mirror images

So today I decided to shake it up a bit and wear an outfit I thought was “young” and “funky.” It was a short black dress which is gathered at the top, then has a swiss dot kinda thing going on at the bottom. I usually wear it as my coverup to the beach because I can go into a restaurant or store with it on if we need to on the way home. Today, I wore it as a top with grey leggings and greyish-silver flipflops. I accesorized with a black and bright blue necklace and blue bracelets. Silver hoop earrings finished the ensemble. We went out to the library, the home of a friend and the Goodwill (you know, just to see what’s there).  The whole time I was smiling to myself because here I was, at 40, dressing so cute and hip, just like a young award-winning musician we know. Guess what?  I got home, looked in the mirror and realized that the image in the mirror was no where near as cutie-pie as I had thought. I looked like a 40 year old woman wearing her beach coverup and flip flops. What was I thinking? And why did I need to feel like I looked young?  I will be pondering this for the rest of the evening as I read my new book – My Life in France, by Julia Child.

In honor of the book, the boys and I made crepes for dessert tonight. It was a great success. I had Nutella in the pantry and whipped cream in the fridge. The Mr and I were able to remember when we had a crepe while on a small street right next to Notre Dame in Paris. We repeated the experience in Epcot (DisneyWorld) and at Paris in Las Vegas. Smiles abounded as my guys licked Nutella off their lips. I was thankful for my crepe maker tonight.

I have made no menu plan for the week – I felt like winging it. This has resulted in some strange offerings. I am already working on the next week, though. I just needed the break, I think.  I will be going out of town next Friday so I am working on some meals that will be easy for the guys to put together in my absence. I will be going out of town the following weekend as well.

In sad news, our trampoline is slowly meeting its’ demise.  This morning, while our oldest was bouncing away before breakfast, a spring shot off the trampoline and flew across the yard. I’m not going to say this out loud, but I wonder if this has happened because “somebody” decided she could get a great cardio workout if she would jump high and mighty for 30 minutes a day for the last two days? Some fabric has ripped, I am told. I have not gone out to look for two reasons: 1) the flesh-eating mosquitoes are waiting to ambush me whenever I emerge from the house and my legs now look I have the chicken pox or have become a leper and 2) I am afraid to see how bad the trampoline really is. I can’t bear it if we can’t use it anymore. I already warned Mr Wonderful we would have to immediately march ourselves to the nearest sporting goods store to buy a replacement when the bouncing nirvana can bounce no more. It is the source of my sanity. It is heaven-sent. It is vital. The boys bounce on it all day long. I really mean all day long. Often, our middle guy does his math out there. (Kinesthetic learner, anyone?) Plus, it really is a great cardio workout – I can’t breathe after 10 minutes. It feels like I am running a marathon in 20 below weather. Uphill. Pray for us – I needs that trampoline, people. I needs it.

~Janna

PS. Here’s the link to those crepes, in case you are interested. I didn’t use berries. Mr Wonderful doesn’t like ’em.

Connected

What am I connected to? I can readily list several things: right now I’m connected to my laptop, connected to my music on my playlist, connected to this cup of coffee that isn’t quite doing the job of waking me up.

So, after these temporary connections – what or who am I connected to? For sure, I am connected to my guys here at home. I am connected to our beautiful family although we live far away from them. I am connected to good friends via the internet and telephone and get-togethers.

I am going to have to be honest with you…without being connected to the One who created me-who created all life-is like being connected with faulty wiring. Two weeks ago, my oldest and I changed the light fixture in the dining room. I talked him through red to red and black to black and ground to ground. If I connect the black with the red, I might get power for a moment, but then sparks and a disconnect. You have to connect to the right wire or the current can’t go through correctly. You also have to connect all the wires or it won’t work. It’s hard to enjoy the beauty of the room when you are standing in the dark.

Am I wired in to the right things? Do I have a good connection to the things that really matter? I am really pondering what I am connected to right now. What I NEED to be connected to versus the fixture I have hanging in my life right now. I think it’s time for a change in some areas.  We have to make the effort to connect with others who will build us up and who we can build up. Symbiotic kinda stuff. It’s all that matters. The connections we have with one another.  If we refuse to connect with one another it’s the same as the gorgeous chandelier in the room that won’t turn on when you flip on the switch. It’s useless.  It’s just a space-filler. I don’t want to be a space-filler.

I’m going to take it a step farther and  suggest that we take the effort to connect with someone this week that we haven’t connected with. Not just a “hey, how are ya doin’?”  A real connection. Ask them what’s going on. Bake them some cookies or a loaf of your Mom’s famous poppyseed bread.  Bring them a cup of Starbucks Dark Chocolate Cherry Mocha (get one for yourself-you’ll thank me later.) And here’s part of the deal – be real. Don’t get all gussied up. Show them you mean business. This is not merely a social call. Touch. Hug. Cry and laugh. Pray.  You need it. They need it. You need it.

While we’re at it – get connected with the main switchbox. You know what I’m talking about. Get real with the God who created you, who loves you, who saves your tears and dances around you because of His great love for you.  Same rules apply. Don’t get all gussied up. Don’t use the fancy words. Just talk to Him. Sing to Him. Thank Him. Love Him. He just wants to talk to you. Listen. Cry and laugh. Connect.  I guarantee you’ll see things in a whole new light.

~Janna

fun stuff

The earlier post was actually written last night, but then Lost came on and I totally forgot to post it. 🙂

Here’s what really happened today:

We went out to water the garden this morning and found snow peas!!  We ate one to see how amazingly delicious they were. They did not disappoint. Two of my guys won’t eat snow peas when I put them out on our salad bar but they ate it when they picked it from the garden.  AHA!!  The experiment is working! I can’t to see how the squash goes!  Broccoli is growing well although something is nibbling on the leaves. I don’t know what ate all my spinach because they obviously don’t like leaf lettuce and moderately care for Romaine lettuce. I am looking forward to a yummy salad by Friday with the leaf lettuce. The squash is blooming. I told the boys the blossom was edible and by golly they wanted to try it! I told them no for now. I want to grow the squash. Maybe that was a mistake.  Here’s the biggest mystery: What is going on with my tomatoes? I planted several plants in the garden and three in the dirt that everyone said won’t grow a thing. The ones in my garden are pitiful. Horrible. Ugly. The three in the dirt, surrounded my old license plates are stunning. Really, really beautiful. What is going on? What did I do wrong? Somebody help me! I had such visions of salsa and marinara that I was going to can….

What's going on here? They are so unhappy. I am so unhappy.

These are the three I plugged into the ground with the old license plates as the edging. So happy-these tomatoes.

I am about to start some chocolate chip cookies using a new recipe. It makes 6 dozen. I am going to flash freeze them in their little ball shapes rather than the cookie log method I have done before. It makes it easier to grab a frozen cookie ball and eat it while on the run. I’m serious. Plus, when you have unexpected company, it’s faster to defrost the frozen balls. Oh no, now all I can think about is that Saturday Night Live sketch with Alec Baldwin….not good. (But funny).

Life Group Tonight. Young Married couples. Love them. Tomorrow night the Mr and I are going to a Fundraising Dinner. I get to dress up. I wonder what they’ll serve?

Lastly, have I mentioned to you that I am off of soft drinks? It’s true. It’s what I gave myself for my birthday. They are bad for my teeth (and we are convinced the water here is also bad for our teeth and skin), bad for my bones (and I have a HIGH family history of osteoporosis) and make you feel hungrier. So there you go. I am on a tea and lemonade kick right now. Any other hot day suggestions? I already drink water. Oh, and coffee.

~Janna

baking day

After an action-packed Monday, (really the whole weekend was full) I looked in the freezers and found them lacking. No bread. No muffins and the boys ate the rest of the breakfast cookies this morning. I knew it would be big batch baking day. We finished most of school (the boys finished it all up while I was mixing bread) and I got started.

I ground two batches of wheat today. I wish I could tell you how much flour that is – but it’s a lot. I made 4 batches of sandwich bread, 8 hamburger buns and a dozen hot dog buns. After shaping these, I got started on mixing pizza dough. I doubled my favorite recipe and put three portions in the fridge (it works and tastes better if it gets this special time in there, for some reason I cannot remember). I took the last portion and made up breakfast pizzas. It made 18. I made 9 small pizza crusts and baked them at 500 degrees. I wish I knew how to make the degree symbol, but I just don’t. I split these in half. I probably won’t do that again – it was a pain. I made up a big pan of scrambled eggs and cooked up a tube of turkey sausage. I mixed those two and sprinkled it on the crusts. Taylor grated cheddar cheese in my Bosch and sprinkled that on top. I flash froze these and laster place them carefully in freezer bags. I don’t know how they will taste, but I figured if Jimmy Dean would make breakfast item that were frozen and contained scrambled eggs, so could I. Of course, Jimmy Dean probably uses all sorts of extra yucky things like preservatives and such, so who knows how this will wind up.  I’ll let you know.

I tried the Heavenly Homemakers new recipe for chocolate, chocolate chunk muffins. Haven’t tasted these either. Her recipe said it made 9. I made it go into 12. I shouldn’t have. They look more like brownies in muffin papers. The batter tasted yummy, so I am hoping that they will taste good even though they are puny. Again, I’ll let you know.

I had tortillas on my baking list, but I ran out of time today. I wasted (well, not really) a good hour moving furniture around in my breakfast area. I moved my desk. I am no longer next to the bathroom. That is a good thing. A really good thing.  I hung my giant fork that I got for my birthday. I wish I could explain the joy I feel when I see it.

The giant fork

Is there an item (non-human) at your house that makes you smile when you walk past it?

~Janna

Sundays

I love the quietness of Sunday afternoons at our house. Everyone is home, but there’s no schedule. It’s so peaceful.

This week was great. Mr Wonderful made it back from Mexico without a single scratch – although they did have a very scary moment as they drove up to a scene from the worst “Gangs and Cartels in Mexico” documentary you can imagine. Bullet holes in cars, blood on open doors, federal agents with automatic weapons and faces covered.  I am thankful the guys are all home, safe and sound.

Thursday was my 40th birthday. That’s right, I’m 40 now. I had a great birthday! I can’t even begin to describe how much joy I experienced. Ladies from our church called me in the morning and sang to me. It was a beautiful traditional song in Spanish. I cried at the loveliness of it all. My man surprised me BIG TIME with my gift and we had the best time in the “big city” of McAllen (about an hour away) for dinner and even a bit of shopping for Mommy. The things they do for love, right? Friday night, a group of ladies helped me celebrate my birthday when we all went out to dinner together and most went out for coffee later. I didn’t get home until midnight. How’s that for being an old lady? Lots of laughing. My favorite.

Saturday was my Mom’s birthday. It was hard for me to be away from her on her birthday. I missed her so much. It was almost harder to know that my sister was on her way over to celebrate and I was not going to be there.  I am so thankful for all she has done for me. There were so many years when I made it hard to love me – but she still did.  She is a wonderful woman and a fun Grandma to boot. We love you, Mom.

The guys are outside right now, preparing for what is going to be a disaster.  Airsoft guns. In fact, an airsoft gun war. It’s not going to end well. Tommy just asked me if I thought it was going to hurt when he got shot by the boys.  I don’t have to understand it  – this need that boys have to be this way. I am just thankful that Tommy is willing to take one for the team today.  I’ll let you know if anyone winds up in the hospital. {in this short amount of time that I was typing, we have already had one crying after being shot in the nose...}

I am about to jump of the couch and start getting the dining room ready for a luncheon I am hosting tomorrow. I am really excited. I am serving chicken pockets and caesar salad with homemade croutons.  One of the other pastor’s wives is making dessert. I know it will be delicious!  I bought (gasp) lemonade and really had to search to find one that didn’t have all sorts of gross stuff in it. I know, I should have made my own. But I just knew I wouldn’t want to be messing with that on the morning of the luncheon. It will be hard enough to keep the boys out of the dining room. 🙂  Next time, homemade lemonade, definitely.

~Janna

Fear.

When I was young, I used to be afraid of the darkness under my bed when I had to walk from the light switch by my bedroom door and my bed at night. The thought that something might be waiting under there to grab my leg seemed very real to me.  I got over it eventually.  I am pretty sure I am not going to deal with that fear again.  🙂

Before we ever went to Honduras as a family, Mr Darcy went by himself several times. I had some fears. I mean…hello? This is Central America. It’s scary. And my man doesn’t exactly blend in well at 6 foot 8. When he arrived home safely each time, I was able to relax a bit more. I took some scary thoughts captive.

When we went to Honduras as a family the first time, I had some fears that someone was going to kidnap my children. I really shouldn’t have watched that Denzel movie about kidnapping children in Central America the month before our trip. I got over those fears when my big, strong man was unable to be our tour guide as we walked the very crowded streets of Comayagua during Semana Santa due to an injury. I prayed hard that day, I’ll tell you.

The second time we went to Honduras, I was so glad to have had the experience of walking without my tall guy because I would up in another hotel from him for hours at a time – and I was alone with 12 children! We were hosting a retreat for missionaries and I was doing a Bible camp for the children while the parents were having worship and teaching. I felt strong. I felt brave. I was actually thankful for the experiences from the first trip.

Fear is creeping up inside me right now. There is fighting going on right across the border from me. Lots of fighting. Shootings all the time. They don’t care who they hit. It’s worse than the news reports tell. There is corruption. There is hatred. There is greed.  It’s not a peaceful place right now. Mr Darcy is going to travel several hours into the country. By car. And stay for a day and a half.

I keep reminding myself that someone who is not me is in control. I don’t have to fear what might happen. I have to trust. So really, the lesson for me is not about fear. It’s about who I trust and how much I really do trust. I have already figured out that putting my trust in myself is pretty dumb. I’m not that powerful. I’m going to be honest with you here. I’ve got some work to do.  I have learned that I can trust when the impossible is set before me. I can trust when people tell me it can’t happen. I can trust when it looks like trusting isn’t working.

I am going to choose trust. Because the outcome will always be good for me. It might not seem good, but it will always be good for me.

~Janna

Menu Plan Monday

Let me begin by saying that Mr Wonderful and I are on a DIET. Ugh. We overindulged whilst on our trip and need to get back to business in our eating. We enjoyed those road trip food items waaaaay too much. Can anyone say “Kolaches?”  So, you may notice some strangeness to the menu. We are doing the phase one of South Beach. Don’t tell me why it’s not good for you. It works for my man. He liketh the meats. He lost 19 pounds the last time we did the two week thing. Don’t ask how I did. It wasn’t 19 pounds, that’s for sure. It was a good jumpstart back into food reality. Also, don’t give me any grief about the Organic Pop Tarts. My sweet Mommy bought those for the guys last week and sent home two giant boxes of them. We are going to use them and pretend they are healthy, okay?  So here goes:

Monday

Breakfast- J:Mock Danish T: HB (Hard Boiled) Egg, cheese sticks, nuts  B(boys): Organic Pop Tarts

Lunch- J: Roll Ups, T: Staff lunch, B: Chinese Soup, Applesauce

Dinner- Pepper-crusted beef, steamed veggies, ice cream

Tuesday

Breakfast- J: Omelette, T: HB Egg, chz, B: Eggs and Toast

Lunch- J: Tuna Salad, T: Rollups, B: Rollups

Dinner-Chicken with Feta and Bacon, Salad

Wednesday

Breakfast- J: Cottage Cheese, T: HB Egg, Chz Stick, B: Pop Tarts

Lunch-J&T: Grilled Chicken Salad, B: Sandwiches

Dinner- Grilled Salmon, Veggies

Thursday

Breakfast- J:Mock Danish, T: HB Egg, Chz, B: Breakfast Cookies

Lunch- J&T: Rollups, B: Grilled Cheese, Applesauce

Dinner- Spaghetti , salad

Friday

Breakfast- Breakfast tacos (T and I will not eat the tortillas)

Lunch- J&T: Taco Salad, B: Meat and Cheese Burritos

Dinner- Barbeque Chicken, carrot sticks, Steamed Broccoli

Saturday

Breakfast- J&T Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, B: Pancakes

Lunch- Grilled Hot Dogs

Dinner- Beef Rouladen (Recipe at the end of this post), Salad, Steamed Veggies

Sunday

Breakfast- J&T Egg and Sausage Stackup (trying to pretend we don’t miss the biscuit part) B: Muffins

Lunch- Chicken Enchilada Bake (I am trying to use the Heavenly Homemakers recipe but use chicken instead of the beef-I’ll let you know how that goes)

Dinner- Leftovers…also known as serve-yourself-Sunday.

Gosh, I’m already sick of the eggs just from typing that 497 times. Yuck. It’s a good thing I hate breakfast. By the way, anytime you see sausage next to my name – don’t be thinking I am eating it. I hate sausage. Yuckola.

That’s all for today… anyone have any great south beach recipes they want to share?

~Janna

*Recipe for Rouladen*

GRANDMA SCHROEDER’S ROULADEN
Rump roast, have butcher slice 1/8″ thick, against the grain *
Salt and pepper
Bacon, raw, 1 piece per slice of meat
Small onion, minced, 2 1/2 ounces
Dijon mustard, optional

Spread each slice of beef with a little mustard, if using; season with salt & pepper. Top each with 1 slice bacon. Sprinkle with a little of the onion. Roll each up to form a meat roll. Secure with toothpicks or string (my Grandma often uses thread). Brown these well on all sides in a skillet, then place in a roasting pan. Cover pan and roast at 350º, just until you can smell them cooking; turn heat down to 300º. Roast 2 hours, turning them once to brown evenly. Usually the pan is then de-glazed with hot water and gravy is made from it, but I just serve it with the pan juices. Be sure to remove the toothpicks, string or thread before serving.

Number of servings will depend on amount of meat
Can be frozen

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