Friday, August 22, 2014
For me, the start of the school year feels more like New Yearís Day, than the actual New Yearís Day. Something about a fresh start and a clean slate, new pencils and all that. Back to school also means back on a regular schedule for me, and thatís not always a bad thing. Sometimes, I want to fight the clock during those early morning wake-up calls. And sometimes, itís frustrating to have to drop everything, to go pick up kids from school. But itís super easy to find the silver lining there. Early mornings mean Bubba and I can get our morning walk in sooner, so my day ends up being more productive. And this week, Iíve added strength training back into the mix. Iíd been away from it over the summer, so Iím easing back into it and it feels great. Today is Day 1230 of my exercise streak. WooHoo!
Taking Audrey to and from school is its own silver lining. She just started her Freshman year in High School, so this might be the last year or so that I take her. Soon, sheíll be driving herself. I enjoy those moments with her in the car, every day. Iíd post a first day of school pic, but I promised not to take one this year. Sigh. Remember when Audrey was in all of my vlogs and I said I was enjoying it, because I knew it wouldnít last forever? Yup, she definitely reached that point and Iím respecting her privacy. Enjoy the moments and be ready to move on to the next one, preferably without kicking and screaming.
What Bubba looks like, while Audrey is at school. ďHey lady, stop working and play with me!Ē
So, Audrey is a Freshman and Logan turned 20 this week. Big week for our house! Logan has been lamenting the loss of his youth. He thinks life is basically over, once you become an adult. I keep assuring him that heís barely begun and thereís a ton of good stuff happening now and just around the corner. He is the Eeyore to my Tigger. Look, here he was as a little guy, with our first bulldog, named Phyllis. Fast-forward to today with Manboy and his dog. (Heís oblivious to the fact that I have a blog, so he doesnít really care what I do. Iím just happy I got a picture at all. He Who Shall Not Smile.)
Proud of this hardworking, young man.
Another area Iím getting back on track with is lunches/snacks. Remember how I said I was going to start packing a stash to have at work, so I wouldnít grab something to eat on the way home, or binge-eat when I finally got home? Well, I did it. I have a little stash of healthy snacks in the fridge at work and Iíve already dipped into it once. It saved the day yesterday, when I wasnít able to get home for lunch. Next step, freeze some wraps at work and create a snack stash for the car. WORKDAY PREPPERS UNITE!
Stash, next to communion trays--occupational hazard :)
Early morning workouts-check, strength training-check, freezer meals-check, work stash-check. I think Iíll start seeing positive results on the scale in the next couple of months. As always, I remain optimistic! I hope you are too!
I will leave you with some unrelated photos, because thatís what I do. Audrey finished painting her room, so she was finally able to install a special decal that Shelley (BFF) made for her two years ago. Weíre not the quickest DIY peopleÖ Shelley makes decals for a living, so her stuff is really cool.
This is made with chalkboard vinyl, so Audrey can doodle all over it, using chalkboard markers. Sheís having a lot of fun with it.
A lot of my friends are artists; many of them are visual artists. Not only does Shelley have her own business, she has an art studio in her house. A couple of weeks ago, she invited a bunch of us over to play. We were supposed to bring our own canvas and we could use all of her paints and stuff. Audrey painted a hat box. Check it out.
Girl has skills
Visual art really isnít my thing, so instead of bringing a canvas, I brought this:
Paint by number, with the suggested look, original title--"Good Friends"
I decided to reinterpret it this way instead:
New Title: "Galaxy Cat and UniDog from Outer Space" (1 of 1)
Have a great weekend; paint outside the lines, be amazing. Spark ON, Brave Sparkers!!
Monday, August 11, 2014
Took a muggy, morning walk with Bubba and rambled about stuff Iím trying and going to try. Kind of a long vlog for me, but wanted to share a couple of things, in case it helps anyone else. Feel free to learn from my mistakes! (Also feel free to skip entirely.) Iím okay with slow and steady, as long as Iím learning along the way.
I wonít bother restating everything I said in the vlog. Suffice it to say, Iím still doing freezer meal prep for dinners. And now Iím going to extend that to lunches. I think having emergency stashes at work and in my car, is going to help during those times Iím stuck at work and canít get home.
Work has been pretty interesting lately. We shot an amazingly cheesy, music video for an upcoming project. Audrey did all the hair and makeup. Check out the look she gave me:
I should go to the grocery store like this.
Hereís the rest of the ďband.Ē This would be funnier, if you knew what we really look like. Just know that these people are actually a nurse, teacher, worship leader, truck driver and electrician. Now, we have all discovered our secret, inner rock star. heh heh
We. Are. Rockstars
Also, weíre recovering from popping 600 bags of popcorn for the weekend. We started a new, summer movies series and are serving popcorn each week. Thatís a LOT of popcorn.
I may stop loving popcorn in the next five weeks...
Weíve had fun with the set, though. Lookó giant, candy boxes, full of calorie-free, invisible candy. SparkWorthy.
Imagine if those SnoCaps were real! Holy cow.
And hereís a little Pinterest win we tried. We wanted to make our movie posters light up, like the vintage signs. One of my team members found this tip and it worked really well. We cut slits in ping pong balls and slid LED Christmas lights into each ball. They form little light-up globes. It was cheap and turned out really cute. I think Shelleyís daughter is going to use this idea in her dorm room. Iím not really a crafty person, but thought Iíd pass this along. It really is a clever idea. Just make sure the lights are LEDs, so you donít melt the ping pong ballsÖ
Fun little idea
Well, I suppose Iíll sign off here and go tackle some housework. My house looks like itís been in the eye of a sharknado. (Please tell me youíve watched at least one Sharknado movie this summer. It gives your brain some necessary rest time.)
Oh, I must leave you with this inspirational photo of Bubba. I love these flowers; I think theyíre totally Dr. Seussian creations. Cindy Lou Who probably has a vase of them on her nightstand. I was later informed that the flowers are called Naked Ladies, which probably makes this picture inappropriate now.
A Moment with Bubba
Spark ON, Brave Sparkers!!
Monday, July 28, 2014
I know youíve eagerly awaited the next Laundry Room Accordion Concert. Honestly, how have you lasted this long? How? I regret to inform you that Accordion Concerts are now being held in the garage. Now you know. Why am I sharing this? Because I can. And I think itís highly SparkWorthy, to share whenever youíre trying and learning new thingsóeven if itís the accordion. Heaven help us.
Accordion matters aside, hereís a little vacation update. If you read my last blog, youíll know that we had a girls-only road trip to Nashville, to visit family.
Here we are, setting out.
We had such a great time. Nothing super organized, just a quick, yet relaxing trip. We called this the ďGet Out of Town for a Couple of Days, Before We Inadvertently Kill SomeoneĒ trip. You know what Iím talking about. We all needed a break! But guess what? We kept the streak alive, by working out in the hotel fitness center. Woo to our hotel hoos.
We worked out every single day. ROAR
And guess what else we did, with all the time in the world and no agenda? We went to a childrenís Science museum and planetarium. Without children. Yes, this is what we (along with the two, older teenagers) decided to do. Nerds. And guess what? We had so much fun! Turns out, itís way easier going to a childrenís museum without children. Who knew? We had fun climbing all over things and Shelley and I only nodded off a couple of times during the planetarium show. We werenít bored, just relaxed and the lights were out.
Finally! My chance to ride on the Magic School Bus.
Shelley, dangling from a large rope and using leverage to lift a small car.
The girls, trying to do some hockey thing, that we never figured out.
And hereís another thing we tried to do, while traveling. We tried to eat semi-reasonably; lunch portions, splitting meals, etc. The one, big, splurge meal was at a Mexican restaurant. You have to understand that my cousinís mother-in-law owns the restaurant. This is her home cooking, the real deal. Jody (my cousin), wanted us to try everything. We felt obligated. I was raised in the South; I have manners. But Jody had the smart idea of ordering everything family-style, instead of a bunch of separate meals. So we had this huge table, full of food, but we only sampled a little bit of everything, rather than gorge on one thing. Just a taste of this and that, instead of the whole thing. It was a great way to try a lot of different things, without overdoing it in a big way.
Me and Jody (Can you tell weíre family?)
Anyway, I thought that was pretty brilliant and thatís a tip Iím gonna try to remember. That said, the scale did bump back up a little. But Iím not alarmed. Even eating somewhat reasonably, Iím sure that my sodium intake was up. That always throws me for a loop. And I never can drink as much water while Iím traveling, as I can at home. So, I expected some fluctuation. Itíll all even out in the long run. And I got some very valuable rest and relaxation that my brain so desperately needed.
And guess who was very glad his walking buddy came home?
Another news flash: Last week was the first week that my knee felt normal! Guess it really did take six months to heal from the Death By Bulldog Sprain. Iím awfully glad it finally did, because this dog does not want to stop. Check it outóBubba finished his first 5K the other day. (Heís probably done one before, but this was the first one I actually measured.) He did great! What a SparkDog.
I think he deserves a medal.
Well, Iím sure youíve had your quota of Mostmom exploits for one dayóaccordion concerts and vacation pics. Riveting stuff. I hope youíre having a good summer (if itís summer where you are) and getting to recharge your batteries (even if itís not summer where you are). Have a great week! :)
Spark ON, Brave Sparkers!
Monday, July 14, 2014
I AM ON VACATION!!! Woo to my exhausted hoo! I haven't taken any time off, since I went back to work in September, so I'm definitely ready for a break. I'm getting ready to do massive amounts of laundry, so Audrey, my BFF, her daughter and I can head out for a girls-only, road trip. WOOT! And guess what? The guys still have a couple of freezer meals left, so they're set. How about that?
Quick Watermelon Update: Apparently, this is the summer for me to try 14 different ways to slice a watermelon. First, there was the giant, slicer, which frankly--still makes me nervous. Next, were Pinterest watermelon sticks. Took me a while to cut, but they were super easy to pick up and eat, kinda like watermelon popsicles or something. Now comes, "skinning" a watermelon. Have y'all seen the video that's floating around? Here it is:
I tried this, but imagine me doing it in super slow-mo. My knife isn't that sharp and I wanted to keep all my fingers. But it was a really easy way to deal with the rind. The watermelon chunks weren't as easy to snack on as the sticks, because you have to have a bowl, but still, pretty cool.
Results from "skinned" watermelon
Aren't you glad I share these important findings with y'all?
Here is one of the reasons why I'm exhausted and ready for a break. Last week was filled with set building/dressing. Here's an example:
Me in the lift, attempting to hang our foam-carved "Elisha." It's harder than it looks, people!
But, it turned out pretty cool.
I get to make cool stuff at work, because I work with amazing people.
But I'm exhausted and ready for a break!!
Also, yesterday, we celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. Just for fun, I'll share this vintage pic with you. Here we are:
There's a whole story behind that hair. Heaven help us!
Here's the reception, where the Best Man made a toast to Randy and SHEILA. Randy spit out whatever he was eating and I yelled, "Who's Sheila?"
Look at my face. Haha. We were off to such a classy start.
Okay, I need to sign off and head to the laundry room, so we can get this party started. Don't worry, I will definitely be Sparking on the GO. Today is Day 1191 of my exercise streak. We'll keep that going on the road.
I'll leave you with this sad pic of Bubba, who will be left for a couple of days, with humans who won't take him for a walk. Bless his little bulldog heart.
I'll make it up to you when I get back, buddy!
Spark ON, Brave Sparkers!!!!
Monday, July 07, 2014
I survived my first Freezer Meal Marathon last week! Okay, technically, Iíve done a freezer meal workshop before, but this was the first time I did it solo. Audrey and I took a couple of days, scouring the Internet for recipes and building a shopping list. Honestly, the recipes arenít ďdietĒ recipes. Theyíre just regular food, made in bulk quantities or prepped ahead of time and frozen. Iím not that concerned about ďdietĒ food. Iím more interested in ďrealĒ food, less processed stuff, smaller portions and ready to have on-hand. So, this worked for me. Pretty much the only processed thing, was a can of beans I threw in one of the soups. Other than that, it was just regular food.
Back story: We have two major grocery stores in town. One is Kroger, which I know like the back of my hand. I can be in and out of there, lickety-split, if necessary. The other is Jungle Jimís, which is a massive, local store. I SO wish I could take you there via vlog, but they donít allow filming. It has to be one of the most interesting grocery stores on the planet. Itís full of animatronic exhibits and tons of exotic stuff. But I donít have that place memorized very well, because itís so big. So I usually just go there for interesting produce, special cuts of meat and weird stuff I canít find anywhere else.
They carry stuff like this. Cricket bars were NOT on my list.
I also found these, monogrammed beans. I passed on these, as well.
For some unknown reason, Audrey and I decided to do this massive shopping trip at Jungle Jimís. It took us hours. At one point, we both wanted to cry. We wanted to ditch our cart and just go home. But we had too much effort invested in it, so we soldiered on. We got the best produce and meat, though. But holy cow, we were glad when it was over.
By the time I got home and was ready to start prepping, it was almost evening. Did I mention that we got a late start, because a water pipe busted in our basement? Yup. I knew I couldnít cook or do anything, until repairs were made and the water was back on. So I didn't even get started until after dinner. But I was determined to do this on my one and only day off, so I persevered. Audrey helped as much as she could, but itís a small kitchen and sometimes itís easier to fly solo. This is insane, I know it isóI meal prepped until three in the morning. What can I say? I got a late start. I knew this was my only day to do it. It had to be done. Next time, Iíll schedule one day for shopping and one day for prepping. And Iíll try NOT to schedule a plumbing emergency. Really, what was I thinking with that?
But. I. Did. It. At one point, I was really running out of steam. Audrey hugged me and said, ďYou'll thank yourself later, mom. It will all be worth it.Ē Then, my mantra became, ďFor Future Shelli!Ē
One casualty of the night. Chicken Tortilla Soup that spilled while I turned my back for a second. That was not a fun clean-up, I assure you.
So, we have a freezer full of meals and I went a whole week without panicking or exploding when someone asked what was for dinner.
Hereís the rundown/quantities of what I made:
Chicken Fried Rice (2)
Honey-Spiced Glazed Pork Chops (2)
Roasted Chicken & Veggies (2)
Ham and Scalloped Potatoes
Chicken Tortilla Soup (minus a few beans)
Roast for French Dip sandwiches
13 meals, with leftovers. And everything either has veggies in it, or will have veggies as big sides. Iím not gonna lie; pretty darn proud of myself. And Iíve been tracking my food this week and staying within range. Feels pretty good.
Important Watermelon Update:
As you know, my friend Shelley has a gigantic, watermelon slicer. I do not. I terrify myself and my family with a large knife. But one of my SparkBuddies, JoyInky, shared a great way to slice up watermelon. She found this on Pinterest. Iíll have you know, Iím usually a walking testimony for Pinterest fails; I really am. But I was halfway able to do this one. Except my watermelon sticks were more like watermelon spears or lightsabers. But theyíre WAY easier to grab and eat this way! Cut the melon in half and then cut it like you cut a potato for fries. Hereís the link:
My watermelon sticks/spears/lightsabers.
I will leave you with this pic of my new practice space for my accordion lessons. With everyone home for the summer and my son working night shift and sleeping during the day, Iíve now been relegated to practicing outside in the garage. But Iím improving!! Iíll have to stage another laundry room/garage concert soon.
I think I need a soundproof practice room! I tried practicing in my car, but thereís not enough room. An artist is never appreciated at homeÖ
Spark ON, Brave Sparkers!!!
PS: I forgot to mention that most of these recipes are freezer to crock pot meals. Can't get much more convenient than that. Not until they build a robot, home chef anyway.
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