Saturday, May 30, 2009

In a Jam

That's where these strawberries are going...
Anne Marie and I got together on Wednesday to make jam - a process we have both been wanting to do for a while, and decided it would be more fun to try together. Originally, we were going to pick our own, but with the buckets of rain that had poured the night before, we decided a local farm stand would be just as good.
We followed the directions and pictures from Pick Your Own, a very thorough and helpful site.
First, we hulled and washed....

and canned. Then we waited for the popping to start- meaning that they had sealed properly. And they all did! After 18 jars of strawberry jam, we think we are ready for peaches. Mmmm... can't wait! And Crystal said we should try pickles because the colors would look so nice next to each other on the shelf. (Further evidence that we DO share a brain).

And I know, I know... I don't have proper canning equipment. But I'm sure this little "hobby" will be around for a while - so I'm looking into it. Don't tell Keith, though. He'll just shake his head at me and his eyes will roll into the back of his head. Like when I told him I needed to learn how to do this stuff in case of a national crisis. It isn't pretty.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Humble Thank You

To the men and women in our Armed Forces who have given their lives in service to our country. Let's not forget why the kids are out of school today, why we aren't at work, why we are cooking hot dogs and burgers out on the grill and cutting into the first watermelon of the year and why we are sovereign and enjoying a prosperity and freedom that makes the United States unique.

How do you celebrate this day?

Have a Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Feelin' Crabby

A Memorial Day Weekend Tradition.

And it wouldn't be complete without crabs and this...

lots and lots of Old Bay!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The View From Here

The moment I anticipate every August has finally arrived: The Return to the Beach House. The unofficial start of summer. Here is the view from my chair as I type:

Aahh... If only there wasn't so much to do in order to get here. But we are here now, and I am NOT complaining! I'm also not complaining about my weight loss this week.

-1.5 lbs. left behind. Yes, I did make sure I weighed in this morning. I didn't want to keep the masses (all 3 of you) waiting! And here is my second installment of Weight Loss Secrets:

1. Multi Grain Wasa Crackers. I love having one of these with a salad (as first introduced to me by Anne Marie - thanks, friend!) or as a snack with..

2. Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges - Garlic and Herb flavor. These are yummy on crackers and one wedge covers an entire Wasa Cracker (they are large) and is apparently only 1 point on Weight Watchers (which I guess is good?)

3. Not so much a product as a process. I have gotten into the habit of slicing up my veggies for salads and snacking when I get home from the store. This makes it much easier for me to put together a salad or eat a healthy snack when I'm hungry instead of reaching for junk. Actually, it has helped everyone in the family to eat healthier!

Now that I've shared my sage advice, I'm off to a cut throat game of Apples to Apples, Jr. It's the perfect "yep, it's summer" game.

Monday, May 18, 2009

From Brunch To Lunch

I love brunch. I love the food surrounding "brunch", I love the time of day in which brunch is served, and I loved hosting brunch at my house today with some dear friends. Our brunch began at 10:30 and at 2:30 we were still saying, "Okay, I really gotta go". (well, not me 'cause it was my house - that would have just been weird). And then one friend brought out a cookbook she forgot to show earlier and a little more time passed....

Now, not ALL of that time was spent eating, mind you. There was a whole lot more conversation taking place then food being passed. But we did not go hungry, that is for sure.

I contributed my granola with vanilla yogurt and fruit along with the drinks. There was also an amazing roasted tomato and aspargus quiche, mini-muffins and mini carrot cakes, and a scrumptious blueberry bread puddingish dish. I did tell everyone to bring recipes, but they didn't, so when I get them I'll ask if I can share them here.

But more important than the food, was the conversation. That is what feeds me most. This unique group of friends can be completely honest with each other; there are no masks, no competition, no hidden agendas. Just a group of women who care about each other, enjoy each other's company and are never short on conversation or laughter. We are connected to each other from different parts of each other's lives. Some have known each other forever, and some for just a relatively short time. But there is an unspoken connection among this group that is very strong. It is very refreshing. And I am so thankful for it. What a blessing!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Ladies" Night Out

Last night Emily experienced her First Sleepover. This was a momentous occasion for both of us. I've been putting off allowing her to "do sleepovers" because well, she's my baby and for me the Sleepover is just one more step towards ....complete loss of control, or something. Like I had control to begin with? I can pretend...

It was a little easier for me to say 'yes' to this request because it involved a tent, our next door neighborhood friend, who waters our garden for us, and our neighbor's backyard. We kicked off the evening with our first barbeque of the season and then the girls were anxious to begin their camping experience...

Okay, girls, go to sleep...

Really, it's time to go to sleep...

I still see you...Go.To. Sleeeeeppppp!!!
Footnote: I actually don't know if they did go to sleep because they were over in the neighbor's yard. But I sure didn't sleep much. I wound up on the couch by the back door in case she wanted to come home...Nope. I guess I'll call over there to see how they did - and if they stayed out of doors or migrated into my neighbor's house...Could be a cranky day ahead of us...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Three Secrets

Since Fridays are my "weigh-in" day, I thought maybe each Friday I'd share 3 of my "weight loss secrets". Of course, this would imply that I'm actually losing weight. So, maybe it's more like my "desire to lose weight secrets", or "my desperate attempt to lose these stupid pounds that just don't want to leave me" secrets, or... well, I guess the name doesn't matter so much as the content.. uh, oh. Well, here are the first week's installment of "secrets" anyway:

Arnold Select Sandwich Thins - yummy alternative to 2 slices of bread or pita, full of fiber and only 100 calories for the whole shabang. I fill it with hummus and veggies, peanut butter and banana or apple, grilled chicken and pesto, etc. And for some reason, I always toast it first.

Extra: Fruit Sensations - Because after I eat something garlicky, ie. hummus, I need something sweet. This is a much better option than the 8 chocolate chip cookies that I'd rather have and the watermelon flavor keeps me from stealing any cookies from the cookie jar - well, most of the time. Unless they are fresh out of the oven. Or still just beautiful balls of dough on the cookie sheet...

Chobani Greek Yogurt - The Non fat variety has 140 calories, 14 g's of protein and no fat (hence the "Non fat"). It's creamy and filling and a staple in my frig. I'm partial to the blueberry flavor.

Being just a little peon blogger girl from rural southern NJ, you can be assured that I am not compensated for my endorsement of these products - unfortunately. They are just tried and true and so I share them with you. And now I share my weight loss this week:

0 lbs. No change. Well, now, don't go throwin' out that scrap of paper you just wrote all of my fabulous endorsements down on! This week it had more to do with the fact that I could NOT get myself moving. Poor Bob. I only exercised with him once this week. And..well...I made chocolate chip cookies on Wednesday. So there's that. Better luck next week, I'm sure...And actually, I only have a little under 4 lbs. to go to reach my goal...Of course, my original goal was modest, so once reached I think I better keep going...Let's deal with that when we get there, shall we? Oh, thanks for sharing the drama with me!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rockin' It Out... the Spring Recorder Concert. Noah's debut - Emmy took the picture with her camera... If you look REALLY close you might be able to see him.

Fifteen minutes of B...A...G...B...A...G...third grade magic...

A Little Early Morning Chant

Kris Allen is in the finale... Kris Allen is in the finale....WoooHoooo!!!

Thank you. More mature and appropriate posts to come later.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hope Springs

It may sound strange, (well, maybe not if you've been reading my blog for any length of time...) but I love the sight of my empty garden in the spring. All that open space and warm soil - it inspires me and fills me with hope of what may come forth in a few short months. I have to laugh at myself when shoots start making their way up out of the earth because I am always amazed that it works! That you can put a miniscule seed down into the ground, cover it up, water it occasionally if it doesn't rain, and viola!


Sugar Snap Peas!

The other night at dinner the kids nonchalantly mentioned that there were cherries on the tree we planted last summer. Keith and I immediately jumped up out of our seats and ran outside. We spent about 30 minutes running around the yard, from fruit tree to fruit tree (well, we have nine) in awe of the baby fruit which seemed to appear overnight. We were like little kids, high fiving each other, laughing, making plans for the future (in other words, break out the recipes) as if we had anything really to do with this little miracle.
On Mother's Day we went to a local farm to purchase seedlings for the veggies we hope to grow over the summer. We selected several varieties of tomato, eggplants, zucchinis, cucumbers, escarole, melons, green beans and peppers. I think that is all... and I already had started several types of lettuce, swiss chard and spinach and the snap peas from seed. Of course, taking several vacations and spending lots of time down the shore over the summer kind of makes the whole garden thing a little hard. Thankfully, we have a sweet little neighbor who is willing to water it for us while we are away - even though she doesn't care for vegetables so much herself...

The promise of blueberries....

So for now we will wait... that the groundhog will not interfere, the birds will not feast and the insects will not invade. Now that the plants are in the ground, I will spend much time perusing my recipe collection and planning harvest parties in my mind.

Oh, and then there are all the herbs - how could I forget the herbs?? I'll save them for another post.

How does your garden grow? Are you a veggie person or flower person?

Monday, May 11, 2009

To Be Called "Mom"

When Keith and I started dating "for real" (perhaps another time, I'll share the reason for the quotation marks), we spent alot of time talking about children - not necessarily our future children together because that would mean we were really serious - and I wasn't ready to commit to that yet. We talked about how a child would behave, dress, wear their hair, our hopes and dreams for each of our respective children,etc... I guess testing each other to make sure we were on the same page, without admitting that we hoped our children would be OUR children.

After I did commit, and we eventually got married, we began to think that maybe God had a different plan for us than parenthood. Maybe we weren't going to be parents. Maybe, I was never going to be a Mom. Perhaps He was teaching us patience, that it would be in His timing, not ours, by His plan, not ours. Perhaps He was teaching us to rely on Him. Whatever His reason, we waited. We relied. We prayed alot. And then it happened. I was pregnant.

My excitement over learning I was pregnant was quickly replaced by 5 months of "morning" sickness that lasted 24/7 and then 4 months of bed rest. Again, I wondered if maybe God didn't intend this for us. And then, when my baby boy was born, there were complications and it wasn't looking good - for me. As I felt myself slipping into another place, I just prayed God would allow me to hold my boy once before He took me Home. Well, obviously, that prayer was answered, and I will never stop holding my role as a Mom as my most treasured, and most important.

("The Moms" of May 2009)

Mother's Day is a day to thank our Moms for all that they do for us, but for me, it is also one of 365 that I praise God for giving me the blessing of just being one. Personally, Mother's Day is a time to reflect on the circumstances that lead up to becoming a Mom, so that at those moments when I wish I had another name: (MOM! he hit me, MOM! where's my uniform, MOM! What's for dinner?, MOM! I have a project due today and you need to..., MOM! I'm hungry, MOM! she's on my side of the couch, MOM! He took the remote, MOM! she made that face at me! Mom! You need to do wash, MOM! drive me to...MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM!!!!!!) I remember that blessing.

Nine months after I prayed that prayer to hold my boy just once, I found out I was pregnant again. A much easier pregnancy and a "T.V. delivery" according to my doctor. And a girl. It was a girl. Perhaps a future mom. May my example prepare her for whatever God has planned.

Okay..that may require ALOT of prayer...

Friday, May 8, 2009

How many handfuls...

does it take to get to the bottom of a Doritoes bag?

It's called "Emotional Eating". Oh, like you've never done it. So, not one of my best moments but:

-.8 lbs. this week I'm sure once it stops raining I'll be out running marathons and the weight is just going to melt right off. But 9 days of rain can make a girl hungry, and slightly neurotic. I'm told.

Preparing for a fun weekend. No big plans yet, just hopeful.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Girls Gone Amish

Last weekend my mom (see her in the upper right hand corner with my sister, Laurie?) treated my sisters and I to a weekend in Lancaster. We stayed at a very nice bed & breakfast (which had an AMAZING breakfast). We shopped, we laughed, we took pictures, we drank Bunny Hops. It was a really nice weekend. Thanks Mom!

PS You can click on the picture to make it bigger...

Monday, May 4, 2009

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?

Meet Chewy. He has been with us for several years now.. maybe 4, maybe more. He's a rebel. Doesn't show himself on Groundhog's Day like he's "suppose to", and he's even been known to hang around until Thanksgiving, and have himself a little feast, before retiring for the winter - under our shed.
He always gets mad at me when I take his picture while he's looking for good weeds.

Looks like something got stuck in his tooth...

Camera shy... or...

just preparing to give me the Evil Eye....

Oh, please... I've seen this little scaredy hog in action! He just pretends to be a tough guy. But we know...
Here he is hangin' out on his porch. He's like our own little Kato Kaelin, shackin' up under our shed, moochin' off our weed-s, comes and goes as he pleases. Thankfully, he doesn't have any friends, so we don't have to worry about loud parties or anything.

We also have this little guy (well, honestly I don't know if it's the same one every year, but every year we have one and he's pretty predictable about when he comes out to say hi) Can you see him in this picture, posing for the camera with Noah and Emmy?

Here he is up close:

Say hi to Toady. Yes, all of our animal friends have names that end in 'Y', and they are all males, so far. That's just the way it is here on the Turner Plantation.
Tomorrow, I'll share with you some more Wild life, called Mom and Sisters go to Lancaster. Whoo, Hoo!

Slow Down

Time is going "weigh" too fast, and I just plain forgot to post my weigh-in on Friday! Let's get THAT out of the weigh (get it, weigh - way..) Sorry, it's been raining for too many days...

-1.8 lbs. Back on Track.

Last week I attended 2 birthday parties for 2 very important people. In MY world. And guess what? I didn't have my camera with me for either occassion. After the devastating tragedy of my last camera, I've been well, camera -shy. Don't want to take the new girl anywhere. Which means I've been missing some important moments, and depending on too many people to email me their shots. So, really, I need to get over it and start taking her out with me. (And yes, my camera can be a She)

ANYWAY, I digress. Last Monday, sweet Shaunessy turned 16. She is the daughter of my dear friend with whom I share a brain, Crystal. Crys and I have been friends since way before we were 16, and I don't know how her daughter can be 16 already, as I think we were just 16 ourselves, weren't we? Reality, though? On Friday, I attended a surprise 40th birthday dinner for my dear friend, Joe - a friend since 5th grade of both me and Keith (well, I guess he wasn't really my "friend" in 5th grade, I just had a crush on him - and Keith - and a few other of their friends - a post for some other time -- or not.) But over the course of this 365 days, 99% of my friends are turning 40 or have turned 40 already.

You know what is interesting though? Turning 16 I dreaded. Turning 40, no big deal. There were all kinds of expectations at turning 16 for me. I'm not getting into them here because even now at 40 the memories make my stomach curl and I get all pukey-like. But at 40, things are much simpler. My heart goes out to all the teenagers out there. So much pressure, finding yourself, trying to create an "image". Thankfully, Shaunessy has a great head on her shoulders (intelligence, wisdom, beauty, creativity and a touch of sass!) but I know it must still be tough for her. She knows WHO she belongs to though, and who she is in Him, so she has the armor to get through these years. But does it have to go so quickly for the rest of us?
Go find a teenager and give them a hug, please.