Archive for May, 2011


Seven Quick Takes

   Posted by: liz    in books, faith, family, food, friends, health

Join Jennifer at Conversion Diary every Friday for 7 Quick Takes!

I admit, this is only 6 quick takes. This serves more of a “catch-up” post as I’ve lots to talk about, but never the OOMPH to sit and post. Tonight, my husband is partying with some bachelors (um…all married men, except this weekend’s groom), so I have time to sit and type while the boys play. And eat pizza and drink rootbeer: their own little bachelor party!

  • Kenny and I are training for a 5K in August. I’ve always been an avid power-walker, and I always hit the elliptical hard at the gym. But running? Oh, my lungs!  It’s a completely different workout than I’m used to, but I’m ready for it!  Kenny and I have been out a few times running. It’s good for me to run with a partner, or else I’d justify walking most of the time!  Friends of ours at church told us about the 5K, and it sounds like a great run, for a worthy cause (a local Meals on Wheels fundraiser).  It just might make a runner out of me, yet!
  • It’s that time of yearwhen we switch our black shoes for whites, and our red wines for white!  I’ve come to love red wine this winter. The “comforting” red zinfandel (Rex Goliath and Cardinal Zin are two of our favorites) and “familiar” shiraz (Yellow Tail) have kept us company this winter, but we’re ready for our favorite chardonnays (Hob Nob, Yellow Tail, Sabeka, Cupcake) and Pino Grigio (I haven’t found a favorite brand of Pino Grigio yet, but we had Rex Goliath at our dinner group last week and I really liked it. A bottle of Rex Goliath (red or white) ALWAYS shows up at our dinner group dinners).I’m looking for a good chardonnay-in-a-box. Anyone have a recommendation (I love oakey, spicy chardonnays, rather than the sweeter, buttery ones).Kenny thinks I need to start some kind of business around wine. I love talking about the different textures of wine, and the pairing of wines with foods, the differences between each type of wine. Of course, getting together with friends and drinking it around good food is always a highlight. To quote one of my theatre professors, “It’s a beautiful thing.”
  • I was recently invited to join a new book club and I’ve only been to one of our gatherings, but it’s so much fun!  I inhaled the book that was “on deck” – Anna Quindlan’s Every Last One. I’d recommend it because it was such a fast, intriguing read, but the subject matter is really hard. I loved the slow, steady introduction of the main character’s life. I can’t wait to discuss it as it was a hard theme and I’ve been processing it around in my head for at least a week now.I have always wanted to be in a book club. What is more fun than hanging out with girlfriends, talking, laughing, eating, and discussing books? I can’t wait for more books to come!As I wait for our next book, I’ve read Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation (non-fiction, theology…absolutely loved it…i’m considering forcing kenny to read it so we can hash it out together), and am currently reading Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City which is also non-fiction, but reads like a novel. It takes place in Chicago, just before the turn of the century around the building of the first World Fair. It is a fascinating read so far!
  • I have only one thing to say about the current crazy weather we are experiencing in the United States, especially that of the deadly tornadoes that the South experienced this week: God is not trying to get our attention by sending bad weather! I’m so sad to hear Christians explaining the deadly twisters as vindication on a sinful country. Geez. I’d invite you to tell that to a mother who lost all her children in the Joplin tornado. Please stop trying to explain, and just help those who need it.
  • Our family is attending a wedding on Sunday. Kenny is in it. It’s his SIXTH wedding that’s he’s been in since we’ve been married. I have been in ZERO weddings since our own wedding. Is this weird?I was telling Adam today that we’re going to a wedding on Sunday and he asked if there was going to be kissing. I told him yes and he grimaced. I changed the subject quickly and told him that his friends Owen, Luke, Isaac and Danny will be there to which he replied, “Which I LOOOOVE!” His pronouns need some work.
  • The boys are loving their summer school schedule…and so am I!  We go really light in the summer with reading practice from books they’ve chosen from the library, “treats” from us if they can read (and comprehend!) a full book or chapter or two in a chapter book.  I also found a great spelling game that we’ve used a few times this week called Word Pirates. It’s actually a game that I can sit through and enjoy playing. You roll dice, spell words, block your brothers’ bridges….the boys actually ask to play it rather than me say, “hey, let’s play that game where you spell words!”



   Posted by: liz    in homekeeping

it’s that time again…demolition and home improvement! we’ve redone many of the rooms in this house, and yet, there’s always more to do!  i remember walking into this house for the first time and seeing the potential. i knew that we’d be painting or redoing every single room in the house when we bought it…and we’re slowly but surely getting there!

the first floor laundry room/bathroom has old, cracked linoleum flooring that has been drenched in urine over and over again. i cannot get the stench out since it’s UNDER the linoleum. this is the most used bathroom, and three little boys have potty-trained in it. when the humidity rises, so does the stench. i apologize to anyone who has used this bathroom.

kenny took off work yesterday and we tore out the old, smelly wooden (mildewy? wormy? what makes old wood stink?) cupboards and linoleum-topped counter. here are some of the before pictures:

the cupboards are pure wood. but they’re really smelly. we think they’re from the kitchen. we’d keep them if they weren’t so sticky and smelly.

i will not miss the frilly wall paper trim. i can’t wait to get in there and paint!

large toilet will be gone, and that linoleum will not be missed. i’m thinking of going the Pergo route in here – easy clean up, no cracks for urine to hide…

one fun discovery…the fake wooden paneling came off in two big pieces -w e were afraid they glued it and would be hard to take off.

directly under the fake paneling was the home’s original wooden siding! we thought we were going to hang drywall, but i’m going to clean up this wall of siding and put a fresh coat of paint on it. this bathroom/laundry used to be the kitchen porch until they enclosed it, thus the wall of siding INSIDE the house.

old porch floor – in great shape, but i want NEW floors in this bathroom, so we’ll be covering it.

it always amazes me how much wood can fit into a small room. this is our wagon load, headed off to the burn pile.

stay tuned for more “after” pictures in the coming weeks…

there has been a lot of chatter lately about the depressing state of the weather in these parts. in fact, it has been noted that the Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a fairly mild (cool) summer with lots of rain.  there is a small handful of people in the are who welcome this forecast, and then there are those who were looking forward to a nice hot summer.

and then perhaps there are those of us who suffer through winter just to get to summer and do not want to accept a cooler than normal summer because it is DEPRESSING.

i talk a lot about how i’ve become a lover of all things SUMMER. i love the heat, the sun, the swimming, the outside time with my family. i always used to look so forward to the autumn and then the holidays and never thought twice about how long a winter could possibly last. until recently…

since moving up here, winter has become the enemy. i know that sounds so dramatic. i don’t know how to put it any other way. because it really feels like an enemy. i don’t like to be reclusive. i don’t like to be stuck inside. and i don’t like to be cold. i don’t like to be cranky to my kids and my husband. i love to feel alive and busy and social and active and productive. but that is nearly impossible in the winter months.

winter has become that nagging “thing” that you try to keep in the back of your thoughts, and ignore it and try not to count down the days when you have to deal with it again. i don’t want to think of winter, but i can’t help but dread it more with a forecast of a cooler-than-normal summer. i need a good, hot summer in order to prepare for the upcoming harsh winter. and when this past winter still feels as though it’s hanging on (in the middle of MAY), i want to go back to bed by 9:00 a.m.

i looked up “Seasonal Affective Disorder” just for kicks and thought i’d outline it here, for those of you who think i’m just whining too much about the cold spring and possible summer we are about to have:

  • Afternoon slumps with decreased energy and concentration
  • Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more typical of other forms of depression)
  • Increased sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness (problems sleeping are more typical of other forms of depression)
  • Lack of energy and loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability

if I’m going to be honest, i will admit that i’ve had 100% of these symptoms for the past 6 months. the weight gain included and ask my husband…definitely the “unhappiness and irritability.” the afternoon slumps saw me retreating to a hot shower until the hot water ran out, or standing near our fireplace for warmth, staring out the window and not talking. that makes for a really fun mom, doesn’t it?

i think i’ve lost friends over this. i don’t return emails, phone calls, stop making social plans in the winter. i don’t want to be “outside” so why plan an outing?

the weight-gain has been the most depressing and embarassing. i don’t want to admit that i over-eat (pure carbs, not veggies) and don’t exercise in the winter. i don’t want to own up to the tightening waist on my jeans. i just wear sweats with elastic waists and promise to start the elliptical in the spring. and eat another christmas cookie to make me feel better.

there is no medicine for SAD (not that i’d go that route any way). it’s something that you just have to deal with and treat naturally. unfortunately, it has that stigma that people attach to things like fibromyalgia (the “its all in your head” disease). but it’s real. even if it is in your head (SAD, not fibro) it still affects you.

so please let me complain about the weather because it’s affecting me worse than it’s affecting you. understand that depression in some is hard to kick, especially with never-ending days of cool temps and rain. i’m thankful that i was aware of this all winter long, and actively tried to get out of it. but it wasn’t easy.

in the meantime, just pray for a good hot summer, okay? ;)


meals in our home…

   Posted by: liz    in food

friday night is always pizza night here. i make two separate doughs – one with half whole wheat flour and one with all whole wheat flour. the boys gobble up their specially-made pizza (rowan’s section has no cheese on it, the other two boys eat just about anything on theirs), and kenny and i share the gourmet, olive-oil, herb, whole wheat crust, tomato and specialty cheese pizza with a good strong red wine, and green leafy salad. i love pizza nights. we haven’t had a real pizza night in a few weeks, but we’re back at it this weekend, i hope!

the past few saturdays  i’ve been trying out new recipes. this past saturday i was totally uninspired, so  i resorted myself to making breakfast for dinner. as i was getting out the eggs and bread to make scrambled eggs and toast, i remembered that i had a few very ripe bananas on hand, so i whipped up a batch of banana bread, sprinkled in a few mini chocolate chips and popped it in the oven. i abandoned the scrambled eggs and toast (knowing full well that my super-taster wouldn’t eat a bite of it) and decided on “Banana Bread French Toast” for dinner – a truly decadent dinner, and one that does not invite dessert at its table.

all three boys inhaled it. how could they not? it was the sweetest dinner they ever had!  they had been “suffering” through grilled meat and salad dinners all week (my ideal dinner!), so i felt like spoiling them a bit with a fun dinner.

my changes to the recipe: sucanat or demerara and white whole wheat flour in the banana bread recipe, and i added just a few tablespoons of mini chocolate chips). a bit of real maple syrup and whipped cream on top, and they were in dinner heaven! serve it with a fruit salad or just a sliced banana on top. also, make sure you let the banana bread cool fully (make it well ahead of time and not right before you want to make the french toast) or else you’ll have soggier, falling apart piecees of french toast (it still tastes great, though!).


gratitude ~ may 11, 2011

   Posted by: liz    in Uncategorized

dining al fresco after spending the afternoon in the warm sun…


“this is my winter song to you…”

   Posted by: liz    in faith, family

our atmosphere has been slow to welcome the warm spring and hot summer days this year, but i’m so thankful we’re on the beginning side of the warm-day-season. one thing that helped me make it through this harsh winter was the act of gratitude. i’m so thankful (see! gratitude!) that i didn’t tailspin into a depressive state with each new snow storm. i think it was the act of being thankful, so thankful, for friends, family, being with my boys, and my amazing husband that kept me “above ground.”

one of my new years resolutions was to pay better attention. i have found that the simple (yet difficult) act of paying attention will naturally bring a thank-you to your lips. noticing the breath of a sleeping boy (“thank you, Lord, for his health!”), really listening to the chatter of an almost five-year-old (“thank you, Lord, that he can speak!”) and even seeing the beauty of the freshly fallen snow (“thank you, Lord, for the beauty of snowflakes-seen-up-close.”)

i was saved this winter, by giving thanks.

and i’m not referring to salvation. although it’s very easy to see the parallel of being saved by being thankful. accepting the grace of God is as difficult for me as being thankful in the bitter grey that i see in winter.

starting in november, when i could feel the cold coming in my bones, i began to give thanks. it was easy at the beginning, and then when winter hit, it became almost impossible. until a great conversation with a friend, and a recommendation of a book got me through the coldest of months.

so give thanks with me. shout your gratitude from the mountaintops, and let that which keeps you down not take charge over you.


gratitude ~ may 9, 2011

   Posted by: liz    in earthkeeping

a vegetable garden overtaken with weeds…

a neighbor who lends you their kubota and rear tiller deserves a batch of PW’s cinnamon rolls, don’t you think?