Saturday, December 31, 2011

27. Have 1 designer article in my closet

This one may be stretching it a little. Okay, maybe a lot. But, it's my list and I can stretch if I want to.

About 6 years ago I threw a baby shower for a friend of mine. She is Australian and loves tea. So, the shower was tea themed. As favors for the guests, I put a tea candle inside tea cups. And since I wasn't about to spend a ton of money on something that would probably get tossed out anyway, I went to Goodwill to hunt for some tea cups.

I don't know about the rest, but I found a treasure in mine. I've loved it. It's beautiful and dainty and it warms my heart when I drink out of it.

Tonight I had an epiphany. What if it broke?! I needed to get another one asap just in case it does. I have 4 kids. Chances are, it'll break.

So, I started doing some research. Turns out this little tea cup is real China, from France, made in the 1800s. I'm still researching what the name of the pattern is.

So, what does this have to do with 27.? It's my designer item. No, it's not kept in my closet. But it is designer. And I'd rather buy more of this than clothing anyway. Drinking from my little old tea cup makes me happier than any designer article in my closet ever could.

1. Make a time capsule

Happy New Year! I have 4 small kids, so we celebrated early tonight. I found this great idea and decided to tweak it to fit our family. In our first envelope was our time capsule. We answered some questions about each of us, attached a picture, and put them away for next year.

I love this and would never have done it were it not on my list. So, thank you list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. You just helped me start a new tradition.

Friday, December 23, 2011

80. Get a new brown coat

I got a new brown coat. Well, technically the color is olive green. But it's in the same vein and goes with my brown clothes, so I'm checking this one off. The picture above is the coat...technically a sweater coat. I love it, even if the cute baby in the picture keeps trying to eat the buttons. I love the color. I love the length (slightly below the knee). I love the warmth. But what I love the best is this:

I was in a store the other day and an older man walked up to me and commented on the coat. He said it reminded him of his old Army coat. I got a warm fuzzy feeling all over. My grandfather was an officer in the Army. My dad went to West Point. Little known fact about me: my family has the longest direct line of generations that have gone to West Point. Seven. Crazy cool. My great-great-great-great grandfather went to West Point. Someone in my family has played a role in every conflict since the American Civil War.

So when someone says anything about the Army or West Point, I listen. And so now I love my coat even more.

Monday, November 28, 2011

26. Go horseback riding

I love horses. Those who know me well enough to actually read this blog probably know that I want to own a farm...just so I can have my own horse.

I've always wanted to take riding lessons growing up. So it's a good thing that Morgan, my 7-year-old, takes lessons every Saturday so I can vicariously live through her. We all go to Latta Plantation and we have a great time feeding the horses and watch her ride.

It's been over 8 years since I last rode. So, I put this on my list to make it a priority to do it again. My dear hubs took me on a trail ride this past Saturday (thank you mom for watching the girls).

I loved it. I saw a hawk glide through the trees right in front of me (and a buzzard later on, which is a remarkably large and surprisingly beautiful bird). I learned that the woods around Latta Plantation have bears. And I had a great date with Matt. So sweets - thank you for helping to check this one off.

Monday, November 21, 2011

71. Play darts with Matt

Abbey Road Live, singing the Beatles

In college, Matt took me several times to this great little bar that had darts. I have great memories of that place. When I made this list of 101 things, I wanted to find a similar place in Charlotte.

Matt recently planned a date for us that included McCormick and Schmick's (yum) and then The Visulite Theater to hear Abbey Road Live. I decided to count this fun date as playing darts. Because where ever we would have gone to play darts, it wouldn't have stacked up to our Raleigh place. And The Visulite may just become our new "darts".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

9. Make baklava

I've always enjoyed baklava and have always been too intimidated to make it. I'm usually not intimidated by cooking or baking. But I have this crazy fear of Phyllo dough. It scares me. And while the baklava turned out beautifully, Phyllo still scares me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

83. Smash a pumpkin

I didn't smash a pumpkin. I realized what a waste that would be. Instead, I cooked it - something I've always wanted to do.

First (well, after I washed them, cut them, and pulled the seeds out) I baked them. I love this picture just for the steam that was captured.

Next, I pureed, adding water as needed. Yum. Me. I put them in the ball jars and plopped them into the freeze. Hello pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, and maybe even pumpkin soup.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

93. Make an ethnic meal

This is my ethnic meal: Indian. See what I wrote about the actual recipes here

I put this on my list because when I wrote my list, I was in a food rut. I branched out with ethnic food enough to do stir-fry. 

I also put this on my list so my girls would experience food from different cultures. As a part of home school this year, any time we study a new and different country than our own, I will be making a meal from that culture. Hence, the Indian food. Next week: African. 

I did decide to nix the decorations. I have 4 kids. I barely have time these days to take a shower, much less find or make decorations.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

39. Learn to French Braid

So glad I put this on my list. I've always wanted to know how to French braid. And it always seemed like too hard of a thing to learn. Then I had four children - all girls. And it all of a sudden became pretty necessary for me to learn.

A huge thank you to my dear friend Cyndi for teaching me. I think it was the ocean waves, beach sun, and great teacher that helped me learn so quickly. The picture above is my 1st attempt at the braid. Pretty damn good for the 1st time, if I do say so myself.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

47. See a movie in the theaters every year, 2011

Many thanks to my sweet friend, LD for going to see this with me tonight. I enjoyed the company. The movie? Not so much. It was really one of the worst book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen.

Everyone knows to go into a based-on-a-book movie with small expectations. Because the movie is NEVER as good as the book (although The Secret Life of bees actually may be). And I did the same thing. I knew the movie wouldn't be as good. What I didn't know is that it was done right bad. The acting went from one scene of beautiful, believable acting to terrible, looks-like-a-play acting. The story line was so different. And the end was cheesy, silly, and tried too hard.

So if you've read the book and enjoyed your money and don't see the movie. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

55. Finish my Journal

From Off the Mark

I am not a journaler. Is that even a word? It is now. I've done it years ago and while it may be interesting to look back and read them, i never have. I don't even have the time to read Facebook Statuses. So, reading journals of long ago are out.

About 4 years ago I sat down with someone who encouraged me to journal. So I bought one and started. Fast forward 2.5 years later (and only about 3 pages in the journal later) I wrote my list of 101 things and put this on it.

I did it to encourage me to finish the blasted thing. It hasn't worked. I've written some, taped in some worship songs that I love, and that's about it. As I think back when I made my list and put this on it, I think about how much has happened and how much I've grown. The things that stick out to me are my trials. The loss of my baby in my 2nd trimester. Matt and my financial struggles (he's a Realtor, need I say more?). Everything my journal contains are entries about these things.

I have loved writing about those things. However, I've learned something. "Finishing my journal" is arbitrary. I don't journal about every day things, but rather the bigger heavier things of life. Hopefully I won't have enough of those to fill up every single page of my journal.

And since the amount of pages I write is arbitrary, I'm checking this off. It's served its purpose of confirming that I'm not a journaler and never will be. I'm okay with that. I'll continue to write about things that touch me, things I'm learning in scripture studies, and struggles. But, I no longer care about filling up every page.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

17. Lose 10 pounds

There will be no before and after pictures here. Instead, a picture of the precious reason for me needing to lose 10 pounds.

I just had a baby 4 months ago and let's just say, it takes me a while to get back into shape after I have my babies. Weight from four babies (but 5 pregnancies) is quite a lot of work to get off. The Y has seen a lot of me the past 2 months. And while I still have some pounds to lose before I'm at my perfect weight, I'm checking this one off because I've lost 10 pounds (and no, I'm not counting the actual baby and placenta).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

20. Audit a class at RTS

Well, although I didn't take a class at RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) like I wanted to, I did do BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) this past year.

And since I'm giving myself freedom to tweak this list a bit and since a year of studying Isaiah is in the same vein as a theology class, I'm checking this one off my list.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

67. Eating local - what i've learned

My sad attempt at a tortilla.
Well, the week was over last Saturday. Whew. I am just now rested enough to blog about the experience. I'm doing this pro v con style:

  • Simple cooking. While I appreciate complex food, going simple was pretty nice. Just flour, butter, and milk for biscuits. Easy. Simple. I liked that.
  • Support local farmers. I enjoyed being able to give the local economy a boost.
  • Lost weight. I lost 4 pounds this week. I think at least half was the liquid calories I love...sweet tea, iced coffee, juice. But, it helped that I couldn't snack on anything prepackaged. Snacks were fruit and veggies.
  • Reality check for kids. It was fun to talk to them about local food, what pioneer people used to do to eat, etc. And for the most part, they ate everything and enjoyed it.
  • Matt's creative! I've always known that my husband is creative in the kitchen. Give him a handful of leftovers and 30 got an amazing dish that could grace the plate of a nice restaurant. This experience made it even more clear that he's amazing. 
  • I learned something about honey. Clover honey - bees get the nectar from clovers. Wildflower honey - from wildflowers. Interesting stuff.
  • Expensive! Meat and cheese...crazy expensive. Fruit and veggies in season were reasonable. This lifestyle is not sustainable for us. You really have to have a moral conviction to eat mostly local because your wallet takes a hit. 
  • Not enough taste difference. I was surprised here...and I gotta admit has not been my personal experience in the past. Most of the foods were no better than non local food. With the exception of the fruit. The fruit was amazing. I'll take local blackberries and peaches any day. The veggies? Not so much. I'll take the cheap Aldi's.
  • Hard to snack. Unless you have 30 minutes to prepare something. I have 4 kids. Enough said.
  • Human nature. I've never craved a soda from a vending machine before. But knowing that I couldn't have it made me want it. 
  • Complicates life a little. Scratch cooking everything is too hard and too time consuming. Give me a snack of gold fish and juice please. 
  • Shopping took a lot longer. I assume this would be a learning curve and would eventually get quicker and easier. But for this was hard. Not to mention that the farmers markets don't have shopping carts where I can strap in my kids and hand them a cookie (thank you, Harris Teeter).
So, my conclusion:

I apprciate eating local. For things grown locally and priced reasonably. But, I also appreciate that God made the whole earth produce wonderful and diverse things. I missed olive oil, chocolate, and coffee the most. So happy God made those.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2. Learn to knit. Then knit a scarf

I made activity cards this year for my advent calendar in lieu of candy, thanks to Pinterest.

Well, I've decided to tweak this one. The point behind putting this on my list was to learn something new and then use that new skill to make something. Well, I barely have the time to do laundry, much less sit around and knit.

I've just discovered Pinterest. I've been quick to repin things, but less quick to actually do them. I especially love all the DIY projects that are pinned. Now for those who know me well, you are laughing right now. I'm not a DIY yourself type of gal. I'm not crafty. I'm not creative.

This weekend I did 3 things off of Pinterest. The above advent calendar activity cards. This wreath. Which I love. And my door is exactly that color. And I needed a new wreath anyway. So, here's my version:

I've also wanted to do an advent wreath since we're reading through a great book, Tidings of Great Joy. So I got some inspiration from Pinterest and here's my wreath:

And while all of this isn't learning how to is stretching myself in a new way - which was the feel behind number 2 in the first place.

37. Drink only water for 5 days in a row

Daily iced coffee, how I've missed you.

Done. Check. Complete. And may I add: never again. My purpose in this one was to get into the habit of getting water when I'm thirsty. However, I haven't fallen in love with water. Next time I'm thirsty, I will be getting something other than water. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good glass of ice cold water. But, I enjoy iced coffee or iced tea more.

So, cheers to something yummy to drink (and something that ruined my eat only local for a week).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eating all local, update

Peach and Blackberry Cobbler
Update 3: Day 5 and I caved. I can now drink things other than water and I decided to drink some iced coffee. No, it's not local (the milk was though, that's got to count for something, right?). And it was delicious. So, while I can no longer say that I've eaten ALL local, I can say that I have praised the Lord for making coffee. And I'll take praising Jesus over local food any day.

Update 2: Well, I caved in again today with the kids. They've eaten ice cream and drank juice. I figured this is my thing and why should they have to suffer with me? And I almost caved in myself. I woke up this morning to a husband gone to work early, a 4 year old complaining of an upset stomach, a 6 year old crying due to the play date being cancelled because of the 4 year old being sick, a crying toddler who was sent to time out a million times for whining, a screaming baby who was beside-herself-tired because she woke up at 5:30, and an exhausted mom because of all of the above. I needed comfort in the form of iced coffee. But, I stayed strong. I put the baby to bed. I sent the 4 year old to her bed where if she did get sick at least the toddler wouldn't step in it. I comforted the 6 year old. I got out a brand new toy for the toddler to keep her entertained for a while. And I didn't drink any iced coffee. I can thank the Lord for that strength, because it certainly wasn't me. 

Here's what else I've realized: if you eat only local, all the time - you'd get mighty sick of having the same foods over and over again. I mean, really - living without Vietnamese food? No Thai? Never again tasting chocolate cake? Crazy. Dumb. Boring. And certainly not living well. 

Which brings me back to my blog title. Living Life Well. I put this on my list so I could learn and experience what it would be like. I've learned. I've experiences. And I'm happy with that. Although I will do my best to get through the rest of the week (I have until Sat night), I will not beat myself up if I fold and eat some chocolate. Because THAT is living well.

Update 1: Read about what I'm doing here. Well, I must say. This is hard. I have to scratch cook everything. No more quick and easy lunches. No more take-it-out-of-my-freezer meals. But, here's what I've learned so far:

1. My husband is much more resourceful than I give him credit for. He is amazing with food. Saves the spinach stalk and uses for other purposes. Makes gravy on the fly for my too dry chicken. Amazing.

2. I can't do it. It's just too hard to do while homeschooling and taking care of a newborn. Take today for example. We did school all morning. Then I brought a meal to a friend who just had a baby. That was at lunchtime. Because my baby was napping in the morning. And my toddler naps in the afternoon. So lunchtime worked. However, I had to wake up the baby from her nap and didn't have time to feed her. So, we dropped off the meal at 12:00. I had 3 hungry big girls and a really hungry infant. And because lunch has to be scratched cooked, they were still at least 30 mins. away from eating. AND I had to nurse the baby before I could start making lunch. Which then put lunch at 1:15. Not going to happen. So, my pal Wendy fed my kids today. And I'm ok with that. I still came home, nursed the baby, put the toddler down for her nap, did history with the big girls, and cooked grits for me. So, I can still say that I did all local, even if my girls didn't.

3. Kudos to those pioneer women. I can't imagine cooking, cleaning the house, homeschooling kids, grinding your own cornmeal and flour, farming, etc, etc. Talk about super women. I will remember that next time I complain about how hard and tiring it is being a homeschooling mom. I will tell myself: "yes, but I don't have to also cook every meal from scratch. Nor do I have to tend to the farm. Nor do I have to get up at 4:30 to milk the cows." I really do have an easy life.

4. The water only thing sucks.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

37. Drink nothing but water 5 days in a row AND 67. Eat only local food for 1 week

I thought it best to do these (eat local for a week and drink only water for 5 days) the same week. I decided to put these on my list because:

1. I need to drink more water. When I get thirsty, water is almost never what I reach for first. I'm hoping 5 days of reaching for only water will get me on the path of thinking of it first.
2. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I can go 5 days without sweet tea, milk, juice, and *gasp* coffee.
3. I want to support the local farms and economy.
4. I love going to farmer's markets and thought this would be a fun excuse.
5. I want my children to be exposed to where food comes from.

The rules: Local for this experiment is NC and SC. The only allowance I'm making for non-local is salt. And any homeschool activities that were already planned that involve food are still allowed (my kids will eat, not me).

Start date for nothing to drink but water: dinner, on July 9. End date: after dinner on July14th.
Start date for eat only local food for a week: dinner on July 9. End date: after dinner July 16.

I'll be blogging my daily menus for anyone who cares. Here we go.

Day 1 (July 9)
Dinner: Baked potatoes with sauteed spinach, hoop cheese, garlic, and bacon (for the fam since I don't eat pork) Dessert - figs and peaches
snack: biscuits with honey (yes - we managed to find local flour!)

Day 2 (July 10)
Breakfast: biscuits with honey, blackberries, scrambled eggs
Lunch: green salad with veggies
Snack: peach and blackberry cobbler
Dinner:chicken, sauteed green beans and garlic with lemon grass, cornbread

Day 3: (July 11)
Breakfast: biscuits and gravy, peaches
Lunch: Grits for me (Wendy's for girls, yikes!)
Snack: red peppers
Dinner: Chicken, onion, potato, spinach stalk (similar to celery), corn, and tomato stew

Day 4: (July 12)
Breakfast: grits, blueberries
Lunch: cheese tortilla, red peppers
Snack: peaches
Dinner:  sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach with garlic and red pepper

Day 5: (July 13)
Breakfast: spinach and onion omelet
Lunch: left overs
Snack: cucumbers
Dinner: left overs

yes, this was a lame day.

Day 6: (July 14)
Breakfast: grits
Lunch: hard boiled eggs, sweet potato fries, blueberries
Dinner: corn on the cob, green beans, trout, fried polenta with tomato sauce, tomato and cucumber topped with goat cheese 
Matt's birthday "dessert" - onion rings

Day 7: (July 15)
Breakfast: grits
Lunch: left overs
Dinner: spinach, onion, red pepper, and feta cheese frittata
Snack: biscuits and honey 

Day 8: (July 16)
Breakfast: grits, blueberries
Lunch: left overs

Thursday, July 7, 2011

74. No Fast Food for a month, completed

Hallelujah. My month of hell is over. And what a fitting day to break my month fast of fast food: the 4th of July. Let freedom ring, people! After my neighborhood parade, we stopped by CFA (Chick-fil-a for all those who are not lucky enough to know what CFA stands for) for some lunch-to-go before driving out of town to visit my family. Thank you CFA workers for working on July 4th.

Here's what I learned from this month long sabbatical from fast food:

1. I was addicted. I think we've all heard that fast food is addictive...well, it's true. The 1st 15 days I was irritable. I was tired. I was snippy. Oh no wait - those are the symptoms of having a newborn. Maybe that's a confounding variable.

2. Fast food is so convenient. It really is a nice luxury to have a CFA (or insert your favorite fast food restaurant) available for those crazy days when you are on the go all day long. Or for when you have a baby in the house who takes a morning nap and a toddler in the house who takes an afternoon nap and you have a small window of opportunity to run errands and it just happens to be over the lunch hour.

The 1st half of the month I missed the taste of the food. The 2nd half of the month I missed the convenience of it. And I will never have to miss either again.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update on my list

Wow...what a fun journey this has been thus far! I think that everyone should make a list of things to do and give themselves a time frame to get them done. It's good for the soul.

As of June 29th, 2011 I'm 545 days in. Which means I have 456 left. Here's where I am:

Done: 57
Half way done: 9
Undone: 35

Not too shabby.

36. Make my own jam

Allow me to introduce you to this beautiful organic blueberry and honey jam. Making jam is a ton easier than I thought it would be...although I didn't try the finished product, so I guess I can't truly make that statement yet.

But that's the beauty of the list. I didn't qualify how WELL I do the item, just that I do it. And since this jam is made, I get to check this off.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

94. Support a small local business

For the past 3 years or so I've bought that spreadable butter, Smart Balance. I like that it's spreadable. However, in the effort to Simplify My Life, I have decided to go back to the basics with just plain real butter. I'll leave it out on the table so it's spreadable.  But, I wanted a butter dish.

I could have gone to Target and bought one for a few bucks. But I went mountain local and got a hand crafted one...let's just say it was more than a couple of bucks. Did a cheaper one make more sense? Yes. But would it have had as much character? Probably not.

I enjoyed buying this because I supported a North Carolina artist. But as much as I enjoyed doing that, I do have to go back to supporting the big box stores. Because 1. I'm not rich and 2. Those big box stores hire lots of local people.

23. Go deep sea fishing

Well, I just got back from our NC Mountain vacation. And while there wasn't any deep sea fishing going on, there was trout fishing. When I first made this list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, I wasn't pregnant. I didn't think I'd be pregnant. At least not until the end of the 1001 days.

While I'm trying to do all the things on my list, I am also giving myself the freedom to alter the item. I still want to go deep sea fishing (just not with a nursing baby). So I'm not going to check this one off...just blog about it and give myself the freedom to use trout fishing in lue of deep sea if I never get to go. I'm hopeful that next summer we can go (when I no longer have a nursing baby). But, we'll see.

In any case, we went trout fishing on our vacation. For those who really fish, you will be ashamed at what I'm about to call fishing. It was a stocked pond. They handed out the equipment, none of which contained lures. My girls stuck the rod in and about 60 seconds later, a fish was on the line.

It was fake fishing really. But you can't really take 4 young children real fishing. Fake fishing or not, it was a delight!

40. Go blueberry picking

Loved this one. I'd done it before, a really long time ago. I remember it being a lot of fun, but I don't remember it being as much work or as hot. I now appreciate the cost of blueberries.

When (not if) I go again, the kids will be older. Having a toddler who emptied out her bucket a few times, a 4 year old who was too hot, and a newborn who couldn't be out in the sun is not the ideal way to pick blueberries. But, we all had a blast. And here's our bounty (minus a few we ate...good thing they are organic):

Blueberry jam (number 36 on my list), here I come!

After we picked blueberries, we cooled down with the best ice cream ever. Literally. It's Hershey's Cappuccino Crunch. Now if I can just find it in Charlotte.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

91. Surprise Matt with a candle lit dinner

Gotta say - with four children in the house (one of which is a newborn), I wasn't so sure this one would happen. It's hard enough getting macaroni and cheese on the table, much less a meal fit for candles.

It really only worked out because Matt was coming home from work 30 minutes late. I fed the kids whatever something else. Then I made our grown up dinner (aka something you'd find on the menu of an actual one that doesn't give out crayons and children's menus when you sit down) while Matt put the children to bed. And then I am pretty sure he was actually surprised when he came into the dining room.

You can find the recipe here on my other blog. And Matt - I hope there are many more evenings of just us sitting by candle light eating delicious food while talking about our days. I love you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

35. Buy something off Etsy

Well, I did it. I bought something off of  I have realized that Etsy is a place to go when you have something specific in mind to buy. Or if you have nothing to do.

There is a special birthday coming up soon and I wanted to get the recipient something special. I bought this from rrizzart. I love the vintage look. I love that I bought it as a key chain but it can be turned into a necklace. I just love it. And I hope the recipient does, too.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

32. Send a "just because" package

Here they are...the "just because" packages. I couldn't decide between two of my friends so I made them both a package. They include a book that I thought the friend would like, a bottle of wine, and these amazing cookies. I deliver them tomorrow. Friends - if you are reading this, you are amazing women and I love you both!

Friday, June 10, 2011

74. No Fast Food for a month, updates

 Final Update #4: Five. More. Miserable. Days. That's all I got.

Update #3: Well, I'm day 15 for me. Wow. It sure does feel like it's been more days than it has. That means I'm half way done. I've already planned a CFA date with 2 of my favorite friends for the day after I'm done. And I've realized that I will NEVER do this again. 

Update #2: It's VBS week at my church. I'm helping out in the nursery with babies. I'm picking up my BFF's daughter on the way...which happens to be right next to a CFA. 

Babies + no CFA = grumpy me.
Update #1: This. Is. Not. Fun. I have made homemade tea to try to curb the Chick-fil-a tea cravings. It's good, but no where near CFA goodness.

And the hardest thus far will come today - I'm going to Target with all 4 children (yes, many of my friends say I'm not so bright) and I can't go by Starbucks. Usually when I take all the kids out with me, we stop by and get a petite vanilla scone for each child and a big comfort drink for me (grande, decaf, 1 pump hazelnut, nonfat, latte - hot in the winter, iced in the summer). I say comfort because that's what any mother needs when she takes her young children shopping with her.

And since I've defined fast food as a place where I get my food at the counter where I pay, no Starbucks. Sad. Sad. Sad.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

74. No fast food for 1 month

This is The Last Supper. I decided that since I can't eat Chick-fil-a (the only fast food place I really frequent) for a month, I'm gorging myself before I start. And yes, the 1270 calories I just consumed was totally worth it. I probably go through the Chick-fil-a drive through every week, just to get their tea. Half sweet, half unsweet perfection. I will not be a happy person this month. I may snap at you should you talk to me when I have a Chick-fil-a craving. If you come near me with a Chick-fil-a something in your hand, I don't know what I'll just don't do it.

Now, I suppose I should operationally define "fast food". It's definitely a place with a drive through. And it's a place where I don't have to leave a tip or where I receive my food at the counter where I pay. I think those are good enough definitions.

So, my start date: June 5, 2011. End date: July 4, 2011. I'll check in occasionally to document how it's going. Pray for me.

Monday, May 23, 2011

10. Write at least 2 letters to each child, per year - 2011

 Last letter: I am pressed for time. So, instead of writing individual letters to my 4 girls, I wrote 1 letter to them all. Things that I would want them to know if I died tomorrow. Stuff like "I'm proud of you because you're my kid. Not because of things you have done" and "being your mom is the best job and I love it" and my favorite "marry someone your dad approves of". I pray that they don't read this one for many, many years.

Ava, Morgan, and Kennedy's letters are done (a shout out to Emmaline who slept for hours this afternoon so I could write). What I've realized thus far is that writing letters twice a year is a lot. I've written three letters now to each of my big girls and I'm afraid I'm starting to write the same thing. Although Kennedy's letter was quite easy since I just told her how she is a toddler in the fullest sense of the word. But, I do enjoy thinking about how my precious kids have changed, grown, and (hopefully) matured.

Well, this one is getting increasingly more difficult to do. Like I have an hour to sit down and write 4 letters. I don't even have time to sit down. Much less do anything while I sit. So it's probably a good thing that this is on my list. Because otherwise, it just wouldn't happen. Then in 30 years I'd look back to when my kids were babies and regret not making time.

So, I made time today. To write one. It was Emmaline's. I said things like "You're not sleeping well. All you do is poop. And eat. But I love you more than you will ever imagine." It reminded me of something really sweet: God's love for me. I'm like Emmaline - and yet the Lord loves me more than I could ever imagine. Not because of what I do for Him, but just because I'm His. Thank you my precious Emmaline for reminding me of that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

68. Host a movie night

I'm a little late in posting this...because I did this back in January. We had a sweet couple, Michael and Kim over to watch Inception. It's not my type of movie, but I really enjoyed it. Strangely spectacular. Crazily cool. Weirdly wonderful. You get the picture. It was a weird movie...but I liked it. And it was a lot more fun to watch with friends since we talked about it afterward. It's one of those movies that when you're done watching it you ask yourself: "what the heck was that?". I may need to watch it 10 more times to really get it.

45. Host a blind taste test

A few years ago Matt and I had a couple over to taste test root beer. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings. So when making my list of 101 things, I knew I had to include another taste test evening.

So tonight we had two sweet couples over and gorged ourselves on brownies. Here were the contenders:

Ghirardelli Chocolate Supreme
Homemade (recipe here)
Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate
Target Brand

The only consensus was that the homemade ones were not good. They weren't chocolatey and gooey enough and were pretty dense. But, I've had my sister's Oreo Brownies and they were the best thing I've ever tasted, so I'm pretty sure it was a bum recipe (at least that's what I'm telling myself since I was the one who made them).

Matt and I liked Ghirardelli best. It was gooey, chocolatey goodness. Others really liked the Duncan Hines mix. Personally, it was too milk chocolatey. Great texture though.One person liked the Target best. It was really gooey...maybe too much so.

Interestingly, when tasting them blindly, not many people correctly guessed the brand...except for the homemade. And while I enjoyed eating brownies, the best part was sharing it with friends. I'm glad this one was on my list.

Monday, May 16, 2011

13. Get a massage AND 19. Get professaional pictures done

Well, my little sister got married this past weekend. Wow, does time go by fast. Sometimes I still think of her as a little kid. Until I watch her walk down the aisle and realize that she's now a married woman. And an added bonus of me getting another great brother-in-law. So fun! Hannah and Luke - congratulations on getting hitched. Love you both!

And here's what I get to check off my list:

13. Get a massage. Hannah and her girls, mom, and MIL went to get our nails done. So, I got a wonderful hand and foot massage.
19. Get professional pictures done. Yes, it was only 1 picture of the Tringali's. But, it counts. So, I check it off.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

31. Get a good set of pots and pans

This is my mom. One of the most generous people I know. These are my new stainless steel pots and pans. I LOVE them. I've been wanting to go all stainless steel for years now - but there was always some other pressing expense.

Most of what I have had was teflon coated. I began to feel uncomfortable using those years ago due to the toxic particles that it lets off. Here are some websites that speak to the dangers:

Anyway, back to the point. My sweet mother gave me this beautiful (and safe) set of stainless steel for my birthday this year...hence I get to check it off my list. Stay tuned to my other blog, Simply Your Life for a post on how I organized them. Which was just about as exciting as getting them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

7. Memorize More Scripture

I do not memorize things well. Never have (always been a terrible test taker) and most likely never will. I've tried posting index cards around the house. Didn't work. I've tried memorizing with a friend. Didn't work. So, here's yet another attempt to memorize more of God's word.

I did a post on my other blog, Simplify Your Life, about my "daily docket" or my to dos for each day. It's the picture above. On the top right corner of the sheet, I have a Scripture Memory section. I write it out every day, which will help me memorize it. I'm on verse 1, but so far I am doing a better job of remembering the verse (well, at least the general idea of it) than I have in the past.

So, I'm checking this one off. Yes, I know it's probably a little premature. But, I haven't checked anything off in a while and I'll be honest. I need to check something off. So, off it goes and onto the next thing on my list.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

11. Read at least 12 books a year

Courtesy of Alison Bechdel on Compulsory Reading

12. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I don't even know what to say about this book. Such sadness. Such capacity for evil in the heart of man. Yet such redemption. I love WW2 stories. I've read a ton of fiction about Nazi Germany...but not much about Japan and certainly no non-fiction. This is one of the books for our book club and I'm so glad it was chosen. One of my favorites this year.

11. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. Amazing. Wonderful. Perfect. One of the only books I'd recommend to everyone. Regardless of what kind of books you like. I went into this book knowing nothing about what it's about...which I highly recommend. If I had known the plot, it would have lessened the effect (but not the greatness) of the book. Read it!!

10. Making the Terrible Twos Terrific by John Roseman. I have a two-year-old, in the biggest sense of the word. And that is enough explanation as to why I read this book. I love Roseman's traditional approach to raising kids. I love his firm yet loving take on discipline. And even though my two-year-old is my 3rd child, she has more "two-ness" in her than my first two combined. So, Kennedy my out. Your days of going through the "terrible twos" are numbered.  

9. Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Mary K. recommended this book for our book club to read. And boy am I glad she did. It's now one of my new favorite books. It's an interesting look into a young woman with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. It's funny. It's sad. It's clever. It's maddening. It's a wonderful story...and I learned some things about EOAD along the way.

8. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Here's what I've realized about myself during the quest to check this one off my list: I don't pay much attention to the authors of a book. Just the title. Ask me the author of almost any book and I can't tell you. Sure, my absolute all time favorite books I can tell you. Memory Keepers Daughter - Kim Edwards. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Hurston. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See. The only author I have read multiple works of is Jhumpa Lahiri. Not even sure if I spelled that correctly. So, I read another work by Lisa See. Shanghai Girls was wonderful. Similar to Snow Flower in the sense that it's set in the time of the Japanese invasion of China and is the story about the love (and frustrations) of two sisters. If you like Asian novels, this is a must read.

I was able to check this one off for 2010. And I figure I need to start reading like crazy now since I'll have a newborn in 3 months and will probably be too insane tired to read much then. So, my books of 2011:

7. Room by Emma Donoghue. Amazing. Best read of 2011 - and the year isn't even half over. I love books that have an interesting narrator...and this story is told by a 5 year old boy who has lived the whole of his short life in a small room. Well written, captivating, great story. Read it!!

6. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I have mixed reviews on this one. It was long. The parts about politics and religion were tedious and easily skipped over. I didn't connect much with the characters. It's a good thing Irving left several unanswered questions throughout the novel...otherwise I would have put it down. But because I wanted to know the answers, I kept reading...and I'm glad I did. The end was worth the read.

5. Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Read it for book club and I highly recommend it. 

4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. A friend of mine recommended this book to me about 2 years ago. So, it got on my "to read" list. And finally it came up in the queue. I'd give it a 7-8 out of 10. The story is great and if you like Jane Austen/Charlotte Bronte' type novels, you'll love this one. It didn't rate higher for me because of all the detail that was given. I love detail if it's succinct. This was not.

After reading the book, I watched the movie...big mistake. Badly done. But, it did make me appreciate the book even more.

2. and 3. Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukitama - I love novels about the Chinese culture. This book was recommended to me by a dear friend, who also shares a love of Chinese culture. I could not put this book down! It was an easy read and I was eager to see what happened. It was the author's first novel...and very well written. When I finished the book, I admit I was left disappointed. I didn't care for how the book ended...until I realized there was a sequel - The Language of Threads. Which is my number 3. It picks up where Women of the Silk left off and completed the story beautifully. This one I read in 2 days (and payed for it in lack of sleep). I highly recommend these books!

1. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah - sounds intriguing, doesn't it! That's what I thought, too when I accidentally ran across the title while searching for Disney's Cinderella movie to borrow from the library. I finished this book in one day...about 4 hours of reading. It's the author's memoir actually written for teens. I didn't realize until the end of the book that she also published her memoir for adults, Falling Leaves (which became an international bestseller). I just requested this one from the library...we'll see how different it is. In any case, I would highly recommend this book. It's the story of an unwanted girl from China. She narrates her memoir as a child and it is just as well written as it is sad. And a great look into Chinese culture during the mid-1900s.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

8. Thank you Italians for Tiramisu

My sweet husband surprised me a few days ago with the ingredients to make Tiramisu. We did it together and it was very easy. Not exactly sure why I have been so intimated all these years. Although I must say, next time I'll make just the cream and skip all the rest.