Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Commitment to Loveliness

The first preparing-to-move edition!

  1. Finish gathering photos for my family heritage decorating project and organize and pack said photos.
  2. Pack up the library.
  3. Start packing up extraneous kitchen items.
  4. Take my sister out for a lovely birthday lunch!
  5. Take better care of my face. It's so dry and I look so tired.

Quick Update

We've been in the midst of some pretty exhausting sleep issues with the baby over the past week, and I've just been two worn out to blog! Usually I'm online during nap time or after he's in bed, but lately I've been sleeping when the baby sleeps!

It's also time to start packing for our move (still set as far as we know for March 16). I'll probably be scarce over the next few weeks, but rest assured, that I haven't abandoned this blog!

Maybe by then spring will have arrived! A girl can dream...

Lenten Meals

Elizabeth asked about Lenten meals. I'm afraid I don't have many creative ideas so far, but maybe as we go along. I've been keeping things simple because I don't see much sacrifice in replacing one extravagance with another. For example, we won't be having any kind of "fancy" fish dinner or going to a Friday night fish fry. I don't believe in replacing meat with a meat "substitute" (though I do during other times of the year, since we don't eat red meat) that tastes the same. Where's the penitential spirit in practices like that?

We're abstaining from meat on Wednesdays this year in addition to Fridays, though we're eating less meat in general (and trying to be less indulgent overall) during the entire season.
  • On Ash Wednesday our one meal was a broccoli and cheese strata.
  • Last Friday we had broccoli and carrot pizza with whole wheat dough.
  • Tomorrow it's homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese.
  • Friday we're eating at my parents' so I'm not sure. My mother is a vegetarian so I know this will be a more creative meal!
  • Saturday we're having butternut squash soup.

Other staples include tuna casserole, spaghetti or maybe "mock" lasagna. I wanted to try stuffed peppers as well. We like "breakfast for supper" type meals so scrambled eggs with toast and pancakes and fruit will probably also be on the menu during Lent.

More than our main meals, my real struggle during Lent is with sweets. I really crave something a little sweet after meals and this is very hard for me. I'm trying to strictly limit those treats, but I haven't succeeded in eliminating them altogether. So far what we've done is limit our indulgences to one recipe a week. Last week I'd made cupcakes so we ate them without restriction (except for Wednesday), but when they were gone that was it. We went to a birthday party Sunday and came home with a few pieces of cake. Again, feel free to enjoy, but once they were gone, that was it. It's not perfect, but since I love to bake this is something of a sacrifice!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gingerbread Muffins

Chrissy asked and here is the link to the Gingerbread Muffin recipe I served on Monday. I found it on someone's blog; it may have been Mrs. Wilt, but I can't remember! Whoever you are, thank you! They are wonderful! It's defintiely a "keeper."


As for the wheat bread recipe, it's one I modified while in 4-H as a kid. I complied a cookbook of "heritage" recipes from members of my family. This one comes from a family friend, and was originally a white bread recipe. I had to pry it out of her then, and I still guard it with my life, however, and don't want to post it here. Sorry for the tease! I promise, though, it's absolutely wonderful. (Humble, aren't I?)

One out of two isn't bad!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Hostess with the Mostest

On Monday, I hosted a few friends from my former workplace for muffins and coffee. It's February vacation for them, and I thought it would be nice to get together and chat. What I thought would be a relatively short visit turned into nearly three hours! We had a lot of fun catching up and "dishing" about what's new with who at school!

I kept the menu very simple since two of guests have dietary restrictions. We had gingerbread muffins and fresh, homemade whole wheat bread (my State Fair, blue ribbon recipe) with butter and coffee.

The dessert plates and cake stand were a wedding gift from one of the other librarians in the district. I think this is the first time I've used them! I have slightly less formal (and breakable) dessert plates and cake stand that are more "everyday," but I'm going to make an effort to bring these out more often!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Commitment to Loveliness, February 18

I did pretty well last week, but I need to do better in a few areas!

  • Keep up that water drinking! I think this may get a bit easier since Lent is upon us and we've cut out diet soda.

  • Lie down/nap when Baby takes his afternoon nap. (I was almost asleep today when the phone rang, so now I'm blogging. After today, though, REST!)

  • Walk at least 4 days this week since the temperature will be near 40.

  • Type up my menu plan/shopping lists.

  • Fix my hair everyday instead of just tying it back. Ponytails count as a style, pulling it straight back with a loose, elastic-is-almost-shot rubberband does NOT!

  • I know this is six, but now that it's Lent and the parish is offering an extra daily Mass at noon, GO!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine's Day Dinner

We finally had our Valentine's Day dinner tonight. Here's the whole menu:

I had managed to make the dessert (heart shaped brownies with peanut butter chips) on Wednesday, but we ate most of them between now and then! Yesterday my mom gave me a heart shaped silicone mold, so this afternoon I decided to make another Valentine's treat and dinner (which DH was originally going to cook as a treat for me). I made a white cake "dyed" pink with food coloring with chocolate frosting and red sprinkles. We also had baked salmon (pink of course!) with rice, broccoli, and V8 juice (at last minute inspiration as it's red!). It was delish, but DH owes me a dinner! Not really, he's been keeping up with the shoveling and that's a mammoth chore!

On another note, we could possibly close on the house ONE MONTH from today! March 16 was our originally estimated closing date. Yikes!

The appraiser was supposed to come yesterday, then this morning, and now he's supposed to come tomorrow, weather permitting. I hope he can because that's really the only thing holding up the process!

A couple more feet of snow fell last night and today. By the middle of next week, though, near 40 degrees!

How unexciting is my life that I am reduced to describing and discussing the weather in detail on this blog? Or that my mother and talk about half a dozen times per day about the snow and status of our respective driveways.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What a Difference!

Compare these pictures of the first snow of the year with the view this morning!

Day After Valentine's Day

Due to a series of unfortunate events, not the least of which was a Nor'easter, our Valentine's Day dinner (including heart shaped brownies) has had to be postponed indefinitely. I had a lot of things I wanted to write about yesterday and today, but for now that's all I'll say.

There was one nice Valentine's moment yesterday, though, it didn't involve me. The drift of snow in front of the doctor's driveway next door was over six feet high (doctor is closed Wednesday) and last night while he was snowblowing and shoveling with his dad, DH cleared the entrance to the doctor's driveway too! The doctor's handyman would have had no chance of clearing that with a shovel this morning before opening the office. I'm also glad the doctor wasn't parked in his garage all day yesterday while the plows kept shoving snow in front of the driveway! It's only by the grace of God that the same didn't happen to us as the wind chill was too low to take the Baby outside during the day to shovel the driveway and walk.

All fo the schools are delayed or closed again because of the snow! Up north, several schools have also had to shorten or cancel February break next week because they have used up all their (six!) snowdays from last week's lake effect "event!"

This will definitely be in my mind forever as the Valentine's Day Storm of '07!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Commitment to Loveliness, February 11

Okay, I was thinking about this all weekend!

  • I'm back to trying to get up early and exercise/shower. I did it today! I worked out and was ready for the day by 7:45. Now I need to continue that all week (and beyond).

  • Drink at least 32 ounces of water every day. This is short of the recommended eight glasses, but we're running short on bottled water right now, so this is more realistic.

  • Finish once and for all, my meal plans and master shopping lists. I keep changing my mind, editing, and replacing!

  • Steam clean the carpet. Due to Baby's teething, he's been spitting up lately and it's ALWAYS on the living room carpet. It figures: the only room in the house with carpeting.

ETA: While I was typing this, he did it AGAIN! Poor baby!

  • Make good progress on my study of St. Matthew's Gospel. One chapter or so a day is probably a good goal.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Snow, Snow, Snow, SNOW!!

We're watching World News Tonight, and there was just another report on the snow in Oswego County, NY. The Village of X, our home in a month or so is totaling 88 inches of powder! As my husband pointed out, that's not as much as two neighboring towns weighing in at 92 and 94 inches each, but that's small consolation. Ay yi yi!

As one resident said, it will probably stick around until June. Sadly that's not much of an exaggeration. I'll be sure to post when the last of the white stuff is gone. I'm guessing early May.

Of course, I heard that 2007 is supposed to be the warmest on record, so if that prediction starts to come true, it may be sooner. Also, the groundhog DIDN'T see his shadow, so supposedly that means an early spring. We shall see.

Teeth Again!

One of Baby's top teeth broke through overnight. He's been so cheerful, I didn't even realize he was about to cut another one. There was nary a sign on his gums! If anything, I expected the left tooth to come in, and it's the right! So much for being observant! Should have figured something was up: he slept for seven straight hours last night.

Lake Effect Machine

In the past few days, Upstate New York has made appearances on the Today Show, Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and NBC Nightly News. The reason? Six straight days of lake effect snow (so far, more today and this weekend), dumping several feet of snow and an estimated 100 inches of fresh snow in Oswego and Oswego County. Local schools are closed for at least the second time this week; I think it's possible much of Oswego County was closed yesterday too (they were last night), but I never checked. JOY. I LOVE UPSTATE NEW YORK!

Buffalo and Erie County tend to get most of the publicity for lots of snow. They get lake effect too, and have the misfortune to sometimes get hit with lake effect from Lake Ontario AND Lake Erie, but they really have nothing (on a day to day basis) on CNY. The winter I lived in Buffalo was a PICNIC compared to here. To be fair, though, the wind can be far more bitter in Buffalo, and maybe that's worse than the snow. Upstate cities compete for the "Golden Snowball" for most snow every year. Sigh.

To get some perspective, we live currently in "Central New York." We get lots and lots of snow, approximately 120 inches a year, courtesy of Lake Ontario. Oswego County is slightly to the north and gets much more snow (obviously). Not only are they lucky enough to live in the lake effect area, that part of the state also has the delightful name, "Snow Belt."

You can see where this is going.

We're moving INTO THE "SNOW BELT."

This was the description of the town we're heading toward on a TV station's website:

When the snow stopped in X Thursday afternoon, homeowners took advantage of the break to dig out. But now, they're preparing for more, and stocking up for a weekend of more lake effect.

Unless you're living in it or there to see it yourself, it's hard to comprehend just how much snow the Village of X has received. Thursday, they got a break from the flurries for a while and they used that time to catch up on digging out. For some it was the first time in a few days they'd been out of their homes and one of the first stops was the grocery store.

The “Big M” is X's only grocery store. The manager says they re-stocked everything Thursday morning and don't anticipate running out of any of the necessities throughout the weekend.

Buffalo and Erie County tend to get most of the publicity for lots of snow. They get lake effect too, and have the misfortune to sometimes get hit with lake effect from Lake Ontario AND Lake Erie, but they really have nothing (on a day to day basis) on CNY. The winter I lived in Buffalo was a PICNIC compared to here. To be fair, though, the wind can be far more bitter in Buffalo, and maybe that's worse than the snow. Upstate cities compete for the "Golden Snowball" for most snow every year. I think we know who's taking home the trophy this year. Sigh.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Do You Know Your Baltimore Catechism?

You are a 100% traditional Catholic!

Congratulations! You are more knowlegeable than most modern theologians! You have achieved mastery over the most important doctrines of the Catholic Faith! You should share your incredible understanding with others!

Do You Know Your Baltimore Catechism?
Make Your Own Quiz

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Important Step

We've reached a crucial stage with Baby. Not only is he crawling, but he's learned to maneuver himself back to sitting from crawling/tummy. What independence! He's much happier than a week ago. The world is now his oyster. God bless us and help us!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Wedding Story

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to a) share a photo/music montage from our wedding and b) jump on the YouTube bandwagon. I first made this for DH at our six month anniversary, and we also gave a copy to our families that year. It wasn't made with YouTube in mind, so the resolution is a little grainy, but you can get the idea. I'm only going to leave it up until the end of the week, so enjoy!

Edited February 13, 2006: Video Removed.

Whitney Paige...

...AKA Whit, Whitto, Auntie Whit, Crazy Aunt Whitney, and in her childhood, Bellowing Belinda.

My sister sent me an instant message yesterday morning to say that she received her "okay to graduate" email. She wanted my input on how her name should appear on her diploma. Congratulations, Whitney! My most brilliant of sisters will receive her B.A. in May, one year early! (Gee, wonder where she gets that from?) Her major is English with a minor in secondary education. She's been hemming and hawing all year about whether to go back for her senior year, and she finally made up her mind. She wrote her senior thesis last fall, and has more than enough credits, so grad school here she comes! I'm so proud of her! She is an amazing student. I think the campus will miss her, though. In her three years, here's what she's done:

  • Three internships, including one funded by a prestigious scholarship from the college

  • Worked as an aide to special needs (mostly autistic) children, while school was in session and on vacations and summers

  • Worked in the college library (of course!)

  • Resident Assistant

  • Programming board

  • Worked on the school paper the Onyx

  • Orientation leader

  • VP of her class

  • Assistant chair, now chair, of the Community Court (She was elected to hold this position through her senior year.)

  • Evenline player and now coach (one of the school's long standing traditions is an Odd/Even competition between classes, including a basketball game)

  • Danced in a senior thesis performance

  • Wrote her senior thesis and received an "A"

  • Protested her college abandoning its life as a women's college and becoming coeducational, though sadly unsuccessfully

I must admit I was thrilled and not surprised at all to hear that in graduate school she plans on concentration on elementary and special education. I knew all along she would. She was born to work with special needs kids. She has such a gift.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I can't help but brag! Her personality is just as wonderful as her accomplishments, and I am so glad and blessed to have such a wonderful sister and friend!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

THE House

Commitment to Loveliness Update

Here are my accomplishments for the week of January 28-February 3:

1. Get my hair cut and eyebrows waxed! I haven't had my hair trimmed in about three months and it's looking very ragged. I'm trying to grow it out again, and it's important to keep it shaped up. I haven't waxed my eyebrows since before the baby was born, so I'm long overdue!

Done, and I feel so much better!

2. Serve supper at the dining room table instead of the breakfast bar.

Yup, except for last night as we didn't have a sit-down supper.

3. Make the bed as soon as I get up in the morning instead of waiting until 9 or 10 AM. When the bed is made first thing, it always gives me a sense of accomplishment and motivation for the day.

Did this most days, and it's a continuing goal!

4. Get up no later than 6:30 so I can exercise and shower before the baby wakes up.

Um, not so much. I'm going to postpone this until we move. Three mornings a week my mom comes over anyway so I can exercise and she plays with Baby, so it makes sense to continue this for now. I still am going to try and get up earlier on the other two week days, though.

5. Light candles during the day to bring an extra sense of coziness and warmth (and good
smells) to the house.

Did this when I remembered. I'm going to make it a continuing goal, except on baking days when the house smells divine anyway!

The Rain in Spain...

I have so many things I've been wanting to post about lately, but I just haven't had the time/patience to sit down and write! Here are the highlights in a nutshell:

1. House is moving right along. We sold our house early in the week (after being viewed 2x last Sunday). We hit a wrinkle Tuesday night, but now all is well. Moving next month some time.

2. My mom bought me a new pair of slippers (Moccasins, actually) as we thought spending so much time in my fuzzy blues with no support and carrying Baby around all day might be the source of my knee problems flaring up again. Bonus: these are much more entertaining to play with when you're seven months old.

3. My sister has decided to go ahead and graduate this spring, a year early, and go right to grad school.

4. My mom, dad, Baby, and I spent yesterday at a Scholastic warehouse sale and Barnes and Noble. Ah, new books!

5. My Fair Lady

6. It's FRIGID!

I will soon, I hope, be able to expand on above topics, but for now the babe is waking from his nap, and we have diapers to wash and pizza to make for lunch.