Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eye Love You!

I've been wearing contacts for almost nine years and I've never had an issue. Never even had a "dry eye day" where wearing contacts was uncomfortable. Apparently the universe decided this should not be and decided to correct itself pronto!

On Friday I woke up at 2 AM in pain. I've never had eye pain before, so I got up, took my contacts out (yes, I do sleep in them with the approval of my optometrist), rinsed them out, went back to sleep. On Friday morning proper I woke up, they felt a bit dry and seemed kind of reddish, so I puttered around the house wearing an old (at least three of four prescriptions ago) pair of glasses, until I had to leave the house, when I experimentally popped in my contacts and out the door I went. No discomfort, pain, etc, and I figured I was good...

... until that night at dinner when I was not only crying out my right eye, but it was itching/hurting/driving me crazy and I couldn't WAIT to get home and pop them out.

Saturday I woke up and there was an unhappy red ring around my cornea, my right eye was bloodshot all over, and it hurt. :( I decided that contacts weren't gonna be an option today, and put on glasses. The problem is, the glasses were so out of date that moving around in them much made me feel seasick :(. I spent Saturday and Sunday doing a lot of stationary things, and when I woke up Sunday the redness was gone and while my eye felt a little tender, it felt much better. Which was good, cuz I didn't figure I should be driving with my crazy glasses.

Woke up Monday morning, popped my contacts in, they felt fine, and drove to work. I figured I could last through the workday in contacts and pop them out for good measure when I got home. WRONG! By the time we got home from gymnastics, I was crying again, and I couldn't wait to race into the bathroom to get them out of my eyes!!! I popped on my glasses again (sigh) and decided to try again the next day. Except that for the rest of the afternoon my eye hurt - badly! - and everything started to look foggy/glowy. I decided that I knew too many people who have detached retinas, etc, and called my optometrist, who was booked solid but said that if I came in, he'd fit me in somehow.

Long story short, my optometrist was wonderful! Not only was the wait really short even though he was really, really busy, he found me a free sample of the drops he wanted me to use, and waived the copay fee. This doctor is really amazing, I've been using him ever since I got contacts, and while this is my first "emergency," he's always treated me really well and worked with me during insurance changes, no insurance, etc.

The eye drops feel great! But make my vision a little blurry, so I hired Anna as my chauffer today to get Abby to school. Hopefully by Thursday I'll be back to wearing contacts. The seasickness has gotten a bit better after 3+ days of wearing glasses (though sun, glare, and motion are still a little weird) and overall I'm thankful for how it turned out. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Life In Pictures

I have been doing a lot of this lately...
Soaking in a bathrub with copious amounts of bubbles and a good book, that is. :) (Btw, isn't that dark shimmery purple truly amazing? Valentine's Day pedicure, gift from a friend :)). I'm not sure why, but last year - 2011 - was really lacking in the book department. I somehow assumed that because I owned tons of books, I didn't need to go in search of new reading material. I forgot that you need to keep expanding and enjoying. This year so far has probably had more amazing books in it that the whole year of 2011 did. It's a habit I intend to keep up, with at least one new book getting bought/borrowed each month.

If you want a truly elegant breakfast (or dish, period - check out all her ideas on what to do with them!) - go here and learn to make 6-minute eggs, courtesy of the amazing Rachael Ray. Every month, I am thankful all over again for my subscription to her mag. I ate the eggs with a piece of whole-wheat toast cut into points, some chopped tomatoes and peppers, and a dollop of guac. So, so good...

Abigail and I played out first two complete games of Candyland today. I am so happy! I'm gonna give it another few days to make sure that we've really entered the game-playing stage, and that it wasn't just a freak moment, and then nothing will be able to stop me. I'm thinking Mousetrap, and that game with the clicker-y thing in the middle that you use to bounce the dice under a little plastic dome... :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Reminder

My dad is in for surgery today to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. While not life-threateningly serious, it's made life a little topsy-turvy the last week as he can't drive (his car is stick-shift, so that's out, and the other car he might have been able to use needs to go in to the shop for repairs).

Our house is a little topsy-turvy, too, since my mom decided to move most of the furniture from upstairs, downstairs, so they can work on the painting/sanding/1,000 other tasks that must get done before flooring can get put in.

For various relationship-y reasons, my house was not a good place to be this weekend.

I've been feeling just a little bit sorry for myself...

This morning I got up and checked Facebook to discover that my BFF's mom, who is in the process of surviving breast cancer, decided to go ahead and shave her head last night after losing most of her hair to chemo.

One of my favorite bloggers posted her father's obituary this afternoon. I don't know any details except that he leaves behind a large, young family, and there has been no mention of him being sick, so I surmise that his death was unexpected.

Another one of my favorite bloggers put her beloved 14-year old dog down last night (you can say this doesn't belong in the same category, but I've had to put beloved pets down before and I know this will turn her world upside down for awhile).

It's like a little slap in the face to remind me, it could be so much worse.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Finding Inspiration

What a girl - THIS girl, at least :) - wants for Valentine's Day...

Every week when my running partner and I go out, I try to inspire us by pointing out how strong and fast our shadows look (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, lol). I tried to capture this source of inspiration on our last run, but unfortunately it was really, really cold and we were bundled up and trying to stay warm, so our shadows looked more... cold. We'll try again next week!

I love the new cups Starbucks has out for Valentine's Day! (I only wish Starbucks would create some marvelous drink for the post-Christmas-but-before-summer period to go inside).

I never, ever thought I'd become the kind of person to be addicted to haircolor, but... I have. I was trying to stretch the time between uses, but I finally gave in this week and redid it.

I saw this sign at Ross and now I want to make my own with my own "life rules".

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Be Mine!

First off, let me say that I had an AMAZING day yesterday! The only sad thing that happened all day was signing into my Facebook account and seeing a lot of my single friends bemoaning the day, wishing they could skip straight to Wednesday, and all because they were single! LADIES! Seriously?!?!? If you can't celebrate, at least don't spend the day whining! :)

I wanted a little gift for Chris and Natalie (I already had a little owl "big girl" cup for Abby, along with a small box of chocolates with yet another owl, lol), so when I saw a similar idea online, I knew I had to try. It didn't take me long to write my own poem. :)
ThenI collected all the candies - Riesens, Goobers, LifeSavers, Starburst, Symphony, and Kisses...

And packed them all up. :)

I got a laugh from Chris and an "lol" from Natalie (after Chris sent her a picture on his phone) which was quickly followed by "That's not actually candy is it?!" (We're all trying to diet).

A school Valentine's Day party calls for an extra special hairstyle.

Like a fishtail braid! (Abby couldn't really see it, but she got a kick out of the name).

And extra-special matching cousin dresses! These were the easiest things to make once I'd figured out the applique panel. Just cut a square of your favorite material, sew three little felt hearts randomly on it, attach it to a store-bought shirt, then attach a matching skirt to the bottom of the shirt. Voila! Even sewing-phobic me was good with these. I'll post a tutorial in a bit.

After I dropped Abby off at school, I headed to a local beauty shop for a girl date with my running partner! We agreed that getting our nails done is waaay more fun than trying to increase our run/walk ratio :)

Isn't this a fun color? The selection at the salon wasn't all that great, or else I don't think I would have normally considered it, but now that I have it, I love it! Strangely, so does my family. :) Thanks to Beanhead and Darrell for the gift certificate - you totally didn't have to, but it sure was fun! :)

My owl ring is a gift from my running partner, who knows of my love for owls and has a similar ring which I've threatened to steal many times. :) Best of all, it actually FITS! (I have chunky fingers lol so finding rings to fit is a challenge).

Chris brought me home flowers and a beautiful card (with a mouse!)

(The note cracks me up... Sydney - their doggie - and I have been needing serious relationship counseling lately...)

So, at our house this year we kids drew each other's names out of a hat for "Secret Valentines". The idea was to do special things for our Valentine throughout the day, being very careful to be secretive, then do a reveal at dinner. I came home and found my bedroom door had been decorated!

(This is a terrible picture, the heart decoration is really adorable!

And then later on I discovered my bed had been covered in chocolate hearts! :) I may have shrieked in happiness just a little...

Dinner was on me this year, as everybody else had quite a busy day. I wrote out the menu earlier in the week - appetizer salads in bacon bowls, heart-shaped meatloaves, roasted green beans, homemade mashed potatoes, and a chocolate raspberry cake for dessert.

Here's a quick tutorial on how to make bacon bowls.

Invert a muffin tin over a jellyroll pan. I used a tin with extra-big muffin cups and it worked great.

Each bowl takes 3 slices of bacon. Cut two of the slices in half.

Place the halves on the tins, overlapping slightly. I don't know how else to write that, but hopefully the pictures will help!

Wrap the final slice of bacon around the base of the cup, and SECURE WITH A TOOTHPICK. This is important. (The ones below had toothpicks stuck in them too late) If you don't do this, your bowls will look like this:

If, on the other hand, you DO secure the ends with a toothpick, they will turn out like THIS:

This is better. :) Cook until cooked through but not crispy, wiggle them off the muffin tin, place them upright on a baking sheet, and finish cooking.

I filled them with baby greens and herbs, chopped tomato, cucumber, and thinly-sliced radish, and drizzled them with homemade raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette dressing. They were amazing. :) I'm gonna post the dressing recipe up here soon. I also painted a tiny heart with dressing on each salad place.

Our heart meatloaves turned out well.

The green beans gave me fits but turned out well, too. :)

After dinner, we all had a glass of sparkling cider, revealed who we'd gotten as our secret Valentine, and shared a few qualities or character traits we loved most about our valentine.

My cake flopped - the only failure of the entire evening - but despite the fact that it looked like two chocolate pancakes smushed around raspberry marshmallow filling, it was quite yummy. :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

First, a little love - it is Valentines Day, after all!

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love,

I am become as sounding brass,
or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and
understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so
that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and
though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not;
love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave
itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked,

thinketh no
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all
things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth.

- 1 Corinthians

Isn't this really challenging?!?

Second - I am hearby declaring this a "Single and happy with life, even on Valentines Day" zone. :) I posted this as my Facebook status and you're welcome to steal!

Like this if you're SINGLE and still gonna celebrate Valentines Day - cuz there are lots of kinds of love and they all deserve to be celebrated! :)

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"You Have The Key To My Heart!" Craft

Valentine's Day just cries out for some crafty giftmaking, doesn't it? :) This year, my family is doing something a little different. We always celebrate with a big fancy dinner, complete with candles and sparkling cider, but this year we kids picked each others' names out of a hat so we each have a "secret Valentine." Throughout the day we'll look for ways to make our Valentine's day special - leaving little gifts, cards, etc - then at dinner we'll have a big "reveal." Should be fun! Since she doesn't read my blog, I can admit that I got Lizzie! :) Some of the little things I have wrapped up for her are raspberry-chocolate candies, a headband with a little bow (as she's been into wearing her hair down lately), and chocolate-flavored lipbalm. :) I also have a nice card with plenty of blank space for a special note - I love getting cards with good notes inside!

I also made these cute little matching dresses for my two favorite little gals, Abby and Lilly! Loosely inspired by this tutorial, I created the applique panel and applied them to two pink store-bought Ts. Then I had leftover material, and I just HAD to attach little skirts and turn them into dresses. :) More picts will come on Tuesday, when the girls wear them to their class Valentine's Day party!

Last year a friend of mine's dad cleaned out a house and found coffee can upon coffee can of antique and skeleton keys. She graciously gave me a big keychain full, and I've been crafting with them ever since! (Remember this gift?) Here's my latest keyspiration:

Supplies: one picture frame from the dollar store, a short length of black ribbon, a skeleton key, gold spray paint, red tissue paper (not pictured), and mod podge.

First I disassembled the frame, tore the red tissue paper into pieces, and mod-podged them randomly to the back of the frame.

While that was drying, the key got a coat of gold paint.

Once it dried, I tied the ribbon in a bow.

The mod-podge dried nicely, and I had a nice textured background to my frame.

Using a thick needle and fine jewelery wire, I "wired" the key to the background, and reassembled the frame, and voila!

I love the punch of color and the elegance of the key. This is headed to someone special. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012


I've gotten to do a lot of cooking lately. :) I discovered two new things this week - my new favorite soup! plus a meatfree way to do chili - as well as revisited an old fav of mine. Enjoy! (As you can see, some of these are actual recipes, whereas some of these are more just expanded ideas, lol)

Ultra-Amazing Butter Bean Soup

1 can of butter beans

1-2 chopped carrots

1-2 stalks of celery, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tbs olive oil

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pot and sautee the carrots, celery, and onion until soft. Add the butter beans, chicken broth, and seasonings, and bring to a boil. Simmer until all flavors are fully incorporated. Amazing! Tastes even better the next day (and it's only like 3 points for a big bowlful!)

Meatless "Chili"

Start off with several cups of chopped mushrooms - I used a mix of button and baby bellas. Sautee.

Add some chopped onion and cook til soft; add a can of kidney beans, a can of stewed tomatoes, and a nice dash of taco/fajita seasoning. Yummy! (This is also amazing in tacos as meatless taco filling, with some low-fat cheddar and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt).

Last Sunday, I wanted chickpea salad SO. BAD. Like, the preacher was preaching and I kept getting distracted by the thought of crunchy seasoned chickpeas. :( When I got home, I whipped up a batch, ate half for dinner in a whole wheat pita with some sprouts and chopped tomato, and packed the other half in a salad for the next day's lunch (which is what you see above - regular chickpea salad is much creamier).

Chickpea Salad

Open and rinse one can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans). You can mash slightly if you like a mushier texture - I like the crunchiness of them, but every once in awhile i like to mash them for a more hummus-like salad. Add 1 TBS light mayo, a drizzle of sesame oil, a splash of soy sauce, a dash of curry powder, some chopped celery, and a 1/4 cup raisins (golden raisins are particularly amazing!). Warning: If you pack it for the next day, the dressing does tend to "melt" off the beans, but if you pack if with greens it doesn't matter cuz it makes a nice little asian dressing! :)

I also made my first wine-braised brisket this week, and it was oh-shoot-me-good, but I'm still working on the proportions for I'll save that for another time. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's Going On

I have no good ideas for blog posts lately, so here's a bit of this-and-that.

Maggie and I went out to audition for
Into The Woods last Monday. We both did well, though Maggie was grossly more prepared than I (having gotten to do her first musical over the summer). I got a callback for this Saturday and had a ton of fun (though I don't think I'll get a part - at least, not the part I was originally reading for!). The amazing thing was that after auditioning, I am more determined than ever to go see it, because the people I was auditioning with were amazing. They could sing. They could act. This is going to sound dreadfully conceited, but I can outsing most people in my life, so being surrounded by people who could outsing me was kind of fun. :)

I found a new craft blog! I was bemoaning to a friend today that a lot of my "crafty" blogs have gotten a little big for their britches. They're using equipment or supplies that cost an arm and a leg (I'm guessing since many companies are now providing their products for review) or they've simple devolved into "giveaway of the week" blogs. She tipped me off to
Little Birdie Secrets, and I am in love. I think I'm going to modify their Valentine's Day framed art into cards and use them this year. So cute!

I am still schooling the three youngest kids. Some days are going better, and some days I want to tear my hair out. Half of the problems we deal with are mine (I need to be better organized, present more often, and stay on top of things a lot better), and half of them are theirs (they need to actually do the work, stay on course, communicate). One of these days I'm going to do a post on our "system" (ha! Like we have a system lol) so if you have any questions you want answered, ask now. :)

I took everything out of my closet on Thursday night with the intent of reorganizing it, and it became complete and utter chaos. My closet CAN'T be too small - it's a walk in, for goodness sake! - so I think I just need to organize better. I'll post before/after picts when I finally get it figured out.

Oh, and on a related note: right after Christmas I moved all my furniture around to make it more child-friendly for when my BFF and son came to visit. Last week I finally got it all moved back... only to discover I think I like it better the other way. Go figure.

And finally, the most amazing recipe for Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Muffins, because I've joined a new Sunday school class at church (we finally have a college/career class! Hooray!) and of course I have to bake for it. :)

(modified from a recipe that was
modified from a recipe lol).

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake Muffins


3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter


4 large eggs

6 oz cream cheese

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch cubes

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.


Combine ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until the mixture forms "crumbs" OR blend with a pastry cutter.


In a small bowl, blend the cream cheese and heavy whipping cream. Add eggs and vanilla; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at low speed, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and mix at low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Add egg mixture. Increase to medium speed and beat 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute (the batter should increase in volume and become aerated and pale in color).
Grease muffin tins or line with baking cups. Place 1 TBS batter in bottom of each cup and sprinkle with a scant TBS of filling/topping. Cover with 1 TBS batter, and top with filling/topping. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cake bounces back to the touch and a toothpick comes inserted into the center comes out clean. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Little Moments Like That...

We had a brief taste of spring this week. Glorious sunny warm weather and those spring breezes that just make you want to go craft something. While I'm sure that there will be plenty more depressingly overcast/drippy/freezing cold days before spring truly gets her feet on the ground, it was as if the universe took a moment to whisper to me "... be patient. It's coming, and when it gets here, it will be amazing." :)

This week has been an abysmal failure as far as running goes. :) Had a date to run with my running partner, but she ended up not being able to make it and (I swear if you're reading this, Chrissy, I don't mean this the way it sounds!!!) it was a little bit of a relief to put earbuds in, turn my music up loud, and zone out all by myself, with this as the backdrop.

I mean, how more amazing can you get? And other than that wimpy 30 minute speed-walk session (I can't even in good conscience call it a run), that's been it for my week. I will do better next week, I swear.

On Tuesday, when I dropped Abby off at school, I noticed that one of her classmates was wearing long braided pigtails. Abby came home from school with a serious look on her face. "Sarah," she began, "I want you to put pigtails in my hair."

"I can do that," I assured her. She furrowed her brow. "I want... I want... I want the hairbands to be at the ends," she told me.

"You want braids?" I asked. Her little face brightened. "YES! I want BRAIDS!" she told me gleefully. We went home and I put her hair in two little braids and she ran to the mirror.

"YES!" she shouted happily. "I HAVE BRAIDS!"

You do indeed. :)

Valentine's Day is coming up! I'm psyched, 'specially since I have a "gal date" to get my nails done with my running partner. :)

I might need more valentines, though, with all the cuteness that abounds this time of year...

I resolved this week to bring back Abby's and mine Starbucks dates - one day after school for just the two of us to hang and do something special.

We started by feeding the seagulls - no pretty beach this time, just the Kmart parking lol LOL!

(Maggie says she's starting to get scared to go out with me since she swears the seagulls have started flocking to my truck on sight. Another friend warned me not to watch "The Birds.")

We ended with lunch at Starbucks - chipotle chicken wraps (I get the pepper jack cheese and she has dibs on the chocolate square, but only after eating her fair share of chicken strips and tortilla, dipped liberally in salsa).

Apple juice for her, shaken iced tea lemonade for me. :)