Monday, May 24, 2010

spaghetti arms

I'm here. I'm not lost. I'm in Denver playing auntie to a 2 year old! I'm not playing actually, I'm doing it for real.  It's been such a great experience and although I only was "in charge" along with hubs, for a weekend, I feel like I am learning so much.

For instance, sometimes it's totally fine that she gets to wear her plastic high heels while we go for a walk. Even though it slows things down, it makes life more fun for her to "go to her meeting" or "take her baby out" or just pretend that she is fabulous and beautiful. Oh no, wait! It's not pretend and it's not her shoes that make her fabulous and beautiful!

I've also learned to appreciate a tea party which quickly turns into the nearby Starbucks drive thru.  Even though no double shots of talls or grandes or caramel macchiatos aren't actually on their way. It's still fun to have her repeat my order and ask, "Would you like pumpkin loaf with that?"

And then when I make bread and serve it to her, she gets a twinkle in her eye and says, "It looks just like pumpkin loaf" and I know I've found the key to her stomach.

It's been a blast to see the world through her eyes and to answer the "why?" and "how come?" and "what are you doing aunt jo?"

I've learned that sad faces can be turned into laughter when you swoop my little niece up and play airplane.  And even though my arms feel like spaghetti I know that her laughter is worth it.

I have learned that my nephew prefers to play guitar left-handed like a rock star... or Paul McCartney. That he acts shy but what he really wants is for someone to pick him up and smother him with kisses.  He loves his sunglasses and loves petting Banjo the golden.

Sometimes I don't want to brush her teeth because truth be known, she doesn't want me to and I don't want to argue.  This makes me a little concerned because I have yet to spend longer with a child than this weekend. If I can't stay strong for even a weekend, how am I supposed to be strong for my own kiddos when I have to convince them for a lifetime?

I also have a hard time not laughing when something is funny but "wrong".  I walked into the living area and found her shoving "pumpkin loaf" aka my bread into the baby doll's mouth.  I knew I should scold but it just looked so funny to see a baby doll's open mouth stuffed full of friendship bread.

Oh man, being an auntie is rewarding.  It's precious to be an aunt and I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Who Could Resist?

Who can resist such a sweet face?

Well, today, May 17th, 2010 is my sweet husband's birthday!
What a joy it has been getting to know him over the past three years.  And with 8.5 months of marriage under our belts, I can say with honesty that Mikey is my match.
He keeps me laughing, gaming and striving to be more than I am.  He's handsome. He is brave. He is hilarious. He is fun. He is steadfast. He is true. He is all the things I wish I could be better at.

He is super mellow and our transition to marriage has been easy breezy!  Whenever I get caught up in being super annoying/passionate/crazy he just lets me be me.
I'm really crazy in love with him.
Happy Birthday Mikey.
You are the man of my dreams. My match. My mate! I love you more than words or blogs can express and everytime I look at these pictures, I just want to pinch your sweet cheeks! 
Also, you might want to hide this one from me if you don't want me to start nagging you about babies... after all, if this is what my chillins are gonna look like, who can wait? Am I right or am I right?
Happy Birthday my love. I am crazy about you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Winner of the Hammah Jam contest was
JONI who answered the question with
"hummm, i would have to say amy grant!"
Congrats you little bride to be!! After your story of saving jam for almost a year I'd say you deserve this!
Thanks to everyone who played!!
Back to regular and witty blogging soon!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hammah Jam!

I tried something new.  I tried to be a little daring.  I got a recipe from a magazine... it looked easy. I researched how to follow-up on The Pioneer Woman's  blog and voila!!  An easy and step-by-step jamming process!  That's right my pets, I said "jammin'" 
For some reason saying that makes me want to follow up with "Hammer time" but ya know, say it like "hammah" and start doing the running man around my kitchen.
Why does this make me think of the Paulson sisters? 
I have visions of Melis, Laurie and Michelle dancing around their house to "hammah time" even though I have never actually seen that happen nor have I seen them shake thar thangs to that song.
But I wouldn't be surprised.  I guess I just have visions of grandeur...
Anyway, it's hammer time and back to jam!
I made strawberry jam.  It made my day and I was so nervous and excited. I'm not even going to tell you how to do it here. I'm sorry! I hope you're not mad that you just read through a full paragraph about three sisters who may or may not have danced to MC Hammer and you may have endured it thinking, "Well, after all this, surely she'll tell me how to make jam" and now you're angry that I won't.
Well, it's not that I won't... it's just that I shouldn't.  I am a newbie. 

And you wouldn't want advice from someone who's only been around the jam block once, would you?
Please don't be mad.
Go to Pioneer Woman and she'll make everything better.
Ohhh look at that beauty!
Listen, I'm serious!  Making jam was wonderful and fun!
It really was.
Are you still mad at me for not giving you the recipe?

Hello? Are you there?

Listen, how about we compromise.  I'm all about win-win situations.  How about if I give you something and in return you promise to not block my blog or swear off reading my wonderful tales of visions of grandeur.  Okay, can we make a deal?
I'll give you the recipe to the honey whole wheat bread recipe from Betty Crocker that I made to go with my jam.  Because honey, homemade jam is only good on homemade bread, am I right or am I right?
I know that I'm right and I know that you are going to thank me for this blog because honey, I'm feeling generous!
Not only am I including the recipe at the end of this blog but I am including the links to where Pioneer Woman makes everything alright, jam-wise and because I'm hyper and eating popcorn for dinner, I'll also send one lucky soul a jar of my strawberry jam.  So that you can forgo the whole "doing it yourself" process and links and messes and stress and just eat it!

That's right, my very first giveaway!
Because honey, I just love you and love you for reading this far into it!
All you need to do to be entered into my lovely giveaway is answer this question:
Who was your favorite band/singer during the late 1980s to mid-1990s?
And yes, I am aware that I was still a spring chicken at that time but come on, now! I had older brothers!
(side note: my Grandma's need not enter this contest, they'll be receiving their own complimentary jar of jam because they pretty much made it via their loving words of encouragement over the phone!)

So just enter your answer in the comments section and winners will be chosen at random on Thursday.  Comments section will be closed on Wednesday!
and then look at what you can do with your very own jar of Hammah Jam.
Ohhh baby, I like the sound of that! 

I'm off to go get my husband out of the kitchen so he doesn't eat all of YOUR jam!!

The Pioneer Woman jam links are:

And my honey whole wheat bread recipe is as follows:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 c honey
1/4 c shortening
1 T salt
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/4 c very warm water
3-4 c bread flour
Margarine or butter

**Mix whole wheat flour, honey, shortening, salt and yeast in large bowl.  Add warm water.  beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently.  Stir in enough bread flour, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle.
Place dough on lightly floured surface.  Knead about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.  Place dough in large bowl greased with shortening, turning dough to grease all sides.  Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 40-60 minutes or until doubled. Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched.
Grease bottom and sides of 2 loaf pans, with shortening.
Gently push fist into dough to deflate.  Divide dough in half. Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into 18x9-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface.  Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 9-inch side.  Press with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal.  Press each end with side of hand to seal.  Fold ends under loaf.  Place seam side down in pan.  Brush loaves lightly with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 35-50 minutes or until doubled.
Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from pans to wire rack.  Brush loaves with butter, cool.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Love On Your Mama

Don't forget to love on your mama today!

Don't forget to tell your Mama how thankful you are that she decided to have you.  Don't forget to tell your mama that you're thankful she stayed up all those nights to feed you and nurse you and change those nasty diapers.
Don't forget to thank your Mama for the band-aid she gave you for climbing trees and poppin' wheelies and trying to keep up with your brothers when your little girly body wasn't always made to handle your adventures.
Don't forget to thank your Mama for not coddling you when she dropped you off at kindergarten.  She probably wanted to hold you tightly and never let you go since you were her last one but you were ready and so she let you be ready.
Don't forget to thank your Mama for making your drum majorette uniform so that you wouldn't have to wear that hideous wool one.
Don't forget to thank your Mama for taking you on a road trip to Iowa when you were fifteen and sat in the backseat with your best friend the whole way.
Don't forget to thank your Mama for visiting you at college, paying for you and all your new dorm friends to have dinner out and for bringing your Grandma's to come have a girls weekend.
Don't forget to thank your Mama for all the letters that said, "I believe in you", "You can do it", "You're the best" and "I love you".
Don't forget to thank your Mama for letting you adventure out into the world.

And don't forget to thank your Mama for all the things you can't at this time remember and probably never even know half the things she did for you.
Be sure to love on and thank your Mama, she's God's gift to you!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

lilac's short season....

Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that my Grandpa has died.  While talking to my Grandma today I asked about her lilacs and how they turned out this spring (I hate to miss their short season, but I do) and she mentioned that they were so beautiful and that she had taken some over to my Grandpa's grave because he had planted them and taken such good care of them over the years.
And it just hits me.
And the tears start to fall again and I just yearn to be home in her kitchen watching them bicker over whether or not he can taste the potato salad... or watch him work in his garage or even go back to the day when he planted those lilacs and see him.
And I can't.
I can't help but miss him and I can't help but be so confused that someone who was so full of life is no longer filling that body that I hugged and kissed and found comfort in.
It's just so unnatural for me to think of the man that I loved so much is not with us anymore.
And I miss him all over again.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

April 2010

April was such a fun month and so productive.  Of course, it's always a matter of give and take when I'm concerned.  I'm learning more about cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. but I've also had to throw away a lot this month.  I'm not sure why exactly because I meal plan and try to buy only what I know I'm going to use... however, the busyness of life has picked up to wrap up the end of the school year and we've eaten out more than expected because sometimes it's just easier.

I had to throw out chicken and pork because I forgot I had taken them out to thaw and then they sat in the fridge too long and they smelled sour.  I've had way too many "does this smell funny to you" moments this month between my hubs and I.  


Anyway, April has been a fun month.  I helped hostess Joni's bridal shower and thoroughly enjoyed being on the "giving end" of the shower.  Aw, it was just last year I was busy flipping through magazines and websites trying to put together an event for 300 people.  It was fun but nuts.  I admire women who coordinate or work in the wedding business. It's crazy!

Anyway, I helped at Joni's shower... I got to work on decorations and put together all the pieces and food that other women brought. It was fun to be in charge.  This is a recap of the little vases I made (click on recap).

In the area of crafts, I successfully finished a ton of projects and started a new project! Kelli and I made t-shirts bags and together we figured out how to use two t-shirts to give the "single tee look" a little jazzing up.  It was so much fun to sew.  I finished some random crocheting I had to do and beaded a bunch of earrings.  My friend had a garage sale so I put some earrings together to see if any would sell but alas, they did not.  Not sure if that was just the people looking or my earrings.... hmmm... I also, on a lighter note, started to sew.  Not sure where I'm going with this newfound love but hopefully somewhere like curtains and throw pillows. :)

In April, Mikey surprised me with tickets to fly to Des Moines to see my bf Kelli and her hubs Marcus.  It was beyond wonderful to have 4 1/2 days of just "being" with Kelli. We've never had such relaxed and chill time together.  It was so refreshing.  It also reminded me of all the things K and I have in common.  We both love to craft, to live simply, to read books, to reach out to others (especially people of different cultures), we both love ice cream and the list goes on.  It was a blessing beyond description.  I felt like every time I shared something, Kelli was already there with me on board with whatever I had to say.   It was a huge blessing for me.  Ah, I am spoiled!!

Unfortunately, it's taken me a bit to get back into work mode.  I feel like summer is two steps away and I've had trouble getting back in the swing of things.  All I want to do all day is craft or read or craft.  I keep "rewarding myself" saying that if I get the floor swept I'll sit down and read a chapter (or two).

This month I finished
Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
I know I gave quite a lengthy review here so I won't bore you with more but please, if you need a good read to lay on the beach with or travel somewhere overseas or just to ENJOY! Pick this up! You won't be sorry!!

I also read "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman and was convicted about the way I allow media to influence and make decisions for me.
I've been struggling with this recently because although I am constantly bombarded with image and lifestyle struggles that I think come mostly from shows I watch.  I think to myself, "I need this," when in reality I don't need it at all.  One of my favorite points that Postman made was that in the past politician's popularity rates were based on their views and the way they prepared, presented and defended those.  Now our minds and often times votes are swayed by television ads with sinister music.  Overall it was a good book that challenged by view of t.v. and how I am influenced by media.

I remember having classes on this in my communication courses at UI.  I don't think I'll ever forget how twisted advertising can be.  Seriously people, the ads don't tell you anything about the product... they just speak into what you need or what you think you need.  It's kind of crazy to get into.

Lastly, I read "Encouragement" by Larry Crabb and Don Allender.  I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking about ministering to others.  It's not a book of "how to" but more the heart and mind behind those who wish to be an encouragement to others.  It talks about the state of people's hearts and only through trusting Jesus fully can we be released to minister to others.  I used this book to give my talk to the Nav women at CSULB and I'm so glad I bought the book.  This was also my second time going through the book. Soooo good!!

Well, that about sums up April.  It was such a good month and May is going great these two days! I have a lot coming up but so much to look forward to!!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Cookies for Your Waistline

I love sweets.  It's true.  Ask my husband what my favorite thing to eat is and he'll reply, "ice cream" cause it's true.  It is.  There is nothing better than ice cream and now that I live in California I can divulge myself into yogurt shops across the county.  I could eat my way through all the yogurtlands across So Cal.
Hmmmm... not a bad idea. (p.s. they have their new flavors out!~ peanut butter cup and lychee!)
Alas, this post is not about ice cream, I do apologize though, because this post isn't even about unhealthy food to stuff your face with.
It's about healthy cookies.
It's true.
The one thing I love more than sweets are sweets that are good for you.
Let me repeat that, sweets that are good for you.  I know you're probably getting ready to click away from this site since you have forever deemed me to be a liar but I kid you not.
And no, my pants aren't on fire.
There are such things as "semi-healthy sweets". I should know because I am forever trying to find ways to make things both yummy and sweet.  My greatest conquest shall be when I make a sweet pork soup which will satisfy my husband and I.... hmmm wonder what would happen if I melted chocolate in it?
Or what about sushi chocolate fondue?
okay, now I'm just being ridiculous!
Back to the cookies.
Here's the deal. I'm not into diets. I did atkins while in college and although I did lose weight, the first time I ate a piece of bread, I ate the loaf.
I have decided that cutting something out of my meal regiment probably just won't happen forever  and if I withhold it from my body, my body will just revolt! My body gets angry and rebellious when I tell it, it can't have something.
Moderation is key!  So I eat cookies and while I'm at it, try to make them healthy.
Are you bored?
Okay, I'll post the recipe and let you have at 'em!
Enjoy my pets.  You're going to be so excited to have these healthy cookies in repertoire of recipes!

Joanna's Oatmeal Craisin Cookies
(adpated from my cooking guru and life-saver: B-to-the-etty Crocker)
wow, I'm in a mood!

2/3 c granulated sugar
2/3 c  packed brown sugar
(hang with me girlfriends and, boys-that-are-friends~ that's the only sugar we put in these ladies!)
1/2 c stick margarine (softened)
(I set mine on the stove while it preheats)
1/2 c applesauce
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg whites
3 c guick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. craisins

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees 
Beat all your ingredients except the oats, flour and craisins in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon if you missed your work-out today at the gym and need to strengthen your biceps.  Stir in the oats, flour and craisins.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Drop dough ball into mouth.
Alternate until sick!
(here's a fun fact about me that I am sure you are all dying to know.... I prefer cookies in their dough form.  I think cookies lose something when they become actual cookies.  There's just something rather sad and unappealing to me about a cookie that is actually cooked. Another fun fact~ I served raw cookie dough in little balls for my high school graduation party... no cake (ew) only cookie dough.  As far as I know no one contracted salmonella! Whew!)
Okay, once you have filled a cookie sheet bake about 9 minutes or until you've reached your desired crispness.
Because I like the dough better than the cooked, I tend to cook mine for less time.  My father, however, likes his crunchy and crisp.  So next time you're making cookies for Ed be sure to give them some more lovin'!

Eat! Enjoy!

(small disclaimer: I am not making fun of diets or even saying people shouldn't do them. I am honestly telling you that in the past taking something out of my diet only led to my over-indulging with that food type later on!)