Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year In Review

My Year in Review...


January 15th Todd and I celebrated the beginning of 6 years of our relationship. We picked up paint to paint the living room...the paint is still sitting next to the entertainment center unopened. Our living room is still plain white. I want colors on the wall in the worse way, nothing drastic but warmer then white. We thought we were going to be able to sign up for dance lessons again but the week prior to starting my knee acted up. Seriously, I thought I was going to have to go buy a cane to walk with, it was horrible. January we also realized we would not have much of a vacation this year, the new furnace we had to put in Thanksgiving weekend and knowing we had to replace the central air unit during the summer. The unexpected money for Emily kept Todd from going to the Orange Bowl as he wanted to cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes.


Other then my favorite holiday...Valentine's Day, February was a very low key and quiet month for us. Valentine's Day, Todd rented a room in a hotel near us. The hotel is a castle and it had the medieval theme through out. IT was very nice get away. We try to get away from town, just the two of us once every 3 months. Sometimes it can be challenging for us, we work opposite hours and let's face it blended families are hard and with 6 children between us ages ranging at that time from 10 years to 22 years we need some alone time. Let me re-word this...challenging to have quality time.

March/April ~

Another let down, we were unable to go to St Louis to the NCAA Wrestling Championship as we planned. Emily did not pay any of the money back so that put things tight, well that and a new furnace. We started working on the beginnings of our garden, seeds and planning. I started our blog Our Slice of Heaven- Our Garden Log. I was enjoying all the planning for the new flower beds around the shed. It was always Todd's dream to have flowers around the shed. He had planted some hostas on 3 sides of the shed, however 2 sides had way too much sunlight that they did not thrive any. I had planted a nice variety of flowers in the front about 2 years prior. I also made plans to begin updating the landscaping in the front of the house as well as plans for two other flower gardens in the back. Todd was trying to make up his mind if the garden would be enlarged one more time or not. (We ended up keeping the same size and the other two flower gardens never started.) Todd and I also went to Chicago for the weekend and ended up bringing home some tulip bulbs as well to plant in our front yard.

May ~

My older two had birthdays, Matthew became 20 and Joshua 17. It is so hard to believe Matthew is now out of his teens. He also made up his mind that he would be transferring to the University of Iowa and live in a dorm here in Iowa City. I was thrilled since that means I would see him more. May is also when I started this blog. I have another that I have not posted anything in a long while. I think I should actually close it if that is possible. May the planting season outside started as well as the update to the front landscaping. This is also the month my youngest actually did what kids were suppose to do...go outside and play. He made friends and he still goes out and plays with them or in their houses if it is too cold.

June ~

June had so many emotions. Our gardens were giving us so much hope, beginnings were great. Joshua had a part in the high school's spring musical The Wizard of Oz. We all enjoyed it. I realized I had two of the stages I do not care being a parent in a child's life at the same time. To me the age 13 is the worse with a child and Ethan was 13 and a child that is a senior ranked right up there as a difficult age.. Joshua started his senior attitude a little early. June was very challenging between the two of them. In June I also had some medical issues that needed to be addressed. I had an endoscopy, colonoscopy, and an upper intestinal follow through. I ended up with two biopsies of questionable areas, that turned out to be nothing thank the Lord. This experience gave me material for my first and I think still my best Monday Moans. We had a little Welcome Summer party for Noah and his friends and went on our first weekend vacation trip as a family to the Wisconsin Dells. June was a hot month and without any central air it was a long and miserable month. it is also the month I made a big step for me. I actually bought shorts and wore them outside my own yard.

July ~

This is the month we started seeing some vegetables from our garden but it was also the month we realized our garden was in trouble this year. Way too much rain. Sadly this was the turning point for our garden and it just went down hill. It was so disappointing. The first week in July we ended up getting our new central air unit. We had been experiencing a rather warm and wet summer and the new unit came just in time, we had just started a stretch where with the heat index the temperatures outside were over 100 degrees for several days. July, Todd and I celebrated our 2nd Anniversary. We ended up going to Chicago for two days. Chicago is one of our favorite cities.


School started again, this year I have Matthew in his 3rd year of college, Joshua his Senior year in high school, Ethan is in 8th, his last year in middle school, and Noah is in 5th grade, one more year of elementary for him. August we picked beans and canned a few tomatoes only to not do it right and we ended up with nothing. We gave up on the garden and did not even go out to weed it at all. It was so disappointing. August was my 25th high school reunion that I did not attend. This is also what put me in the frame of mind, that I need to have a job that is at a college degree level, since I did go to college. The desire was never so strong until then. I went to Des Moines all by myself to have an evening with friends from high school. I had a great time. I wished Todd was able to made it to meet everyone, maybe next time.


September we started back to dance classes. I was walking on cloud nine, enjoying something I had missed so much. We also lost Libby in September, a very dark day for us. My step daughter Kera had a birthday her 23rd one. Kera graduated from La James and she passed her boards to be a licensed Esthetician.

October ~

October the boys and I went to visit my Mom in Des Moines. We were able to go downtown and see some changes that have been made since we moved to Iowa City. October is also the month I found out my youngest had a girlfriend and was sneaking around and kissing her in the field in our back yard. October is Halloween, Todd's favorite holiday. Where I work we have a pumpkin carving contest, this year was my first year to participate and my department took 1st place. It was an awesome feeling. On Halloween we also learned that Kera was going to have a baby and we would be grandparents sometime in July.


November we celebrate 3 birthdays in our house. Ethan's first, he turned 14 this year, then it is Noah's who turned 11. Emily's is one day after Noah's and she turned 20. November nothing big happened. Todd and I both started to fight some blues big time. Things seems so challenging right now with 5 of the 6 children living at home. Matthew is the only one not living with us at this point. Joshua did get a job though. This was a good thing because I have been after him for 2 years to get a job.


December was not a good month for us, well Todd and I. We both were not in the mood for Christmas, it took everything in me to decorate this year. A couple of weeks before Christmas Connie fell, Todd's Mom. She was released from the hospital on Christmas Eve. Decorations will stay up until January 15th after we celebrate with Todd's side of the family. That's it for December.

That wraps up 2010 in a nutshell. I am very much looking forward to 2011 and hope it will be a better year. I know we have at least two big things in store for 2011...Joshua graduating and a new addition to our family, a grandchild. I also hope for a bountiful garden this year, no sudden or life threatening situations for either of our mothers, since this has been two years in a row for us. I wish for less stress and more peace.

I also wish you all a ~~~*~~~HAPPY NEW YEAR~~~*~~~!!!!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 To Do List

The New Year is approaching. I am not one for New Year's Resolutions, well not any more. When I was younger I would have the most common ones, to work out more, to lose weight, and to stop biting my nails. I typically do not make it past 2 weeks. For the most part I do not bite my nails unless I am very bored or stressed. I never follow through with resolutions.

No New Year's Resolutions for me. No way, no how. I do believe in "To Do List". I feel like I accomplish more with a "To Do List". I also get some sort of satisfaction when I look at the list and I can take my blue medium point ink pen and cross it off the list. It is such a conquering feeling of power. So let's take a look at my list. I plan to come back to this blog every now and then and actually cross it off on this post as well. I guess putting it out here will make me more accountable as well and give me even more of satisfaction to share with the entire blog world my achievements.

To Do List ~ 2011 Style

  1. To become healthier. Let's face it if I do not I know I am shortening my life. I have children who need me, I have soon to be grandchildren I want to see, I just want to enjoy life plain and simple. I know I am not invincible, we all will die some day, but I need to take care of myself. I plan to watch my sodium intake once again. Try to move more as long as the knee continues to let me. The weight I will lose will also help my knee, my high blood pressure, and possibly rid the borderline diabetes. I'm not going to say "I'm going to lose XX amount of weight by XX date. It does not work that way for me. Plain and simple, I need to become healthier.
  2. Organization. I am going to check this off once I have all of my closets organized, kitchen cupboards organized, and the shed. I see Craig List in my future for some things in the shed, if not then they will be donated. This house is packed to the gills now with so many boom-a-rangs flying back at us.
  3. To take my finances by the horn. I am going to get all the medical bills paid off and the one last credit card that haunts me previous to moving to Iowa City. I want this in the worse way. I want to join checking accounts with my husband.
  4. Joining Accounts leads me to the next thing on my list. Combine our car insurance. It's silly we both have our own coverage right now. I think it only makes sense to have one car insurance carrier.
  5. To actively find another job. I am praying the economy is good enough for me to cross this one of my list. I just want to have a "college level paying job". I have never had this strong of an urge until my 25th high school reunion. I feel as a career person I have failed. Do not take me wrong, I am a hard worker and succeed in that way, I just think I have failed with having a degree and working entry level positions. I want to have a savings. I want to be able to afford summer clothing or school clothes and not be paying for it 2 months later with my budget.
  6. Paint the inside of the house. Oh, this has been on my list for 2 years and the only thing I have not crossed off. This year will be my year.
  7. Continue with our dance lessons. What more can I say. I love it. I love spending the time with Todd. I love getting out and doing something enjoyable. I love working out and having fun as I am working out.
Well that is it! I know it is not a long list, nor anything exciting for others but it will make me happy once I cross off all 6 items. Do you have any New Year's Resolutions or To Do List?

Oh and if you are reading and enjoy what you see here. Please feel free to follow me. I am thrilled I have someone reading my blogs from Russia Weekly. I think it is totally neat.

Wednesday Woo Hoo

First Woo Hoo is for Connie's healing process being faster then they predicted. She came home on Christmas Eve. She still has a long road to haul but she is on that road.

Woo Hoo the boys came home in time to spend a little time with me on my birthday.

Woo Hoo they were excited for their gifts. I love watching the 3 younger ones mess with their cameras. :)

Woo Hoo for a short work week. I have a lot of task to tackle in my Kitchen this long weekend. Christmas decorations will stay up until after January 15th because we will be celebrating our last Christmas gathering then. Look for more recipes at that time as well.

Woo Hoo Todd loves his gift, the smoker. We plan on trying it out for our January 15th Christmas celebration too. :)

Wordless Wednesday

I celebrated another one.

This is linked to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tackle It Tuesday

This week's Tackle it Tuesday I worked on two task.

Project One is actually on my blog site here. Organization, organization is what I need even on my blog site. I worked on my pages at the top: "Recipes", "My Photography", and "My Poetry". I wanted more of a website feel with it. I wished I took some photos of some of the before shots.

"Recipes" - there was not actually a page for it on the top, just a label on the right. Instead I created it's own page with a home page as such. Breaking everything down to categories.

After you click on the link this is what you will see now.

at the bottom of the page there is a link to return you to Recipe's home page. On my actual blog site I do not plan to have the recipes on it, however a picture of my food product and then a link to the page for the recipe like this...

"My Photography" - before they were just posted with me making some sort of divider and it just randomly kept going on like the Energizer Bunny. Now I have a home page for this page as well...Everything has categories here as well. After you click on the link it will take you to my pages with the photos...

(picture to be added in two days...after I get more batteries for my camera. )

At the bottom of this page there is a link that will bring you back to the My photography's home page.

"My Poetry" - before shot

Like the "My Photography" the poetry is all there and I created the borders to separate the poems. Now this page as a home page as well...

After clicking on the link it will bring you to my poem page...

Once again at the bottom of the page is a link to the My Poetry home page.

I feel good with my start on this. I just have several more photos keep adding now.

Project Two is my laundry room. My laundry room is the one thing I HATE in my house. I do not like to use the word HATE but there is nothing I can use other then this word. My laundry room is just a closet, alright I can deal with that. Many people have a laundry room in a closet. HOWEVER this closet is located in the Master Bedroom. Why someone would have added the laundry room to the Master Bedroom is beyond my own imagination. This means the kids (we have a total of 6 if your are new to my blog.) are in and out of our room while Todd is trying to sleep during the day (he works 3rd shift) or if they start their load late, they think they can keep me up finishing it up. You did notice the word "think", I have put a time limit on it, midnight is their cut off. One time one of them thought they could keep doing laundry until 4 am after that is when I placed a time limit or to say shut off time. I have been known to lock the bedroom door at that time. Empty bottles seem to accumulate since I am not the only one who works on laundry. At times, I just get sick of picking up after people all the time. Let's face it the youngest is 10 years old and the oldest is 23 years old. They are all capable of picking up after their self.
Here is my before shot...

We had the vaporizer out due to the fact of sick people and one of the kids just placed it on my dryer. What a mess! This has been a project I have wanted to do for a month, so I worked on it tonight (Monday, my birthday) and here is my after shot...

Now I have room for another laundry basket to place up there as well. I still think more can be done, like my storage box of photos on the top shelf but this will do until I get to one of the other closets where I can store my photos. I sort of like it in my room for the time being since I have been working on scanning old photos to try to keep a step ahead of the game for Joshua's graduation this May.

This has been entered on 5 Minutes For Moms

Tuesday Tip - Non Stick Cookware

Todd and I had discussed about a year ago how we should get some new pots and pans. Nice ones that will last like my skillet did. We watched for sales and picked this set up the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Here is a picture of a couple of my new pots and pans. I just love them! Aren't they pretty? Even the lids are pretty.

I know it may be silly to some to see a grown woman excited over pots and pans. I am a not materialistic at all, however, when I do get something nice or brand name I feel like I won the lottery and want it to be new as long as possible. This is my first beautiful set of pots and pans that are nice. I have had affordable pots and pans from Wal-Mart and they have worked fine. The skillets burned meat for some reason. My mother had bought me a nice skillet from Younkers one year about 8 years ago and I loved that skillet until about year ago. Now meat sticks and it does not cook things as well. I think a lot of it is the age as well as the other cooks in the house do not use the proper utensils when cooking. I have found metal spatula next to it several times all because the two plastic spatulas are dirty. Instead of washing the plastic spatula they will grab the metal one. (Not any more. I hid it this way none of my potware or the griddle that has been ruined as well.)

We planned on opening them up and using them Christmas Eve when we had his family over to celebrate Christmas. While I waited to use them, I did some research on how to keep them nice. (Like I said I want them to last.) Here is what I found:

1. Always use plastic or wood utensil --- Knew this one. Metal can scratch the non stick surface.
2. Never place in the dishwasher. Extreme hot temperatures and harsh detergents will ruin the coating. --- I never knew this.
3. Never cook on the highest setting. Again Extreme hot temperatures will ruin the coating. Hand wash only. --- Again who knew? Not me.
4. Never use cooking spray on them. It will eventually build up some sort of sticky residue and will not wash off. --- I did not know that and that would explain what happened to our griddle after Kera started to use it regularly for her sandwich melts.

After this wealth of knowledge I thought to myself, I do not want the kids to use my new pots and pans but then that would be selfish, so instead I told the boys and Todd told the girls on the proper care of the new pots and pans. I think they thought we were crazy.

Due to the circumstance with Todd's mother we chose to use the pots and pans about a week before Christmas. Coincidentally Yahoo posted an article on how to make your non stick pots and pans last. (Well she was specifically talking about a griddle she borrowed from her son.) I learned a couple of other things by reading this article. Everything I stated prior plus a couple of additional.

1. Only use cooking spray that does not contain Lecithin from Sybeans . She listed Bakers Joy brand is acceptable. --- Hmm, I think I will stick to not using any at all. I really do not like the gummy surface on my griddle. (BTW we are getting a new one of those as well. I did purchase one on BF but the grease trap was broken, so I had to return it.)
2 One should season the cookware prior to using, by rinsing the cookware off and lightly coating the surface with a small amount of vegetable oil. She claimed you should lightly coat your cookware with oil or butter prior to cooking while the cookware is cold as well. --- I am learning a lot here.
3. If mild detergent does not remove the cooked on food, one can try baking soda as well. --- Interesting.
4. If you are going to stack your pots and pans, she recommends placing a paper napkin under one to prevent scratching the surface of the other. --- Well that makes sense. I thought a little on this, instead of using a paper napkin maybe a cloth or a remnant of a material, this way I can wash it and reuse it. I am thinking this is going green idea.

They say the average pot and pan life of a non stick cookware is 5 years and of course the quality of the cookware can make it less or longer. My skillet from my mom was 8 years old and I the only thing I did right was not use metal utensils. I hope I get at least 8 years out of this set. We plan to add a few more pieces once we see it on sale. I am still thrilled with the new cookware. Now I need a new stove, the oven does not cook thoroughly and two of the four burners (the large ones of course) do not work all the time, matter of a fact one of them has not heated up at all the past two days.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter's Beauty

As I was driving to work today I felt guilty moaning that I had to go to work. If I had stayed home as I had wished I would not have seen the beauty of this Winter Morning provided. Last night while Todd was going to work he had to drive in thick fog. The moisture from the fog created a breath taking view this morning. I thought to myself as I was driving, oh how I wish I was like my friend Jenny and had my camera with me. I think I take Winter for granted. I hate Winter, it usually means very cold weather, horrible drivers on the road, not the best road conditions to drive on, pot holes that do damage to your car, snow, snow, and more snow for few months, some times freezing rain, and sand and salt built up on the car, inside the car, and in the entry way of the house. Winter is my least favorite season. Yes, I loved the beautiful snow we had on Christmas Eve it was white and fluffy, somewhat magical, but shoveling and snow blowing it was horrible and due to my knee I can not even help out with this or I am laid up for a while or limping afterward for a couple of days. I used to love Winter time when I was younger playing out in the snow, sledding, snowball fights, forts, and snow angels. Heck I even attempted snow skiing, notice the word attempted. I feel on my way to the ski lessons and ended up on crutches that weekend. The older I get the more I dislike it because of the arthritis in my knee and feet. However driving to work reminded me of the beauty this season has to offer. It made me think on my friend Aimee's pictures she posted on the Internet yesterday. She seemed so excited to have snow. I think I could live in Alabama, where you can have the beauty once in a while and a short time frame where it melts quickly. That would be the best of both worlds.

At lunch the beauty was there still but not as breath taking, so I rushed home grabbed a bite to eat and I grabbed my camera. We have flurries at the moment, very light. With the way the sun is shinning on them it looks like someone is just lightly sprinkling white glitter over us. It is just simply beautiful.

My view at the end of my street.

Even the weeds had beauty.

A close up of the glittery snow.

(My photos were inspired by the beauty of this morning, Aimee's and Jenny's photos.)

Monday Moans

MOOOAAANN for having to go back to work after the holidays, especially when it is your birthday.

This MOOOAAANN is for having to bring in food on your birthday to work. Seriously? The birthday person should not have to bring the food in to share. That is a little backwards. I like how they did it when I worked at Welmark. You have a list of all those who want to participate (we do that now where I work, so that part is not any different.) only those who sign up get their desk decorated (again we do this now.) and the person who has a birthday next brings in the food for the birthday person. Seems fair to me. Oh well. MOOOAAANN for having to get up early on top of the fact it is a Monday after having 3 1/2 days off for the holidays. (BRIGHT SIDE, it's another short week 3 1/2 days.)

This MOOOAAANN is for my ex and his wife. They are being evicted and I have 3 of my boys there now. Instead of moving as they should they are sticking it out until they are thrown out. Now this would not concern me IF MY CHILDREN WERE NOT THERE. I do not want my boys to be in any fear while they are there.

That's all folks. That's all I have to put down anything else will be going over the line from a MOOOAAANN to a BBBBBtch.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

No boys tonight

Well the boys did not come home tonight. I am not sure when they will be here, I do know Wednesday the latest. I was surprised not to hear from them any. :( Our Christmas celebration will be delayed until they get here.

Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

For a Recipe of Peanut Butter Chip Brownies
please click on the link below
or go to "Recipes" at the top of my page.

Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

Smokin' Christmas

This year for Christmas I got Todd a smoker.

He is now a member of a forum about smoking meat.

I have to say, I am rather excited for warmer weather.

We had a quiet Christmas Day.

The morning started with the kids that were home opening present.
(still learning with this camera...the girls are a little blurry.)

I made a big breakfast for everyone

Then the girls left to spend Christmas with their mother.

Joshua spent time watching True Blood Season 1
It was a very laid back Christmas.

Dinner we had the BBQ Country Ribs, smashed potatoes,
green beans with garlic and Parmesan cheese.
For dessert brownies with peanut butter chips.
The house smelt wonderful the 4 hours everything was baking.
I spoke to my three that were not here this Christmas.
I loved hearing their voices.
I also found out they may be coming home tomorrow.

Tomorrow...repeat of opening presents that are still under the tree.

Merry Christmas All.

BBQ Country Ribs in the Oven

For a Recipe of BBQ Country Ribs in the Oven
please click on the link below
or go to "Recipes" at the top of my page.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Oyster Stew

For a Recipe of Oyster Stew, please click on the link below
or go to "Recipes" at the top of my page.

Oyster Stew

Flashback Friday 16

Christmas Eve when I was 14 years old.
The same age as Ethan is this year.
I am the one with glasses holding my youngest sister Katie.
Next to me is Lisa who is holding Amy and our dog Barbie.

Christmas Eve Snow

Let the snow begin...
It started snowing last night
And it has been snowing all day.
Last I heard we had 6-7 inches
But it keeps on falling.
A white Christmas we will have for sure.
There is just something about snow on Christmas Eve.
It has done wonders to both Todd and I.
I think we feel some Christmas Spirit finally.
I wish the person shaking our snow globe would stop.
I think we have had enough.

He Loves Me