Haiku Challenge Friday

Due to the jaw dropping lack of popularity and responses for Haiku Thursday, it is moving to Fridays from now on. It will be called...wait for it...Haiku Friday...instead. I won't let it go
it makes ME happy and isn't that what blogging is all about?

A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

bought my first girdle
probably won't be the last
I adore food so!

Your three words are: girdle, the, adore.

Let's hear your haiku!

Got Dentist? Dental Arts Group Review

So I eat tons of sugar and don't brush. And I apparently grind my teeth at night. So I have spent my life in the dentist's chair. Here I am at 40 years old and I am now due for my third crown. (The one I have been avoiding for a couple years now thanks to using a teeny tiny mouth guard at long last!) But.


Now that I am finally not pregnant (right?) I had to get it taken care of. So I asked my friends here in Valparaiso Indiana who they recommended and Beth Tipton said Dental Arts Group. Dental Arts Group also kindly donated a jillion toothbrushes and toothpastes for our Mothers and More group "Power of a Purse" campaignand I really appreciated their generosity so I decided to visit Dental Arts Group.

My husband and I both went for checkups and did the whole X-rays and cleaning routine. The office was bright and clean, wait time was minimal, and everyone was friendly, laid back and welcoming.

Here I am coming in for my third visit, this time for the crown delivery. I didn't realize I was dressing like Johnny Cash until I saw this picture. Annnnnd maybe a little makeup or a paper bag over my head would have looked better too. I immediately thought instead of occasionally piping in on What I Wore Wednesdays, I should just go right ahead and stick with a "What Not To Wear" deal since I am clearly better at that!

They were warm and friendly and funny. My biggest complaint is I never get to spend enough time in the waiting room to actually enjoy reading a magazine. DANG. (I have two little bitty kidlets, I LIKE waiting room magazines.) (ALOT.)

Which you might want when going to folks who will put a drill in your mouth. Really.

They had a lot more technology than I have seen which was good for getting more detailed information but it took two visits to get to a cleaning which was a little tricky for childcare etc. And then there was the matter of getting the crown replaced.

In case you have never had the pleasure, since this was my third time getting a crown done I will tell you how it is done. First they pull your cheek across the room, jab you with a needle while lying to you about how it will be a "Tiny Pinch" (I'll give you a tiny pinch $&%%#@!) and then they grind off most of the cracked tooth, do some other stuff, and make your face feel like it is laying on the floor for the rest of the day. (Anyone think it might be a good idea to try to put red lipstick on without a mirror right after that? I sure shouldn't have. BUT. I did get a good laugh out of it.) Here is a more detailed explanation if you are macabre and creepy like that.

The dentist will never be fun, but the folks at Dental Arts Group in Valparaiso Indiana do a really nice job of making you feel a little less crappy about the whole experience.
Dr. Jeff is a (happily married) hunk who goes to great lengths to make sure you understand what is happening. The fabu woman (Jennifer I think) assisting him was great. They were like a radio show, it was quite entertaining.

If you like hands and drills and stuff in your mouth while you are entertained.

The other thing is even though they are no longer in our dental plan as a preferred provider, Dee at the front desk showed me that my insurance still covers the same amounts as if they were a preferred provider. *whew* I don't want to go anywhere else, so that is GREAT. So if you need a cleaning, want whiter teeth, or just have nothing better to do, go check them out and let me know what you thought. Tell them I sent you! I'm trying to get enough credit to get my name on a plaque on their magazine rack. (I get NOTHING for writing this post...but if you check them out and drop my name I do get a referral fee. Just so you know. I'm gunning for teeth whitening but that isn't why I'm sharing awful pictures of my sad self at the dentist. I was going for a humor post. Please laugh.)

Christmas Anticipation

May we all strive in 2012 to carry the wonder, love and delight of Christmas into each of our days. God Bless You All & MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Did someone steal my Christmas Tree?

Did someone steal my Christmas tree?
Nahhh....but they might as well have. I do not know what it is this year, but it was the 17th and we had a tree up...it was naked as a jaybird but it was up. Our Christmas decorations were out.
Of the basement anyway. Still in their boxes spread around our house in a most UNdecorative manner. I wondered "Can't someone else do it?". (That is "Royal Speak" for "My Husband.")

We have two darling little girls who will enjoy the sparkle of Christmas, heck I enjoy it too...but this year, that week I felt tired. Maybe it was all that jeans shopping that did me in. Maybe it was the two batches of iced sugar cookies I unfortunately ate all by myself.

Let's not mention the freakishly ugly gingerbread men that followed. Or the ones that didn't make the cut.

My heroic husband did most of the decorating this year. Once our tree was decorated and our other festivities were strewn about the house I did feel more Christmas-y.

Until I tried to pull a Norman Rockwell moment with my Family Circus family and sat near the tree to open the stack of Christmas cards and drink eggnog. So you know with a one year old and a two year old how that went. You know I should have had brandy in that 'nog.

The great news is most of our presents are not just purchased but wrapped as well. YEAH!

And I am still struggling a tiny bit to catch the Christmas spirit (We've had no snow, to start with.....Christmas RAIN? WHAT?) But...the story of Christmas, The cross behind the X in X-mas, the tiny baby who brings light to the world does always stir my heart.

If you really consider having a baby in a barn. Wrapping him up in (Hopefully clean) blankets and putting him in a feeding trough....how humble and dirty and low it all was.

And yet.

Love came down at Christmas. Even without a tree, presents or fake Santa Claus beards.

And that Love remains.

Is anyone else behind, frenzied, what have you? Any suggestions on catching the spirit? What is one special and unique to you ritual do you enjoy this time of year?

Haiku Challenge Friday

Due to the jaw dropping lack of popularity and responses for Haiku Thursday, it is moving to Fridays from now on. It will be called...wait for it...Haiku Friday...instead. I won't let it go
it makes ME happy and isn't that what blogging is all about?

A group of friends and I did this many years ago when I was toiling away at a desk. We called it Haiku Challenge and someone would start with three words and we would all Haiku our hearts out using those three words in our haiku. It was tricky, consuming and TRES hilarious.

A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the three words and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

where did they all go?
I swear I baked some cookies
oops! cookie crumb trail...

Your three words are: did, cookie, some

Let's hear your haiku!

Fat Fanny, Skinny Jeans?

I can think of another word that would fit nicely in my title, but this one is more polite. My apologies if the word fanny offends, please substitute it's more polite but markedly less punchy cousins: Donkey, Posterior, Rump, Backside, Bottom, Caboose, Behind, Butt, Trunk.....am I missing any?

My lack of censure in my title selection is directly related to the HOUR I spent trying on jeans and running pants at Kohl's. An HOUR in the fitting room, or maybe it was longer, certainly felt longer. My saddlebags are chafed from the on-off on-off of denim, most of it too tight with my wishful thinking size selection.

I weigh 175ish pounds and am 5'10". I am a snug size 14 or a roomy size 16. I have an hourglass figure which they say is ideal but I think there are more hours than glass in mine. After having two kidlets back to back, I have lost the baby weight and am currently working to loose the "Happy Marriage plus Boring Job Above a Bakery and around the corner from a Chocolate Shop" weight.

My jeans are big enough on me that even using a belt is getting comical. And annoying. So I went jeans shopping.

I tried on too tight, to loose, too long, too short. I tried on a skinny jean even though I do not embrace trendy until it is out of style, then I think ,"OH! I kind of like that. Whaddya mean that isn't "IN" anymore? It was last year? Oh." I think it takes me about a year of seeing a trend to absorb it and find part of it I like. So this skinny jean thing, even with the aforementioned Fat Fanny I thought I might try it. Even though I've heard a lifetime of "Bootcut jeans will balance your hips" for some reason I felt interested in something sleeker. I tried on skinny jeans....and didn't cry!

I felt thinner, sexier and hipper than I had in...uh...well I guess always. I tried on safer pairs. I re-tried on all my 'maybes'. I got tired of chafing and went to the running pants for awhile. I found two that would work for classes or running or pretending to go to the YMCA at five AM while my husband and babies sleep but really stopping for donuts, coffee and a magazine. (Hi Honey!) (Just kidding...but it sounds good, doesn't it?) Then I tried on my finalists in the jeans competition again.

I liked the skinnies. I felt good in them. I thought they should come home with me to make me happy. I pulled out my phone to Facebook my pals and ask if curvy girls could get away with skinny jeans. I didn't Facebook. I thought about who I should call to ask for an honest opinion. I worried that a 40 year old was fooling herself if she thought skinny jeans were a good idea. I didn't call. I decided to give myself permission to be on trend and sexy and sassy and skinny. I gave myself permission, approval and encouragement. I bought 'em.

When I got home, and "Before and Aftere'd" my husband the HUGE difference between my size 16 bootcuts and the size 14 skinny jeans, I had a revelation.

They were not good on me. Yes I am sassy and yes I am thinner and YES I need smaller, fitter jeans. But not skinny jeans. Not for me. My husband said they looked good. (BUT he also said not to wear them around him Mom because she wouldn't understand.) I felt good in them, but I knew they needed to go back to the store.

I am a stay at home mama and I don't go out on the town to need sexy jeans. I do not have a large wardrobe and a surplus of jeans, I have two pair usually that I wear. Skinny jeans would stand out too much, I would think about them too much, I wouldn't want to wear them to church. I am raising two little girls and writing and crocheting and cooking and geocaching and reading and playgrouping and I just do not have the time to spend thinking, weighing, worrying about my jeans. (That and I wear them a lot, so they need to be a bit more classic to blend in!)

This morning in church I noticed women my shape wearing skinny jeans and it wasn't all that foxy. Plus it was in church, so here I am studying bums and thinking about fashion instead of Jesus. I wonder if He would like skinny jeans? I'm guessing no. At least not with a fat fanny. And I won't be wearing them when my posterior is skinnier either....since they will be out of style then anyway.

What about you? What do you think about Curvy girls and skinny jeans? When I did ask my FB friends after the fact, it was amazing the quantity of responses. What about you?

NOTE: I ended up with Levi's "Perfect Waist" straight leg jeans. Compared to what I have been wearing, they ARE skinny jeans!!!

Tiny Red Kitchen: Iced Christmas Cookies

I have THE BEST roll out sugar cookie recipe EVER. Please do tell me if you make them and disagree. The secret is powdered sugar which makes 'em melt in your mouth. Unfortunately I allowed myself to eat one yesterday which means now in less than 24 hours I have definitely consumed more than a baker's dozen. UGH.

This was my Mom's recipe, and I usually frost them with canned frosting, until the marvelous Judy Lewandowski introduced me to iced sugar cookies.

You dip the cookie face down in runny powdered sugar icing (powdered sugar, maybe 2 cups? One or two tablespoons melted butter, flavoring if you like, color if you like, and a tiny bit of milk to get it to a thick but runny consistency.
let them drip or scrape 'em lightly to keep too much icing on there...it'll pool on the wax paper and be messier. You have to lick your fingers a lot as Portia demonstrates here. Of course she washed her hands between licks,

because that would be gross, right? She was VERY good at dipping the cookies and she is not quite three, I was impressed.

Before, decorating sugar cookies meant I would picture Martha Stewart in my head, but end up with a fourth grader's deco job. And not even Martha in fourth grade. They were ugly and lip smackin' yum. Now they are GORGJUS and Yum.
YEAH! Enjoy! (She really did wash between these licks. Really.)

Katherine Lutes(Curlee) Deluxe Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1.5 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond
2.5 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar

Mix butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and almond. Blend in flour, soda, cream of tartar. Cover and chill 2-4 hours. Preheat oven 375 degrees. Roll dough and cut cookies. 1/4 inch is a good goal for width. Bake 7-8 (or 10) minutes.

NOTE: This will not be enough, so just go ahead and double the batch right now. You are looking at four batches here. Can also make as drop cookies if you are really lazy. I never have almond extract because I refuse to be a real adult. But I have cream of tartar. Cannot explain. You really can skip both. Who knows what cream of tartar does anyway? Does ANYONE know? It might be heroin with the way I shovel these in. Hmmmm.

(OK, and I do not want to make Jesus cry by lying...PK might not have washed her hands every time. Go ahead and give your gift of these cookies back to me. I will see they find a good home.)

What I wore Wednesday (I dressed up for my new earrings!)

I've never been much of a jewelry person. For as zany and fabulous as I may in personality, my wardrobe tastes have run pretty classic and tame. I like solid colors, red, turquoise, black, white and grey. I'm mostly a t-shirt & cardigan girl. I have branched out into dressier stretchy silky shirts with my jeans, but I am pruning those branches back. I wear my diamond earrings I bought myself when I turned twenty nine almost every day and the same cross necklace or no necklace most days. As I have gotten older though, I have noticed the many perks of jewelry:

If you have a huge loud vintage choker on, folks might not notice your rapidly aging chicken neck.

Staying home with tiny children and wearing their body fluids on every bit of clothing you wear isn't so bad with a chunky beaded bracelet on. Or my FAH BUH LOUS Pandora charm bracelet.

Even though you have to flip a longer necklace over your shoulder to nurse a baby, for the five minutes in a day you are not nursing, it might make your unshowered-for-three-days self look only slightly homeless instead of bag lady bus stop bench homeless.

If you have a limited wardrobe, switching necklaces, earrings, and bracelets can make it seem like you have three shirts instead of just one you wear every day because it hides stains. Not that you eat like a slob or anything.

Since I have discovered these little jewels of fashion truth, I have been wearing and buying more jewelry. When My friend Mercy invited me to a Lia Sophia jewelry party I actually went for the alcoholic bevvies and adult conversation. And to encourage our friend Erica Garcia who needs no encouragement, she is awesome and a manager for Lia Sophia for years. Then I won these cool earrings. The next day I dressed up just for them, to try to do them justice as I cleaned the house, walked with the girls to the library and went to bible study that night. I got compliments on them and no one said a word about my chicken neck. I will be excited to host my Lia Sophia party next month and get more free jewelry! I'm picking out beauties for my wish list: Maybe something in a saddlebag slimming color?

Tiny Red Kitchen: Whole food for kids (No Hair, Beetles, Acid, Dye etc.)

"But Mama, look what a good breakfast food these are!"
A friend from Region Moms posted on Facebook last week about human hair and beetles and chemicals in many of the processed foods we feed our kidlets and ourselves. I am blessed to stay home and I love to create in the kitchen, so we do not eat much of that kind of food in the first place. That said, is there a kid alive in the United States who doesn't eat animal or goldfish crackers? I found two awesome HEALTHY homemade versions of these....thought I would share avec tu!

And as a caveat...there could be hair in it...no hairnets in the Tiny Red Kitchen!

Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers!

Smitten Kitchen had the recipe for a whole wheat version of these and we tried it twice now. In the two weeks I have known about it. Even the burned ones are delicious! We make them as animal crackers too, I haven't bought the gold fish cutter, but I know it is out there.

NOTE: Do not try to make a double batch, tho you will want to the second time. Unless you have a HUGE food processor it will be a bit tricky. But doable if you are a glutton for punishment.

Here are the directions from Smitten Kitchen, simplified for lazy 'mericans like me:

Yield: About 100 1 1/4 inch goldfish (Or a jillion random shapes)

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon table salt
(I added garlic powder..EVERYTHING is better with garlic.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, running the machine until the dough forms a ball, about two minutes.

If the dough feels warm or worrisome-ly soft, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. This also makes it easier to transfer shapes once they are rolled out.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick. Form shapes with a cookie cutter, dipping it in flour from time to time to ensure a clean cut. Gently transfer crackers to an ungreased (though mine were parchment-lined, because they are in despicable shape) cookie sheet with a 1/2 inch between them. Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are barely browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

Portia and Libby LOVED helping!

I bought little animal cracker cutters TWICE.
One set of darling vintage-but-useless
and then the more user friendly set from Michael's Crafts. Smitten Kitchen links to where she bought a TINY GOLDFISH CUTTER! I'm pretty sure that puppy is going on my Christmas List.

Here are the marvelous critters marching to
and from the oven.
Hope it is obvious which ones the toddler cut out, vs. me channeling Martha Stewart as a 4th grader. Before she had any skills.

Then we made this awesome Whole Wheat Animal Cracker Recipe, throwing in a random amount of cocoa powder the second time. Rave reviews from both batches....I won't need to buy these again, SO EASY to make. I cannot find the original recipe, and when I did the link wasn't working anymore. Let me tell you how glad I am I wrote it down the first time!

1.5 cup Flour (I used mostly whole wheat)
1 cup Oatmeal
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 C heavy cream (I used plain fat free yogurt and almond milk instead)
1/2 c unsalted margerine (I used salted butter)
3 T honey (My Dad is a Beekeeper so I used ....more...
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt

Pulse all dry together in food processor, then add liquid all at once...I melted the butter first but you wouldn't need to. Pulse till it clumps together, knead a bit with flour and refrigerate dough before rolling out. Unless you are super impatient. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters, I greased my gnarly cookie sheets and baked them for TEN minutes in a 350 degree oven. But you could cook them more or less. They were FANTASTIC. The women in Child Watch at my YMCA were all asking me about them when I picked the girls up. I had them in the dipe bag for their snack and since they were all raving that they smelled so good(no one snagged one from my kids to try them, I totally would have tho!) I typed out the recipe to share and thought it would be a good one to share.

What healthy food recipes do you have that stand out? I still need a recipe to get rid of the bug secretions aka shellac aka that fine candy coating on ....M&Ms! Anyone? Anyone?

Bodacious Blog of the Week: Fly Lady!

I am not a clean house gal, but I do want and need everything TIDY. Walking into a room that is clean and neat makes me feel affluent and peaceful....as if the maid just left the room (even if I am playing that role.) I feel nuts if there is clutter around so for the most part things are in their places OR ELSE. And then kidlets happened.
Even though we choose to live simply without a lot of toys, they still get everywhere. Even though I have my toddler tidy up at least once a day with me, there are still times when it looks like a toy bomb went off in my little living room. I choose to live well and do fun things with people including my daughters, so sometimes stuff slides, dishes pile up or suddenly there is half an inch of dust on a shelf I never noticed before.

Fly Lady (flylady.net)is a home cleaning and organization and meal planning and fashion(using term loosely) and exercise blog I have LOVED for YEARS. They have hands down THE BEST FAMILY CALENDAR ever. They have daily E-mails to help inspire you to stay on track. And it all starts with shining your kitchen sink, even if you just pile the dirty dishes that were in it on the floor!
They also have weekly missions, monthly habits and an annual saying to remember. The basic premise is you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes. I added their free Cozi calendar to my brand spankin' new smart phone, and it has all the tasks and color coded family stuff with reminders for everyone and grocery lists...I LOVE it.

I do not follow everything but the tips and systems I do use keep my house that much nicer and let the maid have a few days off here and there.

(You are welcome!)

Do you have a secret to keep your home life running smoother?

Falling Apart: Bifocals, Crowns and Technology, OH MY!

Can you guess my age?

It is four o'clock in the morning and instead of having the good sense to sleep, I am up and WIDE awake. I guess I am just so stinkin' excited about my optometrist appointment today. It has been about three years since my peepers were looked at and a funny thing happened this month on the way to 40. Sometimes my glasses got blurry at night when I was reading. Until I moved whatever it was a tiny bit forward or backward. WHAT? How could that make a difference? I thought I was jsut REALLY tired but then later realized....UH OH. Bifocals?
Aren't those for old folks? I know they have the graduated lens now and that I can keep my real teeth, but I was. not. prepared.

Of course it might just be like a 'watch' at the dentist; could become a problem later but is just something to watch right now. Tho' a cavity isn't my friend in any degree. Don't get me started about my new crown that happened last month. My dentist said I grind my teeth eons ago, but because I wasn't noticing it or having pain in the morning I was NOT ABOUT TO WEAR a nerdy bite guard.

Didn't matter that no one was sleeping beside me, I didn't want to have some dealie in my mouth like a football player. Those things make you drool. And lisp. And just because I was solo back then don't think I didn't talk to the dog or myself or God or something.

Fast forward several years and I have had three of my back molars ground off and crowned for cracks from that grinding I didn't think I did. Nice. I told my husband he should have checked my teeth before he married me--those suckers ain't cheap.

So a highlight of my Grand Dame status now is my new
Smartphone. It is smarter than me, which is intimidating, but we call it Moneypenny which brings it down a notch. I found out I can geocache once again with it soooo easily. From anywhere. I haven't had a simple method for caching for years and am QUITE. EXCITED. I also used it as a GPS for directions just last night. We didn't even remember the name of the restaurant, just googled 'fine dining , Merrillville Indiana, and it gave us the right place(apparently the only place!) and gorgeous directions to it. The camera on it is great, my Nook and Kindle E-reader apps (free, thank you much) let me read while nursing the Bebe in the dark and don't even get me started about my
Fly Lady Cozi calendar and grocery lists. (Hi Jamie Oliver, Hi Fly Lady!) I can still remember our first family computer and dot matrix printer, but our daughters will grow up in a texting touch screen world and who knows what comes next by the time they are old enough for a cell phone of their own.

I love my life and choose to be grateful about every part along the path but some things truly take me by surprise. So you can guess my age(heck I told you my age!) and I don't look my age but I am feeling my age. Forty and flabbergasted at how quickly things change. And you? Can I guess your age too?