, she gave me her own glowing review. And... I fell for it -- hook, line and sinker. I've been using it for years now, and have even sold my mom on them ... and she's the pickiest queen bee I know.

Things I love about the Kirkland brand toilet paper:
  • The total package is HUGE with (I think*) 24 rolls of toilet paper
  • The rolls are individually wrapped in clear wrapping, enabling me to leave a couple rolls sitting out in a basket or back of the toilet without getting dusty or nasty, or take a roll with us when we travel. This would be great for campers.
  • It works well in a septic tank.
  • It is soft. Not Charmin soft... but then again, I don't like it THAT soft -- too "linty" and Kirkland TP doesn't have lint. I LOVE that, because sometimes I use it to take off my eye makeup (if I've run out of wipes).
  • It is strong.
  • It is affordable (*$17.99 for 36 rolls = .49 per roll -- cheaper than what I thought it was yesterday!).
Gotta love it!

#3: Paper Towels

I'm sure it will come as NO surprise when I announce that my favorite type of paper towel to use is... Kirkland Premium Big Roll Paper Towels. Not because it is "Kirkland brand," although one might think I slightly favor this store brand over others (I have NO idea why you would think that) ... but because they are really, really good, absorbent and strong. Like the toilet paper, only more so.

I use a lot of paper towels. More than I should admit... but I like that they are more sanitary than using a dish towel. I use them to wipe off my counters, stove top and microwave, table, chairs, Hunter's hands and mouth (well, sometimes his whole body ... depending on what we've eaten), I clean bathrooms with them, sometimes I dry dishes with them, I dry my hands with them... the list goes on and on... but these stinkers are strong!

Actually, Consumer Reports tested name brand and store brand paper towels to see which ones were truly the best. They soaked the various products in water for the same amount of time, each towel was weighed to see how much water it would hold, and then a special machine was used to measure the amount of force required to tear a towel. They found one store brand that was the strongest, absorbed fastest, and cost 42% less ... Kirkland Signature paper towels from Costco. Which makes sense, since the Kirkland Signature brand is so good... and did you know that the Kirkland brand toilet paper and Kirkland brand paper towels are the largest selling items in the entirety of Costco???? It's true. But a savings of 42%??? That TOTALLY rocks in MY pocketbook.

Things I love about the Kirkland brand paper towel:
  • Each roll is individually wrapped so they won't get dirty or dusty.
  • It takes forEVER to use them all.
  • You get 80 large sheets per roll -- 85 square feet per package
  • Each sheet is 2 ply
  • Each package comes with 12 rolls
  • You get a 42% savings over other store and name brands (*$15.99 for 12 rolls = $1.33 per roll, or $0.014 per SHEET!)
Now ... the trick is navigating your way through Costco and leaving the checkout line with a bill that is UNDER $200.

#4: Laundry Detergent

I know what you're thinking... Kirkland brand again...

SURPRISE!!! I'm not choosing Kirkland brand! WHAT??? Heresy... Burn her at the stake!

Calm down... Kirkland brand isn't bad... it's just NOT what I use. I use "All Free and Clear" -- which, surprisingly, is CHEAPER THAN KIRKLAND Free and Clear brand at Costco. Yes. It is. My husband has very sensitive skin -- so does my baby. It works great at cleaning clothes, it doesn't break out anyones skin, and comes in huge containers at Costco.

Things I love about All Free and Clear (I buy the really big jumbo bottles, but couldn't find a picture of one to show you) laundry detergent:
  • #1 Recommended by dermatologists and allergists
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Clear of dyes
  • Free of perfumes
  • Proven to remove two of the top everyday allergens (dust mite and cat dander)
  • Available in HE (high-efficiency front loading) formula (which sadly, I don't need -- BIG sigh)
  • Lasts forever
  • *A 300 ounce container of All Free and Clear is $8.75 -- compared to Kirkland brand of Free and Clear which is only 170 ounces at $12.99! Incredible!
Each of these items I've mentioned are BULK items... which means, you need to have a place to store them. Many people don't like to buy bulk for that very reason -- I'm included in that "many people" bunch -- but I make an exception for these items because they are so cost efficient and the quality is so high. In fact, I'm starting to like bulk more and more.

*Prices were confirmed from our local Costco on 6/10/08 -- prices may vary depending on location -- new information is in blue.

Friday, June 06, 2008

In Other News...

Last weekend, we discovered that my keys were lost.

I did what every Christian woman I know would do.

I prayed and prayed that God would help me find them.

Then I blamed my husband.

What??? He was the one that used them last!

We looked everywhere. EVERYWHERE. But oddly enough, I had this "niggling" feeling that they were in my car. I looked all over the car, but did not find them. In fact, it wouldn't be at all strange to find a set of keys to our car ... IN the car, because my husband has a strange and very BAD habit of leaving his keys in the console or under the seat. In fact, he's been known to leave his wallet, phone, well -- you get the picture.

Warning to all car thieves reading my blog: I'm coming after you if any of my vehicles mysteriously disappear. Got it?!?

Anyway -- I kept praying over these keys, because we only had one other set, and shockingly, it was NOT attached to one of those convenient push-buttony-unlocky-thingies, and being that I am a pampered and highly posh princess ... I NEED my push-buttony-unlocky-thing. Especially when the only key-hole to unlock my entire vehicle is located on the drivers side. Very inconvenient if you're trying to get a squirmy hyperactive two-and-a-half-year-old in the car on the PASSENGER side ... you know ... the squirmy hyperactive two-and-a-half-year-old who's sole purpose in life is to escape his mommy's grasp in a busy parking lot when she has 500 grocery bags in her hands. Yeah. That one.

So on Wednesday, I made plans to have lunch with my girlfriend at work on Thursday. She had asked me if I would drive, and I happily agreed. So yesterday morning (Thursday), on my way to work, I began to worry about how long it would take me to unlock the door for her if it was raining, or how embarrassing it was that I actually had to ... you know ... put the key in the key hole to unlock a car (it is, after all, the twenty first century). Then, my eyes fell upon various loose napkins, an envelope, a pen, a book, an umbrella, and heaven's knows what else was resting on the floor board of my front passenger seat.

I know. It's all so confusing, but stay with me. There IS an ending. Promise.

I quickly realized that I had to clean the front seat up a bit if I expected my friend to think I had some semblance of order in my life. And so, I bent over from the drivers side to try and pick everything up, which really, is the lazy man's way of cleaning the floor board all the way over on the passenger's side of the car... but anyway, I just couldn't reach the last napkin that was wedged all the way up front under the air thingie, so I grabbed the umbrella to reach for it and pull it towards me.

Guess what fell out of my umbrella?

That's right. My keys. That my husband lost. Because he was the last one to use them. In my umbrella.

So see? I was right! They WERE in my car.

But seriously -- God cares about the things in our lives that may seem very trivial. If we are concerned about something, then it is important to him. Our Father in heaven knows our needs. He's awesome like that!! But, he just doesn't want us to worry about ... stuff.

In other news... the youth in our church are having a yardsale tomorrow -- I purchased two tables (which is odd to do, when I'm trying to MAKE money but it is, after all, a fundraiser). I haven't priced anything. I think I'll be selling all the clothing and shoes at $1 per item, but I'm pricing my equipment at half of what I paid for it, and if they don't sell, I'm taking them home and listing them on CraigsList. End of discussion. (For now.) It's supposed to be 97 degrees tomorrow, and the heat index will make it feel like 105-107 degrees. Joy. AND ... my face is really puffy today. Just thought you might want to know.

Now, I really need to get busy ... I've got things to do at work... and lots of stuff to do at home ... especially since I now have to get busy preparing myself for a Nuclear War that is said to begin next Thursday, and I'll also need to figure out what to do about the Global Warming that is being caused by S+Ds. Be informed.

I'm just saying.


"So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34 (NLT)

Got MUSIC??? Shannon and "WOW Hit 1" do!!!

And SO CAN YOU!! (after me, of course!)

Y'all ... this is BIG. So big, in fact... that IT MUST BE SHARED.

And Shannon, if I may... this would be an awesome collection for my new ministry!!! The girls would LOVE to rock on with God! I'm just saying, is all!! No pressure on the whole random number thingie.

Anyway... here are the details: Shannon, at Rocks in my Dryer and the folks from WOW Hit 1 are giving away some music!!! Actually, A TON OF MUSIC!!! (see list below) Man, she sure is one lucky chick!

Here's how you can qualify (and I'm shamelessly copying and pasting from Shannon's blog, and the rules are a little bit different for this giveaway so pay attention!):

  • This giveaway is only for bloggers (sorry, non-bloggers!). Public blogs only--no password-protected sites. Only U.S. bloggers are eligible to win (sorry--shipping all those CDs is expensive!)
  • Put a link to WOW Hits 1 somewhere on your blog: that's You can post about it, you can put the artwork of the album in your sidebar, whatever you'd like. (If you want to put the graphic on your blog, here's how you do it.) As long as you have a link to on your blog, you're qualified.
  • You don't have to link back to Shannon's post, but you can if you want to... so your readers can easily link up on Mr. Linky
  • Enter your link in the Mr. Linky below on her post so she can find you!
  • She'll close down the Mr. Linky Saturday morning and will draw 20 winners.
Here's what the prize package includes:

The nice folks behind WOW Hits 1 are offering TWENTY winners each a boxed set that contains: 17 CDs (one CD for each of the artists represented on WOW Hits 1).

TWENTY people will each win the boxed set which includes the following:

1. Barlow Girl - How Can We Be Silent
2. Aaron Shust - Whispered and Shouted
3. Cadia - Cadia
4. Point of Grace - How You Live
5. Skillet - Comatose
6. Brandon Heath - Don’t Get Comfortable
7. Michael W. Smith - Stand
8. Third Day - Wherever You Are
9. Relient K - Five Score and Seven Years Ago
10. Casting Crowns - The Altar and the Door
11. Steven Curtis Chapman - This Moment
12. Chris Tomlin - See the Morning
13. Matthew West - Something To Say
14. David Crowder Band - Remedy
15. Jeremy Camp - Beyond Measure
16. Newsboys - Go
17. Toby Mac - Portable Sounds

AND ... You will also win a copy of the WOW Hits 1 CD ... That should go without saying.

Whew! That was a whole lot of link love.

Now ... what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

WFMW: 7 FREE things to do for summer fun

Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer is hosting the "Mom I'm Bored" edition of Works for me Wednesday, where you will find hundreds (literally) of ideas for keeping the kids busy during the summer.

Last week, I listed 20 things that we are planning to do with Hunter. Sadly, we both work full time, but because we do, we only have to plan activities for weekends. Here is an abbreviated list of the free things (or relatively cheap) that we plan on doing:

1) I strongly recommend that you research your area and see if you have an Aquatic Garden around. They are usually free to visit, and have a ton of ponds with floating gardens, cool fountains, birds, turtles, and such -- and they have tanks and tanks of beautiful fish. I particularly enjoy the fact that he can run wild and work off a lot of energy, and then we can enjoy a picnic lunch.

2) We also plan on going for long walks on the toe path along the canal (Potomac River). Dad loves to fish, so we'll pull out a fishing pole and have at it. Picnic lunch would be most appropriate.

3) I can't wait to visit the local Amish Market and Farmer's Markets -- although, that probably won't end up being free, per say -- because we'll probably want to purchase a ton of food.

4) Our town has a city park where they host free evening concerts at their bandshell. Can't wait to see what they have in store this summer!!!

5) Check out your local hobby shop (not the Hobby Lobby kind -- the kind where you get stuff to build stuff). Ours has a cool full-sized indoor race track for remote control cars, and they have races on weekends. They also have a great area set up with three large tables for toy trains, and Hunter loves to sit there and play.

6) Of course, I'll be baking with Hunter, and taking care of our little garden. We will also go to a "pick-your-own" farm, and pick fresh fruit to make jams, freeze fruits, and make yummy desserts and popsicles.

7) Finally, last year I posted about a way I found to capture my child's attention for hours on end. This tip is specifically and only for toddlers, as an older child would find it boring. Anyway, my son was afraid of the pool last year (he's over that now), so I created a water bin and bubble bowl for him. I found a medium- to large-sized storage bin, a huge bowl, some tear-free bubble bath, and a handful of non-destructive kitchen stuff (ladles, plastic cups, Tupperware bowls, etc.) I filled the storage bin with clear water, and I filled the huge bowl with bubble bath and water. He literally spent hours playing with the water, scooping it, sloshing it, spilling it, blowing it, splashing it, sitting in it, and wrinkling up in it. This year, I'll use this same idea if it is a rainy day where he can't go outside and play in the pool or sprinkler (in the garage).Whatever fun thing you have planned ... DON'T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN AND HAT!!!

Oh yeah ... one more thing ... head on over to Rocks in my Dryer for more fun summer stuff to do when the kids are bored!

Below are pictures of Hunter having fun in his water bin and bubble bowl last year, but first, here are some quick water safety tips:

Water Safety: Never, ever leave your child unattended while around any water ... never take your eyes off your child or turn your back on them, not even for one second, and don't depend on flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. One of the biggest dangers is water -- a child can drown in as little as three inches of water, and after 3-5 minutes of submersion, a child can face irreversible brain damage or death. Be sure that you are aware of all buckets, basins, tubs, bins, bowls, or other kinds of containers in your yard. They can hold water in them, and a child can easily topple into these items. Even a puddle can be a danger. Finally, learn CPR.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

We DID it!!!

So, after much prayer, preparation, and heartburn (just kidding)... we will be launching our brand spankin' new ministry this Sunday. When I say "WE" -- I mean our church, myself, and my sister-in-law. The ministry is... Denim and Grace -- a Mentoring-based Ministry for high-school aged and "twenty-something" aged young women. I LOVE the name -- casual, inviting, and full of grace! I love it so much, I bought the domain, and have started the process fo getting it trademarked. I know... I know... I'm putting the cart before the horse.

Anyway, I can't tell you how excited I am about this ministry. As I mentioned before, I've been furiously working on this special project -- I've organized my thoughts, started planning lessons, and created a blog. God has really been moving, and I can't even begin to explain the many confirmations I received. But the added bonus is... there are so many wonderful young women in our church to work with!!! They are full of talent, love, and energy!

Here is an excerpt of an email I sent my Pastorman at the beginning of May:

"I have immersed myself in studying about this new generation and the type of connections they are looking for, the types of worship experiences they are craving, and the types of relationships they desire … and the more I study, the more I pray, the more I listen for the direction God wants this ministry to go in... the more it seems to be exploding into a real, dynamic, and exciting ministry!!! I’m getting goosebumps just typing those words!!! I know that God is planning something amazing, and I’m excited to see what he does with this!!! Even if it is just one girl that comes ... that one life will be touched, challenged and transformed. Go Holy Spirit!!!"
Yes, I'm just a little excited to see what God has in store for us.

As I mentioned above, I've been studying up on this new generation (Y or Millenials) and I'm learning so much about them ... They don't want to be entertained. They don't want to go to an "MTV style" of worship. They want to KNOW and EXPERIENCE God. They want to FEEL Him moving in their lives in a very real way. And yet, they struggle with real issues... low self esteem and self worth, issues with communication, struggling with transitioning into young adulthood, purity... some have already been touched by motherhood or divorce ... they struggle with painful things. They crave someone to listen to them (outside of their family), to value them, to treat them as a young adult.

Since December, I've been praying about where God wants me to be involved at church. In fact, I've been sensing that God has been preparing my heart to launch this new ministry for quite some time, but has been waiting on the right time to reveal everything to me, including my co-leader. I know that his hand is moving in this ministry, and I am so excited about launching it on Sunday!!!

Godly mentoring is Biblical, logical, and needs to begin stretching across the nation. Our young people have so much access to the internet, with a lot of dangerous information at their fingertips, and they are influenced by so many people on television and media. It frightens me to know about all the chat rooms and bulletin boards that explore all aspects of faith, which in turn, leads to the whole "a-little-bit-of-this and a-little-bit-of-that" mentality. Mentoring needs to span all ages, and needs to begin in our own churches. Y'all -- I would cherish it if you would keep it in your prayers!!!

Here are a couple more links to check out ... women who offer low-keyed mentoring to other women, girls and kids of all ages: Donnetta, Sandy, Amy, and others.

Feel free to visit us at the Denim and Grace website. We are just starting to put up some things, including our mission statement... so bear with us as we ... create.