Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Busy, Busy Bees

I feel like I've done nothing but run for the past three weeks! It's been straight from one fire to the next until I feel like I'm almost out of water... and it's still February!

The past two weeks, especially this past weekend and this week have been crazy! We had our revival at church starting Friday night and running through Sunday night. On top of that, Saturday morning, I met friends for breakfast at Akins before going on a quick grocery trip to get the final ingredients for my contributions to Marnie's shower food! BTW... Cream Cheese is a life saver!!

After breakfast, it was a quick trip home to get all my food ready and get a shower before running back to Trenton to get a shower gift (I know, I know... talk about procrastination!) before heading north of Bell to set up for the shower. Heather's home was absolutely beautiful and was decorated in the wedding colors perfectly! Carrie's Cake was awesome, and all the rest of the food was pretty amazing as well! My contribution was a three super easy dips which all have a cream cheese base...

Caramel Fruit Dip: Spread a container of Mazzerotti's (sp?) caramel apple dip over a block of cream cheese, serve with Apple Slice or other fruit.

Buffalo Chicken Dip: Layer Cream Cheese and Canned chicken mixed with wing sauce. Top with shredded cheese and bake until bubbly, serve with tortilla chips... YUM!

And of course, my favorite!
Pepper Jelly: Spread a jar of pepper jelly over a block of cream cheese. Serve with crackers (It's unbelieveable, even if the pepper jelly isn't my recipe!) ( like the pretzel flip crackers that are half pretzel, half town house cracker)

After we got everything cleaned up and packed up from the shower, I headed home to relax for about half an hour before I headed to revial. I went early, because we are working on a picture directory and we were putting together the first set of pictures. Dale did such a good job building the display boards and the pictures look great too!

Sunday after morning services, we had a pot-luck dinner at the American Legion Hall between Trenton and Bell. There was tons of food which was all delicious! My contribution was a Spinach Salad that my Aunt Myrtle gave me the recipe for. It's super easy and as Eric says "off the chain" good!

Here's the recipe for that...

1 bag spinach
1 pkg bacon- fried and crumbled
2 cans mandarin oranges (drained)
1/2 cup toasted almonds

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup oil (I use olive)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar

Shake well and pour over the other ingredients right before serving.

The only problem is that this salad doesn't keep well... but when you've got a crowd, it's amazing!

I did actually make time to read a book that Carrie gave me to read "The Wedding Machine" and boy did it make me think of "The Sisters". I probably should have used that time to do something else, but oh well, it was nice to just zone out into another world!

Monday it was back to the grindstone... and Since it's National FFA Week... we've got all kinds of things going on... I am thinking about running away soon! All I can think is if I can make it to spring break, I can really just disappear for a couple of days and catch up on all this sleep I've been missing!

On a side note: Week Three has ended and we are still on track! I personally have not purchased fast food for breakfast or lunch and I have either been cooking supper or just skipping it which has led to losing 7 pounds over the past two weeks... see... something good has come of this! Now if I can just keep it up!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week two... and still chugging along...

So, back to the February challenge... So far, so good! I must admit that on Friday, I had to let the lunch bunch judges weigh in on whether or not I had cheated... Ethan brought me lunch from McDonalds... which is border-line cheating. Kaylin determined that it was not a cheat since I didn't pay for it or go get it myself... (she's such an enabler!!) Bri just raised her eyebrows and shrugged...

Saturday however, on my day at the State Fair (notice, this is one of those occasions when I was allowed by the rules of the challenge to eat whatever, and wherever I wanted) I indulged myself in some serious fair food! Kyle and I split a cinnamon bun that was coated in icing, followed it up with a glass of Netterfield's lemonade (my favorite!) and a few of Clay's bbq pork rinds. Will purchased a yard of kettle corn and we worked on that as we browsed Cracker Country. Our last stop of the day was at the Pickle Barrel Sirloin tip booth where we enjoyed mashed potatoes, steak tips, mushrooms and a sweet tea. Talk about stuffed (I promise I skipped supper that night!)

And as to why we were at the state Fair... Our poultry teams (which I coach) competed in the practice contest (practice because it isn't the state contest) placed 2nd and 8th overall. The high school and middle school were all in the same stack, so if you seperated out the middle school by themselves, they placed 2nd out of all the middle school teams. The more exciting news is that the Sr. Dairy team claimed a state championship! I am so excited for those 4 girls because they have worked really hard over the past 6 years to get to that point!

On Monday, I was off work and headed into Gainesville to do a little shopping- grocery and other. I didn't even stop to eat while I was there. (This was huge, because my favorite place to eat is McAlister's and I drove right by it.) I made sure that when I bought groceries that afternoon that I bought enough lunchmeat for sandwiches during the week. (I miss calculated since we have almost eaten all the sandwich meat in two days)

Anyways... so far, so good... my pocketbook feels a little less drained!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunday Love

I hate Valentine's day. Always have. The fact of the matter is that all it boils down to is a day for single people to have their singleness thrown back into their faces as the whole world seems to "couple-up" even if just for the day. And the sad part is that we focus on having someone to say I love you to on that day more than any other. So, I typically boy-cott this extremely over-commercialized, romance driven holiday with a vengence. The only exception being that my cousin and I would always get each other something so that even if we were single, we didn't look like total losers.

This year however, the black day fell on a Sunday. I love the fact that I had something else to focus on all day... because who should really be our valentine? I mean, who gave his life because he loved us? And thankfully, the focus of the day wasn't on who had a sweetheart with them, but on how many people we had at services (total side track here, but this is about the fourth or fifth week since the beginning of the year that we've had over 120 people attend our services) and where we were going to have them all sit.

After services that night, we had a "valentine's party" at the preacher's house. After a great meal that included all different kinds of goodies, the kids were herded into a bedroom to play while the adults settled down in the living room for some friendly valentine's games. Between the "lovebird" game and the purse scavenger hunt, the whole room was rolling with laughter! I was quite impressed with some of my church family's answers and determination to get to hold the prized singing monkeys! But I think James won the night with his "eyes on the prize" competitiveness! (Bless Jennifer's heart)

We have been blessed with a church family that is not only growing in number, but one that is growing spiritually. I can remember times when I was the only person there between the age of 20 and 30. Now... there's actually a group of people my own age. But the best part is that they are concerned with spiritual things, like spending time with other christians and studying the Bible together. The concept of loving your brethren is one that has been redefined for me in the last year. What a better way to spend your valentine's day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Seeing Ghosts

Yesterday, when I stoppped at my favorite hometown grocery store I saw a ghost.

Now, before you get scared and stop shopping there, let me assure you that this ghost was living and breathing. He was just a ghost from my past. My ghost (who shall remain nameless) has haunted my life for years. And quite frankly, when I turned that corner and saw him, I almost turned right around and walked out. But, putting on my brave face and telling my churning stomach to act right, I walked right on in like a big girl. Shoot, I even managed to have a some-what normal conversation with the ghost. And considering that the last time I spoke to this ghost, we were not on friendly terms, I think that's pretty good.

We all carry ghosts around with us. Every person we meet along the way becomes a "ghost" to us in some way or the other. We carry with us the way they make us feel, the memories we make together, and even the way we feel about them. Sometimes, those ghosts are friendly ones, like Casper, who whisper comfort to us from our memories. Sometimes, they haunt us because of the bad decisions and pain that surrounds our memories of them. The thing is, you never really get rid of them. There's a residue that you can't (or at least I can't) just vaccuum out of your life.

This particular ghost is one that it took a verrrry looonng time to lay to rest. And the impact that he had on my life was extremely hard for me to sort through and face. Not only did I have to accept responsibility for what I did, but really look at him with the rose colored glasses off and accept what he was. All I know for sure is that it took a lot of prayer and time to heal all that drama. Prayer not just for me, but for the ghost as well. In fact, I still pray for this ghost, because, while I am in no way remotely interested in resurrecting his place in my life, I still hope deep down that he can change. And, honestly, when you really love someone, you will always want what's best for them.

When I got into the car, I felt a peace about the whole thing. I had faced the ghost. And facing the ghost made me realize how much God loves and helps us when we ask him to. Which is why, today, I'm feeling just a little bit less haunted!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Reporting on Week One

It is now the 9th day of February, and I can successfully report that the No-Eating-Out challenge is right on track. As I reported before, I did give myself just enough wiggle room to handle the weekend trips that are impossible to avoid and the late night at work, but I can report that I have survived the last week no worse for wear. Actually, my wallet and waistline are probably a little better off than they were a week ago.

On the cooking front... I have been eating at home, but not really cooking meals... lots of chicken salad sandwiches and salads. I have broken out the crock pot and have cooked chicken and stew beef which have found thier way into multiple meals.

I almost had a break-down on Monday, as I found myself trying to figure out what in the world to take for lunch... luckily, Lacee and Hailey pulled their weight for the lunch-bunch and provided a satisfying meal of spaghetti and "cracky pudding" (dessert which consists of pudding, graham crackers and chocolate icing)

On a totally other note... During the middle of one of my classes today, Dallas ran in holding his thumb, which was bleeding! Luckily, he just sliced the tip off instead of cutting off the bone... but still... talk about causing a comotion! After getting it cleaned out and bandaged up, he showed back up around lunch time to the delight of all his students who wanted to see his "war-wound"! Thank goodness it wasn't bad!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wishing Life Away

When I rolled over this morning to check the alarm clock beside my bed I thought to myself, "Ugh, I don't want to get up... why can't it be the weekend?" And just as quickly, I though of the words to that old country song "Driving my life away."

If you're anything like me, you're probably just as guilty of "wishing time away". On Monday, you can't wait for Friday to get here. In August, you can't wait for Christmas break to arrive. We set our mind on making it to a certain date or event and get so focused on that point that we forget to savor all the small moments along the way.

As I groggily headed to the shower to get ready for work, I reminded myself about Matthew 6:34 which warns us about worrying about tomorrow instead of focusing on today because each day has it's own problems without adding tomorrow's to it. And just like each day has its own troubles, each day has its own joys. If we wish away our lives, aren't we wishing away all the small wonders around us as well!

I've hit a super-reflective point in my life... I am nearing a milestone that I'm not too sure I'm happy about. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy to be alive, and I while I have very few regrets about the life I have lived so far, I do sometimes wish I could get back a few of those moments that just seem to have flown away so quickly.

As I drove in to work this morning, I said outloud in my car (yes, I do talk to myself sometimes) "This is the day that the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." And for me, that means not wishing the hours away, but enjoying the moments that make each day special and unique!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A little late... My Resolution and my Challenge...

Ok... so I haven't been writing anything lately, but I have definately been reading... so...

Even though it's into February and my christmas tree is still up ( I know... the shame of it... I really did start taking stuff off of it the week after Christmas) And even though I didn't share my resolutions, I did make one big one. Yep... just one... unfortunately that one is a really tall order. I know I've got you wondering what could be that all encompassing so... here it is.


Yep... that's it... really simple right? If only... everytime I say it, I cringe... because when I say it to myself, I hear all the individual things I need to work on. Not just do I need to excercise more, eat less and take better care of my body. I also mean to be spiritually healthier... you know, more focused on what really matters, and keep my priorities in line and feed my soul (aka study and pray). And probably the scariest of all, which is what is really nagging at me these days, I am determined to be financially healtheir by this time next year.

Quite a big order! What if I fail?

I have been trying really hard to do little things that will hopefully help me keep my resolution and feel like I am making some small progress. For example:

* I have started walking instead of driving short distances ( Like from my house to mom's or my classroom to the lunchrooom)

* I have almost completely given up Sweet Tea... (GASP) I know... As a southern girl, this is about sacrilege... and it's not really about not wanting sweet tea as much as reducing the amount of sugar I'm consuming. (Which also means I have also quit drinking almost all the soda I was drinking...)

* The girls in our ladies Bible study group at church are doing an awesome job challenging me to stretch my mind about spiritual things

And the latest Challenge to myself... which I am really scared to actually post because then if I fail, you will all know. But I also feel like posting this will give me some accountability.

As a single person, it's hard to want to cook real meals for one... or at least I have a hard time with this and I hate eating frozen dinners. And don't get me started on how easy it is with the hours I work to end up eating out three meals a day (Average cost of $20/day). This really bad habit that I am afraid is going to derail my entire effort for the year. So... For the month of February I have challenged myself to not eat out (with special emphasis on the work week) and to cook more meals at home. My former roommate/quasi-brother Eric has been helping me with the second part as he has been providing a second mouth to feed when I cook which makes it easier to come up with something. So far... (all three days of the month) I have managed to keep going.

Now I know some of you might think this a little unattainable as a goal, but being the "highly trained" educator that I am(note I am making a joke), I have given myself a little wiggle room so as to make it actually attainable. For example: Saturdays are an exception because unfortunately I will be working/traveling the first two Saturdays of the month and the likely hood that I would pack breakfast and lunch on those days is miniscule. And since my main focus is cutting out spending on breakfast and lunch, I have also given myself a dinner pass for nights when my job require me to work beyond 6pm. (fair I think)

So... hopefully in about a week, I can give you a successful update on how I'm progressing... What I do know is that my grocery list has already gotten longer!