We're closing in on the end of January. How about that!
Today it is mild here - very mild - almost spring-like. The snow has melted and all the kids at school were dying to play in the mud. A preview of life in March-April...and it will be here before we know it.
I saw a woman I know at school when we were waiting to pick up the kids. Her son is in the same kindergarten class as mine. She is Irish, has lived here just a handful of years, and is going to Ireland this weekend for a family reunion. She said this weather reminds her so much of home. She said her mom said to her on the phone this morning, 'you better pack warm clothes to wear for your trip'. And we think this is balmy! We just laughed.
So anyway...enough talk about the weather.
These days I'm short on news, but everything is fine. Tonight is an open-house at school to celebrate the 100th day of the year. We are going over to see my son's artwork and look at all the festive things that the students have put together for us.
And did you see that cute tea cup and saucer up there? My youngest made this at his little kids day out program yesterday. Every week they do such creative crafts, but I think this one is my favorite. It even goes with the house!
Hope you have a great day, and that the sun comes your way soon.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
We're closing in on the end of January. How about that!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Women's shelter volunteer. No pay of course, but technically still a job. This was another chapter from college. I went through a training program to be a person who answers the telephone hotline number at the shelter. Most of the time the phone would not ring, but I remember a couple of times it did. There were a lot of students who volunteered in this position. I think we would volunteer in 2-hour increments. You would bring a book and sit at a little desk and wait for the phone to ring. If it rang, you had to talk to whomever was calling and try to get as much information you could from the caller, letting her know that she would be safe to come in. Then you had to fill out a little report on the call. I must admit that most of my shifts there I would secretly pray that the phone wouldn't ring, because I was worried about saying the right thing.
4 places I have livedAthens, Ohio
Mackinac Island, Michigan
4 people I email daily
4 favorite things to eat
4 places I would rather be
4 things I look forward to this year
4 people I will tag
Posted by Meg at 4:51 AM
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
If you've been reading along here for any length of time, then you probably know that I love summer. Love summer! And I don't like winter. Don't like it one bit!
So, living with me in January isn't the greatest. Especially when you live outside of Chicago and you get snow and ice regularly. Like, this morning. Another 5 inches! sigh. Try as I might to remain my usual happy and optimistic self, these winter days have a way of wearing me down a bit.
But if you're a real sweetheart of a guy, you'll do what you can to bring some sunshine and warmth my way. For instance, on the way home from an appointment with your son, the two of you will stop and pick up some flowers for me:
No, winter's not my favorite, but I do have my ways of keeping the winter blahs at bay. Mostly they involve eating (good thing I now have the big pink mixer. We're calling her Big Pink for short.) I have a couple of recipes to help get through these cold days and nights. Back on New Year's Eve, my sister in-law made a very tasty white bean chili & cornbread combo for a small group of us, and it is divine. I made the same dinner this past weekend, to rave reviews inside the LC. So, although I don't have a picture, I will pass this on (trust me, you don't need the picture...these recipes are winners!)
White Bean Chili
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 C water
1 t salt
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t pepper
1-2 t oregano
5 15-oz cans great northern beans, drained & divided
1 14 1/2-oz can chicken broth
1 16-oz pkg. frozen shoepeg white corn
2 4.5-oz cans chopped green chilis
3 T lime juice
garnish with cilantro if desired and shredded monteray jack cheese for top
Saute chopped onion in hot oil in a large dutch oven over med-high heat 7 minutes; add garlic and saute 2-3 minutes. Stir in chicken and cook, stirring constantly until chicken is lightly browned. Stir in water and next 5 ingredients; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is done. Place 2 cans of beans in blender; add the chicken broth and process until smooth. Stir in bean puree, remaining beans, corn and chilies into chicken mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lime juice just before serving. Top with cilantro and shredded cheese.
* * *
Next recipe: moist and 'out of this world' (as my mother said) cornbread:
1 stick of butter, softened
2 jiffy corn bread mix
1 can cream corn
1 egg beaten
1 pint sour cream
Mix together and pour into lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
* * *
Last recipe: Charlie's chocolate cake
This was my grandmother's recipe, my mom's mom. We had dinner club this past Saturday night and I had to bring a dessert, and this is what I brought. I hadn't made it in years...and was so pleasantly surprised at what a hit it was at the party. It is not too heavy and just chocolate enough. Even my husband had seconds, and you know how healthy he is. Here's what it looked like on Saturday:
And here's the recipe:
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 C sour cream
1 t vanilla
6 oz pkg chocolate chips
1/3 C vegetable oil
3/4 C double cream (don't whip)
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips; stir in chocolate chips after beating. Pour into well-buttered bundt pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle cake with a little powdered sugar while still warm.
Delicious! You won't be disappointed. As you saw from the picture, we made it a birthday cake Saturday night. One of our friends was turning 30 "again". And, do you know what we also did? Why, we had our picture taken! So far my New Year's resolution is still going strong.
Posted by Meg at 2:37 PM
Monday, January 21, 2008
Thank you for your nice messages on my last post. I will be getting back to those heavier issues soon. In the meantime, here's something a little lighter and more joyful. This message popped up in my inbox this morning. If you're a curlyhead, enjoy the savings!
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
-- "I Have a Dream," August 28, 1963
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to forge the common ground on which people from all walks of life could join together to address important community issues. In honor of his goal and on this day of remembrance, we're offering our customers 10 percent off* all CurlMart purchases. Type in the promotion code "MLK08."
Posted by Meg at 9:47 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
From my inbox this morning...
I am sure some of you have seen this, but if it is true and donations are made then a reminder is always a good thing...
The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.49 to Autism Speaks each time this video is viewed. The funding goes toward research studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link below to watch the video and pass it along. They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.
Your smile counts. The more smiles you share, the more we donate. Join in!**
Posted by Meg at 10:38 PM
Sunday, January 13, 2008
This will be my last post on trains. At least for now.
Last night my husband and I had plans to go out - dinner, movie, a little shopping - it was going to be a great night. But our youngest son just couldn't kick the bug that's been bothering him over the last few days. So instead of going out, we took the kids to my in-law's for a little while.
No matter how bad you're feeling, a little train action can perk you up. Especially when you're 3.
Here's my father in-law's home office, where he's built a train track that runs around the perimeter of the room:
He turned the trains on about 2 minutes after we arrived. Per the requests of our train guys.
Posted by Meg at 10:00 AM
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Word has it that our new neighbors have moved in. Remember them? I was pretty good at keeping you updated on their construction progress, then autumn came, holidays rolled around, and I got distracted. Well, to bring you up to speed, here's their house today, Saturday, January 12th:
Posted by Meg at 4:20 PM
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Saturday we visited the Chicago Botanic Garden to check out the winter train exhibit.
Trains were running throughout mini scenes of Chicago. All the structures and buildings were built from plants, braches, twigs, moss - everything from nature. It was spectacular!
Posted by Meg at 11:08 AM
Monday, January 07, 2008
Today I'm wearing a short sleeve t-shirt and jeans. And flip flops. Soooo nice for January, let me tell you! I know that many of you are enjoying this (temporary) warm up right now. What a welcome way to usher in January. The snow and cold will return - and soon - but for now, let's just enjoy this balmy weather and feel the air on our skin. Hooray!
Today was my son's first day back at school. Boo hoo...you know I like having him around. But when I picked him up he was all smiles and his notebook says he had a good day, so good for him. I mentioned previously that he has been struggling in school. I will fill you in on that soon.
Saturday night my husband and I went to a party. This couple, friends from way back, has a holiday party each year. This year they were a little late because they have just finished their house renovation project. Literally just finished - days ago! They live in a split level home and they added a new half story to the top, which is now their master bedroom & bath, and they added on to their main living space by bumping the house out back a bit to add a big family room. The result was/is terrific.
One thing that caught my eye during the party was that they had all these great pictures of themselves, their kids, their friends and family flashing up on their new tv above the fireplace. Apple tv, I had never heard of it until a couple of weeks ago and now I'm seeing it in person. Very impressive! But even more impressive was the fact that there were so many pictures of just this couple: on vacation, in their backyard, out to dinner. I said to my husband, 'we don't do that any more'. It seems like every picture we have is our kids, there are no pictures of us, certainly none of us together. I told him that this is my New Year's resolution - to get us together more. Pictures, dates, you name it. It will be easy to start with pictures. We can snap pictures of the kids any time (and we do) but much more challenging to get a few of us.
We decided to start on the resolution right then and there and my husband flipped open his phone to take this:Hey, it's a start!
Posted by Meg at 4:39 PM
Saturday, January 05, 2008
So here we are on Christmas Eve. I wanted to show you my husband's parents' house, which is close to where we live. We went to dinner with them (and their friends and their friends' families) for Christmas Eve, then came back to their house for dessert. It was a lovely way to end the night.
This is their house, all decked out for Christmas. Look closely and you'll notice that they have a train track erected around the tree in front. This is just for Christmas. My father in-law loves trains. He has passed that love down to a few of his grandchildren, including my sons. The Christmas train ("Santa's Fe") runs along on the track when the decorations go up. Although it was a freezing night, my sons chose to stay out here and watch the train for as long as possible (with their daddy and grandfather.)
Here's a closer view of one train admirer, as well as the track and train.
Next post: post Christmas!
Posted by Meg at 4:33 PM
Friday, January 04, 2008
I asked for and (oh so kindly) received a big pink mixer for Christmas. That Santa! He came through for me again. I loved it so much that after opening, I immediately made pancakes for everyone here on Christmas morning. The mixer will have a nice long run here in the LC, I'm sure.
And doesn't it fit in so well? As you can imagine, storage around here is rather limited. So this guy will have a permanent spot out on my counter - err, cart. Right next to the stove, where concoctions requiring mixing action will be assembled.
I took this picture with a gift my husband received this year from my parents, a new camera! We needed one so badly. We've been photographing everything since then. My husband took a lot of pictures on Christmas Eve at his parents' house...and I'm going to post those later so you can see them. I know, I know, Christmas is over. But who gets tired of pictures?
Posted by Meg at 4:19 PM
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Hello, and Happy 2008 from the Little Cottage!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. From the looks of your blogs, it certainly looks like you did. What a treat it has been to visit you and spy upon your trees, your tables, your mantles, your delighted childrens' faces on Christmas morning! Oh, I do love blogland, don't you?
Things are good on this end. Thank you for your nice comments in December. I am back and feeling renewed. Ready to take on the challenges and enjoy the perks of this new year. New year, new attitude, new sense of determination. And optimism!
The picture above is a little bit of a trick. It is from 2 weeks ago. Right now we actually have more snow on the ground than this, probably about 4 inches. It is very pretty around here but very--brr brrr---chilly. Those of you living in the land of sunshine and gentle warm winds, I envy you!
Well, that's it for now. I will pop back soon for more of an update. Just wanted to say hi for now. Hi!!!
Posted by Meg at 11:37 PM