Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

I was out in the yard watching garage progress, when I noticed... Beauty and the Beast.  Just a funny, happenstance juxtaposition of 2 such unlike things!
That poor little rose bush has been struggling
to maintain its spot and keep on blooming
where it stood at the entry to a little orchard,
in the pre-house-building years.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Twosome Tuesday: Things I'd (try to) Do Differently, Part II

We left off last week in Twosome Tuesday: Things I'd Do Differently, Part 1 with #3 of the 6 things I thought I'd like to improve on in future weddings, so I'll go on from there...

4)  Timing.  The last few days it gets tough to keep up the consistent pace necessary to finish strong without a rush at the end.  Organization along the way is crucial.  Short on time and energy nearing Wedding #1, I started filling boxes with things we needed to take to the venue for the wedding and reception. However, they were filled as things were ready, not by how and where they'd be used on-site.  That meant kitchen, dressing, and reception items were all mixed up together.  

Princess Bossy took a couple of days before her wedding to enjoy friends and let some of her to-do list wait.  Spending the time with people was definitely more important.  But keeping up some discipline before and after, or delegating more tasks, may have prevented our heading out late on the day of the wedding...Which, in turn, may have left more time for her to oversee the reception decorations exactly the way she would've liked. 

We all survived and the weddings took place...and without big sacrifices or any real problems.  It just could have been a little more relaxed.  It might have prevented the brides second-guessing any little details about their special days.

5) Getting help.  I was warned.  (I do remember that, JC.)  Thinking that our family and a few of the kids' friends could do all that needed doing for set-up, clean-up, and keeping food and beverages flowing during the reception was naive.  

Thankfully, I could see that I was going to be in over my head for the Sassy/Steadfast wedding, setting up the buffet to feed the 40 people involved and attending, getting beverages and cake ready for reception guests, and also making sure the church youth were doing the tasks, as needed... all while hosting, visiting, and enjoying. 

So I put in a call to my dear friend, who had been asking how she could help, and who was happy to come early and take on a lot of the burden.  
Her husband joined her.  I felt badly that they spent the night running, but being wonderful people with hearts for helping, they insisted they enjoyed being a part of things more than just sitting.  They saved my night, from beginning to end.  I don't know what I would've done without them.  It was for their daughter that we made and decorated cookies last December, so where I surely didn't do it so I could be repaid, I feel good that we'd been able to help them, too.  
(That task described in 
10 Things Learned While Baking and Decorating 500 Cookies )

Princess Bossy has amazing friends who made ALL the food for her reception...And a feast it was.  Shrimp appetizers and 3 amazing main dishes: Salmon, Pork, and Filet Mignon. Also many salad options: Orzo-basil-cherry tomato, Carrot, Lemon Dill green beans, and Cucumber-fennel.  I am not doing the people or the dishes justice, but it was a table-full.  They made it, brought it, set it up, and cleaned it up.  A fantastic help.

Princess Bossy had the foresight to hire 2 young ladies to keep serving dishes filled, do some bussing, and with help from our kids, serve cake and the champagne for the toast to each table.  It worked pretty well and the price of the help was well worth it.

The reception ran behind and the time to clear out of the park-owned building came rushing upon us.  I'd say that about 3/4 of the crowd was still there when the ranger brought the racks for the tables and chairs.  This was not a venue that offered the option to pay more for an extra hour or two.  It was "Be out by 10 PM."  Period.  

The couple's get away was amidst a flurry.  As they headed toward the door, the room was being dismantled and cleaned right behind them.  The whole crowd ended up working together.  As the host, I found this a bit mortifying... as a tired Mother of the Bride, I felt completely blessed to be surrounded by such helpful and loving folks who thought nothing of pitching in to help.  It sounds a bit tacky to have the guests roll up their sleeves and help out.  But I don't think a one of them went away with that impression, or any negative reaction about how things occurred.  There was such a spirit of good-natured camaraderie.

The week after that wedding, 3 of my friends from junior high came over for lunch.  One of them mentioned how she'd had a lot of family and friends make the food for one of her daughter's weddings.  She called and asked certain people to make enough of their well-loved specialties to share.  Then she hired a chef for $200, who brought chafing dishes and kept all the cold things cold, the hot things hot, and kept things filled for serving, then cleaned up after.  I wish I'd talked to her a few months back!  What a grand idea.

6) Savoring the moments.  5 days after Princess Bossy's wedding, I sat watching our niece walk down the aisle at her wedding.  Tears rolled down my cheeks.  It's not that I was overly emotional about that lovely wedding, but I just sat there and realized I'd never get to see either of my older daughters do that again.  
I felt like, maybe, because I had so much on my mind, that the wedding ceremonies were a bit of a blur...I felt like I hadn't stopped and thought to really drink in the experience at the time.  

Maybe it was unavoidable.  Maybe it wasn't that the activity had me distracted.  It's probably more that, like any special moment in our kids' lives, it went so fast and only seems like a blur in retrospect.  Having a video is one of the things we gave up, due to budget.  Now I wish I had videos to watch over and over.  
All wedding photos by Mode Weddings
Thank goodness for their amazing photos.  The smiles in those pictures really tell the stories.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"The Kids Are Stripping!"

...But in a good way."  Hubby thought he was pretty funny.  And also decided he'd make a good blog post title writer.

In more prep for the garage project, part of the carport has to come down.  The roofing needs to be removed so we can get to the structure of the roof in order to dismantle it.  --OK, probably not "we."  I will be glad to watch, take pictures, report on the blog, and even make snacks and beverages.  But this is one part with which I think (I hope) I'll be no direct help, except for organization and clean-up underneath.  
I'm not even necessarily happy to watch at this point, because I don't like to see the kids working up on a roof...10 feet above the ground.  But they are confident, sure-footed, and careful.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hittin' the Sauce Again

Saturday snuck up on me, and Hubby and I had a staff gathering to attend.  We were supposed to bring a snack to share.  With no time to plan anything elaborate, and the grocery store nowhere near my path for the day, I looked through the kitchen for inspiration.

In the fridge I found a pound of cream cheese, and the Roasted Pineapple and Habanero Sauce I used for the Easy, Spicy, Crunchy, Baked Chicken Breast.  I also remembered I had another one, Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, still unopened in the pantry.  

So all of that, and one remaining bag of Crunchmaster (Gluten-free) Multi-Grain Crackers, meant spreads with crackers were our contribution to the party.

I cut the cream cheese into 2, 8-ounce rectangles. I spread each one a bit to make them thinner, so the ratio of cheese to sauce would be a little more balanced.  I also roughed up the surface, so it would hold more of the sauce on top.  Then I poured the sauces over, and tried to make them somewhat attractive.  I suppose a little garnish for decoration may have helped.                                                                                                                                           

No appetizer I've ever put together was any faster or easier than this one.  The party attendees raved about the spreads, especially loving the Raspberry-Chipotle option.  

I often think about what to make for such events days in advance and work to make something that will be special.  This is a classic reminder to myself that I can KISS...Keep It Simple, Silly.  (That's a little nicer than "Stupid.")  Everyone at the party was just as happy, and I wasn't rushed, nor did I leave the kitchen in a mess behind me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Easy, Spicy, Crunchy, Baked Chicken Breast

Robert Rothschild Farm
All Natural, Gluten Free
Roasted Pineapple &
Habanero Sauce
I was intrigued by a new sauce at Costco, knowing it was something Hubby would like.  The "Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce" sat in our pantry for several weeks... It'd occasionally catch my eye, and I'd briefly consider vague ideas of how to use it, but never did. 

When reorganizing the pantry to give Princess Sassy and Prince Steadfast their own shelf this week, I discovered it again, and decided to read the recipe offered on the back.  It was for tilapia, but I decided to make a couple of changes and use chicken breast instead.

It went together very quickly, and the result was a hit with the family.

Crispy Chicken Breast with Pineapple & Habanero Sauce

7 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
2 eggs
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
8 oz Panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat eggs in medium, shallow bowl, and mix in Ranch dressing. Pour the Panko crumbs into a similar bowl.  

Dip the chicken pieces in the egg/Ranch mixture, then coat in the crumbs.  

Place on a greased rack in a large roasting pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spritz with cooking oil spray (like Pam), if desired, to aid in browning.  
Bake approximately 35 minutes...Until internal temperature reaches 165-170 degrees. 
Pour the sauce on top of each piece, and serve.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Lost is Found...

Well, a couple of them anyway.  I was just telling Gardenweb Kitchen Forum friends that I had planted plenty of seeds for beets this year, but I could not find a one.  I think it was too dry when I planted.  But I was busy and have often underestimated the amount of moisture in our soil here, so I just figured, some will live and some won't....Thinking most would, and I'd have to thin them.  Weeks and months later, it seemed that NONE had.  I love beets, so it was a disappointment.

Today, though, I was watering, and finally figured I'd pull that odd weed out of the strawberry patch that I'd noticed last week.                                                                                                                                        
2 are better than none!  But still pretty sparse.

That 'odd weed' was actually 2 plants, and not weeds after all!  Just not the type of leaf for the beets I'd planted in previous years, so I didn't recognize it.  I do think these are the only ones, though.  I haven't pulled any similar 'weeds' and a quick search didn't reveal any more.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Card Language

Like 'sign language,' only different.  More literal.  As in pieces of paper that signify something.

Please Understand Me II
When it comes to relationships, including discipline, I am a doormat softy.  According to the personality test and additional pin-pointing surveys in the very interesting and in-depth book, Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey, with the rest of 1% of the world's population, I have the personality type referred to as a "Therapist."  I am a romantic who sees possibilities. I am a listener and encourager.  I am empathetic to a fault.   And, I HATE conflict.  Hate to be in it, hate to have it around me, and will avoid it like the plague. (I may also worry about getting the plague...)  So keeping everyone happy is my goal, and it's a pretty impossible task.  

It's also impossible to keep from making people unhappy, while also adequately disciplining sometimes argumentative or distracted children.  In the attempt to keep the peace between each child and myself, I was allowing some behaviors to get out of hand, resulting in an unpeaceful home, in general, with less respect among the members, and less cooperation with rules, chores, etc.

Thankfully, a new interest around our home and amongst most of the children opened my eyes to a new approach. The kids recently learned and developed a strong passion for soccer.  They discuss the play, the skills, the rules...and the penalties.  Since soccer has discipline they apparently respect,  I decided to take a cue from that activity and make sporting discipline of our lives in the home.

Soccer Referee Kit
Maybe I need the whistle, too!
The referee in a game of soccer hands out yellow and red cards to players guilty of infractions.  Which color they get depends on the level of the broken rule...Yellow is a warning card, and red is more serious. 

Prince Inventive said he was tempted to buy me an official referee's set of cards.  This showed me the kids were having a little fun with this new system, and 'getting into it.'  That definitely helps with willing cooperation and good attitudes about abiding to the rules.

I do think having an actual set of cards would help me.  After a few weeks, I find myself too readily slipping back into coercion and multiple reminders.  Flashing a card will eliminate the need for discussion, and will help limit my temptation to 'soften the blow' with warnings, when it's time for action instead.

This is a copy of what I gave the kids in explanation.  The black writing is the actual soccer rule, and the purple is the extra clarification for application to home life:

Red Cards – 3 days no computer, limited activities
1.                 Serious foul play (a violent foul) – Blatant disobedience
2.                 Violent conduct (any act of physical violence)
3.                 Spitting at anyone – Disrespecting parents
4.                 A deliberate handling offense to deny an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by any player other than a goalkeeper in his own penalty area – Not doing a job so others are kept from doing theirs.
5.                 Committing an offence that denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (informally known as a professional foul)   Preventing someone from being successful at a task or accomplishment
6.                 Using offensive, insulting or abusive language or gestures, including but not limited to certain distasteful words, but also name-calling, trash-talking, mean sarcasm directed at person/people  Anything that’s anti- Ephesians 4: 29
7.                 Receiving a second caution (yellow card) in one game – For one instance or one day.  Also, forgetting card restrictions.

Yellow Cards - 1 day no computer and limited activities
8.              Unsporting behaviour – Anti family support statements or behavior
9.              Dissent by word or action – Being asked more than once to do a job
10.          Persistently infringing the laws of the game – Questioning, arguing
11.          Delaying the restart of play – Skipping or delaying chores
12.          Failing to respect the required distance of a corner kick or free kick – Making more work for others
13.          Entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission – Forgetting rules/penalties regarding TV and computer use the first time
14.          Deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission Not finishing a task as assigned, or wandering away in the midst of a job

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Getting worse before it gets better...  

The excavator is coming next week to prep the ground for our new garage addition.  To clear the way, our beautiful end porch had to go, and all the wonderful detailing painstakingly constructed by Hubby and Prince Stoic with it...  The roof will stay and cover a section of the passage between house and garage.

Prince CuddleBunny is now more interested in using this exit
than ever before!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Twosome Tuesday: Things I'd Do Differently, Part 1

I have thought of 6 things (so far, anyway), that I would do differently after my experience with the 2 weddings we had this summer.

1)  Choosing colors, specifically for bridesmaids' dresses.  Not that this is something over which the mother of the bride has control, but I would encourage any bride not to set the wedding colors before seeing what's available in dresses, styles, and even napkins and plates, that she will like.  
When one hits the shopping mall with a preset "perfect" color in mind, it's not always easy to meet the dream.  As we shopped, we saw dresses and dresses the girls could have loved, if they were the 'right' color.  I kept thinking that if the color hadn't been chosen first, they could've fallen in love with dresses, and been happy to make the color work, too.  

If the color itself is that important, I would elect to head for the fabric store, find the color in fabric and get patterns for appropriate dresses.  It may seem like a time savings to shop and find ready-made dresses.  I can say that sure wasn't the case for either of our weddings.

2)  Invitations.  I have mixed emotions about having printed our own invitations.  It was great to personalize them, deciding our own wording and even adding a photo of the couple to Prince Steadfast's and Princess Sassy's.  With their wedding and reception, requiring 2 different types of invitations, and with Princess Bossy's small wedding, it only made economical sense to create our own....Maybe.  

It did cost more, per invitation, for smaller quantities of printed invitations, of course.  But when we had to buy 2 types for Bossy, after the first ones wouldn't accept the printer ink, and then with both, because of the square envelopes, we had to pay additional postage, the savings were decreased.  
--And they took a LONG time to print, since most home printers, ours included, are a little touchy and need the invitations to be fed, one at a time.  Also, they need constant supervision, since, for whatever reason, 40-some invitations will print just fine, then the next one will print half off the page.  

The other issue for me had to do with the invitation styles we bought from what was readily available.  When I was considering ordering custom printed invitations from, I made sure we'd have the classic, formal invitations with inner envelopes.  The options available at Michaels didn't offer a double envelope design.  I was sad about that, but thought maybe that was an unnecessary and out-dated concept, and decided to let it go.  I wish I would've thought that through more.

Image from
I think the lack of double envelopes caused some confusion, and possibly, hurt feelings.  It is customary, and good manners, to allow people to bring a guest to accompany them.  But you don't indicate that on the address, but usually, on the inner envelope.  The outside might be addressed to "Mr. John Smith," but the inside would say "John and guest."  This problem showed itself, especially for a member of the wedding party who had a girlfriend not close to the couple.  She felt 'not invited,' and he didn't know what to do, and was too shy to ask. It also would've been nice to be able to let older, widowed great aunts and uncles that they were certainly free to bring anyone they wanted who might drive them or keep them company.  It just isn't possible to contact everyone individually to let them know, and the inner envelope would've solved the problem quite easily.

3)  Dessert.  I have talked about this before on Two Thoughts on Wedding Cakes, Part 1 and Two Thoughts on Wedding Cakes, Part 2, so won't go into too much detail.  Again, not something the mother of the bride will have control over, 
but I will encourage the younger princesses when they marry to have whatever kinds of desserts they want and use a much smaller wedding cake, or to use a style of cake that employs several free-standing cakes instead of the tall tiers.  

I have given you enough to read today, so will continue this next week...

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