Wednesday, August 31, 2011

He Chose

the $45 shorts.....until we realized that he had never tried them on and that.they.were.huge. 

So, he's sticking with the TJ Maxx purchases. 

Does God Have a Plan.....

for those who don't acknowledge Him?

This is the question that has been on my heart overnight.  Last night I followed a link to a blog in which the author has recently lost her husband.  He died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving behind his wife and two young daughters.

In her latest post, she details some of the condolences that she's received.  One of the hardest ones for her to hear is that "God has a plan".  As an atheist who left God behind when she was fourteen, she is understandably bitter about the whole God thing.  It is safe to say that she is fighting mad.

I was curious to read the comments of her followers.  Her post was not easy to read.  I found it offensive, yet I find myself sympathetic.  As I read through the comments, some said, "beautiful".  Some read, "you are the best mother - so strong, you'll be happy again".  Then there were the proselytizing ones.  There were even a few that laid out the plan of salvation to her.

I truly believe that God loves Jennie and her children.  I think he loves her late husband.  He created them, after all.  I have always been of the thought that we are here for Him, though - not the other way around.  Do you think that God has a "plan" for those who don't believe in Him? I absolutely don't have the answers, this is more of a question than a conclusion.  

The wisest commenter simply said that her dad was an oncologist - a cultural Jew, but a practicing agnostic.  Her remark was that believers find comfort in the love and protection of their God and that they simply wish that for her.  And therein lies the reason that I believe.  I can vividly remember reaching this conclusion in high school philosophy class (at a public school).  That I will believe and I will live my life in the certainty that there is a God who created me and who loves me.  And, if at the end of this life, I have been mistaken - I will have lost nothing.  I'll have lived a life of hope and purpose.  But, if at the end of this life I am joined with Him, then  I will have gained everything. 

I guess I'm wondering about the platitudes we give to grieving people.  Are they simply missing the mark on comforting - what if they're not even true?  I think if we don't know how to respond to hurting people we not only do them a disservice, but also to the God we serve.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Shorts Conundrum.

I've always been a practical girl.  I do remember wanting to wear brand-name clothing, though.  Do you?  In my day it was JCrew, Gap, Esprit, and Swatch.  My mom always bought us back to school clothing and she enjoyed treating us to brand names. My mom was generous with us.  When she was younger her parents were very tight-fisted with money.  She still remembers wanting Capezios and never getting them. 

Fast forward 34 years later and now I have a teenager.  Josh went shopping with my mom yesterday, armed with a $50 credit to American Eagle.  He came home with $45 shorts.  I seriously almost had a heart attack. My first response was, "First thing tomorrow morning those shorts will be returned".

I buy most of my clothing at Target and a discount clothing store (Gabriel Brothers, to be specific).  I recently purchased a pair of Lucky Jeans at Gabe's for $12.99.   I do still try to buy brand names, but I can't justify paying full retail price.  I do like quality things - price isn't always the determining factor. 

But I can promise you that I've never purchased nor worn a pair of $45 shorts.  Ever. 

Then this morning my mom called to advocate for Josh.  She and her neighbor talked it over (this just cracks me up, I have to admit) and think I'm being too hard on him.  They said I need to remember what it's like being a 13 yr-old, heading in to 8th grade.  I think my mom was immediately thinking back to the Capezios. 

Here's the thing.  I want Josh to respect how hard his dad works for our money.  But, I don't want to be stingy.  There is such a hard balance between being responsible and being cheap.  I don't want to be cheap.  It's only money.  But, it's money that is hard-earned. 

Part of me realizes that it was money that Josh could choose how to spend.  So, I went to TJMaxx and found two pairs of shorts and three shirts for close to the $45 total.  I'm going to give him the choice.  I don't want him to get sucked into the trap of only wearing what everyone else is wearing, but I'll understand if he just simply likes those $45 shorts. 

I'll let you know what he decides. 

First Day of School, part two

Can you tell it was 7:04am when this picture was taken?  At least it's sunny - in the doldrums of winter, Josh has to trudge to the bus stop in the pitch dark. 

Josh is entering 8th grade.  This fall he is going to play soccer and football and hopefully pass his classes! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Breakfast for Lumberjacks

Sunday morning we awoke to the last few raindrops of Hurricane Irene. 

And this.

I don't know if you can tell here, but our silver maple had fallen and landed on our power line.  And, we never lost power.  I called the electric company and they sent a tree service - who cut the tree off of the power line (while it was live) and then basically said, "here you go". 

So, Rob and the kids got to work. 

I decided our little lumberjacks needed a hearty lunch.  I used some challah bread I'd purchased at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago (and had frozen for a future use).  I mixed eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla and poured it over the slices of challah for about five minutes.  

I fried the slices of bread with butter in my electric skillet. 

French toast, crispy bacon, nectarines and plums -  a perfect lumberjack breakfast.

I should note that after this lunch, the girls totally played the rest of the day.  Rob's friend came over with two chain saws and the guys worked for the rest of the afternoon. 

Our yard is looking better - but empty.  We're hoping to do some planting next spring. 

First Day of School, part one

Today is the girls first day of school.  Kate is in 4th grade this year, and Emma is in 2nd. 

They were beyond excited.  Last night they planned out their outfits for the week, packed their lunch for today, and stocked a basket with all of the toiletries they'd need.  I heard them thundering up and down the hallway at 6am this morning. 

They really wanted "curly" hair - so last night after their showers I braided their hair.  Emma's looked a little like she stuck her finger in a socket. 

Without further ado.....the official back to school pictures.  Josh's first day is tomorrow - and it'll be an early picture.  His bus arrives at 7:13 am. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Favourite Thing Friday

I am linking in with Shay over at Quilting in my Pyjamas today for Favourite Thing Friday.  I will say at the outset that there are very few meals that please everyone in our family.  I think I may have found one more - hence the title of "Favourite Thing".

This meal is not fancy.  I don't even have very good pictures of it.  But, I think it is a very versatile and tasty option for when you might have some leftover grilled meat or vegetables.  I'm sure somewhere in my subconscious I have seen this concept before.  I'm never sure if my creations are original or if I've lodged the idea somewhere in my brain.  Such is the case with these "mexican rice bowls".

The idea, my friends, is so simple.  I'll show you what we added to our bowls and then I'll try to give you some other ideas for variations.

In this concoction:  brown rice, leftover beef brisket, black beans, shredded cheddar, lettuce, tomato, salsa, and sour cream.

Next week I'm planning to make "gyro bowls".  Spiced ground lamb, rice, feta, tzaziki sauce, lettuce and tomato. 

I think you could easily make this a meatless meal - just substitute roasted or grilled vegetables for the meat.

One more piece of advice - this tastes way better if you can handle a little bit of spice.  I especially like to mix chipotles in adobo sauce with the sour cream.  The smoky and spicy flavor really plays well with the starch of the rice and the crunch of the lettuce. 

Happy FTF!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bison Burgers

Much like previous years, with the promise of school starting next week, I find myself making resolutions.  And, like every other year, my list reads the same: be more organized, exercise every day, keep the house cleaner, etc.

This year I bought myself a day planner.  I realize that this is pretty basic - I'm probably the last person on earth to buy a day planner.  I actually love it, though.

I've even started planning my meals.  I know I said I never would, but it does help with making a store list (something else I've recently started doing).  I know I'm not turning into my mom, though, because I haven't started weighing myself every day.  I'll just keep wearing skirts until I can convince myself to exercise daily.

So, anyway - back to my day planner and deciding which meals to plan.  I asked the kids to select which meals they'd like me to make.  Kate requested chicken with creamed spinach and noodles.  Josh requested burgers, and Emma requested grilled cheese sandwiches.  I'm really pinning my hopes on the grilled cheese sandwiches, because the other dinners so far have been hideous.

The chicken with creamed spinach is one of our favorite meals, but I almost think I can't eat chicken again.  I bought a pack of Perdue "all natural" boneless skinless breasts at the grocery store.  I can't pinpoint what tasted so weird about them, but they almost tasted raw even though they were cooked through.  Has anyone else had this experience?  I still almost shiver thinking about it.  Blech.

Now onto Joshua's burger dinner.  Two weeks ago Rob and I bought some bison meat at Gunpowder Bison & Trading Co. I only purchased a pound of the ground bison and when we had a night to ourselves, I made the meat into burgers and grilled them.  They were the best burgers we've ever had - beef or otherwise.  Because the retail store is about 30 minutes away, I bought some ground bison at the grocery store (along with the chicken of ill repute).

I was excited to have a source less than a mile away!

Long story short - we will be making the drive to Gunpowder Bison and Trading Co.  The ground bison from last night wasn't bad, it just wasn't good.  And, it was nothing like the product we had a few weeks ago.  If you have access to bison, I would recommend it.  But, I would suggest finding a local and small farm.  The product we tried last night is a huge company - the flavor really lacked a pure and sweet taste.  I could tell just by looking at the package that we were in for an inferior product.  The color wasn't nearly as bright red.  It looked fattier.

If you have the chance - check out the website for Gunpowder.  They dry age their bison - and the meat comes in any cut you'd like: filet, brisket, tri-tip, short ribs, ground, etc.  They also raise Berkshire pork.  They will ship if you live in the US. 

Here was our disappointing dinner.  Number two in as many nights.  Bring on the grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Landscape Photos

This past Christmas we enlarged some cabin landscape photos as a present for my father-in-law.  The idea is to create a photo collage depicting the four seasons at the family cabin and surrounding areas.  Since the mountain surroundings are still saturated with green, we decided to try to find some winners [for this Christmas].  I actually like this idea so much, that I have an idea for a display in our home (I'll keep you posted).

I'll share our  pictures - some of them are mine and some are Rob's.  If you don't mind, help me pick which numbers you like best.  I typically upload any photos that I want copied to the Walgreens website.  The pictures are usually ready in less than an hour (and cost less than $3 each).

I have my favorites - and in typical fashion, Rob took all of them.  I'll tell you my favorites after you tell me yours!




















Cabin Pictures...

We just returned last night from a beautiful weekend in the mountains of western Pennsylvania.  It was a perfect long weekend.  Here are some pictures of our time.

our very fancy dinner of chili dogs - restaurants are not plentiful

mmmm, soft serve

you don't even want to know where we found this snakeskin


a hike through the woods

this one's for you, Shay!

hot dog griller

taco bowls

the perfect marshmallow

pure relaxation

riding up to see the sunset

Rob scrubbed these stove pans for an hour!  they were grody


which one to pick?

melty, toasty smores

morning coffee on the porch


We also took lots of landscape pictures - I'll try to post them with numbers so you can help me choose which ones to enlarge and frame.  If anyone is interested, I can give you the link to the web album (just email me).  Prints are an easy and inexpensive way to decorate (about $3 for an 8x10 print at Walgreens).  If you'd like some beautiful mountain landscapes, you can help yourself!  Summer is so beautiful in the mountains of western Pennsylvania. 

I hope you had a fun weekend!  What did you do?