Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Redefining Daddy's Girl

I have written and re-written and re-written this because the subject is one that is dear to my heart and I wanted to express my feelings fully. I know that unless I had a lifetime to write this, I could never say everything on this topic that I would like.  So, after a lot of editing it is.

As much as I love both of my parents, I have always considered myself a Daddy's Girl, but not necessarily by the definition given by, which states:

"Daddy's girl is a phrase that can be interpreted in two ways. First, a daddy's girl can be the result of the way in which a man dotes on his daughter, coddling and protecting her and giving her whatever she wants. A daddy's girl knows that she is her father’s life and often takes advantage of the fact that he can’t stand to see her cry. A daddy's girl can never do anything wrong and is as innocent as the day is long.
Because a daddy's girl is the light of her father’s life, she may be under lock and key. In fact a daddy's girl may proudly - or not - declare that she is owned by her father. A father might try to shelter his daughter from all the unsavory aspects of life, preventing her from developing her independence."

Actually, I'm not at all any of those things.......and I'm okay with that.  I was rarely given whatever I wanted, because a strong work ethic was instilled in my sister and I from an early age.  I always knew my Dad loved me, but to say I was his life would be stretching it a bit; there was never any doubt in my mind that God and my Mom were the most important things in his life (and I cherish that about him).  I could do a lot wrong (and did)...A LOT!!!---but, his graciousness and love forgave a multitude of sins.  I was never innocent, but I sure could have done a lot worse.  I was the light of his life (or I like to think I was) and we all grew up in a somewhat sheltered home where we were protected from a lot of what is wrong in the world, but to say I was under lock and key was not at all the case.  I was given freedom and independence.  I was allowed to make my own mistakes, knowing that if I fell flat on my face my Dad would still love me....and it would be no less than ever before.

At 33 I still call my Dad, "Daddy".  The relationship between my Daddy and I was one where we would butt heads because we were too much alike, but I always knew I was honored to be so much like such an amazing man.  I wanted him to be proud of me, even when taking my own path didn't always fall in line with what he wanted for my life.  I wanted him to look at me and know that he and my Mom did something right; I wanted to be a source of happiness. 

He and I still watch football together and from the time I was very little I can remember crawling up on the couch with Daddy to watch a game.  Some of my most valued silent moments were spent with my Dad, neither of us saying a word; just watching the game and glad to be in each other's company.  It was so nice to grow up and know that he and I had something we appreciated that no one else in the house cared anything allowed for quality time. 

When I was young.....probably Reagan's age (4 yrs old).....I had a standing date every Saturday with my Dad.  It was always either Dunkin Donuts or McDonald's, but those few hours that I got to hang out with the coolest guy in my life were the minutes I lived all week for.  As I got older and we would go toe to toe over, looking back, some of the silliest things, it was the memory of our Saturday date that would break my heart as he nor I would back down, both determined to be right.  I remember thinking, "How did I go from once walking in his shadow to now we are facing off?"  I knew that I always held a special place in my Daddy's heart, but WOW.....was it hard to push through some of those teenage years.  Neither of us probably had it any easier than the other!  

I know that still, to this day, I can count on my Daddy to love me no matter what, and never less than any moment in the past.  I know that I still want to make him proud, this time though as a mother who instills the same sense of independence, self-worth and can-do-itness in her daughters.  More than longing for the reassurance that my parents feel they did something right, I want my Daddy to look at the relationship I have with my little girls and know that they have been blessed with a wonderful example of how to love and parent. All because of the father, and the roles throughout my life he modeled, I have the needed tools to be a wonderful parent.  I want my daughters to be proud to carry on the legacy of the relationship I have with Daddy.  I want them to know that there is nothing "weak" about being a Daddy's Girl.  That because of the relationship I have with my Dad, I am more independent, strong-willed and determined than I think I would have ever been without that special bond....and none of those qualities are anything to be less than proud of.  Even if they defy the definition of "Daddy's Girl"!!!

This is one of the few pictures I have with my Daddy and I will, one day, probably regret disliking having my photo taken so much

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Coming Up.....

Stay tuned..............I'm pouring my heart into a post that I don't want to write haphazardly.  I want to ensure that I fully express my admiration and love for who I'm writing about.  I would love to add your comments to the post!!!

Photo Credit

If you have a special relationship with your Father and consider yourself a Daddy's Girl, please share your story with us.

Thanks and I should have this post up within the next day or two!   :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

You Are So Beautiful!

Photo Credit: Grayson & Jackson, by Alison Little
Who doesn't have a day when they feel like complete crapola? 

When your hair doesn't do what you want it to. 
When you can't find an outfit that you like. 
When you would rather stay in your yoga pants and a hoodie or pajamas, and throw a ponytail up. 

Photo Credit
We all have these times, and if you're a stay-at-home-mom (like me), there's a good chance that you have them more frequently than others.  Well, maybe we don't want these 'jama days' more than most, it could be that we get to take these days more often because we don't have an office to go to, requiring we get dressed.

Photo Credit
Do you feel beautiful when you are bumming it?  I can honestly tell you that on these days I don't necessarily feel attractive.  I know that men say they think it's sexy when a woman has on no make-up and a ponytail or ball cap.  Though, I have a good feeling a lot of these guys have a Victoria's Secret commercial in mind more than your average woman.

On the days when you just want to cuddle up with an over sized blanket, a cup of coffee and put on your favorite pair of socks and flannels, do you find you feel less than productive?  Sometimes productivity makes us feel beautiful, sometimes it's more than make-up and amazing jewelry.  Well, here's a confession......I feel that I get more done during the day if I get up and get dressed.  Does that mean that I always feel like it?  No way!!!  In fact, quite the opposite is typically the case.  Because of this I normally don't feel beautiful.  Welllllllllll, this and the fact that I would love to lose weight faster than I am and dread the reflection in the mirror; but that's a whole other story.  Most days I would trade in beauty for comfort.

What I'm finding out, though, as I get older is that I don't HAVE to trade in comfort for beauty!  Being gorgeous is more about who you are than what you wear.  Attractiveness stems from how you make others feel more than sporting the newest clothing line.  Being comfortable in your own skin is more magnificent than being comfortable in your skinny jeans.  I know, I know.  All of our mothers told us this when we were young.  It's just taken this kid thirty-some-odd years to actually realize how true it is. 

Photo Credit
We all enjoy getting dressed up and having a reason to hit the town, but don't you also feel filled with self-worth when you get a lot done during your day?  Don't you feel accomplished when your children are happy, when you've done your job (no matter the title) to the best of your abilities or when you have completed your list of to-do's before lunchtime (or even bedtime)?  There are so many reasons we feel beautiful, and it's because we ARE!  YOU ARE!  You are beautiful!.....whether you feel that you are or not, you are!  Whether you accomplish all you had set forth for the day or not, you are beautiful!  Just ask any one of your loved ones or friends and I guarantee you they will tell you that you are beautiful!

Beauty not only comes in all shapes, forms and also is comes from a place that is more authentic than how you look to yourself and others. 

Never lose sight of the fact that YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super (Duper) Bowl

When I was still in my teens I was told I would never be able to have children, so when my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our oldest daughter you can imagine the joy felt, but with happiness came uncertainty and fear.  I had my life planned out one way and in an instant the money we thought we'd never have to spend for diapers, clothing and college was spoken for.  The financial aspect was the least of our worries, as life was just, simply not going as I had planned.  Instead it was to be much better than the path I had set forth ahead of me!  SO MUCH BETTER!!!!
Molly's footprints
Newborn Molly
Molly, 2 weeks
Molly was a ham from day one!

Molly was born in June, 2005 and my life changed more than anyone could have prepared me for; our lives were filled with more laughter and joy than in my wildest dreams.  Life was good! 

Molly, taken by Aunt Katy

Our sweet and adorable Molly
Super Bowl, 2006 had one big winner and that was our family!  We found out we were pregnant with Reagan that day and, with the doctor's prediction of not being able to have kids, knew we were surely blessed a second time around.  Molly was 8 months old and getting ready to a big sister. 

How Daddy found out we
were having another girl
4 months pregnant with Reagan
Reagan was born in September and she was TINY, staying in the NICU for 10 days.  This was the first time in my life that I knew what it felt like to be completely out-of-control-of-the-outcome.  I was never so scared in my life, all the while feeling as though I had to put up this 'front' of being completely confident and strong.  One day when I was walking down to see Reagan the father of a little girl who was just next to our baby girl was sitting at a table outside the NICU entrance, sobbing  uncontrollably; as though his entire world had just shattered beneath him.  It did!  His little girl had just lost her fight and the little body that he didn't get to rock in his arms, but so often touched, stroking her hair and running his finger along her little fingers and toes, as he stood outside an incubator, forced to stick his hands through small openings, unable to hold her in his arms would not be going home with her family.  I wanted to be able to take away the pain I saw his body attempt to release through tears and the occasional clinched jaw, you could see his large frame collapsed by the devastation as the table was almost all that kept him from falling to the floor.  In the same instant I wanted to rush to my baby's side, ensuring that she was still alive.  I walked over to him, not sure of what I'd say or what there was to say; nothing makes times like these less agonizing.  I hugged him and didn't say a word, not even I'm sorry.  I knew those two little words seemed so cold, so unimportant, to meaningless at that moment.  I couldn't imagine what he and his wife were going through.  I didn't want to know first-hand.          

Newborn Reagan in the NICU

Newborn Reagan, Still in the NICU

Our funny and beautiful Reagan

Reagan was released and came home, a happy, healthy, wonderful baby.  She rarely cried, neither of our daughters did.  She was a wonderful sleeper and didn't get up much through the night, that is the way they both were.  We were blessed beyond measure!

Clockwise: "Aunt Wally", Molly
and Reagan, Halloween '06
The girls have gotten older and are more of a joy every, single day.  They fill our lives and home with such laughter.  They amaze me more than I could have ever anticipated.


While the Super Bowl is a time when most fans can tell you when, or if, their favorite team took home the trophy and ring, and gather with wonderful friends to chow down on guacamole, chips, dip, wings and pizza....I can honestly say I'll always remember it as one of the greatest in my life, because we found out our team was growing that day!  Life is GREAT!

Molly, Age 5

Reagan, Age 4

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why We Walk

Meet Landon!  This little boy is the reason we are raising money for and walking with Team in Training!  His story will melt your heart and touch your soul. 

To donate, please go to The Barnes' Team In Training Donation Page

For ever $10 donated one entry will be made in the raffle for a custom-made afghan

....And every person who donates any amount will be entered in (each of the) raffles for:
            1) Crocheted Deluxe Spa Facial Cloth and Hand Towel
            2) Beautiful Crocheted Scarf

Photo Credit: Landon's Blog


After months of joint pains, random fevers and a case of what doctors thought was Epididymitis, we received the news that no family wants to - my beautiful, four year old son, Landon has cancer. On July 4, 2009, Landon was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
After an eleven-day stay at the Levine Children's Hospital, Landon went home to face a new chapter in his life, a three and a half year fight with leukemia. As a parent, one of the biggest challenges was trying to answer when his "blood would be all better". It's hard for a child to understand exactly how long three and a half years is. Landon and his mother counted out 1,300 pebbles and put them into a vase. Every night before bed, Landon picks a pebble from the vase and prays for strength with it, and then puts it into a box.
Once Landon is done with treatment, he wants to take his box of pebbles to Fripp Island and throw them in the ocean and CELEBRATE! Landon's treatment will end September 9, 2012!! This vase of pebbles has really helped Landon visualize the road ahead and when his blood will be better.
Landon is a very outgoing, friendly, sweet, brave and smart little boy! He loves meeting new people, especially children! He has a gift of making everyone feel like they are his best friend. Landon loves playing outside, reading books, helping with recipes in the kitchen, making crafts, playing video games, and watching movies.
Our family would like to encourage all Team In Training participants to fight for a cure! You can check on Landon’s progress by following his blog at:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Did I Keep My Resolution In January?

This post is going to be short and sweet........

Wow....February is already here?  It feels as though we were just ringing in 2011.  My resolution was to try three new things each month.  In January I did a lot of little 'firsts', but there were two BIG leaps for me that I'm proud I was willing to jump into.  The first was starting a blog, which....well, this is proof that I did.  The second was joining Team In Training and signing up for a half-marathon in San Diego that will take place in June.  I am sooooooo amazed that I have done the latter.  This took overcoming just the mental fears of failure and taking the first step, which will lead to many, many, many more steps as I train for the 13 miles that seem, at this point, as a near impossible goal.

So, did I keep my resolution? ----well, kind of.  Two out of three ain't bad.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Great Giveaway!

There is little that makes my day wonderful more than getting mail that isn't bills or junk mail.  It's a fact that we don't use snail mail like we used to, with the advancements made in social networking, email, texting and instant messaging; but, oh how I still love getting the occasional card or hand-written letter!  I used to be much better about sending out cards and recently have slacked off.  I want to get back into the habit of sending 1 card a day, because I know they make someone smile when they arrive. 

I'm proud to introduce the shop where I'll buy a lot of my cards from and the creator is Katy Lunsford.  Her products are personalized, beautiful, fun and cheery. 

Katy is sponsoring this giveaway with a set of 5 beautiful cards from her Flower Power collection that could be yours!!!

Flower Power set of 5 cards

8 Ways To Win

  1. Post a Comment, telling us how often you mail out cards and what you love about getting cards in the mail
  2. Follow I've Bean Hooked and come back to tell me you're a follower
  3. Share this contest on Facebook and come back to tell me that you shared
  4. Tweet the link to this contest on Twitter and come back to tell me that you tweeted
  5. Add Katy Lunsford's Etsy Store to your favorites on Etsy and come back to let me know
  6. Follow me (lizbarnes77) on Twitter and come back to let me know you're one of my favorite birds
  7. Follow Katy (LollyLinens) on Twitter.  You can get to her thru this link and come back to let me know you are one of her favorite birds
  8. "Friend"  Katy Lunsford on Facebook  (a link to her page is provided) and come back to let me know

You can enter as many of the 8 ways as you would like!  Please submit an entry for each that you do.  Winner will be picked by  Contest ends on February 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm. 


A Bit About The Crafter
Katy Lunsford

Can you tell everyone a little about yourself and how you got started crafting? Ever since I can remember I have been crafting, I had to ask my mom for a definitive age and she said at age 4, she came home one day and I was making Barbie furniture. My dad was a General Contractor and I was using wood scraps, nails and hammer! Then it continued in Bible School with ceramics and Brownies and Girl Scouts earning those patches! Now, I am fortunate and very thankful to have my own shop as one of my creative outlets.

I know you as a gifted scrapbooker and admire your phenomenal eye for design, fabrics and unique finds, but what is your favorite craft?
I don't think I can narrow it down to one - - papercrafting, sewing and knitting are my top 3 favorites at the moment.

Where would you like to see your Etsy store and crafting venture lead you in five years? I've always been a live for the moment kinda girl - but I hope it will be thriving and include more products.

Thank you for providing readers with an outstanding giveaways!
Thank you for the opportunity.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

Tomorrow will be my first day walking/running with Team In Training.  I am a girl who has NEVER done a marathon of any type.  The closest I came to walking any distance was when my dear friend, Kim, and I would walk a circle in downtown Statesville.  I was certain we were hoofin' it for no less than 3 miles.  I can't stand my odometer, it says we were walking about 1 mile.  She and I also signed up for a charity walk; it was March of Dimes or something like that, if I remember correctly.  We walked (another) circle and stopped off for breakfast at 1st Rx Pharmacy.  Breakfast was delicious and the other walkers/runners looked great as they passed by.  Go them!  :)

I have never enjoyed working out, and my body is proof of that!  I joined the YMCA many years back, for the first time, and went with another dear friend, Lynda.  My work out consisted of three or four machines, 15 minutes and fighting to stay awake at such an early hour.  All this, as geriatric patients ran circles around me.  That was my first and final trip to the Y....until years later.  Mike was deployed and, again, I joined the Y so that the girls and I would have another outlet for burning off energy.  It was well worth signing up, or at least for the time I went in and had my ID card made; that was the only trip on that membership. 

So, as you can see, I'm no Jillian Michaels, Jane Fonda or Susan Powter (surely, you remember her....the upbeat, fairly annoying instructor that had a shaved head) fact, I'd bet that Roseanne Barr exercises more frequently than I. 

We are supposed to meet in Huntersville tomorrow morning at 8:00 (AM!!!!---YIKES!!!!!) at a coffee shop.  I know that part of me will just want to drink coffee while watching the rest of the group walk, or run, off and I'd be happy to cheer them on as they kick off their training......that part of me is pretty much all of me!  Thankfully, peer pressure is fabulous motivation, so the fact everyone else is going to be doing the 3 miles will make me want to train more than if I had to go it alone.

I write this post, knowing that there is a possibility I will be writing a follow-up post stating I put in my 3 miles and it was fun while it lasted.  I hope that is not the case....I REALLY hope that's not the case.  I hope I have more stick-to-it'ness than that.

For now, I sit on the couch, doing what I'm most comfortable with; watching TV, crocheting and working on my laptop.  These are all things I'm good at; talents I've invested a lot of time in.  In just a few hours I'll be out of my comfort zone and off my couch, leaving behind my crochet hook, my yarn, my remote control and my Toshiba....but, until then, I'm going to marinate in these little luxuries.

Since I have no photos of me, or anyone else running (yet), I thought I'd post pictures of something I'm already okay at....crocheting.  Here are some of the projects I've completed this week.  My blanket is about 3/4 of the way finished and I had to put it down, as it became monotonous, to work on projects I could complete quickly. 

Happy weekend, all!!!


And....another scarf

 .....And, another......

 .........One More

What I call a Sharf.....a shawl/scarf.  It's nice and thick so you could bundle it up as an extra warm scarf or use it for a shawl

Basket of 4 facial clothes

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pay It Forward Friday

Yesterday my husband, Mike, was showing our daughter, Molly, our wedding pictures.  She was so excited to see them. 

My Husband

      Molly's tea party-- taken just before they looked at wedding photos

I haven't looked at our wedding pictures in such a long, long time and that day seems as though it was a lifetime ago at times, yet it also feels like it was just yesterday at other moments.  In the chaos of life, especially when you are raising children, it's easy to forget how you felt the day you said, "I Do!"  It is easy to lose sight of the person you fell in love with, as over time you no longer truly SEE them very often; even if you look at them every, single day.  For those of you that are married and have been for some years, you know what I'm talking about.  Looking back over our wedding pictures reminded me why I love Mike very, very much...and why we stick it out, even in the bad times (and if anyone ever tells you they don't have rough patches, they're either newlyweds, lying or they've already checked out of their marriage, and they are floating through---feeling no emotion).  I appreciate that periodically, out-of-the-blue, I'm taken back to the emotions and excitement of the day I married my best friend.  These brief glimpses at our past and remembering our hopes for the future are priceless to me.  Something I can only describe as a type of sentimental time travel seems to occur when you can look around you, surrounded by your many blessings, and reflect on a time when you dreamt you would one day obtain all you now hold. 

Me and My Daddy, September 25, 2004

Mike, on our wedding day

On this Friday, my goal is to remind others they are loved.  I am making gift baskets to give those I encounter that look as though they need a smile or a reminder that they are cherished.  Feeling as though you are important and valued is one of the greatest gifts we can give a person; and yet we are the recipient of such joy when we take the time to honor someone else. 



My beautiful Grandma and Mom in the background

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sister, Sister

I have started this blog a million times, it seems.
Deleting the whole thing.
Typing, backspacing, typing, backspacing, typing, clearing the whole field.  Typing again.
Slipping and falling on the ice produced in last week's storm and taking time for my ankle to heal.
Typing again, deleting a paragraph and starting over.

I wanted to make sure I got it right, I wanted to make sure I did my admiration justice.  I wanted to ensure I didn't sugar coat anything, but also didn't "air out too much of our dirty laundry".

I can put it simply by saying that the relationship I have with my sisters is not untypical of many other siblings.  It's been filled with ups and downs; beautiful moments and times I'd rather forget.  We have all said and done things that were less than admirable, yet we've all been heroic in each other's lives when it was most needed. 

I could write about both of my sisters, but today I'm focusing on my sister, Alison.

My beautiful sister and her adorable little boy, Grayson

When we were growing up, being 18 months apart (yes, Mom..we are eighteen months apart, not TEN months apart) proved to be both a blessing and a curse.  We shared everything: a bedroom, clothing, toys, friends, everything.  But, what had the greatest impact was that we shared space....pretty much all of our space.  Alison was much more organized than I and I'm sure it drove her nuts when we were forced to be roommates.

I remember being so protective of my little sister.  One year in elementary school, Alison was at Seabreeze and I was home schooled.  I was so terrified that someone would take her while she was walking to school that I would walk with her to ensure she got there safely, and then run home as fast as I could; looking over my shoulder almost the whole way home, scared to death (we had to pass some pretty scary looking woods on our path).  The saying, "I can say anything about my sister, but you better not say a word" applied to us.  We both said things that were hurtful, as I'm sure all sisters do, but we had each other's back if anyone else uttered an unkind word. 

The beautiful thing about having a sister to grow up with, and grow old with, is that you have a friend who's priceless when you mature to the point that you realize what a blessing is in your life; and finally get past all of the pettiness.

"Aunt Wally" and Molly at the hospital when Reagan was born, Sept. 2006

I could go on and on about the teenage years and the time(s) we (against better judgement, probably) were roommates as adults, but I'd rather focus on the times we've shared that have been wonderful, and look towards the future with great hope and anticipation.

Me and Alison, sometime probably in 2001..not exactly sure of the year, though

We have had the great fortune of having kids who are all around the same age, marrying men who are fantastic husbands (and pretty amazing brother-in-laws) and living (fairly) close to each other, so our families get to spend time together (of course, not as much as I'd like...but, I'm selfish like that).  I watch Alison, as a mother, wife, friend, business woman and sister and stand in awe of her.  She is so talented and juggles life with such grace.  As a child I knew one day I'd say, "I'm so proud of my sister",  but I never knew I'd have so much to be proud of and that my heart would overflow with amazement as I look at face I used to hide from when she'd realize I took her clothes out of her closet without asking.  :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Scent-sational Cooking

One of my favorite ways to cook is while sipping on a nice glass of wine and having one of my favorite candles lit.

I love cooking and I find such satisfaction in making a dish that taste delicious; warming the soul and tummy.  The way I cook, though, is one that I don't know if I've ever seen anyone else do, I cook by smell.  I have never been a person who uses recipes.  I cook off the top of my head, and with the items I have on hand.  I believe that God gave us the sense of smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight for a reason; and what better reason than to cook?

As long as you know your spices, just by smelling your dishes, you can typically tell if it needs a little salt, garlic, basil, paprika, etc; something sweet or savory.  You can tell, while stirring, if they are too thick, too thin or soupy, or just right (when working with soups a simple way to thicken them is with a rue, but that will be another blog).  Making your dishes beautiful is much more difficult than it sounds, and this isn't necessarily an area I've conquered with great success.  As long as it looks good to you, that's all that matters.  There is a very good chance that our meals will not make it to the table with the same presentation produced at Mesa Grill.  Hearing the sizzle of bacon, the bubbling of soup or searing of a steak all indicate that a fantastic meal is nearly finished.  While, the blaring of a smoke alarm lets you know that a quick trip to McDonald's is probably in order.  The great part of this is that, since we tend to 'eat' with our eyes and nose first, you know you can trust your senses while cooking.  The not-so-great part of this, for me at least, is that there are no real recipes you can give your friends, if they ask.  Maybe it's because I don't start with recipes and everything is a little of this, a bit of that, a touch of this, a dash of that.

Tonight I made, for the first time, a creamy potato soup.  We were wanting grilled cheese sandwiches and a creamy soup because it is so cold and windy here right now.  So, instead of Campbell's soup or making (another) batch of Chicken Noodle Soup, I decided that I'd put to use some stock that I've had simmering all day.

Tonight we dined on Oh So Gouda Cream of Potato Soup (yeah, it's a cheesy name...ha ha ha.....get it) with sliced, toasted french bread that was topped with cheddar, fresh basil and finished off with fresh slices of tomato (for me and Molly anyway....we are the only ones in the house that like fresh tomatoes).  It was delicious!

Here is my version of a recipe for the soup.  I'm not much better at writing recipes than I am one who follows them.  Of course, if there is anything you don't like in this recipe, you can leave it out, or if you have milk on hand, and I used half and half you can use what you have. 

Oh, So Gouda Cream of Potato Soup

3 c. chicken stock for base
1/4 c. chicken stock for flour mixture
4 forkfuls (see...I'm not kidding when I say my measurements are funky) all-purpose flour
4 large potatoes
3 oz. Gouda
2 tsp. butter
1/2 bunch of green onions
6-7 large button mushrooms
1/2 c. half and half
5-6 large leaves of fresh basil
1 glass of wine (one that you would drink, not just cook with)

To taste:

Finely chop potatoes, mushrooms and green onions (if you use some of the white part of your green onion, it will add delicious flavor!)

Sip on glass of wine.

In a large pot, warm 3 c. chicken stock.  In a coffee cup (or anything you want to use), combine flour and 1/4 c. chicken stock and stir until flour is dissolved.  Add flour mixture, butter, half and half and spices to stock.  Stir while on low to medium to low heat until flour has completely worked it's way into the base of your soup (the reason for this is so that you don't scorch, or burn, the bottom of your pot with flour that may 'fall' to the bottom). 

Sip on glass of wine.

Add gouda, potatoes, mushrooms, fresh basil and green onions to the broth and simmer on low until potatoes are tender.  20-30 minutes is what it took my soup.  Stir occasionally.

Sip on glass of wine.

*  I added half and half without measuring it...but, you may find that you want more liquid, depending on the consistency you like.  If that's the case, feel free to add more stock or half and half.  I don't suggest water because I don't know if it would water down (yeah, couldn't think of a better term here) the soup.
** You may notice that I never brought my soup to a boil, to then cut it back the heat to a simmer.  I did this because I wanted to be able to control the rate at which the flour combined with the liquids and the cheese melted within the soup.

Please have fun with this recipe and add items that sound good to you, and if you would like, post them under "comments" so that others can try. to pour another glass of wine! 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pay It Forward Friday

I had planned on making the first Friday of 2011 one that blessed strangers and neighbors.  I was going to pay for the person behind me in line at Starbucks and hope that they pay for the person behind them, starting a chain of giving.  I had hoped to bake something to take to our new neighbor.  Taking donations to Goodwill was on my agenda.  I was going to make a difference in someone's life today.  I was going to pay it forward.  I was going to bring a bit of joy to someone's life.

That plan was foiled by reality.  I, instead, cleaned the kitchen, drank (A LOT of) coffee, attempted to manage two little girls' meltdowns, took a dog out to potty several times (that we've been working with for what seems like a lifetime).  I picked up several outfits off of the floor, as the kids changed clothes countless times; only to end up in their pajamas again.  I fixed Barbie's hair (and fixed it again when I was instructed that I didn't do it right the first time around).  I've torn off almost an entire roll of tape for Reagan so that she could fold and tape a piece of paper, fold it again and tape it again (and again, and again, and again...).  Now, I sit here typing, while Brodie is on a leash, attached to my arm (because our last trip outside was a total waste of 30 minutes).

I could find myself bummed out and irritated that I didn't get to pay it forward to a stranger today.  I could beat myself up for not making it to the grocery store to get the ingredients to bake something for our neighbor.  I could view today as a complete bust because I haven't yet checked off anything that was on my list of "To Do's".  Or, I could recognize that I did make someone smile today....Molly was very happy with Barbie's hair on my second attempt.  Reagan's paper will never have to worry about being soaked by water since it's laminated with enough Scotch Tape to supply Belk's gift wrapping department, at Christmas time.  Brodie doesn't have to worry about finding another "forever family" as a shelter, or rescue, puppy (for the time being).  My girls are smiling and I'm sure if Brodie knew how, he would be also.  I didn't bring joy to the lives of those outside my home today, but I filled the space we occupy with a lot of patience, love and laughter.  Sometimes the light you spark that will make a difference turns out to be a glow stick necklace. 

On the upside, thanks to a wonderful friend (and neighbor) I got my Starbucks.  I am hearing joyous voices of kids who are playing, instead of crying and I haven't had to clean the carpets at all today.  Thankfully, Goodwill is open until 9:00 tonight and Harris Teeter is open 24 hours, so I still have time in the day to change the lives of someone outside our condo.  For now, though, I'm going to change the lightbulb in the kids' room that has burned it.  It may take on the Northern Lights effect of other good deeds, but I know two little girls who will appreciate not bumping into dressers and shelves. 

One of the reasons I haven't gotten much done today...I was up untl 5:am crocheting
Day Five

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where Babies Come From

Reagan, 4 years old

I didn't think I'd have anything to write about today, but a trip to Carrabba's with my two favorite little girls changed that.  Molly and Reagan enjoy pretending they are driving while we are on the road, but tonight I was along for the funniest ride yet. 

Molly, 5 years old

The girls were pretending that Reagan was a train conductor and took us to New York City (a place that our girls are fascinated with, though they've never been....).  It must have been a high-speed train, because we went from Cornelius, NC to New York City, NY in less than three minutes; that includes the time it took to turn in our tickets.  Reagan informed us, upon our arrival to NYC, we could pick out a baby to take home.  Most people leave the Big Apple with a taxi cab patterned coffee mug or a miniature Statue of Liberty...but, on Reagan's tour of NYC you could bring back a bouncing baby girl (only girls,  no boys; I asked).  I told her I would be happy to take a baby and asked Molly if she would like one also.  Molly quickly informed me that she could not get a baby because she is NOT married (super proud Mommy moment for me here).  Molly said, "You have to have a husband before getting a baby, right Mommy?"  Reagan replied with, "Yeah, you have to be married, but babies come from cupcakes.  The Mommy eats a cupcake with a baby in the middle of it and the baby goes to the Mommy's tummy where the baby grows."  Cupcakes?  Hrmmm, this would be a new one for me.  I asked Rea where she heard that from and her response was priceless.  "Ummm, Momma, cupcakes are baby cakes, aren't they?  Well, what comes from baby cakes?---babies!"  Ohhhhh, of course!!!!  What was I thinking?

 Day Three....wider than a scarf, not yet a blanket.