Archive for November, 2008

Since Thanksgiving is only a few days away, Grace and I have been talking about what we’re thankful for this last week.  Here is Grace’s List:

  • Chocolate Chips
  • Cheese
  • My mom
  • My toy box
  • Ranch dressing
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Pickles

Here is my list:

  • I’m thankful for Grace
  • Answered Prayer
  • That I’m self-employed
  • God’s Love
  • Our home
  • Family
  • Friends

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I am a very prompt Thank You Note writer……Grace and I even write Thank You notes to family members when they give us things for birthdays, holidays, or just because.  When I hand someone a “Thank You Note” they usually look very surprised.  Is it just me, or does it seem like “Thank You Notes” are not very common anymore?

I give people a lot of things, I give a lot of gifts, but I stop giving gifts to people who don’t say “Thank You.”  I don’t even require a formal “Thank You note” to keep giving things to people, a verbal “Thank You.” is good enough for me to want to give gifts to that individual in the future.  The only trouble is, that I seem to be getting fewer and fewer verbal “Thank You’s” as the years go by.  I’m not talking about if I hand someone a gift, because most people say “Thank You” when they are handed something. 

What I’m talking about is when someone takes the time to select a gift for you and pays to ship it to you, and you can’t even pick up the phone to say “Thank You”……it’s one of my pet peeves.  I feel like if people can’t even call to say “Thank You” then, I really can’t spend my time selecting things and shipping it to them in the future. 

I know you’re thinking the Bible says that “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”  I’m not talking about giving a gift and not getting one in return, when I give gifts, I don’t expect anything in return other than a simple “Thank You.”

My point really is that no one has to give you anything ever, but people give gifts to say “I’m thinking of you”  “Happy Birthday” “Congratulations” or “I love you.”  When people don’t say “Thank You” I really feel like they expect people to give them things.

The Bible talks a lot about Thankfulness and being Thankful for things.  But, we also see in the parable of the 10 lepers, that Jesus healed them and only ONE of them remembered to say “Thank You.”  I wonder how often God does things for us, and we forget to say “Thank You.”  Are we to the point where we just expect God to do things for us because He loves us?

“A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart.”

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Good news!!!  The scale confirms it….I’ve reached my 5lb goal!  Now I only have 5lbs left until I reach my next goal!  (You can read about my weight loss goals here.)

I seemed to be on a plateau in weight loss and you know how you beat yourself up for it…….anyway, I kept telling myself…..”This is crazy….you have to get this baby weight off!”  So, in my attempt to figure out how to get the last half of the weight off, I read almost every article I could find about weight loss in women’s magazines. 

I don’t go for diets where you have to eat weird things to lose weight and I don’t go for weight loss pills, so most of the diets I read about I discarded…..then I came across a diet article that said you can lose weight by drinking tea each day.  It gave all of these great ways to get your tea consumption in.  While I was reading it, I thought to myself…”It sounds simple enough, but I’m not a tea drinker.”  (I cannot stand tea…..anyway…) so I was about to discard this diet too when I saw that it suggested that if you’re not a tea drinker, you can still use the diet by taking Green Tea Pills.

I hadn’t heard of Green Tea Pills, but I thought I’d check it out the next time I went to the store.  I also ran it by a friend of mine and she said that she takes them and thinks they help with weight loss and energy.  They’re all natural, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I’m on day 2 of the green tea pills, I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks if I think they’re working.

Another encouraging thing I read about weight loss this week is that any form of exercise, even if it’s for only 5 minutes helps you burn calories.  The article said that 5 minutes of exercise a day, 6x a day is JUST AS EFFECTIVE as 30 minutes at the same time.

I like the 5 minute concept, just like I like the setting goals to lose 5 LBS at a time, it makes it not so overwhelming.

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In case you haven’t noticed, when I cook, I do a lot of things according to my preference in taste, so some of my recipes don’t have exact measurements, as is the case with this one, but bear with me, Baked Potato Soup is FANTASTIC, especially this time of year, so here goes…..

You Will Need:

5lb bag of White Potatoes
1 Gallon of Milk
1 LB of Bacon
2 Large containers of sour cream
Onion Greens or Chives (whichever you prefer)
1 Medium Size White Onion
1 Bag of Shredded Chedder Cheese
Black Ground Pepper

Wash (don’t peel) and cut potatoes long wise in half and then each half in half long wise and then across the halves to make 6-8 chunks out of each half (so 12-16  chunks per potato.)

On medium heat, fill your soup pot 1/2 way with milk, and slowly stir in 1/2 cup of flour at a time until the base has some substance (usually 1 1/2 -2 cups of flour depending on the size of the pot, I usually use one that will hold 3/4 of a gallon of milk.)  Add sour cream to your mixture to taste, I  use about 3/4 of a 16oz container of sour cream.  Add black ground pepper to taste, it’s hard to say how much I use, I just add it until it looks like there’s enough black flecks in the mixture.

Chop up your white onion finely, and add to mixture according to your preferance, I use 1/2-3/4 of a medium size white onion.  Add your potatoes bring to a boil over medium heat.  DO NOT turn the heat on high to get it to boil faster, the milk and flour will BURN.  It’s important to stir the pot frequently while it’s coming to a boil.  Let it boil until the potatoes are soft (you can test them by catching a potato on a large spoon and poking a fork in it to see if they’re ready.  If 3-5 chunks are ready, chances are it’s done.)

In between stiring the mixture, fry up your LB of bacon, and set it on a plate to cool.  Once it’s cooled, crumble it in a serving bowl.  Chop up your chives or onion greens and put them in a serving bowl, put your grated cheese in a serving bowl, and set your sour cream out.

Serve up the soup in bowls and then everyone tops their soup with the toppings they like, bacon, cheese, sour cream, onion greens or chives……it tastes just like a stuffed baked potato.

*VERY IMPORTANT*  When making the base for the soup, the flour must be added and stirred in slowly…..if you add it all at one time or don’t stir it in well, you will have huge flour lumps that will turn into “dumplings” in your soup and they will stick on the bottom of the pot and burn.  Also, it’s very important to stir the soup frequently while it’s coming to a boil and boiling, milk burns FAST.

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I’ve talked to a few single moms lately who shared that they feel a little left out now that they’re single moms.  It’s like when people you grew up with or went to college with find out that you’re now a single mom, they seem to translate this information the same as if you’d just announced that you have Leprosy.  Even sometimes new friends you make learn that you’re a single mom and they begin treating you differently. 

I took this information in, and decided to do some of my own research to see what the general public’s perspective is on single moms.  I turned to the internet since most of the people who post things on the internet do so with a screen name, and don’t reveal their identity.  People seem to not be as shy about stating their opinions when they do it under a screen name, so I felt I’d find out some good information this way.  So, do you know what I found?  I found that a lot of the people who posted comments about single moms said that it didn’t bother them if someone they knew was a single mom, but some people left comments like:

  • Single moms are obviously bad judges of character if they were with someone who was a jerk.
  • Single moms are a drain on society because we (taxpayers) pay for them and their children.
  • One blog entry I read actually listed 13 reasons to AVOID single moms.

I was a little bit surprised to find such judgemental and uneducated comments posted about single moms.  Let me address the comments one at a time…….

#1 Single moms are obviously bad judges of character if they were with someone who was a jerk.
-Could it be that the jerk they were with was a really good actor and was on his best behavior until they were engaged or married?  Could it be that the relationship for some reason just didn’t work?  Could it be that the person they were with lied and had another family?  Could it be that they were raped? Could it be that the person they were with died?

#2 Single moms are a drain on society because we (taxpayers) pay for them and their children.
-A statement like this is stereotyping single moms.  I know several single moms who do not receive public assistance, and I know two married couples that make three times more money than I do who receive WIC benefits because they have their child on state medical insurance.  (In our state, if your child receives a medical coupon, you automatically qualify for WIC until the child is 5.)

I was on public assistance for five months, (two months before Grace was born, and three months after she was born.)  I started working when she was three months old, called my case worker the same day I got a job and canceled my cash assistance and she said that she wanted me to transition off of food stamps for the next five months since formula and baby food are expensive.  But, I’ve also worked and paid taxes for nearly TEN years, so I don’t really think that being on public assistance for a few months when there was absolutely no other way we could have made it is a drain on society.

I believe that public assistance is there for when you REALLY need help, but it’s not there to live off of for generations and generations, that’s when it drains society.  I made the decision to end public assistance as quickly as possible after Grace was born, and not sign up for WIC benefits, (even though we still quailfy for them since I buy Grace’s health insurance from the State.) because there are so many other people out there who NEED the assistance.  If I applied for public assistance and qualified for it, but we didn’t need the assistance, that would be a drain on society.

#3 One blog entry I read actually listed 13 reasons to AVOID single moms.
 -The entire blog entry showed how uneducated the author is on a variety of subjects, so I’m not even going to make statements about this one.

Really, what I’m getting at here is that you can’t judge someone for what has happened in their life.  You also can’t steryotype people.  What happened happened, and they can’t go back and change it.  Another thing that most people don’t even think about is that single moms are not taking the “easy way out”  they chose to give life to their child, and that’s a life long commitment.   Sometimes, I think that people need to step out of their “comfort zone” and get to know people who’s life situations are different from their own so they can be a little bit more open-minded.

No matter what situation someone is in, single parenting, divorce, getting out of prison, recovering from addicitons, or any other situation you may know someone in, remember that you don’t know, nor do you need to know all of the details.  What happened happened, and no matter how much they’d like to, they can’t go back in time and change what happened.  What they need is your friendship, your support (including them on activities, prayer, I’m not talking about financial support.) and your encouragement.

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All the leaves are brown…..and the sky is gray……

Who knew that autumn on the West Coast was so NICE……you can actually enjoy it here.  I cannot believe it’s the middle of November, and I can go out in a sweater and only wear a coat at night!  (Grace wears her coat when we go out.)

I grew up in a COLD climate, so we started wearing our winter coats in October and we didn’t take them off until almost May.  I can’t believe how nice it is here, you can do all kinds of fun fall activities in just a sweatshirt and jeans and not be freezing your tail off. 

I’ve only lived out West since a few months before Grace arrived, so I never understood why people liked living out West.  To me, WHY would you ever give up SNOW? 

Where we live now, it’s the perfect comination of being able to enjoy Autumn and Winter and not be frozen all the time.  We get a nice amount of snow, and then it melts off promptly and Spring comes in a few weeks.

My brother asked me if Grace and I could come for Christmas this year, and I said “Are you KIDDING ME?”  “You want us to come in DECEMBER????……it’ll be WAY too cold for us.”

I’m really starting to like the weather out here.  PLUS  Grace got snow pants and boots this year, she is DYING for it to snow so we can build her FIRST EVER snowman!!!

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I came across a recipe to make your own laundry soap, I was watching “17 Kids and Counting” (about the Duggar Family.) and they were sharing some of the things they do to save money.  The mom said that they can do their laundry for the month (180 loads) for $2.00 because they make their own laundry soap.

Here’s the recipe for you:
Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine
4  Cups hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1  Cup Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax

– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

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