Friday, February 29, 2008

Mere Christianity

By the way, I am currently reading C.S. Lewis' (yes, the Chronicles of Narnia guy) Mere Christianity. It's "thick", to say the least, but I love it thus-far. Will keep posted.BTW, the history of the book is fascinating; take a look.


Here's a response I wrote to the minister's post about last Sunday's sermon:
Let me first say that I'm sorry that I missed this sermon on Sunday. I was home with a sick husband. I did, however, hear some ladies at the gym talking about the message, which inspired me to come to the blog and check out what all the (positive) fuss was about. Mike and I read the post and had a really good discussion about character. I kept thinking about (bless her heart) Britney Spears as I read the post. The poor woman has had nothing but messed-up circumstances since she was a pre-teen. No wonder she's such a disaster now! But what does it say about our character, as a society, that we watch her with bated breath hoping for drama? I think such a society could benefit from a realistic examination of character. Do I think we should have character "education"? Definitely not. Do I think it's up to parents to convey character to their children? Yes, but I know that's not realistic in some circumstances. I think it's something that individuals must embrace and exhibit on a case-by-case basis; that is how one teaches character. When you have an encounter with a person with impeccable character, you know it, and hopefully, try to emulate it.
The other thought we had was this, with respect to you question, "Is it naive to say that an individual can have an effect upon a whole corporate or work culture?": It's important to think of what kind of effect you want. Do you want a negative effect? Do you want a positive effect? So many times I think people in the work-world get tied up in the negativity of their co-workers. What if "you" tried to be that positive person? Don't dis the boss, don't bad-mouth the receptionist, etc? How much of an impact could that have? I'm no Pollyanna, for sure, but I think there is something to be said for not being sucked into that negativity and pettiness (or, as I say, "that is SO sixth grade!!).
BTW, the husband is still ailing, but I will for sure be there on Sunday; here's hoping to meet you (Mark Smith) and anyone else who I might encounter.
Any thoughts?


I don't really know whether or not it's really a TGIF type of Friday or not. Mike is sick, W is mainly snarky and I am restless. Mike DID go to the doctor today, which is huge, and she said he has a virus, which isn't very helpful. She also said he's probably allergic to cats, which also falls under the "not helpful" category. The good thing about today is that I got to go to the grocery store BY MYSELF. What a luxury! I also received, in the mail, some makeup I ordered earlier this week. I had been itching to try the Bare Minerals makeup but was hesitant to pay the exorbitant price for it. I found another type of the same stuff for a much lower price--and get this--you go to the website and pick some different colors that might look good on you and they send you samples for free (you pay for shipping, mine was less that four bucks). I got the samples last Saturday and ordered the full size stuff on Monday; I received the makeup today. It's called Everyday Minerals and it's fantastic. Totally check it out; it's good stuff, I promise.
Oh, and the way I decided to go with this brand was through research on Makeup Alley, a website where you can go and find reviews from real people about their experiences with various beauty products. It's pretty amazing.
So the Anne Lamott thing. Yes, it was incredible. She still has her dredlocks (and will, I'm sure, until her dying day) and she looks like an aging hippie. It was standing-room only (Rebecca and I stood in the Medical reference section of the store). She read excerpts from a few books and took questions from the audience, giving honest answers for everyone. I love her take on Christianity--she's totally the type of Christian I strive to be--one who has faith but leaves room for growth and questions. She's unapologetic, too, which I appreciate. She's totally "This is who I am and if you don't like it, that's fine, you can just move on." She doesn't care that her background isn't necessarily "Christian" because, hey, what would God be if S/He wasn't forgiving and open? I love that. Hearing her last night was like going to a really incredible concert by one's favorite performer. Inspiring and unforgettable.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Anne Lamott

My friend Rebecca and I went to hear Anne Lamott speak at Barnes and Noble tonight; she was amazing. I'll comment further in a future post; I must take care of my sick (flu?) husband.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Mike is obsessed with all things North Korea. The NY Philharmonic performed there last night and PBS is airing the concert locally on Thursday night. We're pretty excited. We don't get WHYY very well (the Philadelphia PBS station) but WNJN (the NJ station) isn't airing it. So we're going to have to adjust our aerial to get the concert. It's times like this that I miss cable/satellite. But other times, I'm pretty content not having much TV reception--it discourages us from watching it much!
And what is "juche", you say? Only the coolest concept since capitalism. Read on, comrade!

Near and dear to me

It's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, but this is a problem that too many of us are aware of on a daily basis. Check out the NEDA website for good information on how to combat anorexia, bulimia, and other forms of eating disorders. For a list of some easy things you can do this week and every week, click here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A quiet Sunday

Mike woke up yesterday with a sore throat, but didn't feel rotten enough to skip out on our day trip to northern Jersey. The baby shower for my friend from Smith was really nice; Mike and W went to a huge mall and found a play area there that kept them busy. When we got home, all three of us crashed. When we woke up from late afternoon naps, Mike was not feeling any better, so we decided to forgo the dinner with his work buddies. Another time, I suppose. We also missed out on church this morning because of how he was feeling. We sat around and were lazy; Mike read the paper, I worked on some embroidery and W played with his books and blocks. Not a bad morning, but I was sorry to miss out on part four of the pastor's four-part series on character. It's nice that he puts his sermons online; I'll be able to get the message that way this week.
As promised, here are some pictures that I took of the snow we had on Friday. Don't be too envious--it's starting to melt and it's slushy and gross out now! This is what our parking lot looked like on Friday morning. You can see the Bobcat in the background that is pushing the snow out of the way into a huge pile off to the side.
This is what W's wagon looked like. It was filled to the top with snow!
At first, W was a little apprehensive about the snow. He wasn't sure what to think of it because it was deep, relative to him. Note that we kept him in his dino pajamas--we just put on his boots, coat and hat to go out!
Then he got a little braver and started walking (trudging/stumbling) around.

Getting even braver...
Our neighbor had a W-sized sled in her basement that her two boys had outgrown, so she loaned it to us. W loved being pulled around the neighborhood on the sled. He looked like he was in a two-man parade (with his daddy pulling). I guess I was the "mamarazzo", snapping pics all the while.
When we went out later in the day, we put him in the snowsuit I got for him last spring (at Target, for $3.74--what a deal!). It was too big, and once we got him in his boots and coat as well, he looked like the Michelin boy!

Friday, February 22, 2008

REAL snow

So we're getting REAL snow this morning! Four inches so far, and it's still snowing. So much for the gym; I don't even know if it's open. School is cancelled. It's for REAL snow! This is pretty exciting, considering we haven't gotten any REAL snow so far this winter.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

9-0 News

This is huge. HUGE.

Update on Saturday night plans

So we are going to go on Saturday night. I just emailed Mike at work to have him let the person who's organizing this get-together to count us in. Thanks to those of you who offered encouragement, as well as wine suggestions, to me. I'm the worst at trying new things and meeting new people. Well, not the worst, but not too good, either.
Saturday's shaping up to be a big day. I have a baby shower to go to in the afternoon for a friend from Smith. She's expecting her first baby in April. She's originally from northern NJ but now lives in the DC area; her family is throwing her a shower. It's in a place called Denville--I've already printed out my Google map! It's about an hour and a half drive from here, depending on traffic. I've got to allow myself plenty of time to get there, though, since we're supposed to get snow and ice for the next two days.
They don't know what the gender of the baby is (hubby wants to be surprised!). For the gift, I got something that W has and really loves. It's a small yellow blanket with a duck "head" attached. It's super-soft; W falls asleep with it every night. In fact, when I ordered the one for my friend's baby, I ordered another one for us to have as a back-up just in case something ever happens to our Duck. They have several different animals in different colors, but when I asked her about nursery theme, she said they are doing ducks, so it was a no-brainer to get her the same one we had. I just have to wrap it up and I'll be all set.
I was going to sub tomorrow, but after looking at the weather forecast, as well as taking into account that I haven't been able to go to the gym since Monday, I waived off. I have been going every-other-day, but got off track this week. I didn't go Tuesday because I had gone Monday; I didn't go Wednesday because we had the pastor from the church we've been going to come by for a visit (which went really well, btw); I didn't go today because Mike had to go to the dentist before work. So I'm really feeling yucky about not going and really want to get in there tomorrow morning around 8:30. As for the weather, it's supposed to start precipitating around 4 am--snow, I think--and is supposed to do that all day tomorrow with some change-over to ice in the afternoon. I'll stay inside, thank you very much.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's all Greek to me!

Well, not really, but I don't understand most of the stuff on this menu. I'm not the most adventurous eater in the world, and when I am going to a new restaurant, I like to preview the menu first so that I can get a good idea about what I want. Mike and I have an opportunity to meet a group of his co-workers this Saturday night for dinner and drinks. The place is "Asian/Indian Fusion". I checked out the menu... I don't particularly care for Indian food (3 weeks in India didn't cure me of that, unfortunately), and the stuff that is less "ethnic" still involves coconut milk and yogurt marinade. Yogurt marinade? It's not exactly cheap either, which means anything I order is a bit of a risky investment. And the place is BYOB, which seems sort of weird, considering "drinks" is part of the event--what would I take? A bottle of wine? And the place is in New Brunswick, which isn't exactly close (40 minute drive, or we could take the train). So I have all these reasons for NOT going. But I do want to go and meet Mike's co-workers and prove that I'm not a figment of their imagination. And I've already asked a friend to come over and watch W.
What to do, what to do?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The beautiful mask

We went to church for the THIRD SUNDAY IN A ROW today (gasp!). It was really nice. W did well in the nursery, which is a blessing. The hymns were beautiful (old ones, the kind I like). The minister's message was relevant. He's doing a four-part series on character. Today he talked about what it takes to build character, as well as how to evaluate one's own character. I won't go too into detail, you can go to this website to see more on what he said, but one thing he said really stuck in my brain. He repeated an excerpt from a C.S. Lewis book, Mere Christianity, that I was familiar with but had never read, but was really able to appreciate. It goes something like this: There was a dude who decided to wear a mask every day. It was a mask that made him look beautiful. Everyone who met him thought he was beautiful. After a few years of wearing the mask (a little weird), he took it off, and VOLIA! He was beautiful. That reminds me of a saying we had at Anorexic Camp (Renaissance): Fake it 'til you make it (if you go by your program and eat what you're supposed to eat and do what you're supposed to do (be assertive, control anger, whatever), you will eventually believe/become your recovery plan). The same goes for character. If you believe you are a good person and have good values and show those traits to others, you will eventually become that person. What you show to other people is who you are. Make sure you are showing the person you really are and the person you want to be.

Cross stitch requests?

I'm almost finished with the cross stitch I've been working on (on-and-off) for a few weeks now. I'm at a loss as to what to stitch next, though. You know me, I'm not one to decorate my house in cross stitch... The one I'm working on is going to be a seasonal pillow for the couch. Anyway, if you know of anyone who would appreciate some stitchery or you yourself would like something done, let me know, because I am "itchin'" to stitch and I don't know what to order! You can to go this website and check out the themes/subjects, designers, etc. So if you know someone with an anniversary, birthday or other special something and don't know what to get them, let me know and I would LOVE to stitch something for them/you! Seriously!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A must-read

For all of you who are parents or might one day be parents, you gotta read this NYT article. My favorite line from it: "I’m pretty sensitive aesthetically..." Another gem: "I’m very concerned with what’s in my visual space. When people come into the house, I very much do not want them being bombarded with toys."
These are the people about whom The Nanny Diaries was written.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good karma on my way?

So W and I went to Target today. I needed a new nursing bra because the underwire in mine had worked its way out and was poking me (ouch!). Got that, some hairspray, Sesame Street books from the dollar bin and Goldfish crackers and headed to the checkout. Total damage? $11.something. That didn't seem right... But I took my change from the clerk and headed out to my car. Hmm, I thought. Did I actually put the bra in my cart? I thought it cost $12.99. That's not right... Bag check--sure enough, there's the bra. Sure enough, it's not on my receipt. At this point, it was after 3 and I needed to get W home for his nap. I called Mike for advice. Do I go back and pay for the bra now? Do I call them when I get home? What do I do? His advice: "Go back in now, or else the Target Police might come after you, dear." Hmm. Re-park car. Get W back out of car-seat. Go back in store (at least it wasn't raining or snowing!). I went to Customer Service where a "Rodney" (who was actually a female) helped me out. S/He was super-nice and was actually surprised that I had come back to pay for it. The best part about this was that s/he gave me a discount for my honesty! Awwww, how nice. Maybe this'll bring me some good karma!
We really enjoyed having my dad here. I think W really had a good time with him. He really liked wearing my dad's "hunter's orange" hat for some reason. We got lots of silly pictures of him in it. Got Dad off to the train station this morning. He was flying out of Newark, through Atlanta, then on to Jackson. His flight was all messed up yesterday because of the nasty weather, but it looks like all went smoothly today. After depositing him, I went by the gym and did my workout. Felt good about that.
Got home from the gym and called Notre Dame High School because (get this!) my paycheck arrived yesterday for subbing that I did a few weeks ago and stuck to the envelope was another envelope with what I assume was a check for another sub, one of the nuns from a nearby convent. How bizarre is that--the envelope was stuck to mine from its origins at the school all the way to my mailbox! That poor nun. I'm sure she's thinking, "When I took the vow of poverty I still thought I'd get my paycheck for putting up with those little hellions!" Just kidding, the kids at NDHS are actually pretty awesome and very well-behaved. I much prefer subbing there to other schools. In fact, I sort of reneged on a sub job a few weeks ago at the local public high school to take a job at NDHS. I didn't feel uber-guilty about doing that, as the public school has an online automated sub-finder thingy, so I didn't have to talk to a real person, nor did I have any concern that they wouldn't find a sub by the next day. So all that is to say that when I called NDHS to ask what they wanted me to do with the renegade mail, the secretary said that she had just emailed me to see if I could sub tomorrow. Of course! So I'm taking back the nun's check when I go in for work tomorrow.
My Valentine celebration that started yesterday with the delivery of two dozen roses from my dear husband continued this morning when he gave me another sweet gift--my favorite candle in the entire world. It's the Seda France Japanese Quince candle. I've been hooked on this candle since 2004 when I first got a whiff of it at some fancy-schmancy store in Jackson. I snatched one up, ignoring the price tag because it is just so delicious. Oprah raves about it, but I try to ignore that fact. So after hearing my not-so-subtle hints for the past month, Mike got one for me (to shut me up!) for V-day. So nice.
W loves his books. He's so cute when he goes and sits by his book basket and takes the books out one at a time and "speed reads" each one. I snapped some pics of him doing that the other night; here's one of him reading "Freight Train" by Donald Crews:
It's a nice little bit of quiet time for everyone when he does that. ::smile::

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Slush day

The snow has melted and left behind a wet mess. Dad's flight was going to be so badly delayed that he just rescheduled it for tomorrow. Poor him--another evening with his grandson! He will miss several meetings tomorrow morning, which has him stressed out, but I think the enjoyment he'll get from W will negate those stressful feelings.
I got roses today from ProFlowers from my wonderful husband. 24 long-stemmed roses. They're absolutely beautiful. As an added bonus, there was a small box of chocolates included with the flowers. He knows what I like!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow day

It's snowing. It's coming down pretty hard and accumulating on everything--even the roads. We just took W out to play around in it. It's so obvious that we aren't from around here when we go out to play in the little dusting of snow. But I think we are going to get a couple of inches before it turns to rain this evening. So we might as well enjoy it while it's pretty, right??

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mad props

Two very enthusiastic thumbs up to Ms. Amy Winehouse on her satellite-televised performance at the Grammys last night. She looks much healthier... I just hope she can keep her ducks in a row and get this rehab thing for real this time.
And for even more entertainment value, check out the footage of Beyonce and Tina. Yowzers!

These guys are gutsy!

These guys are pretty brazen to pulled this off! My goodness, stealing four priceless paintings in thirty minutes...???


Daddies are wonderful people. I am lucky enough to know two really wonderful daddies very well. One is my husband. The other is my own daddy. He is here for a brief visit. He had been in DC for work (at the NASDA conference representing MS) for the past few days and took the train up to NJ today. W and I picked him up at the train station around 3:30 this afternoon. He'll be here until mid-day Wednesday. Like I said, it's a short visit, but it's so nice to get to see him. He's such a great guy. When I look back on the times we didn't get along so well, I don't really regret those times. I think the rough times are what has made our relationship so good and strong. I know I'm pretty fortunate to have a father that I love and respect; I'm so thankful for my dad.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Delicious cookies

Tomorrow is Cookie Morning at the church we went to last week and really liked. Since we were already planning on going again tomorrow, I went ahead and made a batch of cookies to take. They turned out great. Here's the recipe:

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips or other goodies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mix together the dry cake mix, eggs and melted butter. Stir in the chocolate chips, or whatever else you want to add. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. The less time you bake them, the chewier they will be. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Primary madness

So Hillary and Obama are neck-and-neck. I saw something on the news tonight about how about 70% of Democrats would be happy with either candidate as the party's candidate in the general election. Can't we flip a coin and stop the name-calling?
As for NJ's primary, Hillary got more votes than Obama, but since it's not a winner-take-all state, Obama still racked up a fair number of delegates. Our county, Mercer County, went for Obama, with 55%.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Looking towards Lent

Each year I try to do something for Lent. Sometimes it involves giving up something, other times it involves taking on something new. This year it's both. I have been consuming a ridiculous amount of Diet Coke lately. It's not good for anyone to drink 5-6 of them a day. I need to drink more water, especially with my new exercise routine. Ergo, I am abandoning my Diet Coke. This is going to be difficult, especially in the mornings. For some reason, I can't stand water in the mornings. I got some grapefruit juice to drink with my brekkie (which is either peanut butter on whole wheat toast, or yogurt with Grape Nuts mixed in) and it's pretty yummy. So Diet Coke (really, all soda) is what I'm quitting this year.
As for what I'm taking on... We tried a new church last Sunday. It's called Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church. We really liked it. This church seems diverse and fairly liberal. It's about a 5 minute drive from our house, which is good--no excuses for skipping! I was hesitant to try a Presbyterian Church because I associated it with predestination and I don't really believe in that. However, with some research, I learned that not all Presbyterian denominations and churches emphasize or even adhere to that doctrine. Some are more conservative than others (the ones in MS are a LOT more conservative, apparently).
Both of us liked the service, and W seemed to have fun in the nursery. So we're going to go back.

Mildly offensive

To borrow from, if you're easily offended, don't click here. Even though it's filed under "jokes" I think it's pretty appropo. I couldn't agree more with the sentiment.

Vote, dammit!

If the polls are open in your state today, vote! W and I are going to go vote after lunch.
After a lot of thought and struggle, I have decided to cast my vote for Obama. I like Hillary, I really do. But I just think Obama has a better chance against whichever person the Republicans put out there. Moreover, I support Obama's stance against the Iraq war. I have been against it from the beginning and so has he. I never thought we should have gotten involved in Iraq. The fact that he has been against it from the start will be a strong point for him in the general election. Even though Hillary is against it now, she still voted to give Bush authorization to go in the first place. That doesn't differentiate her much from whichever Republican candidate there is (likely McCain), whereas Obama can say, "I never supported this war. Period."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Post #100 and a good recipe

This is my 100th post! Hooray! Thanks to everyone who reads my little blog and puts up with my musings. Now, to get down to business.
My mother-in-law got me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens for my birthday (it was a great deal--three years for 20 bucks!). There are fantastic ideas in the magazine. There are also really good and easy recipes. January's issue was filled with soup recipes. Mike loves soup, so last night we tried one of the recipes. We made the Southwestern Noodle Bowl (BHG, January 2008). It was delish. And quick and easy (start to finish, 30 minutes). Try it!
  • 1 1/2 lb. beef flank steak or beef top round steak, cut into bite-size strips
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I used the half salt/half not salt mixture)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper (I used more)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil (we used extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 14-oz cans lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 14-oz can lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 oz uncooked angel hair pasta (we used the whole wheat kind)
  • 2 medium red or yellow sweet peppers, chopped (we did them in strips, one of each color)
  • 6 green onions, trimmed, cut into 1-inch bias slices
  • 1/2 c. salsa (whatever kind you prefer)
  • 1/4 c. snipped fresh oregano (we had dried, so we did a tablespoon of it)
  1. Season meat with cumin, salt and pepper, set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet (we used a stock-pot) over medium-high heat; add garlic, stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add half the beef at a time; stir-frying until cooked through (set aside the first half, then cook the second half--my pot was big, so I did it all at once). Return all beef to skillet/pot; add all of the broth; bring to boiling.
  2. Add pasta, sweet peppers and onions to broth and beef. Cook, uncovered, until pasta is tender (whole wheat pasta takes a little bit more time). Stir in the 1/2 cup salsa (we skipped that step) and oregano; heat through. Ladle into bowls. Top with salsa, if desired.
This recipe makes 8 servings. Lots for leftovers!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Getting fit

I have joined a gym. It's a women-only facility called Ladies Workout Express. It's a lot like Curves, in that you do a circuit that alternates between cardio and strength-building exercises. I have gone twice now and have really felt good after doing it. I'll be able to go in the mornings before Mike has to go to work. It's less than five minutes from our house, so I have no excuses not to go! I am pretty psyched about this.

Friday, February 1, 2008

What pants?

W has gotten into not wearing pants for the rest of the day after his afternoon nap. Or, rather, I have gotten into not putting his pants back on him after his post-nap diaper change.

Cross stitch update

Here is the cross stitch I did for my mother-in-law for her birthday.
It's a bread towel. Those are violets that i stitched on there. I got the pattern for free here.

Farm animals

We went to the local farm/pick-your-own place last Friday because the weather was so nice (unlike today). The animals were out and about. The geese were militant and the sheep were sweet. The cats were smart and were inside the farm store curled up on piles of apples and inside produce boxes.
The curious goose. This guy kept following us around looking for a handout. There are little gumball-style dispensers that you can put a quarter in and get a handful of corn to feed the animals. The goose was mad at us because we weren't participating in this activity. He kept going over to the dispensers and sticking his beak in the spout. I felt sort of bad for him, but Mike pointed out how fat he was, so I didn't feel bad for him after that.
I liked this sheep. He was really fat and dirty. He had a sweet face, though.
Here's the back of a cat that was chilling out on some apples in the store.
Here's a cat curled up in the Mulling Spices box. Cozy!

Don't mess with W!

Have you ever seen such a tough little boy? The best part about the "fists" is that when you bang them together they make a "crashing" noise.


We have some squirrels who have torn up our outside chair cushions. They are taking the inner fluff out and carrying it off to their squirrel nests for insulation. Pretty smart, if you ask me.
Squirrel with a piece of chair cushion
Squirrel with whole chair cushion
The squirrel nest--it's huge!