Monday, August 27, 2012

Eating: I married a craftsman

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you are probably tired 
of my crowing about my husband.
Too bad.

I married a true peach.The best one out there, as far as I am concerned. He makes me laugh,is my very best friend, and is not afraid of failing. He built a table for me this past week.
 Literally built it.With his hands. And some tools. He hadn't built anything before. But, he got online and read up on how to do the job.
He took apart our old table.

You served us 11 long years,old friend.

Bought some new boards, stripped the legs, created an eco friendly stain and VIOLA! New table.
I have wanted a farmhouse table for years and now that our kids are older and "less" destructive, I now have one.

So excited to eat dinner around it tonight.
Hello, new friend.

Now, onto chairs...

Swann Family Farmhouse Table Menu

  • Grilled whole chicken legs, roasted summer veggies
  • Quiche/ Kitchen sink salad
  • Chicken Noodle soup/ tomato soup
  • Cobb Salad
  • Tailgate party---

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday fun fact #1's Friday!

I have always felt that Friday's are special, almost like a holiday.  On Friday's my husband works only til noon and then the partying begins. Well...not really partying, but the weekend officially starts and I love that we get to kick ours off a few hours earlier than most of our friends. Like we are special.

Not as special as they...the weekend is 365 days a year for them.

So, in the spirit of the fun that starts at Casa Swann on Friday....
I am officially dubbing my posts Friday Fun Fact day. 
Some are meant to make you laugh and some to enlighten. I get bonus points if I do both

Here is the inaugural fun fact:

 A little background first.I love The SEC. In my opinion, there is no real football in our country except in the SEC. We are the toughest, we play the toughest schedules, we have thugs and Mannings alike on our teams, and Coaches like Phil "The Great Pumpkin" Fulmer, Steve "visor thrower" Spurrier and Nick Saban (who I hate, unless Tennessee bribes him away from Alabama, then I will name my next dog after him.) Face it, we rock.

Now,  my pre-teen favorite team is now joining my favorite conference. You guessed it, I was an Aggie before I was a Volunteer.
YOU BET! Friday Fun Fact is:
 The "Gig Em" was the very first hand signal of the Southwest conference and was started in 1930 when Texas A&M played the  TCU Horned Frogs (How'd you like to be a Horned Frog?). * Pretty interesting, right? Well, the SEC is a conference of toughness and characters. The Aggies are gonna bring it when they join us this fall. Texas has it's fair share of characters and I for one love that they are sharing with the rest of us.

I will be watching closely this season as my two teams take their stand in the best conference in the country.  All I have to say is...

And Gig 'Em AGGIES! Football season will be fun this year.

* Info found here

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Exercising: For real?

My goal of keeping an exercise log failed. 
Probably because the exerciser failed to exercise.

I have started again, however and this week, I am on a roll.

I ran Monday, did crossfit yesterday and today.

Yes, I do crossfit. I do  not GO TO a crossfit gym. I do it at home, sometimes. I am not a fan of the competitive smack talk that goes on and causes people to hurt themselves trying to back up the swagger. However, I was a little curious. SO...
This week, I decided to check my WOD against the others who read the blog I sometimes use for ideas. Just to see how I ranked. And, I was middle of the road. Which made me feel a little better than slug like.

Why do we compete? I am not sure. Usually, I try to beat myself and anyone my husband compliments. But that is a dangerous way to be. I am me. I am me, not the girl who mountain bikes like a maniac or the girl who is 15 years younger than me and weighs 80 pounds and definitely not the 70 year old who would kick my butt around the block. I am the one who has to live with my aching collapsed disk and who has to look in the mirror at my lack of muscle tone after 7 weeks of slacking. I am the one who has to deal with being hungry in the middle of the night because I talked myself into no lunch.

Me. The one who likes to be strong and fit and sexy to my husband. The one who finally will be seen in a bathing suit around friends.

So, I started keeping my log again and I posted my bare minimum on my bathroom mirror. I put my running shoes on every morning. And, I have a glass of wine every  night.

Here are some of the blogs I read for inspiration :

* This one has some hoochie looking outfits, but the workouts ROCK!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gratituesday: Prayer

Everyday, I pray for the same things.
I think God must think I am so boring and whiney.

I pray for my sisters and their familial needs. I pray for my girlfriends and their journeys.
I pray for my parents, that they always be safe as they bump along in their bus.
I pray for my kids, the strength to raise them, the wisdom to raise them well, and the courage to be a strong Catholic mom. And I ask for forgiveness (lots and lots of forgiveness.)

Those things. Every. Single. Day.

God knows my heart, even when I don't vocalize the matters therein.
But, talking to Him daily, boringly is a true joy. 
My thoughts are unscrambled. My nervousness about my family is eased. 
My grip on trying to hold it all together is relaxed, just a little bit. 
My unraveling stalled momentarily.


I believe in prayer. I believe it works. 
Sometimes, not in the way we want it to. Sometimes not when we think it should. 

God answers prayers. 
We lose people we ask Him to keep alive. We don't get jobs we want.
But we are humans and our scope is microscopic. We can't see what is coming up. 
We don't realize in the moment the damage a person might have to live with if they continue living. 
Our minds only know our current wants, we cannot see what lies ahead.

However, I have seen miracles.
I  have felt God's hand on mine as I struggled with my journey.
I know He listens and measures. 

So, daily, I whine and bore God with my needs and requests. 
I ask for guidance in matters small and large. He calms my fears and holds me in His hands. 

Those conversations are the best part of my day sometimes.
For them, I am grateful.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cooking: A week of normalcy

This is it.
The week we get back to normal.
Well, we'll see.

House is somewhat finished.
We have a few projects to finish, but for the most part we are done with what we started the past 6 weeks. My company has left. *Sigh. Kids are back in school and I have a schedule that I can follow that enables me to workout AND work.

So without further to do...

The "Back to Normal"Casa Swann menu

My sister was here this weekend (both were actually) and I cooked the pork for dinner. Was smart and made TWO so dinner is made for Monday. Laundry and tagging for my consignment sale will get done tomorrow! # Smart mommma!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dirt: What I am doing today

I am going on a date today.

A fun date, that has been planned for months.

I am going on one of my favorite kinds of dates. 

My husband and I are going to hear music.
We have always been huge fans of live music. Both of us. 
When we started dating it was one of tho mutual loves that we bonded know one of those  "You love that too? " moments.

So we have spent many, many hours and dollars going to hear music. We are lucky that we live in a town with a thriving live music scene and two hours either way from two of the biggest concert towns. So, music we get.
Music speaks to both of us. It lifts us and carries us through and speaks to our soul. I can walk into the house with a song stuck in my head and within minutes, Steve is singing it too, and vice versa.
Music, as cheesy as it sounds, connects us. 

Today, we are going to a new town to hear several bands we really love and my personal favorite singer/songwriter who happens to hail from one of my hometowns.

Will be a wonderful date day, for sure. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reading: Heading for the high road ( a hypocrite's confession)

I know I am one of  more than a  handful of women that will NOT be reading 50 Shades Of Gray. 
I know this because I asked my facebook friends and most of the ones who replied said they were not reading it, some with a resounding NO!

I am not against this book, or any book for that matter. I read a few of the Cinderella series in the 90's when I was in my early twenties, and I am certain they are along the same lines. 
But the difference is this. I am a lot a little older, and I have two teen or almost teen daughters.
The perspective makes me realize that I am into heavier kinds of books.  Not that I don't love a cheesy "Chick lit" once every two or three books. I do. But I also want to use reading to make my mind a more fertile place. And, I am fighting the fight all parents face, which is how soon to let my daughters mature.  PG-13 is still up for discussion. And so, it is hard to make the argument that a movie about teenage "hooking up" is not suitable when I am reading a book about bondage and using sex as a weapon. Pure in heart and mind is how I am trying to raise them. It's a hard enough road without adding my own stumbling blocks.

So, I am not reading it. Plus, I think the fact that it is being referred to as a"grown up Twilight" is reason enough for me. I wanted to strangle Bella when I read those books to make sure they were okay for my daughter. But as it is everywhere and comments about it run rampant on Pinterest and Facebook, I am sure I will be having a discussion about it very soon.

Instead, I am continuing on with my list. 
Happy Friday. Hope you get to do whatever you want, especially if it is reading a book. 
In the words of Louisa May Alcott:
" She is too fond of reading and it has turned her brain."

                                                                                       Source: via Ceri on Pinterest

The List of Books, 2012 edition
  1. Unbroken
  2. The Hours
  3. All the Devils are Here
  4. Boomerang
  5. Sarah's Key
  6. The Sound and the Fury
  7. Ulysses
  8. The Omnivore's Dilemma
  9. Middlesex
  10. Bossypants
  11. The Grapes of Wrath
  12. In Defense of Food
  13. The Poisonwood Bible
  14. The Paris Wife
  15. The Pillars of the Earth
  16. Kisses From Katie
  17. What the Dog Saw
  18. Wuthering Heights
  19. Steve Jobs
  20. Atlas Shrugged
  21. True Prep
  22. A Simple Path
  23. In the Garden Of Beasts
  24. The Complete Idiots Guide to Understanding Islam
  25. Jane Eyre
  26. Stern Men
  27. Van Gogh: The Life
  28. Wolf: The Lives of Jack London
  29. Salvage the Bones
  30. Delta Wedding

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Food: Stuffed poblanos recipe

I spent a large a fair amount of time surfing the 'net looking at food.

I really enjoying reading about foods that people cook. I have picked up several new techniques by doing this, including cooking a very juicy chicken breast on the grill (indirect heat) and pulling the pit out of an avocado the easiest way (hacking into it with the knife). My newest skill is roasting peppers. 

Being from Texas, I love peppers. Spicy, smoky peppers are my very favorite and I took it for granted that all Mexican restaurants serve #1 Tex Mex food and #2 Vegetarian stuffed poblano peppers. WRONG on both accounts. The Mexican food in Tennessee is okay. It is very hard to find true Mexican food and even harder Tex Mex. 

So, when I found a bumper crop of peppers in my garden, I decided that is what I would make, my favorite, stuffed poblanos. However, the peppers of my childhood are stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried. Delicious, but a night of insomnia waiting to happen.

So, I got on the internets and read about how to roast the perfect pepper and I created this recipe.

Tanya's Stuffed Poblano Peppers

6 large poblano peppers. De-seeded*
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large zuchini diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large garlic clove, diced*
2 Tbl. Alchemy Southwestern Spice or southwestern spice of your choice
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to broil. Place peppers split side down on a cookie sheet and roast for approximately 12 minutes or until they start to turn and blister. Turn oven down to 400 and cook for about 5 minutes longer. You don't want them to completely blacken, but you want them to be roasted. While you are roasting peppers, chop and diced vegetables can combine all except onions and garlic in a large bowl. In a pan over med. heat, cook onions, seasonings, and garlic until translucent. Be careful not to burn garlic (I add it in the last minute or so). Add to veggie mixture, combine,adjust salt and pepper and allow to sit at room temperature to combine flavors.  Once peppers are roasted, remove from cookie sheet and place slit side up in baking dish, making sure there is enough room for each, but that they are touching. Fill with veggie mixture and sprinkle with feta cheese. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. Serve with sliced avocado. YUMMO!

* Seeds can be removed easily by cutting round top of pepper and slicing 3/4 lengthwise down. Remove all seeds and membranes. 
* I use jar garlic. Easy and potent.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gratituesday: foods of summer

Back in business.
My kitchen,that is.

After several weeks of things being  not where they are supposed to be,
we are almost back to normal.
Garden is kicking!
So, this week to celebrate, we are eating.

Lots of delicious home cooked meals.

I am fortunate that I like to cook as much as I like to eat.  I am not sure which I like more, to tell the truth. I am also very fortunate that my husband will eat whatever is put before him, without complaining. He is a champion of non- pickiness.
But, he also loves really good food, so that inspires me to be a good cook as well.
My kids are good eaters, one being a foodie of sorts and the other being, well, a second child.
She hates spicy foods and doesn't really care for shrimp or cantaloupe. Weirdo.
I have had a strict policy since they were babies of eating 5 bites of whatever is put before them. No special meals, no catering to one kid (except the spicy thing), no chicken nuggets everyday. That works for some families, but not for ours. I want adventurous children who will be gracious guests. Yes, they don't like certain things. Yes, the youngest will ask for other things when she can get away with it (like when she  is at my sister's house). But,  you have to try it. 
Except for peas. I hate peas, so peas are not served at Casa Swann.
This policy has allowed both of them to have a wider palette than most kids. Meaning we can go eat Indian or Thai on vacation.

But I digress. 

The kitchen is open for business. It is summertime and the living's easy.
And the veggies are bountiful. And I am grateful for my kitchen and my family of eaters.
This weeks Eating High Menu
stuffed poblano peppers (from my garden), Tex Mex burgers, sauteed kale
grilled corn crust pizzas with pesto, goat cheese and chicken
Sloppy Joes, roasted green beans with balsamic mushrooms, sauteed kale
Black bean and goat cheese quesadillas and sauteed kale
PS. I am still in love with the Olympics. Every second is so exciting. GO USA women's soccer rematch against Japan!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dirt: My list is back

After a seriously long month...July is over.
I am both a little sad and a little glad.
Sad because summer is my favorite season, bar none. I love heat and flip flops and gardening and...
well, all of it.
But also a little glad because July was construction and grief.

We are almost (fingers crossed) done with the construction. At least inside our house.
We are almost back to normal, or at least normal for my house.
Art is almost all back
This is normal at my house

So, I am starting August with a list.
The rest of the year will be gone in a flash and there are things I still want to accomplish.
So without further adieu...
Rest of 2012 Carry Me Through Gotta Get It Done List
  • Read the remaining 22 books on my list of want to reads this year
  • Get my kids to eat more protein for breakfast
  • Do my "Powers of a Positive Mom" daily Bible readings. 
  • Exercise 5 days a week and keep a journal
  • Finish the construction inside: counter tops, closet doors, paint trim and ceilings
  • stain deck
  • replace columns on front porch
  •  Finish Christmas shopping by October 31
  • Get a hobby
  • Organize my office
  • Clear clutter (sell or purge unnecessary items)
  • Get my kids to stop eating in the living room

That is enough for now. August will be busy with pre back to school sleepovers and actual back to school, end of summer guests and final summer meals.
Ah, summer...I love you. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dirt: My mother.

I am not sure where to start.

 My mother passed away two weeks ago very unexpectedly. My sister called to tell me she was in the hospital  and 24 hours later, she was gone. I drove to Murfreesboro to be with Karen at the hospital and to tell my mother goodbye. The whole experience was surreal. 
There was no will or even discussion, at least while we were adults of plans. 
We had to decide about very adult things like quality of life and funerals.

My sisters and I all had different relationships with my mother.
My was tense and difficult to say the least. We had not spoken in months and what communication we did have was via email, which was easier for me.
However, she was my mother and when I was little, she was a very good one.  She taught me silly songs, introduced me to my love of music and musicals, and made me my favorite meal on my birthday (Lima beans and cornbread) and tolerated the way I played with Barbie dolls -ripping off their heads repeatedly. I was a weird kid to say the least, but my mother never made me feel like I was.

My just younger sister, Karen was closer and she is truly bearing a heavy grief. She lost not only her mother, but also the grandmother to her children and indeed a friend. Picking up the phone  to chat is no longer an option and that is devastating to her.  My baby sister, Jennifer is a champ and her relationship, though strained like mine, was stronger.
We all have mothers. As women, our relationships are complicated as we grow up and try to find our identity apart from our mothers. I watch as my daughters try to emulate my behavior and break away at the same time. Mothering is not easy.
My mother was not a great mother.  However, she gave birth to three really dedicated and awesome mothers. We have all learned from our  childhood experiences and have taken the great qualities that she had and made them our own.
My mother was a good listener and could help solve any problems that were not her own.
She also had a razor sharp quick wit that truly was unique and she was very silly. The last two qualities helped her get through the tough times in her life, many of which were caused by her lifelong depression.

I see all of these in my sisters and me.
We all are silly, and humor carries us through the difficulties we face in our lives as mothers, wives and human beings.Both of my sisters are great listeners who can make you feel like your problems are the only ones they care about. We all share the wit in varying degrees, but the sharpness is mine. Whether that is good or not is to be debated, but it is my inheritance and I see it in both of my daughters as well.

Grief is a sneaky bastard. You think you feel one way about something and then BAM! Grief sneaks in and opens up doors that have been closed for years. You think you have dealt with the situation at hand and then WHAM-O! Grief sneaks back and starts the cycle over again. Lovely.

So, as the weeks move on and we tie up loose ends, we will hopefully move onto pleasant memories and the heavy burdens we are carrying now will be lightened. Our hearts will remember her as funny and caring and forget about the things that caused us strife.

She was our mother and she will be missed.