Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dirt: I am a snob

* This is a post that has been sitting in my edit box for months and I have been adding to it as thoughts occur to me. It's a little preachy. Be warned.*

I am a snob. There I said it. 
I am. People get my nerves. 
Before you get all crazy, let me explain.
I mean, people who pass the buck on their own personal responsibility.
That is not saying that I think I am perfect, far from it actually.
I am deeply flawed, but I am a work in progress.

I am a grass roots kind of girl. 
I think a lot of what is wrong with our country can be solved at home. Everyone who has a brain and a computer can figure most of this stuff out.  
Eating less chemicals, spanking our kids, suffering consequences
and putting our money where our mouth is.

Boom! Solved all our problems.

Eating is a big thing for me. I had an obese mother and I swore early in my life that I would never be fat. I have battled staying fit and I have had to lose a significant amount of weight (by my standards) three times (baby, baby, marathon).  I have spent a lot of time reading and learning about what makes us unhealthy via what we eat. Basically, I have educated myself.  I have read studies on eating chemicals and what they do to our brains and our bodies.


Based on that, I have made sure my family eats healthy foods that are either local, organic or hormone free as much as possible. We rarely eat fast food, soda is an occasional treat and my kids have never had a Twinkie. Ever.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cooking: I love Seth!

My head is swimming from all the Oscar news I have been reading on  the internets so this post is useless except to document what the foodies at Casa Swann will be eating this week.
My newest crush
Post Oscars Casa Swann Menu
  • baked chicken thighs, roasted broccoli,roasted carrots with grain mustard
  • baked meatballs, spaghetti squash with grape tomatoes, roasted eggplant
    • Butternut squash soup, kitchen sink salad
    • baked chicken legs, sauteed kale, black beans

Friday, February 22, 2013

Instagram Friday: My life on fast forward

life rearranged

Only one picture this week...
(Okay, two)...

One that makes me a little sad...

Daughters are growing up while I wrestle with things like writing letters about gun control, wondering how we are going to afford all the things we need like insurance, mortgages, and orthodontists.

Yesterday, they were this....

Now they are this...

Taller and growing wiser by the day.
 I sound like a mother.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gratituesday:Confessions of a lousy gardener

So, my  home girl Meg blogged an email that I sent her.
That makes a girl want to be responsible for what she writes. 
I mean, I tell my kids all the time to be careful what they text, Facebook, email because it can be altered and shared. 

Luckily for me, Meg is a good egg and I was on my best behavior.
So, today I am grateful for two things.
#1 Best Behavior 
I am a pretty simple girl. What you see is what you get, warts and all. I have a little bit of a filter, but not really much of one. I hate fake and I loathe having to act that way. Small talk, I am not that great. Telling  a funny story about how I made a fool of myself at the gym, that I have mastered. I give advice freely. I hate being told what to do and rarely listen if I feel you are trying to boss me around. I swear, I snort and am prone to interrupting.  I am judgmental and sometimes crass.

However, when I like you, admire you  or better yet adore you...I am true blue. 

Meg, I think the world of...she is funny, nice, a good friend to her friends and a little bit like me,
 I think. Smallish of filter.I am glad that she liked my advice, and even better that I didn't say anything embarrassing when I replied to her compliment and offer to help MY daughter decorate her room. I get where she comes from all too well, and knew that the offer was sent with love and not with territorial infringement.
 I replied on my best behavior.
#2 Friends
I have not taken very good care of my friend garden for the last few years. I have the same lame excuse that all parents use, I have been busy.  Lame. I also have been a little bit snotty and snappish to two of my truest and most loved friends. Horrible. 
Meg sent me a very sweet email about something else she read on my blog and at the very end of it said " I'd like to hang out with you more." Sock in the gut. 
A hand being offered when I myself have been a terrible friend. I told her God uses her to speak to me fairly often and I hope it did not freak her out. However, it is true. Little niggling reminders of how I should be acting come in various ways, some via Meg and her blog. 
So, I am thankful for all of my friends, especially the ones who offer to hang out with me after years of being a neglectful gardener. 
PS. Meg gets EXTRA points with me because she thinks my kids are cool. They are my garden I have been tending.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cooking: A Presidental Menu

President's day and all is right with the world. 
Or at least my household.
Delaney is back from her trip. Ellie is home and I am listening to them make biscuits together in the kitchen. Sigh. I love my kids.

My girls and a friend, just a month ago...they have already changed.

I had a weekend of getting things done. 
Painted Delaney's room and the 187 feet of trim around it.  Ellie and I volunteered at the Chattanooga Food Pantry as part of our Lenten plan to "give back".  They do a great service and I was amazed by what exactly goes on there. There is a lot of dignity preserved in their practices. Eye opening view into the hunger and poverty I rarely see. 

Our whole family went to hear music at our friend's hall and I heard on of my favorites
 and  found a new musician that I may become obsessed with love.  
BJ Hightower and Matt Bohannon, you made my Saturday night.
Thank you Stacey and Ken Crisp for providing a place we can
 take our kids to hear local, live music.
We drove out to see the farm that my parents are in the process of buying. Sunday was a gorgeous day and we tromped around on the 81 acres enjoying being outside. I am so thrilled for them and for me as well. Selfish as it is, I want them near. 
View from their driveway

Last night I watched the end of the 3rd season of Downton Abbey. 
Great show, but this season seemed a little rushed. Julian Fellowes, take a chill pill.

All in all, excellent weekend. My husband burned a fire in our fire pit all weekend, I checked off items off my never ending list, we hung out with my parents and I finally finished a room in my house. Check, check!

(Sports gear up again this week, but today we are off...of school, work and extra curiculars)

Casa Swann Here's to You, Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Washington Menu

  • Beef chili
  • Paleo acorn squash./vegetarian acorn squash
  •  Grilled chicken/ veggies  with  pita and Greek Salad
  • Paleo chicken stew/ butternut squash soup 
  • Tacos

Friday, February 15, 2013

Insta-Friday: A week in photos

life rearranged 

Linking up again with The Pleated Poppy and Life Rearranged...If you want to see some talented bloggers, check out those ladies and their followers! Or better yet, link up yourself!

Friday, Friday....FRIDAY!

The week has flown by! 
It's amazing how fast days go when you are busy.

My oldest has had quite the week for sure. 
Friday, she went to the Mardi Gras dance at school. Adorable group of super smarties. 
 These are your future senators, scientists and Academy Award winning actors and playwrights. 

The rest of her week consisted of getting ready for and going on her 8th grade trip. That is a shock to the system, for sure. Your baby that only a few short years ago you were still tying her shoes going off on a bus and staying in a hotel without you. For posterity, I took a photo of her still looking like the middle schooler she still is.
While one girl was dancing, the other was partying at a friends house and Steve and I got to double date with my parents. We went to a funky-cool brewery (Shout out to Moccasin Brewing Company) for drinks and then to dinner at Chatto Brasserie  which has become one of mine and Steve's favorite restaurants. We usually sit at the bar and act like we don't  have kids. 

Saturday was a whirlwind of picking  up kids and dropping them somewhere else, only to pick them up again. I got a lot accomplished as I hit the ground running with a delivery at 8 a.m., then groceries, Target, and the first pick up all before 11.  I don't know about you, but grocery shopping makes me feel like my life is one groundhog day after the other. 
 The plan was to drop one kid off at lacrosse practice and then workout myself. Did not happen. Instead, to celebrate Mardi Gras, I made my yearly King Cake from scratch. I left it to rise while I went to Mass, thinking I would be gone an hour tops. Nope! The Bishops Appeal made my cake rise for almost two hours It was a beast! I am only sorry I didn't think to take a picture.Still tasted delicious, just was enormous.

Steve and I got the tour of Ellie's classes on Wednesday morning, meeting all her teachers and seeing her day through her eyes. She loved showing us around, and impressed us with a very straight locker. 

Valentine's Day was the day after Ash Wednesday, which I think is totally unfair. I gave up sweets as a last minute addition to my Lenten sacrifice. My sweet husband bought me a sack full of deliciousness that I cannot eat. However, I did get to share the morning with my baby girl, who  is indeed the most stylish in our house. I wish I had gotten a picture of her cool shoes as well. she was styling for Valentine's day.

Once again we were without kids, so last minute tacos and live music was our Valentine's day. We are not really high pressure Valentine people, choosing instead to celebrate each other every day. You don't get through 18 years of a relationship putting lots of pressure on "special days".  We were lucky enough to hear one of the coolest local musicians (she is one of the only people who makes me miss my twenties)  at one of the most beautiful venues in town, Lindsay Street Hall.  Check her out,  Tiffany Taylor is literally the coolest chick around.

The pets took advantage of the sun the last two days to max and relax, but nothing beats this dog mad skills for getting sunshine and seeing the world. Something about this just cracked me up.

Speaking of mad skills or at least mad...
This weekend is going to be dedicated to projects. Today I am painting Delaney's room and then tomorrow I will paint the baseboards in hers and Ellie's rooms. The daunting task has been psyched up in my mind. I keep telling myself " It will only hurt for a moment, it will only hurt for a moment". I hate painting. 

Hope  your weekend is awesome.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!
Here's a few of my favorite Valentines...

Dr. Suess expressed the perfect take on love and finding a Valentine.  
Perfect   as in that this could have been my wedding vows.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dirt: Lent

A Lenten Prayer
Fast from judging others; feast on Christ in them.
Fast from wanting more; feast on being thankful.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from complaining; feast on enjoyment.
Fast from negatives; feast on positives.
Fast from stress; feast on prayer.
Fast from anger; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from fear; feast on truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from gossip; feast on silence.
Fast from fighting; feast on peace.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with your presence
so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work.

--Adapted from A Lenten Prayer by William Arthur Ward
As I begin Lent, I am hopeful for a rejuvenation of my spirit, similar to what happens when you fast. Calmness of spirit, focus on faith and God, realignment of the balance in my life of peace and patience versus turmoil and frustration.
Best wishes to you on your Lenten journey.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gratituesday: Fat Tuesday

I am sure everyone is sick of hearing about Mardi Gras and how much I love it. is the last day.

Tomorrow starts Lent and a season of reflection, moderation  and sacrifice. 

TODAY is Fat Tuesday.

I love the name. Shrove Tuesday just doesn't sound the same. Fat Tuesday is the last day of whatever you are giving up for Lent.  The day you wear  your beads and mask.  The day you get serious about Lent and what will be your Lenten promise.

I used to give up french fries as I love them so much

My mom and I were talking about what we were going to do/ give up for Lent. She likes to give things up as that prompts her reflection of Lent and it's meaning. I haven't given anything up for years, but have chosen to do something instead. 

This year, my Lenten promise is to pray the rosary with my kids on the way to school once a week.  This is not a huge thing, but I feel that it will benefit my kids as much as it benefits me. Praying together is a way to share our faith and make them comfortable, hopefully sharing with others.

So, today I am grateful for Mardi Gras day 2013. 
Now to go find some fries....


Monday, February 11, 2013

Cooking: Happy Mardi Gras!

It's Mardi Gras!
Time for partying and last minute decadence before we hit the long desert of Lent.
My favorite thing about Mardi Gras is the party.  I used to have huge ones. After I had kids, we even had floats! This year it has been a little less party, but the sentiment is still the same.

I made a GIANT king cake  this year (I left it for it's second rise while I was at Mass and Mass ran about 30  minutes longer than I had expected)and promptly ate half of it. Yep, I literally ate about 4,000 calories of cake between Saturday and Sunday.  Enjoyed every second of it. I mean, I make it once a year and damn if I am not going to enjoy it!

Steve made jambalaya and once I find his recipe, I will post it. But suffice it to say, it makes about 103 servings and so we are having it for dinner tonight.

Happy Mardi Gras to you! 

 Mardi Gras/Lent Week at Casa Swann Menu
  • Jambalya
  • Beef/ Kale enchiladas
  • Kitchen Sink salad (Ash Wednesday)
  • Valentines Day...Chicken Cacciatorre for my one true love

This is hands down THE best king cake in all the world. I have had them from Mississippi and Louisiana bakers and I have to say, this recipe is way better. Save yourself the $75 and make this one.  Just be ready to eat it all!

Friday, February 8, 2013


life rearranged

The week started off with a bang. Our oldest daughter celebrated her Rite of Confirmation
I am so proud of her, as it was her personal choice. She has also decided she wants to serve the church by becoming a lector in Mass. Reading in front of the entire congregation will be a good fit for her, I think as she has a BIG voice in a small body. The Bishop gave an excellent homily and was quite the joker when it came to take photos with all the kids. He asked the girl in front of Delaney what she wanted for Christmas! 

My parents and sisters came into town and we had a good, but short visit. 
We got one shot with all of our eyes open. I miss them terribly and wish we all lived in the same town. Running errands with my sisters would be a riot.

 Steve's best friend from college came into town. He's Delaney's godfather and is a great  (if quirky) guy. Steve wanted to show us a "rock" that fell on a trail we hike on sometimes. That is how he described it, a rock.  So my sister Jennifer, Delaney, Steve, Dan and I went for a very quick hike (Jennifer had to catch a plane in Nashville). Karen stayed home with Ellie and I am sure they chatted like magpies the entire time. So freaky how much they are alike.

 Here is the "rock" which actually split in half on the way down and took out about 5 trees and took all the dirt with it. NOT small at all.

 The week was pretty calm for Casa Swann. We took it fairly easy and were home every night except Tuesday by 4pm. Which was refreshing from our usual home by 6ish. The girls are between sports right now, so homework got done early and we all relaxed. 


 I did a lot of piddling with computer things. My partner and I are having our last consignment sale after 10 years of being in business together. I am writing a manual for her to edit, as we are planning on selling the business. Hard to imagine right now.

 My favorite Tervis tumbler got used a lot for hot tea and coffee  because it was cold and damp here most of this week. And this little girl kept me company.  She was all ears for my ideas.

What did you do this week?  Share your week and check out everyone else's cool life over at

life rearranged

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Exercise: My break is almost over

Running became an addiction for me for a few years.
I ran a 5k, then a 15k, a few 10ks and then a marathon.I over trained for the marathon and ended up injured about mile 16 and walked the last 10 with the thought of " It's only 10 more miles." My pre-runner self would have rolled her eyes.

After the marathon, I was really hooked. I started running every race in town, just for the shirt. For awhile, my favorite distance was half marathon. I even ran one with a broken toe in the rain! I ran the Ragnar Relay (twice!) I organized and was race director for a 5k which is still in existence here in Chattanooga. 
Running was my "thing" that I had searched for all my life.
Then, I started having knee problems and dreading having to go run to train for whatever race I had signed up for. Running became a chore.  So, I stopped cold turkey. Not running has been great. My knees don't hurt, I don't feel guilty that I am not running, and I have had the same shoes for a year! 
But, lately, I have started missing it. Maybe just a little. Especially on those days when it is warm and sunny. And when I see blonde women running with cute pink shoes. I feel the siren song. Just a little.

So, I set a date to return to "my thing". March 15th. A Friday, five days before the first day of spring, two days before Saint Patrick's day, two weeks before Good Friday. 
I will put on my new running shoes (I am looking for bright aqua!) and my new running shorts and hit the road. This time, however, I am not doing it for a shirt or a medal. I am doing it to be outside in the warm sunshine and for the love of running and sweating. 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gratituesday: All of it

There are so many things about this video that gets me going.
The song is a song from my childhood. I went to several tent revivals as a child. Yep, old school tent revivals with a tent, paper fans and preachers yelling and preachin'. 

This song is also a "New Orleans" song. I love New Orleans like a second home. I honeymooned there, took my kids to Mardi Gras, have been to Jazzfest a few times and just have a love for it I cannot express with words. 

And, these bands are some of my very favorites. I have seen all but one of them and hopefully will see Edward Sharpe this year. The music that they play charge my batteries for days and days after I have seen them live and pump me up when I listen on my iPod. 

So, today, on a gloomy winter's day, I am grateful for all of it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cooking: Down time week

The weekend came and went. 
Too fast as always. 

Confirmation was lovely. Company was great.
 We went to see the McCallie/GPS talent show, which is like going to America's Got Talent, it is so professional and well, talented. One of our dearest friends performed and was amazing. As I sat and watched her I couldn't help but think of how shy she was just four years ago, and here she was on stage singing!  She was a finalist and I foresee huge things for her.

Finalists ready for the voting!

This week is a reprieve from our busy schedule. I plan on getting some more projects done around the house and just recharging my batteries from the last few weeks.

Down time Casa Swann Menu
  • Chicken and tomato soup (from the freezer)
  • Spaghetti squash casserole (veggie)
  • Pa Nang Curry 
  • Black bean and sweet potato quesadillas   

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Whatever: The List, February

 February is already making herself known. In my neck of the woods, January went out with a roar of tornadoes and flooding. February brought her cool and cute self calmly in with a blast of cold air and sunshine. We are cold here this weekend at Casa Swann, but we are happy. This Sunday my oldest daughter makes her Rite of  Confirmation, a path she sought out on her own. I personally feel confirmation and the rest of the Catholic rites, should be achieved with your own free will and heart. You must decide how you will celebrate your faith in God.
I was a busy girl in January. Cleaning out closets, looking around town for a rental space for our last Little Piggies sale, working, painting, etc. were attacked with the gusto that I feel at the start of a new year.  Lots of prayers have been lifted up as I struggle to find my place and watch my children grow and find their own. 
We are all growing and working towards goals. My husband has hiked dozens of miles with 6 bricks in a backpack training for an event he will do in June. He never ceases to amaze me.
I miss these old school Valentines.
2013 is starting off as a year of reflection and hopefully personal growth. 
AND a year of checking things off. 
My lists keep me on track. 

  1. Cut the laziness out of our family's life: This is actually working! I hide Facebook on my phone, took iPads away from bedrooms, and we still don't have cable. Family time is evolving slowly.
  2. Stop cursing: As my daughter likes to remind me, I am not doing so *&^% good.
  3. Drink more water. Check. Started filling up a water for the car.
  4. Be a better friend: I have gotten lazy in my friendships and my mental status shows it.  Step one of my plan is to call or text my friends when I think of them. If you are hearing from me a lot more lately, you now know why.
  5. Put myself out there for God. Lots of prayers and the light is emerging....YIKES
  6. Read  100 books. 5 down, 95 to go!
  7. Do a creative project a month. Working on a wine themed project. Crocheting still on table.
  8. Exercise with a purpose.  5 workouts a week, but no spin yet. However, I am seeing change, very very slow change.
  9. Teach my baby girl to cook.  We made cookies!
  10. Go back to school. Summer or fall.
  11. Finish our list of house projects.Ellie's room got painted. Boom.
  12. Organize my stuff. Cleaning out closet is scary, but I have taken 3 bags to charity.
  13. Stick to a financial plan to pay off all our debt by 2018.  Work in progress.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Jumping on this bandwagon over at Life Rearranged.

I am linking up to the party.
I love Instagram. Who doesn't?
That is the app that makes your boring life seem a little fancier.
Sunday, I was feeling under the weather with a stomach and headache. I was craving some broccoli soup and so I made the simplest soup ever. Basically it was onion, broccoli, garlic, broth, salt, pepper and a little Greek yogurt at the end.  That and some homemade biscuits and a Sherlock Holmes movie did me right.

We finally had a few days of sun after what felt like 40 days of rain.
This was my view after dropping my kids off at school. beautiful sunrise.

 An era ended for one of my kids this week. Middle school swimming. 
She grew a lot in the last three years.

 Ever since my Sadie girl died 4 years ago, I have been religiously looking at Jacks online.
Waiting for one to tell  me it is time to come and pick her up.
This was one looks like it might love me, but she did  not speak to me.

The weekend is here! So happy!