December 12, 2013

I want a simple life...

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As I get older, I find myself wanting a simple life.  At the ripe ol' age of 33, I'm still learning what that means.  I look around at our house, our beautiful things and our junk, and I realized how blessed we are.  We are over blessed.  So much so that we take advantage of it.  I'm so tired of all this stuff!

So, over the next month or so, I'm totally going to simplify our lives, as much as I can and as much as I understand it.  I know there are a lot of other bloggers out there that have come to this conclusion, and I may read in on how they do this how "simply life" thing.

I know for sure that we buy stuff just to BUY stuff all the time.  That is stopping.  After Christmas.  I swear it will be done.  Not only that, but I have this desperate need to get rid of stuff.  The stuff is coming out of our ears.  It's coming out of our closets.  It's falling off our shelves.  It's totally crazy.

I've already started!  In the last month I've made three trips to Goodwill.  I've cleaned out my closet {twice, I still need to get ride of more} and the pantry and some of our kitchen and our guest bedroom {gracious, no one even LIVES in that room, how is there stuff in there??}  I even made Ashley clean out her room, she really can't handle the amount of clothes she has anyways.  I know Dave was inspired to clean out his closet.  I clean out my jewelry and am left with only the things I absolutely wear or can't bear to part with.  My life feels more simple with that little task.  I have less to choose from.  It's wonderful!  It's still way too much.

I'll slowly get rid of more of it, if I can.  But for now, it looks really pretty on our dresser, with the sweet picture of a Tiffany's box that Dave drew for me on our anniversary last year.

What is it about me that I have needed all this stuff?  And now I've changed all of a sudden?  I guess I'm learning that less is totally more.  To know that I have a dozen earrings to choose from, instead of 3 dozen, makes life SO much easier.  To know that my linen closet holds only what we need on our beds, and towels that we use for bathing and swimming, is like gold to me.  I used to cringe when I opened it, with everything falling out and messy.  Ugh.  Now I know what is in there, exactly.  Victory!

There's a pile of pure junk sitting in our basement that has needed to go to the dump since June 20th, when I cleaned out the basement.  Since then, the pile has grown, and it could still grow.  We will take it to the dump over Christmas break.  I swear it will be done.  

One day I will be able to say we live the simple life.  One day.  Until then I'll clean out my house and learn what it means to be simple.


December 6, 2013

Happy Friday!

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Good morning!!!  My head is so full of words, even at 6:40am, so I thought I'd give them an outlet!!

How was your Thanksgiving?  Mine was so awesome!!  Dave had off all weekend, we spent a lot of time with our families, enjoyed some football, did some shopping and saw TWO movies {Catching Fire since Dave didn't go the 1st time, and FROZEN which is Disney and adorable!}  It went by way too fast, but don't all good times?

My lovely family, ready to eat!

Dave and Ash having a good time...


Babe, please let me have taste while you are carving!

I can't believe Christmas is so close!  Where did the year go?  Didn't we just go back to school yesterday?  Sometimes I feel that time is racing by, and I turn around and realize I have to sprint after it to catch up!  But then, I get so busy getting caught up with life that I forget to enjoy it.  Whew!!  Someone tell me how to slow myself down?!

We have been enjoying this Christmas season so far.  We bought our tree last weekend {real, it's the only way we go!} and decorated it.  It's so pretty!!  We officially started Christmas shopping and making our Christmas plans.  We have been watching some Christmas movies too!  We even when to the Bel Air Christmas parade.

'Trimming the tree!'

Don't mind my outfit.  Isn't it lovely?  I look so fresh while hanging around the house;)

Awww...Frodo!!  You are so cute! Except for when you knock over our tree.  Yeah, that happened.  It was crazy!

We brought a little Disney into our decor.  Renesmee the Elf brought us Mickey and Minnie stockings!  Yipee!

Christmas pillows are a must when you have Clifford the big red couch;)

Last night Ash & I watched the live version of Sound of Music, which was on as a family holiday event.  It was really sweet!

Watching it made me think of my old, forgotten dreams to become a Broadway Musical actress.  I am definitely glad I didn't go that way in life, but it really is fun to watch things like this because I enjoy them so much.  Musicals really get to me, I get goose bumps and I cry.  Actually, I cry a lot when singing or hearing a beautiful song!  In church, that happens A LOT, or if I hear something beautiful on the radio {which sadly doesn't happen so much anymore} or on a stage.  Some people were so very critical of the show last night, saying it doesn't add up or that it was bad.  I don't see those things I guess?  I know how hard they have worked, and I appreciate the product I saw.  I don't think they were trying to redo the original Julie Andrews movie...this was the Broadway version that has been done hundreds of times.  It was like they gave us a free ticket!!  I really enjoyed it!  Musicals are always cheesy and awkward to some point, maybe that's why I love them so much;)  I am a bit cheesy and awkward myself!

I need to go to Broadway and see more shows.  It's been way, way too long since I've been!

I've been doing some major organizing here at the house.  I think I have a car load of junk for the Goodwill, and a truck load of trash for the dump!  It feels good to clean out and simply.  I've been meaning to do this for SO long!  When did we start the craze and need to have so.much.stuff?  I think my motto used to be "hang on to this in case I need it one day" whereas now my motto is turning into "if I haven't used it in the last year, it's going.  If I need it again, I'll buy it" but I doubt I will.  So far I've tacked our kitchen cabinet that holds our spices and cooking herbs, our pantry, and our linen closet.  I'm updating old, yucky kitchen utensils, and getting rid of lots of things we don't need.  It is refreshing!!

The mess of organizing, but it's so worth it...

We bought mason jars for everything, and now my spices and cooking herbs have never looked so pretty!!

A nicely organized pantry.  I think I do this twice a year.  Our pantry NEVER stays clean!

Anyways, life has been good!!!  I can't wait for the Christmas vacation to begin, I'm ready for a nice looooooong break of sleeping in {yeah right}, seeing family and just being off work for a while.

Hope you have a delightful weekend!  Cheers!

November 26, 2013

Here are 33 things...

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Hello.  My birthday was on Sunday.  I'm still waiting for your gifts in the mail;)

I had an awesome birthday weekend.

 As a tribute to my 33 years here on Earth, I thought I'd kick up a little post with 33 pieces of information about yours truly.  Call it the "everything thing you never wanted to know about Tina but read anyway" post.  I'm sorry!

Um...these aren't in any order.  And they are random.  They are not very profound, they are things that may be swimming around my head right now...

1. I think that it would be cool to live in England around 1900. But only if I was rich like the Crawleys, or Mr. Darcy.  Life was cool for them.
2. "Don't let the pigeon drive the bus" is one of the funniest books I have ever read.  It's for kids.
3. I never have enough patience to keep my nails looking good. I do too much with my hands. I wish I was better!
4.  Soft pretzels are one of my most favorite things. I could be saying this because I had some from McGerks on Sunday...I am dreaming of eating more!
5.  I love to cook.
6.  I don't ever use the iron. Ever.
7.  I loved high school.
8. College was only ok. If I could go back in time I would scream at myself to go live on campus, it is one of the few regrets I have. Although, if that happened, I wouldn't have the life I have today...and I saved my parents a lot of money by staying home...and I ended up getting involved in church...soooo I don't really regret it:) Just live on campus when you go to college, ok?  But go to church too;)
9.  I see and live my life as magically as I can. I know its not all rainbows and butterflies all the time and I do get upset and angry a lot...but I try to live a full and happy life as much as possible. If something doesn't make me or my family happy, I don't do it!!
10.  As an adult, I prefer books to social life.  If I could read all day as my job, I would! 
11.  We went to a Ray Rice Kindness Rally on Friday.  We took Ash and her friend Meg.  It was awesome.  Ray Rice was RIGHT in front of us.  I think he smiled at me.  We were in tons of pictures and on camera a lot.  

12.  I am a massive cheese ball.  I know!  I can't change it though!

13.  Dave & I are going to Las Vegas in 2 weeks.  
14.  I haven't traveled the US much, just the east coast really, except one trip to Ohio, and one trip to Indiana.
15.  I think people who air out their dirty laundry on Facebook, or people who complain (like, really complain, not joking) or are mean, should shut down their Facebook.  But that's just me.  I like reading about the great things people are doing, posts about kids and family, pictures of fun stuff, etc.  I don't get on there to read about drama, how horrible or unfair you think life is (I promise you, it's not.  If you have a Facebook and a means to get on it and time to complain then your life is plenty good!!!)  Thank you!
16.  I'm addicted to reading blogs.  Mine will never be that good, but I love being a part of a blog world.  
17.  I make to do lists and grocery lists all the time.  Then I forget to look at them, or take them with me!
18.  My cat, Frodo, is really awesome.
19.  I want to move to Florida.  Like right now.  As long as my parents go too!
20.  I miss Disney World!
21.  I have a mild obsession with Pioneer Woman.  Don't tell her that I have all her episodes on DVR, read her blog like its my job, own all of her cookbooks, and cook all of her recipes.  She will think I am way weird.  Which, I guess I am!
22.  Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year.
23.  Christmas is my favorite holiday.
24.  I really, really, really LOVE snow.  I can't wait for our 1st snow this winter!
25.'s really hard to write 33 things about myself.  Does that make me humble?  Wait, no...I can't be humble since I am writing a post about myself.  I guess I need to be more humble.  Seriously!
26.  I never allow non-organic milk in my house.  Ever.  After reading about what is in non-organic milk, I almost swore off milk for good.  I know, there are so many other things to swear off, but we started with milk!
27.  I have writers block right now.  I haven't written any part of my book for a week.  Which is not good for NANOWRIMO.  I'm going to have to catch up a lot this weekend.  November is over on Saturday!  Wait...what?
28.  I get excited about holidays, and then I get sad before they are even over because I know they are going to be over soon.  Isn't that weird?  I just love holidays and the time off and seeing my family, and then it's over and we go back to work and life isn't as fun.  Siiiiiiigh.
29.  I love Jesus.
30.  I have 497405947072341 DIY projects laying around the house that I haven't gotten around to DIYing yet.  I'm totally turning into my mother!!!!
31.  I can't go to bed without ice water.  I have to have it.  If I don't, it's like I'm stuck in a desert on the sun in July.  I must have it immediately!
32.  I have read the Harry Potter series at LEAST 10 times all the way through in my life.  Not joking.  I'm probably missing a few times, but I can't remember?  I'll reread it at least 30 more times I bet!
33.  I work with some really amazing people.  Seriously.  You should see how awesome the teachers and staff are at my school.  The best of the best, I tell you!

There.  Now you have a little taste of what is in my brain right now.  Hope you enjoyed it!!

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?!?!

November 18, 2013

Do NOT ask your teenager for a Christmas list.

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So, seriously.  Don't ask.  Because if you do.  You will get something like this...

1.  Ugg boots.  Price? $155
2.  North Face Jacket.  Price?  At least $100.
3.  A "Nice" camera {even though said teen has 2 cameras, neither are good enough) Price?  At least $150...
4.  TWO pairs of Vans.  Price of one? $45
5.  Tom's.  Price?  At least $45
6.  Sperry's.  Price?  At least $80.
7.  iPhone 4c.  $600 since she's not due for an upgrade.  In our words "ain't NO way you are getting that!!!".  We talk classy 'round here.

So that is over $300 in footwear my friends.  Why do teenage girls need SO many different pairs of shoes?  Don't answer that, it's a dumb question.  I want all the same shoes {except for the Vans.  Sooooo 1996 for me!}  See those Uggs up there?  Those are for me, not her;)  They also cost $205.  Owie.

Are you starting your lists yet?  What about decorating?  We got all of our Christmas decor down from the attic yesterday.  I just can't help it.  I have to decorate.  I'm in the Christmas mood and I want it to throw up all over our house!!!  Since my birthday is this weekend, I'm using that as an excuse to get what I want.  Is that wrong?  Oh, it is?  Well...I'm turning 33 and that depresses me, so what's wrong with a little pick-me-up?  Not a thing;)

I've even turned on the Christmas music every where that I can.  Home, car, office...

Anyways, I'm going to go tell our teenager that she is going to have to Sophie's Choice her list.  I'm sweating just looking at it all typed out!!

What's on your list??  Mine includes new dishes for the kitchen, some kitchen equip we don't have, tons of different books, and some quality time with my family.  I love the holidays!!!

November 12, 2013

Our adventures with Elf on the Shelf

I'm in the Christmas mood.  I really am.  I want the tree.  I want to decorate.  I want to listen to Christmas music.  I told Dave that this Friday I am setting aside some of his paycheck money to do some Christmas shopping.  It's the BEST time of the year.  People are happy.  People are nicer.  Everyone is in a giving mood.  I really love it!!!

Dave won't let me decorate yet, though.  He's a "one holiday at a time" sort of guy and usually I am too, but this year I am just ready!!  I think I realized last year how fast it all went by, and so I figure if we start early - it'll be more fun.

Anyways, as I was thinking about the holidays, I thought about our Elf on the Shelf.  Renesmee.  Yes, we have an Elf on the Shelf, even though there aren't any young kids here.  Yes, we've named her Renesmee, after the Twilight baby.  Last year, after I learned about Elf, I really wanted one.

Now, I don't agree with using the Elf to curb good behavior out of my child.  I understand that others do, but I don't agree with it.  That's just me though.  I LOVE coming up with all the wacky and crazy ideas!!  I just love it.  I was afraid Ashley would think it was childish...actually, I'm sure she does, but she totally humors me and my childlike behavior.  I had with this last year.  I think that she and Dave did too.  I really am a kid at's embarrassing.  And awesome.

I think anything that makes your family laugh, and work together (Dave and I would be up late plotting and setting the "stage") and get in the Christmas spirit is a good time.  It doesn't have to be used as a behavior modifier...just have fun with it.  No matter what ages you have at home!

Here were some of the crazy things Renesmee did.  Please excuse the terrible pictures!  I'm talking Dave into buying a DSLR...I need better pictures for crying out loud!

She "ribboned" Ashley in here room.  What a hoot.

She got into our post its...

And did this on our {then not gallery walled} staircase.  Crazy elf!!

She stole some TP and did a little decorating...

I think she got stuck in the process!

She really loves chocolate, so I think she dipped into our cookie-making stash...

She built herself a buddy.  I guess we weren't paying much attention to her!?  Oh wow, look at that bright yellow paint in the kitchen.  I'm glad I fixed that.

She practiced zip lining.  I guess she's an adrenaline junky?


She found the mistletoe!!  Oh my!!!  Look at that line up of kissing suitors!!  We used this as a lesson of how NOT to act with boys.  Silly Renesmee.

She had to see what Twilight was about.  Apparently she read the whole series in a weekend!  That's my kind of Elf!

So that was our adventure last year with Elf on the Shelf.  I can't wait to see what she is going to do this year.  I think it's good training for Ash, because when we have another kid she will be in charge of the Elf.  I hope Renesmee will teach her some cool tricks!!!

Other things she did that I don't have pictures of:
Fishing in the toilet (dyed the water blue, put some goldfish crackers in there)'
Got into Ashley's makeup and made a mess - wrote a message on mirror with lipstick
Drew on all our family photos with a dry erase marker
She was kidnapped by the Christmas Hamster that sings and dances

Sooooooo.  Are you ready for Christmas yet?!?!

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November 6, 2013

Let's get real about stress!

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It's not a secret that this is not a great time to be working in education.  It's downright stressful.  Some may even say awful.  I'm not quite there yet, but I can see the point there.

This is the kind of job that millions of us grow up wanting to do, it's a job we go into debt getting trained for, a job we where don't make enough money to pay off that debt, yet we work long hours, bring work home, and live around the needs and demands of it all.  This, what we actually are doing, is not the job we dreamed about.  We love the students and work for them, but this country is making it increasingly hard to concentrate on that.  I understand why so many of my friends and their friends and their friends have left this lifestyle for a more family-centered one.  I totally get it.  So, this post is dedicated to all of my friends in education, no matter what capacity...teachers, administrators, counselors, helpers, even students... everyone!

I know that I am not alone when I say I am stressed.  It's terrible.  I wake up stressed, I go to work stressed, I come home stressed, I waste beautiful and valuable time being stressed.  Some days are better than others.  As a {school} counselor I know all these wonderful tricks and tips to get rid of stress but guess what?  I'm too stressed out to try them!  Sometimes I worry about this - if I am not stressed enough, than I am not doing something right.  I shouldn't be comfortable, I should always try to be better and learn new things and adhere to the new rules and study Common Core more and write better Smart Goals or SLO's or whatever the heck these new things are.  Even as a counselor, I need to know these things to keep up with the world and my co-workers and the pressures that are being put on our kids.

But, then I get home every night and I think, this is just a job.  It's hard to say that about a job that I love and is my life.  A job I poured hours of college and grad school and internships into.  I job I spend hours thinking about, creating things for, praying for.  But in the end, it is just a job.  I shouldn't let it carry over into my personal life.  I shouldn't waste my precious time at home or with my family stressing about things I can not change.  Even if I can change, there's a time and a place and guess what?  I'll never catch up.  I'll never be the best counselor.  I'll forget about something important, I'll say yes to too many things, I'll fail at some of them.  That's life.  I'm still going to try to be good at what I do, but I have to find a way to do that and not be so strung out all.the.time.

So, I need some balance.  That's all.  I need to quit worrying, take some deep breaths, and start being active in my life outside my job.  You may think I already do that, but 99% of the time, I'm thinking about what I can do better at work, what I need to do still, how to catch up, how to reach this student or help that's all-consuming.  I thought I was good at leaving it at school.  Turns out, I'm really not!  Most of these fun projects, cooking meals, DIYing or cleaning out my house is really me trying to avoid thinking about my job and my stress, but it doesn't work.

So I'm listing 5 things I would like to do to DE-STRESS my life.  I invite you to join me in them.  It's sort of like a mini happiness project.  Hopefully one of these things will help you feel less stressed too:)

Five Ways to Relax & Enjoy Life

1.  Pray.  Ok, this is a personal one.  Maybe it's way too personal for you?  If it is, try reading over it and if it's not, then you can skip it.  It'll probably be the most successful strategy of them all.  I need to pray more.  This week at church, Pastor said that when the weight of the world is on me, and I hear all those things that haunt me and tear me down {you are not good enough; you stink at this job; you should just quit; people think you are lazy; you do not deserve this} I need to remember these 5 words instead:


How is that for therapy?!?  Hello!!!  Jesus is always with me.  And when I pray and read the Bible and relax in His love, it does work.  So why don't I do it more?  I'm human and stupid.  This will be my first step!  I will still make mistakes, I may still fail at many things with regards to work...but Jesus is with me and will guide me through it.  He will teach me.  I will listen.

2.  Enjoy Nature.  I was talking with a co-worker this week about the stress level of our jobs right now and she told me that she had gone to a hiking trail this weekend and enjoyed being out in the world, in nature, and that it made her feel better.  I immediately knew what she meant.  I love being outside.  I love being outside in the fall even more.  I live in Maryland where we actually have seasons, and right now I can probably go 500 miles in any direction and see amazing fall foliage.  Why don't I?  So Dave & I are going to the same trail she went to this weekend, near DC.  I can't wait.  We are going to hike and pack a picnic and be outside with just each other and no other silly distractions.  I need to walk more, I always say that.  Walking outside has been proven to reduce stress!

3.  Focus on others.  As a counselor, I know a great trick.  When you take some time to help others, you forget about being selfish.  I'm not sure how I am going to work this one yet, but I want to.  I want to help, I want to give.  Last year, Ash & I started a 30 days of Random Acts of Kindness around Christmas and it was really fun.  Maybe I will do something like that again?  I'll let you know!  This includes focusing on family more too.  Investing in relationships is a known way to improve happiness.  The important thing to remember about this is that you can't forget about yourself all the time, you have to do some things for you too.  If you pour yourself into others all the time, you may fall apart in the process.  Hence, my job as a counselor where I focus on others {at work} too much and now I'm falling apart.

4.  Go to another world.  Read.  This one I am totally good at doing already.  Sometimes, you just have to leave your world and get into another one.  You can do this with TV too, if you would rather.  But in my opinion, you can watch TOO much TV, whereas you can never ever read enough.  TV has a way of stressing people out, so maybe stick to a movie, or a TV on DVD.  Commercials are bad for you, did you know that?  Again, don't use this to escape your life all the time, or it will fall apart!  I may add writing to this too.  It is NaNoWriMo after all!

5.  Seek adventure.  I love going on random adventures.  They can be far away, or close by.  They can cost money, or be free, or cheap cheapy.  The point is, I love doing new things.  Adventures make me happy.  They keep my mind off the stress of life, and when I go on these adventures with Dave, and/or Ash, we become closer and love each other more.  Life is all about making memories.  Think about it, in the future...will you remember that you stressed from day to day about your job?  Or will you remember that awesome time you went to NYC for the day.  Or the day you went wine tasting with your spouse.  Or the time you went hiking along the C&O Canal.  We have to remember what makes life worth living for, outside of work.

As I drove down the highway tonight to pick Ashley up from small group, I thought about that last one.  I was thinking about the highway and all the people on it, coming and going.  It was comforting to me, in a weird way.  If I wanted to, I could convince my family to pile in the car and take off.  We can go anywhere.  We can do anything.  Yes, there would be consequences eventually {money would run out, Ashley's mom probably wouldn't agree with her being gone, bills would pile up, etc} but the point is...we really can do anything that we put our minds too.  While I'm at home in my little town house worrying about my job in silly ways, there is a whole world out there.  There are so many things to experience and see and do.  There's no time to stress and be silly about the little things.  Yes, I want to be great at what I do, but I also want to live.

So that, my friends, is what I am going to do, as long as the Lord lets me do it.  I am going to live more.  Stress less.

Thanks for listening;)

November 5, 2013

Menu planning has saved my life!

So I have to tell you that since I've been planning my meals over the last month, I've had a lot of fun!!  I've made a lot of new recipes.  Actually, most of the stuff I've been making is new.  We've hardly had a repeat meal in the last four weeks, unless we had leftovers, save for the Italian Sub Soup which we are obsessed with.  I wanted to share our favorites!!  There are links to all the recipes to give the wonderful chefs credit.  Thank you for making my life easier and fun.  Yes, I did this with a full time job, a busy teenager, and a husband that works nights.  I buy everything ahead of time.  I prep at night when I can.  I stress less about the 'what's for dinner' question every day, and I know we are eating just a tad bit healthier {except for the night I made buttermilk fried chicken.  Sidebar:  I'm not great at frying things and I am ok with that!}

First up is Coq au Riesling found here, by way of Edie.  This was delicious!!  Since Edie was the one that got me started on the meal planning with her October menu planning and her menu planning for busy moms posts, quite a few of the recipes come from her website, or by way of her website.  Thank you, Edie!

Next idea that was so yummy was based on one of Edie's meals in her plan; a type of Frittata with lots of veggies in it.  She doesn't have a recipe posted but this is one of those basic things.  Just sauté a few veggies in a pan, use meat and cheese if you wish, whisk some eggs and pour them in the pan, making sure you lift them and get the raw egg underneath to cook.  This takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes until it looks mostly done, then you cover it with cheese, throw it in the oven and bake until bubbly. I did try her Honey Wheat Bread.  Delightful and easy meal, and we ate the frittata for days!

This next recipe wasn't a meal, but too pretty to pass up.  These were really tasty, but so sweet.  I think next time I'll tweak the recipe a bit for my taste.  Or maybe I made them wrong.  Either way, Ashley loved them, and there are so many ways you can dress these up.  I used a circle cutter instead of a rectangle, but I want the rectangle cutter for next time.  The recipe is from the beloved Pioneer Woman.

This soup is also Pioneer Woman.!  This is the closest I have gotten to Panera's B&C soup.  Sidebar: this makes a lot of soup!!  I froze two Bland family 'mealfuls' of this!!!  I'll get two more dinners out of it.

Oh yum.  I want some again!

I love the idea of homemade pizza night.  I've never mastered the 'perfect' crust.  But this crust is very near perfection!    Plus, Edie's not lying about the Honey Garlic Pizza being the best thing you have ever tasted.  She's totally right.  I ate it all.  Not all at once.  But I did eat it all!

Dave is more of a meat-and-veggie-pizza type of guy, so here is his.  I used fresh mozzarella for both.

These Cinnamon Rolls got a lot of attention on Facebook.  Also a Pioneer Woman recipe.  You'll be the  BFF of the century if you give these to them.  This batch made 6 foil pans full of these babies.

Cinnamon and sugar goodness.  Or evil?  I can't tell the difference...

You do this rolling process twice.  Then you cut the individual rolls.  It makes a ton!

We gave a pan to my mom and dad, and a pan to my brother and sister-in-law and we have 4 pans to ourselves.  I kept one out to eat, and froze the other 3 for the future.   Which happens to be today when Dave said he wanted one more defrosted, because we finished the first one already;)

Oh and I've share this recipe before.  Italian Sub Soup.  If I didn't convince you before, maybe I will now.  It's so very good.  We had all this leftover ham and salami and pepperoni from other recipes and as I was cleaning out my fridge this weekend I thought..."OH!  I have all of the ingredients for that lovely soup!!  Joy!!"  So the soup was made again, and eaten for dinner last night.  And all were happy:)

These are just some of the highlights.  Over the month of October, I cooked way more than I ever have.  That is including being totally sick and not cooking for 3 days, and also being out of town in Disney.  It also includes me being totally stressed out all month.  All of us in education are stressed, but I still have to get dinner on the table and my meal plan on my Google Cal is a total lifesaver.

We went out or ordered out almost 50% less than other months.  I'm ashamed to say how much we go out to eat.  It's so bad!  We love to go out to eat, but we are trying to be healthier and smarter with money {so we can go to Disney much more...and Europe...and Hawaii...and save for a house in Florida...and Italy...and have more kids...and sent them all to college...wait, what was I talking about??}  Oh right, menu planning has helped me a lot.  And yes, I am copy catting other recipes, and one day I'll put my own spin on all of them, but right now I am content with being taught, with trying new things, learning how to cook new things {again, I don't think I'll ever master fried chicken...I just can't do it right!} and journeying through a personal culinary revolution.

I love to cook.  LOVE it.  I'll never be great, or gourmet, but that won't keep me from trying.  I'm so inspired by these cooks {I have almost every PW episode on DVR} and I enjoy learning from them.  So thank you Ree, and thank you Edie, and thank you Bobby and Ina and Frances and Mom and all the other wonderful chefs out there.  You keep boring, normal cooks like me on their toes:)

Cooking anything new lately?

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