Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dirt: Prancericise Yourself to Happiness

After that whiny post, I can imagine what anyone who read it must think of me. Whiny, self pitying, narcissistic... and lately that would be correct.

But I am turning that around.  After my crying vent, I realized I need to be learning. I am a learning kind of girl who needs a challenge to keep me moving forward. So, I am starting piano lessons in January! We have a baby grand that gets no love, so I am gonna be the one to show some love.

I am trying to have an open mind and heart, saying "YES"! To  things that come my way this month (I did  say no to big wheel racing yesterday, which I regret). I am a work in progress for sure. However, I am getting there.

Yesterday, I Prancercised  a mile race in costume with Steve. I have not laughed like that in months. Between the prancing and laughing, I could barely breathe. The effect was awesome, even freeing, since I was in front of hundreds of people!

All I can say is if I can continue to laugh at myself,  I think I am off to a great month!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dirt:Poor Little Me

I have a confession to make. I sat in bed last week and cried my eyes out. I was sharing with my husband how lonely I am. Truly lonely. Like when I moved to town and had no friends. This was a hard burden to share.  After all, it is one of my own creation.

The truth is, my life revolves and has for some time around my girls. Friends were made with them as the common link. Now, everyone, including me is busy with teenagers and helicoptering.  We are getting them out the door and ready to leave the nest, leaving little time for ourselves. Most of my girlfriends are in the same boat, I think. Or maybe it is just me.

I have a solitary job. I have solitary hobbies and I am turning into a solitary person. I am reverting to my natural introverted self and it is depressing.  The solitary life  burden bore the proverbial straw the other night with an offhand comment by my husband, meant to be funny.

I am swimming in self pity right now and it is starting to feel pretty selfish. Getting it out of the darkness of my interior conversations and into the light felt pretty good.

What am I to do?

Not really sure. Poor me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dirt: Weird

Hope your weekend was lovely. Mine was rushed, but very good. I cleaned my house, drove to Murfreesboro to see my sisters and then had  Steve's college roommate here for 24 hours.

Seeing my sisters is always great. However, this time was so rushed, I really felt discombobulated after.. My sister had her house decorated for the holidays already. Literally, Santa was waiting when I walked into the door.   I am a firm believer that our country is going to hell in a hand basket and skipping Thanksgiving is the finest example of this. But whatever floats  your boat.

1975 or 1976 Christmas

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cooking: Easy Peasy and Some Bragging

These are some pictures from a hike that was recently taken. Yes, the dog climbs ladders. If you have met our dog, you know he is a freak. The fall here in Chattanooga is absolutely glorious this year. These were taken two weeks ago and now the colors are amazing!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cooking: Still in Pjs!

Oh yes! Stayed in PJ's until 7 pm yesterday! Then I took a shower and put a fresh pair on! Not a step outside and not a brush to my hair.

I went through all of the upstairs closets yesterday. And the game cabinet. And the linen closet. 6 garbage bags later, I am feeling a little better. Today, I hit the office, downstairs linen closet and the kitchen.

I am so tired of my house being a wreck because no one can put their crap away. So, I am decrapping the house. I plan on donating all our crap to Teen Challenge  ( I know someone who went through their program and it worked) and calling it a day.

Still coughing like a lunatic, so I am in a hybrid of workout pants and pjs. Ellie and Steve went hiking and though I wanted to go, I knew that I would never kick this cough if I did not stay home. I will however, venture out to return something and get some groceries. People have to eat!

I have two inspirations this week for food. Dinner A Love Story is always my go to blog and cookbook for recipes that work. If you have not read that blog, go now. If you don't have the first book, get it now. I am asking for the second for Christmas.  The second inspiration is a book I just read (The Quaker Cafe). The book itself was a step above beach read in topic, but about that heavy.  However, one of the characters eats a sweet potato every day because she thinks it is better than an apple a day for health. I plan on roasting a few and taking them to work.

This week is not different than any other. Swim meet, math competition, choir rehearsal and work. Just like all the other working parents and kids in the country, we are all over the place.  I hope you are bundled up and enjoying the sunshine.

This dog is glad it is November...not so hot!

Casa Swann Happy November Menu

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cooking: No Halloween and two recipes

Holy Smokes! It is FREEZING! We had a mini version of Halloween last night. One kid is out of town the other is grounded, so no parties or trick or treating for us. We did give out candy and then about the time the polar vortex hit, shut off the porch light and called it a night.

Warm day  a few weeks ago when I hiked to Lula Lake on Lookout Mountain

Delaney was supposed to row in the nation's largest regatta this weekend. However, she had already committed to a Model UN conference and had to choose on or the other (in September, mind you). She chose her first commitment and wisely, it turns out. They canceled the event she would have rowed in and now it looks like the whole Head of the Hooch is going to be canceled. That stinks as people come from all over the world for this weekend.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dirt: I Need A Fire Lit

This was a weekend full of great achievement, for my kids. I was the supportive mom that I always strive to be. Standing all day long, on the banks of a river to watch my daughter row. I literally saw her for less than 6  minutes total. Meanwhile, I made small talk, helped feed 100 hungry teenagers, cleaned up after teenagers and acted like I felt great.

I did not. In fact, I was running a fever all day long. My back hurt, my head hurt and feet probably stunk. I smiled and cheered and made small talk with a dozen other parents to cheer on our kids. Because that is what mothers do.

Friday, I drove across town twice to pick up my other daughter and deposit her at the drop off for her sleep away retreat. Youth Trust is a big deal, as it is a great community service  program sponsored by the YMCA. She was nominated by her teachers as a leader in her school. I was thrilled. Even though with a fever, headache, backache and the knowledge that I had a 5 am wake up call, I drove her across town instead of going home to bed.

I always joke that the #momlife twitter tag is women driving someone else, somewhere far to enjoy fun they are not going to enjoy themselves.  And if you are a mom with involved kids, you know that is exactly what #momlife is all about.

I decided when I got pregnant unexpectedly, that I would be the best mom I could be. I have taken that decision very seriously. But somehow the last year has become about work and kids and not about ME. Don't get me wrong, I have tons of fun. Steve and I have a great time going out. However, I am missing the nourishing of my soul.

This is not something I just realized. But it dawned on me today as I took my daughter shopping and bought her 3x the amount of clothes than I bought myself, I am not treating myself right. Not clothes or things you can buy, but I am not treating my creative side right. I read books and I work out (not in a week and a half). That is it. What am I going to do? Not sure. But I do know I need to do something quick before I dry up and become old.

That is all for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dirt: A rough week indeed

This week has been a rough one for my girlfriends. One friend lost her sister-in-law's father, who was a local news celebrity for decades. All over town, I have heard snippets of conversation about his passing. The service is being held in the baseball stadium. This loss must be so hard, being so public. My heart goes out the the family that must mourn publicly for days before they can say goodbye themselves.

The other is a much more private loss. My dear friend lost her older sister to a long battle with cancer. 10 years ago, Maureen found out she was pregnant and then that she had cancer. She has been brave, stubborn and at time successful in battling the cancer. Recently however, it came back with a vengeance. The oldest of three sisters, she had a great support system. Now they are relying on each other.

As one of three myself, I know that the other two are leaning hard on each other. Their faces will remind them of the missing piece. Their hearts will be always soft in that third spot and their stories will now have to be told extra for the one who is not there to reminisce to her children.

I did not know Maureen well. I do, however, know her parents well and they are two of the kindest and most generous people I know. Large personalities and large hearts for caring are what I think of when I think of Ann and Henri.  They raised three very awesome daughters, each unique and special in a different way. My heart hurts to imagine facing the loss of one of their precious daughters.

As a friend, I can only say the words in my heart and cry the tears on the phone with my friend. I can only call my own sisters and tell them I love them and that my world would be a dimmer place without them.  I can only look at my own children and hope that I don't have to leave them as teenagers to traverse the path to adulthood without a mother.

Rough week indeed.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cooking: Fall Break Camping

Last week I told Steve that I was going to make something new to eat each night. I was lucky in that we were going camping and I thought I could beg off Friday if I needed. I did beg off one night, Thursday, choosing to defrost chili from the weekend. To make up for it, I made a really delicious cast iron skillet of chili cheese cornbread with grits switched for corn meal. Yep, crunchy and moist!

The variety was really refreshing. I loved making new things and it inspired me to keep it up.

This weekend is fall break and I took Friday off so we could head out early to our campsite and get a good long hike in before dark. We borrowed nearly everything. (We have really awesome friends) and drove a couple of hours into the Georgia Cohutta Wilderness Preserve. The weather was really awesome, not too hot and not too cold. We set up our borrowed 8 man tent (really? 8?) and hit the trails.

Pre-hike dancing

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cooking: Lots of Photos Later...

 THIRD PLACE!  Not only was she in A boat, but they got third place in their 8 boat, beating out their local rivals and a national rival as well. Big stuff for a first varsity race.  The weather decided to agree after a 90 minute delay for what turned out to be nothing. This made for a long, long day for our rower who rowed what amounted to 12 miles up and down the river (two 5k races). Her four boat was all sophomores and we could not have been more proud of their 12th place finish (out of 20 teams).  The day really was one to remember.

The girls shared their boathouse with their brother school

Notice the girls in the corner and the boys...everywhere

These boys at one point were lined up asleep

Lots of moms making food...they need a lot of food

The girl corner

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dirt: A mom's gotta stress

Well, it is Thursday and I am already stressed about the weekend.

 My sweet older daughter, who is strong as an ox, found out yesterday she is rowing in the A boat at tomorrow's first head race. So proud of her and all the hard work she has put into crew.  A lot of early mornings (6:30 am) practicing on the river in the fog and a lot of trying hard to better herself. Three days a week she leaves at 7:20 pm.  and gets home at 8:20pm.  She is truly amazing to watch.

Last year's novice race...she is 4th blue shirt from the left

This weekend is the opening race of the season and she is wired! All I have to do is coordinate food for the team and watch. And hope for no rain, or thunder, or wind or....barges.

Not that hard! Still, I stress about my girl and how she will do and how that will make her feel. Basically, it's first born syndrome all over again.

I am just hoping her uni gets here in time. Great, one more thing to stress about.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cooking:Great weekend before crew week

This weekend was one of those rare free weekends at Casa Swann. The girls spent the night out and after 7:30 crew practice, I gathered both and we headed home for some quick cleaning and recovery.

Then we headed to the 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival, which is a gift from famed fiddler Fletcher Bright to Chattanooga. We are so lucky to have such a great, fun event where families, hippies, old people and dogs all gather to enjoy the beauty of Chattanooga and music from the entire spectrum of bluegrass.

Steve and I went hiking after church to the land trust that is open once a month on Lookout Mountain. We had been there before,but not to hike and it was really beautiful.

A little afternoon shopping and a great dinner later, we were all ready for bed.

Wonderful weekend, perfect for our crazy week ahead.

Human built nest in the Lula Lake riverbed

Chattanooga Head Race Week Menu
  • Pinto beans and chicken burritos/ avocado salad
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup (per Ellie's request)/Freezer tomato eggplant soup
  • Baked spaghetti squash casserole/ kitchen sink salad 
  • Pork Ragu/ baked sweet potatoes/spinach casserole
  • chili
  • chili pie

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Whatever: No one behaves when I have a camera in hand

I am the family picture taker...that is not the same as photographer,which implies skill.

My subjects are often surly and annoying. They rarely behave, especially once I have said "behave".

Here is a classic example. Or 10.

Did not take this one, but still...

Please remember...these were taken at a memorial service. We were all actually very sad. However, the  deceased, my crazy, goofy and very wonderful  sister in law, would have approved. And participated. And encouraged.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gratituesday: Lately

Gratituesday in a list:
  • Teenaged daughter who are kind, polite and free thinkers
  • Friends who text me randomly and don't mind when I do the same...                                             out of sight is not out of mind
  • Sisters who give me art for my birthday
  • Husband who still  grabs my butt 
  • A 10 year old car with no car payment (fingers crossed it keeps going)
  • My new Fitbit that has me getting up and moving around
  • Pure Barre...I love/hate it about 4 times a week. Stronger abs, harder challenges and cute tights
  • Hard lessons that I sometimes actually learn
  • My nephews, niece and brother-in-law who are still hanging in there after a long, long journey of watching my sister-in-law come unwound. Her memorial was last weekend.

Life is full of hard things. Death seems to be all around me lately. A friend's college son, my sister-in-law, two friends and my brother lost their fathers...we are all delicate creatures  and we are all called to lift one another up.  The little things are what makes life so much more bearable and in fact wonderful.

Cooking: Brown bear menu

Brown bear, brown bear...for some reason that childhood color learning book is in my head. Both of my girls learned their colors by reading that book, over and over and over again.

Sometimes that is what cooking dinner feels like. Over and over and over again. Still, we do it every night. I cooked three meals Monday night to get ready for the week and stock the freezer. Roasting the last tomatoes of the year along with eggplant, mushrooms and onions made a delicious sauce or soup. Tomato pie made its appearance.

Not really sure...

I am not ready for fall. But chili and a s'more might be nice this weekend.

Brown Bear Casa Swann Menu
  • Hamburgers/black bean no soy burger
  • Tomato pie and mustard baked chicken thighs
  • Cooking light fall pork tenderloin, roasted seasoned sweet potatoes, kitchen sink salad
  • Spaghetti Squash with tomatoes and feta, left over pork, chicken and whatever meat
  • Three Sisters Bluegrass and McCallie/Baylor game (GO BLUE!)

I will share the pork tenderloin recipe once I dig it up again. It is my go to for cooking tenderloin, as it smells amazing, is easy and my family loves it. Win/Win! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cooking: Monday Menu Returns

I miss blogging. I have thoughts going through  my head that I am itching to write about. However, it is really hard to sit down at a computer and put it all down here when I have been at a computer all day in my office.

One thing I would like to get back to doing, a baby step in the blogging direction is my Monday menu. Putting it online also helps me lock it away for the the week. I need that come Wednesday.

Steve and I recently joined Costco again and we love it a little too much. To keep us on the straight and budget, I have started keeping a log of the "bulk" items we buy and how often we actually have to purchase them. So far, so good. We go together and buy meat for the freezer. Then I spend about $70 for the rest of our veggies and such each week.

Our average for a family of four with breakfast and dinner at home 6 days a week is $170. Steve eats lunch almost every day here and I take it about 4 days a week. Weekends are more snacks during the day, but we cook real  meals two  nights of the weekend, often grilling.

I like the option of going to the freezer on Monday and pulling out the meat for Wednesday. Makes it easier to have limited options for this vegetarian! After a summer hiatus, I am ready for sweet potatoes to make their way back into our lives.

Officially Fall Menu
  •  Grilled barbecue chicken, baked sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach
  • Simple tomato soup
  • Pork carnitas 
  • Lobster ravioli with tomato mushroom sauce and green salad
  • Pork carnitas (football game) or quesadillas

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dirt: I am a community organizer

I am involved in a little community improvement. I live in a pocket neighborhood that I think it awesome. In fact, I stalked my neighborhood for months before a friend called and said "We just looked at a house that would be perfect for you guys!".  6 days later, I had a contract on my house.

Flash forward 13 years and I still love my house. We live here.  Truly LIVE here. Right now it is a mess of back to school supplies, unswept floors and breakfast dishes. My husband keeps his shoes in my pantry, his gym bag by the door and his work shirt on the dining room chair.

Sometimes we are too comfortable
We have had 12 Christmas celebrations, an innumerable amount of parties, sick days, sleepovers and more. My college dog is buried in the yard along with a cat, several hamsters and a squirrel (courtesy of college dog during a hamster funeral).

My neighbors have gone on vacation with me, sat with me while I cried about the loss of my mom, baked cookies with my kids, drank wine with me and shared their lives. My neighbors are the chief of police, journalists, college professors, dishwashers, teachers  and music directors.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Whatever: Summer has been a little different

Hello my one reader...
I bet you thought I had given up on blogging.
I am a little rusty to be sure, but in my head, I am always thinking, blogging and arguing with the world.  My life has taken a big change from three years ago when I started this blog.

I have a full time job that I love. My bosses are super savvy, smart women who believe that I am as well. It is nice to be valued as such. The down side is that I spend my day on a computer and at the end of the not want to be sitting still. I have missed being hot and in the sun all summer and hanging out with my girls.

Speaking of which, my girls are growing, smarter and taller every single day. The oldest worked this summer as a camp counselor, babysitter and swim lesson giver.  Both girls have spent the summer reading all the books on the summer reading list and watching an insane amount of television since I was at work all day.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Cooking: A new kind of summer!

In addition to not blogging, I have not been reading a lot of blogs. I sit at a computer all day and so I don't want to do it for recreation either.

I have missed a lot, but not really. I noticed several of my favorite bloggers have taken breaks as well. Good to know I am in good company.

My sister Karen, who is in Bolivia as we speak.

Thursday, June 26, 2014's been awhile

I'm sort of back. At least for a minute.  The months have rolled by and with them a lot of wishing I was blogging.
Birthday girl did not get her post. 15 is grand and involves driving.

We went to two music festivals, with lots of great laughs and brought home lots of great long, long lasting memories.

Summer working is a new experience for me. The last summer I worked full time, I was not a mother. I sped home after work and went to the pool just as the moms were packing up. Suckers. Now, I go home and pick up my kids for their social or sports activities. Much different.

I started working out at Pure Barre and so far, I hate it in a good way. So out of shape, but feeling more energetic and inspired to do more.

My garden is coming along and is gorgeous. My backyard project is 80% done. I scraped the railing to paint and we installed reclaimed tin around our deck. Summer is what it is, busy and full.

I have missed blogging, mostly because it me time. My head time.  But, my head has been tired.