Monday, January 31, 2011

Coffee and candy

I love coffee. But really only in the morning. I love the smell as it percolates and when I can have a hot cup with coffee, I am in better spirits. I don't like the discoloration of my teeth because of it but like any vice, you weigh the pros and cons and go about your business.

Last night, the boys and I had an Oompa Loompa candy-eating fest. My lovely is on a trip and the boys were sad so I went a dug out the Halloween candy that was stashed in the depths of my messy closet and just let them at it. They laughed and truly just enjoyed themselves like they were in on a secret. It took them 10 minutes of inquiry before they realized it was the Halloween Oompas that brought us the candy. Hmmm. Truly a fun moment with the kids because I let go of my need to allow only nutritious food through their mouths and just let them have their candy and eat it too. Once we had our fill, I threw away the rest of the bag.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pizza balls

I make a killer calzone. Really, my family loves it more than pizza. I put meatballs, pepperoni, and tons of cheese. Homemade dough. No sauce inside or vegetables. The reason is it makes the calzones soggy when you reheat. Last night I took a break from making the traditional calzone and made them into pizza balls instead. They bake in a pie plate and sprinkled with seasoings and cheese. With this, there is marinara and ranch to dip these bad boys in. I was able to make two platefulls and passed one to my neighbors.

Pizza Dough:
3 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp SAF instant yeast
1 TBSP oil (canola was what I have on hand)
2 TBSP plain yogurt (very warm too)
1 cup very warm milk

cheddar cheese
mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

butter or olive oil
Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese

Place all dry ingredients in Kitchen-Aid mixer. Add oil. Place milk and yogurt in microwave safe glass and microwave 1 min and 30 sec. Pour over dry ingredients slowly while mixer is going with hook attachment. Mix for about 3-5 minutes. Scrape the sides and spray with Pam. Cover with towel and allow to sit in a draft-free area for 40 minutes or doubled.

Once the dough has doubled, punch down and pinch off about 1/2 cup size balls. Roll out and add whatever filling you'd like. Pinch sides together to form a ball. Place in greased pie pan with seam sides down. You get seven balls. Add a thin layer of butter or olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Cover and allow to proof for 30 minutes. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes.

Serve with sauces.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Three years ago, I made flannel nightgowns and pajama pants for my nieces and nephews. Well, I had a bunch of scraps left from those projects and have held onto them thinking I would do something with them. Well, I was browsing through blogs this morning and someone made a scrap quilt like this. So, while the boys were playing, I ironed, cut, and pieced together the scraps from leftover flannel fabric from the girls' nightgowns. I still have to piece the border and backing but I've been forgetful about taking pictures of my projects and didn't take a picture of another quilt I just finished for our favorite doctor.

Friday, January 28, 2011

We are strong, We are proud, We are SAHMs!!!

My fellow blogger friend asked some questions regarding motherhood and SAHMs and if it's worth it. Here's my take.

TOTALLY WORTH IT. I was cuddling S.E. (which is near impossible these days because he hates cuddling as much as broccoli) at the doctor's office yesterday, a really neat lady sat next to us. She was older and asked if I stayed at home to watch my boys. S.E. replied "Yeah, she stays home so we can have playdates afterschool and not be on the bus"(very important to a six-year old these days-playdates).

This started the discussion on staying at home. She stayed at home with her six kids (ages 21 to 5), homeschooled all until they were old enough to head off to college, and she really enjoys being there to experience everything with her kids and husband. She spoke with pride and gratitude for being able to stay at home. I'd like to dub her the "Super Stay Homers".

While I am not a SSH, I wouldn't trade being there for my kids and seeing all their silly, crazy, awful, and happy moments. They are just moments that go way. too. fast. I miss their baby smell but can appreciate the tight hugs they give throughout the day. I love how they love going on daily adventures but love just lollygagging around the house.

I am not just a SAHM. I am a loving momgineer. I shell out love in the form of taking care of their needs, providing a stable foundation of security where they don't panic when I leave a room or house, and they will be the first to tell you I am here to take care of them. Because according to them, I earned the name "Mom" and I can only get this name by having them. This is not to say if you have adopted, foster, or raising stepkids you are not a MOM, just the act of loving and nurturing kids so they know they are important to us.

As I sat across them this morning, I said a prayer of thanks because they are truly the best thing that happened to me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This much I know (so far)...

There are just certain truths, trials, and life experiences everyone goes through. We all may take different paths, call them differently, but because we are more alike than not, we will all muddle through life gaining wisdom and compassion once we come out ahead.

I lay awake in bed talking to my lovely husband about my worries for the boys as they get older and what decisions they make will help or hinder their progression into adulthood. I fear the peer pressure of drugs, sex, and just hurting themselves or others. Don't we all as parents? I know I can be consumed by my need to hammer in every opportunity to influence their thought process now (hoping they will use it when necessary to come out ahead). Let's hope.

Now, one area that seems to get everyone tripped up in adulthood is the "high school" mentality of friendships. Some high school girls were catty, fickle about friendships and words. There's gossip and there's today-you-are-it-to-be-on the-crap-on list and so on. We were not done being a kid but some of our decisions came with adult consequences.

Since I've been a stay-at-home mom, I've run across some groups of women who still act like they are in high school and seem to enjoy the gossip and taking apart some other mom they are "friends" with. I was in a friendship triangle when S.E. was a few months old. I was trying to find my niche in the world of SAHMs and what I had to do to ensure my baby would be accepted and liked. I joined a baby group at the hospital. I met a few wonderful moms and one I am grateful to have in my life (that's you C). I was eager to join in a group-but it was at the expense of my values and morals. I listened to gossip. Partook in gossip. I took part in being appalled at how another mom would behave to her baby. Not nice stuff. Then, they turned on me. It was my turn to be in outcast. Wow. It hurt. I cried. I whined. I questioned my motives for being friends and how I try earn a friend but expect nothing back from the other person. I mistook being liked with being happy. I was not happy during this time of watching my every step for fear of criticism.

Here's my ah-ha moment (a la Oprah)...true friends don't bring you down. They don't shun you because you had a bad day or your baby cried for hours during playtime. They are supportive and don't get jealous when you don't do things with them. I learned that my relationship with my kids and husband are supreme above the playground moms I meet and try to be friends with. We all have enough insecurities (Lord knows I've got two luggage jammed packed full) to be worrying about if someone doesn't like you or not.

These days, I am a lot better about it-in fact I'm happy and content. I am accepting of myself and my ability to know what's best for my family. And when I don't, I try harder. While I would like to be liked, I don't obsess about whether someone likes me or not. I don't care if no one asks me to girls' night out or whatever. Sometimes my feelings get hurt just a tad but then I remember who I am and how much I like doing things by myself or having a good friend over or just talking on the phone with my family.

Why am I bringing this up today? A new to the area mom came over today and she's having the same problems adjusting to being at home and finding her ground. I am glad I went through what I did years ago because I think it helped her not feel so alone and beaten down.

Here's what I know: love your husband, love your kids harder, and make the most of the time you have and enjoy the encounters you have with people you come into contact with. Also, when you are in bad place, get through it, ask for help and learn something from the experience and either pass it on or try not to hurt others.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mom's quilt

I made this quilt for my mom. I started this quilt in November and I am finally done with it. I have been wanting to do a family tree quilt of some sort for a very long time but not sure how to do this. I found this tree design from another blogger's website and I copied it to make this quilt. Six trees are embroidered with names of my family on the quilt. I am happy to have it finished. The center tree has my parents' names on the trunk and five branches for my siblings and I (there's five of us). Then, there's five trees surrounding it with each of my siblings and their kids' names. The quilt looks bumpy because instead of using cotton for the backing, I use fleece for the softness and warmth.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sneaky Smoothie

My oldest child S.E. has been picky about eating vegetables. So blasphemous. I don't understand it. I love vegetables. The only reason I'm not a vegetarian is because I love eating meat just as much. So, this is what I've been doing every other day so he doesn't come down with some condition I'm not sure I recall at this time or any other. I'm just worried he won't get his good nutrients from vegetables. Fruit-he's good with.

Sneaky Smoothie

1 cup Organic spinach
1/2 cup Greek or Nancy's plain yogurt
1/2 cup OJ or Apple juice (whatever I've got on hand)
1 cup frozen strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries
1/2 banana (or whatever fruit you've got laying around i.e. oranges, kiwi, cantaloupe)
1/2 cup crushed ice

Throw it in the blender and let it do its' mushy magic. Put in an opaque cup and straw and there you go. He doesn't even suspect. I even add flaxseed from time to time but he gets suspicious about the seeds that didn't get pulverized. This recipe is very flexible.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Freezer Jam

My boys love freezer strawberry jam. I love how easy it is to make and typically will make 3-4 batches when strawberries are in season. This amount usually will last us six months. We use it on pancakes, toast, over ice cream, and crepes. Oh, and there's nothin' better than homemade rolls with strawberry jam. Heaven.
So in the winter when strawberries are not in season, I go to Costco and buy the big bag of frozen strawberries. I thaw the berries 3/4 of the way and then proceed with the pectin directions for freezer jam. There you go. Freezer jam all year 'round. My friend Bee gave me this idea a couple of years ago. Love it. Oh, and yes those are old frosting tubs. They work great. The freezer jam jars are costly and when I give jam away, most of the time, I don't get the jars back. So I got tired of shelling out the money for them. Now, I just re-use these containers. They don't leak, are easy to open, and don't take up a lot of room in the freezer.

Crazisense parenting

My kids have not been listening to me. When I ask them to do something, they look at me and when I'm done talking, just go back to what they were doing or just don't do the task. Ignoring me has caused the following things to happen too frequently in this house: rushing the kids out the door looking cattiwampus, putting them in time-outs, yelling at them to do the task, and generally being upset with them. As for me, I admit I've been letting them play by themselves a lot and giving them more freedom in playing by themselves. Could this be it?

I've been grumpy and frustrated with them. I'm thinking, they are spoiled and out-of-control and it's all my fault. I know. Seriously I am being drama. I just don't have a lot of confidence in my parenting skills. I'm in constant struggle with myself because I question my decisions with them.

Last night, I volunteered at the boys' Bible memorizing club. Ahh, hardly any of the kids listened. It was loud and crazy. I got to observe how Koo with other kids. He listened. He followed directions. Yes, there was a few times he was too chatty when he should have been listening, but on the whole-normal.

Whether it's too much earwax clogging up the ear passages or just an age appropriate behavior right now, I need to keep in mind the big picture and give the kids a break more often. I want them to relax and be happy at home. I want them to come home to visit me often when they leave the nest. One of my fears is when I talk to parents with adult male children-they never see their kids because the boys don't call or need them as much. Yikes!! Others have told me I need to have a girl otherwise I'll never see my kids when they are adults. I don't have girl. I want to still travel with my boys when they are older. I want to go to camping, vacationing, and just plain hang-out with them. Will I need to bribe and stalk them?! Such worry. Okay. I have officially rambled on into nonsenseness. See what I mean about Crazisense?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The inside of my right knee has been hurting for several days. Throbbing. I took three days off of running to see if it would get better. Ran this morning-painful. I tried to muster up some Dean Karnazes phrases about pushing through and then just stopped. Instead of hanging my head down low and leaving the gym, I got on the spinning bike and "ran" peddling standing up the entire time. I tried to strengthen the muscles around my knees to help give it some relief. I'm hoping to run hills at a slow speed to help relieve the pain. When my knees are bent, the pain isn't as severe. Hopefully, icing my knees will help too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Girls & sewing

I had two elementary school aged girls over today and they made an apron and purse. They did a reallly good job and if I can get a picture of it without their faces, I can post it. In the meantime, got this shirt with a two buttons missing and took it from the sleeves and then cut it up and made a little girl's summer shirt out of it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I've got a little secret I don't like to share in the kitchen. When people hear about how this quirk they tease me about not being a true hardcore cook. Nothing outrageous. I just don't like to touch raw meat. If I have to and there's no way around it (i.e. seasoning a turkey) or slice meat for stir-fry I get it done fast and wash immediately. I don't like the smell of raw meat on my hands, especially chicken. I worked as a cook many years ago and had to deal with a lot of raw chicken. I hated smelling like raw & cooked chicken at the end of the night.

So what my secret for avoiding this at home? I boil the chicken pieces for five minutes. Yup. Then I drain and rinse the meat thoroughly. Next, I proceed to remove all the skin and fat, pat dry and continue with the recipe. Make sure you scrub the sink afterwards.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beef Lentil Soup

1 cup red lentils, washed set aside
1/2 lb. ground beef or any cut of lean beef (cut up into bite size pieces)
1can lima beans, drained (optional)
1-2 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup tomato sauce
5 cups broth (any kind) or 1 tsp beef bouillon*

Saute beef, onion, celery, carrots and salt for about 5 minutes. Add the rest and if you end up using beef bouillon, add 5 to 6 cups water*. Simmer 30 minutes covered.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Turtleneck Sweater Repurposed

Original sweater.

Cut it right down the middle.

Took the trim from this shirt and used the arms as flower petals.

Attached button hooks and it's ready for anyone interested in a cardigan (I get itchy in wool).

Are you sick of repurposed clothes yet? I'm sure I'll be into doing something else when the weather gets better but until then-I came across this sweater that was getting passed on and I thought...hmmm...what could this become? A bag? Na. socks? about a cardigan?! Yeah!!!

Six straight miles on the dreadmill. I'm tired. Very, very tired. On tap, veg-out for the rest of the night.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I rejoined Weight Watchers today and am happy to do so because now I have a place to put my crazy weight/eating madness. I know when I need help and going was a burden off my shoulders because I can visually stop myself as long as I track. The meeting was full. There were a lot of familar faces and it was nice to see a new points system where most fruits and veggies are 0 points. I hope I don't go overboard with the fruits.

Second, I ran 6 miles today. However, I ran 3.2 of it in the morning and came back around 2pm to run another 3.2 miles. Why? Because I go bananas on the treadmill and also my legs were sore. More because I couldn't stand to stare at the same thing. So I made myself promise that I could get off at 3 miles if I will come back and finish it. I did and feel a lot better about my commitment to 20 miles/week. I was suppose to only do three today but my both my sons got sick and my hubby was out of town all week so I couldn't workout Thur. and Friday. Therefore, tomorrow I'll have to pull another six miles. I'm sure this is not a lot of miles to some and you may wonder why it will be hard for me? Well, because I've been slacking since November and not running as much and my mental state is weak when it comes to the treadmill. Outside running, no problem-the scenery changes. So I may be at the gym twice tomorrow but I live close so it's not a hardship.

Friday, January 7, 2011

back to life

I rescued this Fiskars self-healing cutting mat from a dumpster (it was at the top). Armed with baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, green scrubby, elbow grease and 20 minutes time, I brought it mostly back to its' former glory. This 23 x 35" self-healing cutting mat new is between $36-$45!!!
Whoever owned it before used it more as a dropcloth for paint, gluing, and cutting. I'm sure it was well-loved. I think they just didn't think the stains would come out. I was able to bring it bring it back to life. Yeah!!!
I can't wait to use this for upcoming projects with fabric and as a table cover for messy projects with the boys.


It started with an upset stomach. Three hours later, he gets sick all over my bed and thankfully ran to the bathroom for part deux in the porcelin throne. One hour after, he felt better and we finally make it back in bed. This morning, I've done two loads of laundry of just bedding, scrubbed two bathrooms in case of floaty-oaties I can't see, and am exhausted. The bright side are: Koo's stomach no longer hurts, hubby will finally be home from business trip, and my house is somewhat cleaned going into the weekend.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Dr. Laura is no longer on radio but has switched to Sirius radio because her views on values and human behavior has been deemed too radical for her to continue on public radio.

I feel like I've lost a surrogate mom, a friend, and mentor. Every day since I found out I was pregnant with S.E. my firstborn, I've listened to Dr. Laura on the radio when I working. She opened my eyes to entertain the idea of being a Stay-at-Home mom. That there was pride and honor it doing this. See, I grew up with parents coming from a third world country where staying at home is not looked upon as a choice but a hard lifestyle for lack of a better word. In my birth country of Vietnam, only the rich or very smart went to school and became anything other than farmers to make a living to feed your family. Everywoman was a stay-at-home there. In addition to looking after children, you had to work hard. Very, very hard to eek out a living. My mom raised animals, grew vegetables, made bread everyday and walked to the market very early in the morning to try to sell her goods in order to help her parents and later on to feed us. She wished she could have been a nurse. Even now, in America, she sews for a living-being on her feet for eight hours on concrete to make drapes, pillows, and furniture to enrich other peoples' lives. I think she's amazing but she thinks because she doesn't have more than a 7th grade education, she's not valued.

So when I got pregnant, she was vocal about me not wasting my education by staying at home to take care of my baby. I was torn. On the one hand, I didn't want to disappoint my mom and my professors by not working. My lovely and I were frugal enough where I wouldn't have to go back to work after having our baby.

Enter Dr. Laura. She was the lone voice in telling all who'd listen that it was OKAY to stay at home, in fact, it was our responsibility as parents to stay at home with our children. This spoke to me. I really wanted to stay home but was afraid of the backlash of not being an independent woman in control of her finances.

I thank God, my lovely husband, and Dr. Laura for helping me find my true calling. My husband wanted me to stay home but he wanted it to be my decision, not something he insisted. Dr. Laura also reminded me on a regular basis to take the time to be a good wife and to take pleasure in my children instead of them being an accessory and en extension of my ego. I'm so grateful for every smell, laugh, hug, and kiss I get to witness and be a part of in my children's lives. There will never be another job where I learned about the lengths my husband and I have gone to in raising our kids. They are the sparkle, the glue, the reason we are not selfish with our love, time, and smile.

I miss her voice. I have been almost one week without hearing her throughout my house between 12-3pm. I'm hoping my budget will allow us to get Sirius someday so I can listen to her again.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Garage space

My husband is quite possessive about our garage. In his defense, I am the boss of the rest of the house and needs the space to work on his two classic cars. If he even sees anything remotely belonging to me, he questions me about why it's there and how long before it gone from the premises. It's quite funny. Even my recycling has to go on our back patio because it can't sit in his garage. As of late, I've had to move it to the garage because it's been so cold I can't access the back patio without a huge draft coming in or digging through a mound of snow to get to the recycle bin. I promised it will go back to the patio once the weather warms up.

During the winter, we store the old cars in an indoor storage facility so my husband has been parking his truck inside. I didn't want to use the garage because I never have had my car in a garage and it feels claustrophobic to me. This has been working out just fine until we got a ton of snow and mornings with temperatures of 6degrees Fahrenheit and scraping the ice off my car. With husband going to work before 7am and a big diesel motor to warm up, it makes perfect sense to have his truck in the garage.

These past couple of days, my husband has been on a business trip so I've been parking in the garage. Oh dear. I don't know how he'll get his garage space back. No scraping the windows. A warm car after 3 minutes. Clean out my car without hauling everything through the front door. Pop the papers scattered in my car directly into the recycling bin. Wonderful. I don't know how I will be able to give the space back.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Repurposed Apron

Take one ugly Nurse's uniform shirt (free). Cut it up and voila! Apron.


Sunday's conversation:

"I want to run a marathon on April 2nd, do you have anything going on?"
"Can you check to make sure the UEC conference isn't then?"

I checked. No conflicts.

"Well, let's make this a family thing and camp."
"Honey, I would love for you all to be my pit crew. I can be Slow McQueen."

All set. Called my sisters to try to get them to do the race too.

Monday night:

"Did you say April 2nd, the day close to April 1st was your race?"
"Uh-huh. I'm excited."
"You can't run it-I have my annual auto swap meet in Portland."

Now, I've got to call back my sisters and see if they can run in another race.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 Goals and ways to torture myself

All the experts say you got to have goals to work towards so you don't forget off track or forget why you are torturing yourself to fit into a size 6 jeans. Since I feel like I've been faking it as a runner and "athlete" I figured what's more faking in 2011 until I stop getting embarrassed when someone classifies me as runner.

So why do all this? First, I am not bad at running. I don't think anyone is bad at running. But I don't hate running like my lovely husband. Also, running is an activity that speaks to a frugal woman like myself. You don't have to spend much to get results. Mainly, I like to run because after a run, I always am more calm and feel better mentally about myself. Cheap therapy. Last but not least, I want to share my running with my boys and be an example for my boys. When I have read or talked to serious runners, all of them have had early starts as runners. It was a tool to help them handle life's craziness. I want my boys to start running 5ks and be involved. Also, as cheap as I am, this is about the only way the boys will get new shirts not worn by others.

So here's what I feel is doable.

1. Run 20 miles per week /month
2. Increase 2 miles each week/each month
3. Run three 5ks with kids: Red dress, campus on the run, and Genesee days
4. Encourage and mentor someone else to run their first 5k
5. Lose 5 lbs.
6. Run TWO marathons: one in the spring and one in the fall and make it a family affair. My crew will be hubby and kids. I don't really care what my time will be...I just want to be able to finish. (I know for those of you remembering I said "never again" after my first one, I remembered saying the same thing after my first pregnancy, so please razz me if you need to but I'm ever going to own the title "runner"-I have to run right?)

There. It's on. Will there be bumps in the road? Yes. Will I panic and doubt myself along the way? Absolutely. But I want to live my life to the fullest-not to wish things were different in my life but actually making it happen. Wish me luck you all.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Caramel Corn

Those who know me know I hate gadgets. Kitchen gadgets. Cleaning gadgets. If I can do 90% of the work with a knife, mop, broom, or washclothes-I will not enjoy a gadget that will make cooking or cleaning easier. Part of this problem is because I don't have a lot of cupboards or storage closets to house gadgets. The lastest gadget my husband tried to talk me into was a was vacuum cleaner/hard floor steamer. Really? I've got a vacuum cleaner. I spot mop with cleaning clothes. I even have a mop when I really want to impress. So. Having laid this all out-I got a gadget I love today. A popcorn popper. Not the stovetop whirly pop kind. The oldschool air popper you plug in and watch it shoot out.

Why? Well we've been having family movie nights at least once a week at our house and the boys always want popcorn. So I would buy the microwave bags. I'm not a fan. The fat, the smell, the fake yellow butter that coats my microwave. Also, it's expensive. So, today we broke down and bought one. Got some of those powdered cheese flavoring for it and it was a healthier, less greasier snack.

Then, I really blew it out of the ballpark when I told my hubby I know how to make caramel corn. His eyes bugged and he about drooled about me making him some. All you have to say is caramel and I swear my hubby will give up his size 34 waist for it.
Here's the link to the recipe (love the bloggers) and I cut the butter in half and it still tasted great.