Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Inside Out

I disappeared from this space rather abruptly. I thought I'd turn myself a inside out for a few moments to explain myself.

I said awhile ago that I wanted to be more authentic. To let people really meet me. So here I am. This is me being unbelievably vulnerable. This is me sharing thoughts I have never spoken aloud.

A friend posted this on Facebook:
All I could think was, "that's me."
"It's caring about everything then caring about nothing. It's feeling everything at once then feeling paralysingly numb." [sic]

Here are a few of the things I worry about:

If I died, who would know how to make my kids' sandwiches the "right" way? No one will take the time to put the peanut butter on both pieces of bread before putting the jelly on top of the peanut butter so the jelly won't soak into the bread and make it soggy. No one will know not to cut Junior's sandwich, to cut Alice's into triangles and to cut Lizzie's into 6 rectangles. No one will cut the sandwich by pressing the knife into the bread to make clean edges instead of sawing at it making crumby edges.

Who will wrap my husband's sandwiches in wax paper and fold them up like a present? If they put his sandwich in a baggie, will they know to wrap it in a paper towel first? That's how he likes it.

Yet, I wait until the last moment to make lunches...usually close to midnight when I am too tired to take my time. 

Who will wipe the peanut butter, cream cheese or other sticky substance from the knives before loading them in the dishwasher if I am not here? My family will be eating with dirty, food encrusted knives.

My son will surely die of anaphylaxis from exposure to his allergen if I do not frantically check every label on every ingredient multiple times each time I buy it, each time we eat out, each time someone offers him food away from home. Too many adults don't take food allergies seriously or don't understand them and my son is in constant danger.

I worry about my husband not being able to manage the house & kids in my absence should I ever be absent...while dreaming of being absent just to watch him squirm a bit and really experience & appreciate everything I do.

But I have to do so many household things, I give up before I even start...because who really cares anyhow? No one will notice if the toilets go one more day (or week) without being cleaned. No one will notice that I spot cleaned the kitchen floor instead of giving it a proper mopping. I might as well leave the crayon on the wall since they're probably going to draw on that other wall with a pencil while I'm focused on cleaning the crayon anyhow.

What if I die and my husband forgets to do spelling homework with Junior on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and forgets to fill out and sign the form and send it back on Fridays? And he forgets to have him color his "I can read 100 books" thingy? Or he doesn't check his math homework and have him fix the mistakes? Or he forgets to pack him a lunch or give him bagel money on Fridays? Or no one shows up on the days we signed up to be the secret reader in Junior's class because I wasn't there to pick out a book and remind the person to show up?

So I forget to have him color his 100 books thingy and end up doing it myself.

I have so many things to get done, so many things asked of me and I get them all done. And everyone loves the work I've done and the end product is great, but it isn't up to my standards. I know what I am capable of and it is both more and better than what I have done. I know I could do better, but I can't seem to drag myself out of the fog to do it.

I have days, weeks and sometimes months of good days. Clarity. Foglessness. Days of productivity. Days where the worries vanish like M&Ms left out in a candy bowl in a room full of kids.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.

He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff comfort me.
                           - Psalms 23: 1-4
This are what my "valley of the shadow of death" looks like. This is my comfort. I will make it through. I will walk through the valley. God is with me as I walk and I do not journey alone. I remember that there is a shadow because a great light stands behind that which I fear beckoning me forward, encouraging me to keep walking. Only He can restore my soul.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v9

Our Alice is wearing purple lip gloss today. And even though..."growing up too fast"..."let her be a little girl," and "3 year olds shouldn't wear makeup" are all swirling around in my head, I couldn't be happier about it.

Only big girls who poop on the potty get to wear purple lip gloss. You feel my joy?

Now, let's talk about our food plan for this week!

BREAKFAST
Trisha Yearwood's Power Balls (we replace the peanut butter with WowButter so they're nut free)
Banana Cinnamon Muffins (without the butter/sugar on top)
Bagels & Fruit
Cereal & Fruit

LUNCH
PB&J Sandwiches with fruit & veggies
Roasted Garlic Hummus with Pita Chips & veggies
Tuna fish on crackers with cheese

DESSERT
 These brownies really have the best of both worlds. They are thick and cakey, but still fudgy and chewy. The top is crispy & crackled like it should be and the edges have the perfect bite to them.
 
Monday
I have some goat cheese sitting in the bottom of the cheese drawer that needs to be eaten before it needs to be thrown out. I have been craving a simple quiche - and this one is pretty easy. And very tasty. You can (read: should!) use a pre-made crust because the crust is the most challenging part of the recipe - it's not difficult, but it is time consuming and the dough is fragile and I can never flute the edges like in the recipe pictures. 

I'm already annoyed that my kids probably won't eat this. They like asparagus & eggs, they love goat cheese & crust, and they are indifferent to green onions. But combine them all - and I'm sure those little loveys will let me know that "it's not [their] favorite" which is our family's preferred way of saying we don't like something (because mommy refuses to listen to a constant chorus of 
"YUCK! ME NOT EAT DIS!"

Tuesday
I also have some ground beef that needs eatin'. So meatloaf is a quick way to use it up. The kids & husband love them some Brooke Deen Meatloaf. I also bought some sweet potatoes to try to get the kids interested in more exotic vegetables.

That's right. I just called sweet potatoes an exotic vegetable.

My kids are going through a picky phase. And I'm not having it.

Wednesday
Tuna Noodles
Not really a casserole...more like egg noodles with tuna & mayo. The kids & husband will happily eat it without complaint. I'll live through it. I'm banking on leftover quiche & sweet potatoes.

Thursday
Veggie Club Sandwiches with Sweet Potato Chips
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
EEEEEMMMMMMMMMMMM
WWWWWOOOOOWWWWW!
A hundred years ago when I lived in Tulsa a little deli opened up downtown; they made a garden veggie sub that was so good I was willing to speed walk pretty far to get it at lunchtime. Flashbacks to that sandwich have been intense for me lately, and I had recently found a similar veggie sandwich online that looked yummm, so I saved it. But when I went to pull up the recipe I had found it has vanished. So going off my memory (which is frighteningly bad) and adding a few more ingredients to make it super filling and over the top, I came up with these. Talk about exceeding my expectations for how scrumptious a veggie sandwich could be!

Friday
This recipe is billed as being even better than Panera Copycat soup. And it totally lives up to that billing. It really needs the bread bowl in my humble opinion because I'm pretty sure it's unAmerican or unCanadian to serve a creamy soup without a bread bowl. Or something like that.
I know you can buy anything at the grocery store these days, but taking the extra few minutes to make the bread bowls at home is worth it. The whole house smells amazing when you take fresh bread out of the oven and layer in the scent of homemade soup. 

Plus the leftover bread bowls can be sliced up the next morning for French Toast. I'm not saying you have to eat French Toast the next morning...I'm just saying you probably should.
Saturday
You know the drill. We love our pizza 'round these parts.  I'll substitute some Jamon Iberico direct from Spain to use up in place of the prosciutto. I love pizza night.

Sunday
Spaghetti and salad
We're going to my mom & dad's for Sunday dinner where we'll enjoy my mom's homemade spaghetti with Italian sausage and a garden salad.

Onward to soccer, school, homework, errands, exercising, baking & cooking, reading & coloring, lovin' & disciplinin' this week.

Linking up with Simcha Fisher over at her blog for her Friday What's for Supper feature. She had a great take on meatloaf...if only I could sculpt like she can.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Back to School Cookie Bars

I had to make a special treat for my boy for his first lunch at school. I found this recipe for PMS bars and they immediately appealed to my PMSing self. And though he is completely capable of explaining what PMS is (he's sat in on enough NFP classes that he could probably teach them himself), I'm not ready for that awkward call from the school just yet.

Thus, the "Back to School Cookie Bars" were born.
Unfortunately, the peanut butter chips just don't do it for me. Their flavor is too muted and the peanut butter taste can't quite overcome the other flavors in the cookie bars.

Butterscotch chips to the rescue.

Yes, these are incredibly sweet. The touch of salt in the crust and on the pretzels helps keep the sweetness from overpowering you though.

A mega-hit all around.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v8

OK, was it just me or was that the longest 4 day week ever? Our son started 1st grade on Tuesday and stayed home sick with a virus on Wednesday. So, you know, off to a strong start here.

Oh well, at least our dinner game was on point.

Last week threw me off with all that crazy, cold weather here in Michigan. We even turned on the furnace one night (sick kids & a mommy who is not in the mood to extend the sick any longer than its already hanging on)!

This week we're expecting temperatures in the 80s again, which makes my Autumn soup plans fall a little flat. Nothing like a hot, hearty soup in your belly as you wipe the sweat from your brow and go sit in the kiddie pool to cool off. I'll pass. I slipped a soup into this week's plan out of sheer necessity.

Monday
These burgers are super easy to pull together. I hide some seasoned, grilled burgers under big, thick slices of mozzarella and let the cheese melt. Then I put the burgers on my Accidental Fantastical Buns, top with homemade Bruschetta and serve 'em up hot with some Oven Fries.


Tuesday
Because Tuesday is soccer practice, we have to have something that doesn't require me standing over the stove to get the meal to the table. That's where slow cooker potato soup comes in. The herbs really add something special to the soup, kicking it up a bit from the usual bland baked potato soup. You can still top it with all your potato soup favorites like cheddar cheese, green onions and bacon if you want. But I find the toppings unnecessary because the soup is tasty enough on its own.

Wednesday
Leftovers
Time to clean out the fridge ahead of my Friday grocery shopping trip!

Thursday
Onion chicken is a stand by for the kids. I know they'll eat the chicken and cornbread (we like the Jiffy Mix), but the green bean casserole (the Thanksgiving standard from the back of the French Fried Onion can) and Brussels Spouts will be a much tougher sell. We adults, however, will devour the Brussels Spouts like candy because these are so delicious. I probably won't even eat the chicken - I'll just fill up on the Brussels Sprouts, green beans & cornbread.

Friday
Hot dogs (for the kids) and Carrot Salad for the grown ups along with leftover soup. The French Onion Soup I made on Sunday and the Herbed Potato Soup from earlier in the week will need to be polished off.

Saturday
Japanese Noodles
There's a Japanese steakhouse with which my sister and I used to be slightly obsessed. And by slightly I mean, we would eat there one or two times a week. They made these amazing noodles to go with the hibachi dinner. Really, the noodles are so delicious I could go there just to get the noodles. But, alas, the budget doesn't allow it these days. Instead, I run over to the Asian grocer near our house and grab a package of rice noodles ($1.49) and cook them up. Julienne some carrots, slice up some green onions and a sweet onion, saute them in a little garlic butter & vegetable oil, add in some salt & pepper & lite soy sauce...and for less than $4, I can feed the entire family and have leftovers.

If you wanted to get fancy and make it a little heartier, you could saute some chicken or flank steak to add in. A few additional add-ons, if you're feeling fancy:  sugar snap peas, baby corn and fresh bean sprouts for some crunch.

Sunday
Grilled Pork Chops, Scalloped Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, and Rolls (at my Mom & Dad's house)

There's the week folks! Any tailgaters out there? Who's your team and what's your game day tailgating must-have?

Linking up with Simcha Fisher for her Friday feature "What's for Supper?" where she poses a great question. The answer is: cleaning knives that have been used to spread peanut butter or soy butter or cream cheese. Go see what the questions was.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v7

It's back to school week here at our house, so we're going with simple meals to get in the groove. Our big boy starts 1st grade at the neighborhood public school. Here's a simple equation to show you the mindset going on here:

(His excitement level + cost of new school clothes & supplies)3 = My anxiety/Alarm set to 6am

But I know it will be alright.
Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
     - John 14:27
So onward to this week's menu plan!

Monday
I found this great Greek marinade for chicken and when I amp up the garlic a bit, I think it is just perfect. Now, I am too scared to use our grill (propane scares me), so I bake the chicken at 350°F for 25 minutes, which works perfectly since the Spinach Balls also cook at 350°F for 20 minutes. I like to serve it with chicken flavored rice with vermicelli (Aldi brand) and a homemade Tatziki sauce, but the sauce isn't strictly necessary, and store bought would be just fine here too.

Tuesday
These are a frozen meal package found at Aldi - we'll just add the fresh sliced onion & tomatoes. My husband went grocery shopping with me a month ago and found this and bought it. Umm, not my style. But since we have 2 evening activities on Tuesday - a quick, throw it together, put it in foil and run out the door meal will have to suffice. The link above gives a more thorough review of the product...so we'll see what my husband and children think.

Wednesday
Spaghetti & Meatballs
This is one of those meals that I will double or triple so I have plenty of leftovers to stock the freezer. It's just as much work to make a big batch of marinara sauce as it is to make a small batch, so I'll do a big batch and save some time for future me. The meatballs are pretty easy and absolutely delicious. They are broiled just long enough to get the outside seared, then I finish cooking them in the sauce (or freeze them to use later) so they stay juicy and flavorful. Broiling them for  a few minutes before adding them to the sauce prevents the sauce from getting greasy - there's nothing worse than a greasy tomato sauce.

Plus, I can use the leftovers for meatball subs, meatball pizza or whatever else I can think of to use up meatballs.

Thursday
I love Chicken Salad and Waldorf Salad is one of my favorite varieties. This one is extra fruity and is easily nut free by omitting the walnuts (I always leave 'em out because - allergies). The leftover salad just gets better over the next several days, so if you have time to make this one ahead, I'd recommend it. I'll also throw together a loaf of French bread in the bread machine. We can eat lettuce wraps with it on Saturday for lunch too!

Friday
What is easier than breakfast for dinner?! Nothing, folks, nothing. And as an added bonus, at my house there will be no complaints when I serve waffles for dinner. All the kids love them, so I endure no "YUCK! ME NOT LIKE THIS!" comments from my 3yo.


Saturday
Pizza & Bread Sticks
I am dying for a regular old pepperoni pizza, so I moved pizza night to Saturday from our usual Friday. I make the dough, I make the sauce (and freeze leftovers for future use), and I make the Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks. I buy the Ranch dressing in bulk for dipping. Lizzie, our 1yo, uses Ranch as facial moisturizer...so that's partially why we go through so much of it.

Sunday
Slow Cooker French Onion Soup with leftover Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks
This slow cooker French Onion Soup couldn't be easier and leaves the house smelling amazing. We'll eat it with the leftover cheesy garlic breadsticks. My husband can take the leftovers to work as lunch a few days this week too!

That's our week in dinners! What's your favorite thing on your menu plan for the upcoming week?

Linked up with Simcha Fisher for her What's for Supper feature. Her menu is much funnier than mine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

5-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse Pie

Because I love you, I'm going to share one of my secret recipes with you.
 Whenever we get invited to a potluck or a holiday party or a gathering where I am supposed to bring food I try to get assigned a dessert as my dish to pass.
 The reasons for this are as follows in no particular order:
  1. I LOVE dessert and an evening out without a killer dessert is just a bummer in my book.
  2. I LOVE making desserts. I love making cakes, pies, cupcakes, fudge, truffles, cookies, and candy. If it qualifies as dessert I want to make it.
  3. I feel like people are (rightly) finicky about the foods they eat, but it's hard to pass up a good dessert.
  4. Like good wine, there should always be a chocolate dessert offered at every occasion.
  5. Recipe taste testing & leftovers are all MINE when I make the dessert.

This pie has been brought to dozens and dozens of events over the years. Once people taste it, they always ask me to bring it again the next time.
I am only too happy to oblige. You're welcome <insert my fancy curtsy here>.
Even though there are never any leftovers, no one ever asks me for the recipe. I guess they just assume it is really difficult and time consuming to make such a luscious mousse, but they couldn't be more wrong.
Plus when they see my smokin' guns they figure they don't have what it takes to whip the cream into submission. J/K - I use a handheld mixer.
Not only does this recipe have only 5 ingredients, but (cover your eyes if you're French) it is a microwave recipe too. I know, I should be ashamed, but I've tasted it...and there ain't no shame in my chocolate mousse game.
Go ahead and make it for your Labor Day cookout. What a great way to (un)officially end the summer!

To get the recipe click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#5Faves: My New Day Planner

You guys!!!!  I got a new day planner.

Yes, I know they have apps for that now. Yes, we use Cozi (family calendar, shopping lists) for the great pop-up reminders.

And I'll tell you what...even though Ver.izon gave me major side-eye for threatening to switch to T-Mo.bile because, blah, blah, blah, "their network coverage isn't as good", blah, blah, blah, "you get what you pay for"...I never can get on Ver.izon's fancy-schmancy network when I am out and about anyhow. Seriously, standing in the doctor's or dentist's office trying to make my next appointment saying, "sorry, my phone is going so slow. Ummm, sure just book it and I'll call to change it if it doesn't work when my calendar finally loads." I should've followed through on that threat and made the switch.

Nothing beats a paper planner in my world.

So I thought I'd share my new planner with you and tell you my #5Faves about it.

I got a My Faithful Planner and you guys - SWOON!!!

(This is not a sponsored post. I bought this planner on my own, paid for it with my own money, then after I fell in love with it, asked if they'd mind if I told you all about it.)

#1
Changeable Covers
They have over 100 cover designs and you can even upload your own photos for the cover (outside, inside, front or back). I selected a beautiful painting of Our Lady holding Jesus as an infant. On the inside covers I put pictures of my family along with my name and phone number (in case I lose my planner). You can change your cover because the disc binding allows you to just pop it off and pop a new one on. My next cover is probably going to be this one...or this one...I can't decide.

#2
Month View Layout
There are two different month-at-a-glance views included in the planners that have lots of space for writing in important events, birthdays, holidays, whatever. But I use my month-at-a-glance layout for menu planning. I write in events that have us away from the house at meal-times (or events that keep me away from the house during my usual meal prep times) so I can plan our menus around them. Then I just write in our menu plan right there.

#3
Weekly View Layout
First of all, I love the pretty colors - it just makes me cheerful, which if you know me is not an easy feat (pessimist that I am). They offer their layouts in black & white too, in case you are one of those naturally cheerful people who needs to hold it back a bit lest the rest of us slap hug you.

They have 5 layouts to choose from; I requested to have my weekly layout customized just a bit from the Student Layout. I needed the space below each day so I could assign tasks for myself to specific days, but I also needed the weekly To Do list space so I could keep a running list of things that need to get done, but don't necessarily have to be done on a specific day.

I also asked to have my days broken into Morning, Day & Night instead of the hour running along the side. Having the time there just stresses me out because I know I'll always be running behind and with little kids underfoot strict schedules fall apart quickly leaving me feeling like a failure. Feeling like a failure because I didn't make a phone call at 9:30am like I scheduled, leads to me, overwhelmed, in my pajamas, eating chocolate chips on the couch while my kids tear the house apart. So, no hours for me, just general times of the day.

#4
Liturgical Calendar and Pope, Saint, & Bible Quotes 

My Faithful Planner has a Liturgical calendar for each month already done! All the feast days are marked, all the days of abstinence are marked, the liturgical colors are all there - for Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form or both. How cool is that? Hint: Très chic!

Additionally, sprinkled on each page are quotes from our beloved Popes, our favorite Saints, and our Holy Scriptures. What a great way to get some more good, holy reading and meditations in! I really love trying to memorize the quotes on the pages - especially the bible verses, because isn't it wonderful when the Holy Spirit just brings a scripture to your remembrance when you need it? I enjoy immersing myself in the Word of God and I've found it to be a great way to bring a smile to my face, usually when I need it most, at random moments in my day.

#5
Add ons
I added a few dividers onto my planner to make it easier to get to the current week and other frequently used features (there is a place for important phone numbers, website logins, etc. in the back). I also got some folder pockets so I can place papers I will need inside without them getting lost. They have pen holders and elastics for holding it all closed. It's just so fun to configure your planner exactly how you want it to make the best possible solution for you and your life.

I have to say that Yesenia at My Faithful Planner was a pleasure to work with; she was very attentive, prompt and efficient answering my questions and accommodating my requests. She and her lovely family have put so much time and effort into creating these beautiful and useful products. Their customer service was fantastic - my planner arrived much sooner than I expected especially considering I had requested some customization.

This planner has been a blessing to me and my family already, helping me organize my projects and our family's days and weeks.

I hope you check out My Faithful Planner and you are as inspired by them as I have been and that you consider purchasing one for yourself or as a gift to bless someone special.

Linking up with Jenna for this week's edition of #5Faves. Check out what other bloggers are finding useful, inspirational, fun or yummy these days!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v6

DH is on the mend and we are off the bland diet. Wahoo!!

Since school starts for us after Labor Day, this week I'm practicing getting in school mode. That means 6am wake ups for me (Lord, have mercy!), all three kids dressed & fed by 8am, lunch ready & packed for Junior, clothes laying out the night before, and naps that end by 3pm to facilitate after-school pick ups. I'm getting ready to turn to slow cooker and easier meals to facilitate eating between school, homework, soccer practice, soccer games, catechism, school meetings, Parish Commission meetings and everything else we have going on in this crazy house.

Don't worry, I bought a case of Coke to help me through.

And yet I still failed spectacularly this morning. I got up 40 minutes late because the kids were still asleep and dagnabit WHY DO THEY ONLY EVER SLEEP WHEN I HAVE TO GET UP?!?! Talk about not fair. All kids were fed by 8am, but only 1/3 were dressed. Now to practice walking up to the school to get an idea of how long it will realistically take to make that walk. I'm gonna end up driving him to school aren't I?

Here's my plan for this week:

Monday
This one is a favorite around here. The sweetness of the Hawaiian Rolls, with the saltiness of the ham, plus the tangy saucy marinade...perfection. It is so easy to throw together in the morning to toss in the oven in the evening. It really is a winner.

Tuesday
Nachos
Remember when I made my not-favorite shredded beef last week? For this easy meal I grab a portion of shredded beef leftovers from the freezer in the morning and let it thaw. In the evening, I pour a bag of tortilla chips on a baking sheet, top the chips with the beef (draining some liquid if necessary to keep the nachos from being soggy), cheese, a can of black beans, and frankly whatever else we like on nachos, and pop in in the oven for a few minutes to heat it up & melt the cheese. Serve with salsa, guacamole & sour cream and you've got yourself a Nacho Tuesday Party.

Wednesday
Stadium Sausages on Croissants
I'm not typically one for hot dogs or sausages, but my mom made Stadium Sausages from Kowalski a few weeks ago and I've been craving them ever since. 

But I also saw this recipe from Climbing Grier Mountain

So combine those two things and you get Stadium Sausage on Croissants with Bechamel Sauce and Crispy Bacon.

You should eat one or two. You won't be sorry.

Thursday
Sloppy Toms
One of our family's favorite Sloppy Joe recipes is found over at Mix and Match Mama. Go a little light on the liquids to make it a smidge less sloppy and double the recipe so you can freeze some leftovers for another night. I simply make it with ground turkey instead of ground beef...and like magic...Sloppy Toms.

Friday
Mmmmm, pizza night. You guys, I'll share with you my perpetual dilemma: (1) I like my pizza on Friday nights, and (2) I like my pizza with pepperoni, and (3) I never want meat more than I do on Fridays, and (4) I try to do a meatless Friday.

Yet, with this pizza, I don't miss the pepperoni and I still keep a meatless Friday.

Win, win, win, win.

The link has a bonus dessert pizza recipe too!

Saturday
You know when you are walking through the grocery store at dinner time and you smell the Rotisserie Chicken and you walk out with one (or more) in your cart, some Hawaiian Rolls & pre-made mashed potatoes or mac 'n cheese? 

You know exactly what I mean.

Well, now you don't have to take a trip to the grocery store to smell a delicious Rotisserie Chicken. And won't you be proud of yourself for not scrapping whatever dinner plans you had for a grocery store chicken? Puff up that chest, and wipe that dirt from your shoulder because you should be way proud.

Sunday
My day off! I'll be listening to Junior whine about having to go to bed "early" on-time and "only one more day until school starts" and "it isn't fair" and life is so hard when you're 6. So, it should be fun.

What's on your plan for this week? Are you starting to switch out summer recipes for Autumn favorites yet?

Linking up with Simcha again!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

20 Questions + 1 more

Hannah at Gokie Notes posted her answers to these 20 questions and I giggled aloud at several of her answers because (1) she's adorbs, and (2) she's apparently my opposite twin (black socks?!?! No, no, no. White tube socks, all the way).

These are always fun. I love seeing the answers everyone has - we are all such a bunch of special little snowflakes. In my case, after reading this, you'll think I'm just a flake (I'm a strange one).

(1) Favorite food?
Since "all of it" is not an appropriate answer to this question, I guess I'll have to be more specific. I will say medium Filet Mignon with garlic butter, dipped in Alfredo sauce. Too much?
How about brownies?
Or cupcakes - yellow with chocolate frosting?
Or pizza with broccoli and sweet tomato sauce?
Or a super juicy burger stuffed with blue cheese and topped with caramelized onions & crispy bacon?

Did I mention I like food? Oh, I like food.

(2) Flip flops or high heels?
There was a day when the answer would have been high heels. Because I wore heels to work every day and I enjoyed finding a perfectly wild pair of 4" heels to wear to my ultra-conservative workplace.

These days though...flip flops. I blame it on my kids. Wrangling these little minions in high heels is dangerous work, so flats for the win. Though I live in a constant state of worry for my poor toenails' demise. My kids have kicked my toenails off more times than I care to count (let that sink in for a moment, <<shudder>>), so while I wear flip-flops leaving my poor lower digits exposed & vulnerable, said digits are almost always scrunched over like the claws of an eagle. Scared, size 11W eagle talons. That is what is found at the southern most end of my body. In flip-flops.

(3) Favorite places to shop for yourself?
Hmmm, I guess "the grocery store" is not gonna suffice for this one. If money were no object (and they sold clothes that fit my lusty & busty frame) White House Black Market would be my choice. I like my clothes black. More realistically though, I find some good stuff at Sears on sale, I like Lands End stuff. And t-shirts from Target. Can't go wrong with a fresh set of black t-shirts each year at Target.

(4) Standard coffee order?
None for me, please and thank you. I have never gotten into drinking coffee. The aroma causes me to dry heave.

That makes me think of a gift I received: a necklace made of coffee beans.

Oh you want to see a picture of that? Sure. Here it is.
Mmmmm, coffeeeee. Around. My Neck.
May I please have an ice cold Coke? Or a hot chocolate? Or a chocolate shake? Or a peanut butter chocolate shake? Or a peanut butter chocolate fudge & Oreo chocolate shake?
(5) Road trip must-have snack?
None. No eating on road-trips. I don't have anything against eating in the car per se. I have a thing against me eating in the car. Because cars don't have bathrooms. At least mine doesn't. That's all I have to say about that.

(6) DIY or hire it out?
DIY for sure. I love doing projects. I would use the money I save from DIYing to hire a babysitter so I actually could DIY without everything I am DIYing (and everything I am not currently DIYing) being destroyed.

(7) Top 5 TV Shows
Friends; The Office; Parenthood; The A-Team; Dukes of Hazzard.

Boom!

Friends: Watched this one from the beginning to the end. I just adore this show.

The Office: Got into it late. Fell for it instantly. I love the quirkiness of all the characters. And the realness of Jim & Pam. And the silliness of the rest of them.

Parenthood: Binge watched the first 3 seasons on Netflix over the course of 3 weeks. Then the 4th season came out on Netflix and I watched 'em all in about 3 days. I watched the fifth season as it unfolded each week on TV. TORTURE! I ugly cried myself through the last 2 episodes. And when I say "ugly cried" I mean "soaked my t-shirt with tears and snot ugly cried."

The A-Team: Obviously. They were awesome and my cousins and siblings and I used to play A-Team in the backyard. We had more cousins than characters on the show, but that never stopped us. Plus we were mostly girls. So our version was not an accurate representation of the show, but it was darn fun.

Dukes of Hazzard: How cute were the Duke boys?!?! Muy. Muy. Guapo. Bo & Luke Duke were where it was at. Still a fan of awesome car chase scenes, and frequently find myself humming, "dadaldadaduhduhlduhdadadaduh!" when I get a little heavy footed in the old minivan.

(8) Favorite book
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Cliché much? I know, but it is my favorite. Along with all the movie versions of this classic. The best of the best is the BBC version with Jennifer Ehrle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Swoon.

(9) Favorite form of exercising?
Again, none. I do NOT like to exercise. But I should (see #1 & #4 above). If forced to pick something, I'll rollerblade because that does not seem like real exercise to me.

(10) How tall are you?
I always thought 5'8", but was measured 2 years ago at 5'7". So shorter than I always thought, I guess.

Funny story. Two years ago during my annual required physical my height was reported (for BMI calculating purposes) as 5'7". Last year despite measuring the same 5'7" tall, my health insurance company sent me a report where, when calculating my BMI, they listed me as being 78" tall. Except 5'7" = 67" not 78". 78" = 6'6". They congratulated me on lowering my BMI so dramatically over the prior year. Apparently it didn't seem strange at all to them that a 38-39 year old woman grew 11" in one year. I guess in their world it is reasonable that my BMI was lowered so drastically by me growing almost a foot while not changing my weight at all. Think they'll notice this year if I shrink 11" and my BMI returns to it's pre-growth spurt level?

(11) Do you try something new at restaurants or stick to something your favorites?
Oh, I stick to my favorites. I don't like to try new things at restaurants. I blame it on my allergies and needing to know exactly what goes into each dish. But mostly it's because I am incredibly boring and predictable.

(12) One makeup item you can't live without?
Again, none. I rarely wear makeup. It irritates my skin. And my mascara runs down my face about 18.3 seconds after application because I forget I am wearing it and rub my eyes.

Can I answer lip gloss though? I use it to bribe my 3yo into going #2 on the potty. She is allowed to wear purple lip gloss when she successfully gets her business done in the place deemed acceptable by her personal tushy wiper.

(13) What's on your nightstand?
A stack of clothes that I need to donate. And my Bible.

(14) What's one thing motherhood has taught you?
That I am able to sustain a relatively high level of functioning on precious little sleep. And that I needed to quit swearing. And listening to rap music. Kids are like parrots.

(15) Music that reminds you of high school?
C&C Music Factory - Everybody Dance Now
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Extreme - More Than Words
Aerosmith - Love in an Elevator
Tag Team - Whoomp! There It Is
Pearl Jam - Black
Stone Temple Pilots - Plush
Vanessa Paradis - Joe le Taxi

I have eclectic musical tastes. What can I say?

(16) If you could live anywhere in the world besides your current city, where would you live?
I always want to say, "I'd love to live on a farm/ranch in the middle of nowhere in Texas/Oklahoma."

Then I laugh at my silly self, remember how much I detest bugs and snap back to reality (oh there goes gravity)!

Paris. France not Texas. I'd live in Paris, France. And eat croissants and bread and cheese and chocolate and croque monsieurs.

(17) Tell me something about you we might not know.
I get "European Flush" when I drink alcohol. With just a few sips of alcohol, my face & chest turn bright red, my skin burns & itches, I have heart palpitations, my speech slurs, my legs and arms feel very heavy & tingly and all I want to do is go asleep immediately. It's delightful. But mostly embarrassing.

This all developed after my first pregnancy and has been my reaction to any alcohol consumption ever since.

This reaction is more common among people of East Asian descent. But I am not of East Asian descent. We are European through and through. The cause of "European flush" is unknown and the only "cure" is avoiding alcohol. Lucky me.

(18) Websites you read/browse?
There's a flat ton of websites I read and browse. I have about 50 food blogs I read regularly, plus all the blogs on my blogroll. I also enjoy reading the National Catholic Register website, ChurchPOP, and I am found on "the Facebooks" from time to time.

(19) Morning person or night owl?
Night owl. Just say no to mornings. If only I could get my kids on board with this one. I think my son is headed towards being a night owl like his mama. And Alice, the 3yo, would stay up late into the night hours...which wouldn't be so bad if she would sleep past 7am. It's the LizzieBeth that's driving me batty here. That girl wakes up at 5am. No, just no. There are no babies allowed out of their cribs before 7:30am unless we have somewhere to be. The end.

Peri-menopause is a wonderfully infuriating thing in that I feel tired all. the. time. But can't sleep, because insomnia. I can go to bed at midnight, but I'll just lay there awake (but still as a statue lest I wake the children) until almost 5am. You know, when Lizzie wakes up. Maybe I should start using under eye concealer and make that my #12 above?

(20) Favorite breakfast meal?
An ice cold Coke.

Or a homemade cinnamon roll.
Make that "and." And a homemade cinnamon roll.

+1 = (21) If you could have a do-over in life, what would it be?
Oh, so many bad haircuts I could stop with a do-over, but I'd need lots and lots (and lots and lots) of do-overs to stem the tragic tide of mushroom & helmet headed horrors.

I'm going to go with con(re)verting to Catholicism much earlier. I really wish I wouldn't have taken so long to come home to the Catholic faith. I'd been on the path to con(re)verting for more than 10 years before I actually did it. That's too long without the Eucharist.

Your turn! Do it! You know you want to answer them too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Miam Miam Monday (Menu Plan) v5

Last week I didn't post my menu plan. I meant to do so, but a couple things happened that threw me for a loop and required a major overhaul to my plan and continuing adjustments on the fly.

And that is not how I like to spend my week in relation to food. I much prefer knowing what we are eating all week, having the ingredients on hand (or knowing when I need to go to the store to buy fresh items), and being able to plan my days accordingly.

First, my DH was supposed to be headed out of the country on a business trip which would have made my food life easier as my kids do not require the variety that my husband does. They are more than happy with a nice easy rotation at dinner of pancakes & fruit, noodles with veggies, hot dogs & corn on the cob. And I am happy to just have a salad or sandwich for dinner - and take a break from the more elaborate cooking I normally do. But he didn't go.

Secondly, my DH didn't go out of town because he fell ill and the doctor didn't think it would be wise for him to travel out of the country taking a chance of having to undergo emergency surgery in a less developed nation should his issue progress rather than resolve. And his sudden illness required a liquid diet for 48 hours, followed by a bland diet.

I don't cook bland food. At least not on purpose.

Nearly everything I had planned needed to be tossed and we all joined daddy on his odyssey of noodle soup, jello, boiled chicken, rice and mashed potatoes and crackers. I made the food daddy could eat, then tweaked it so the rest of the family would enjoy it as well.

All I have to say about that is - time for daddy to get better already.

He's not back to 100% yet, but here's the plan for this week anyhow. If I have to bland it up again for my husband, I will, but the rest of us are eatin' like normal.

Monday
Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli & Chicken 
This is using up some leftover poached chicken and canned Alfredo Sauce. I'll steam the broccoli on the side because DH can't eat broccoli at this point so I want to keep it separate.

Tuesday
This is an easy version of fried rice (less the oyster sauce - because allergies!) - made even easier by using a 16oz package of mixed frozen vegetables instead of chopping my own. The rice is leftover bland food that needs to be used up. I can add in chicken too if we still have some leftover.

Wednesday
Onion Chicken (for the kids) and Caprese Avocado Toasts for the grown-ups
The kids love my Onion Chicken. I'll serve it with some green beans and buttered rolls and call it a night. For the grown ups - we're going with these delicious avocado toasts. Seriously, so, so fantastic.

Thursday
Italian Shredded Beef Sandwiches
This isn't my favorite shredded beef recipe (that one is here). But without the chilies it is certainly bland enough not to upset my husband's tummy. This recipe makes a ton of shredded beef...more than we can eat in 1 sitting. Even if we eat some leftovers for lunch and/or dinner...there is still too much to use up so I'll freeze 'em to use in nachos, enchiladas and/or tacos over the next few weeks of soccer season.

Friday
Pizza and Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks
I am thinking we'll go with a Chicago Style Deep Dish Veggie Pizza. And our usual Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks. Since I'm trying to come up with ways to save some kitchen time, I'm going to make the usual batch of pizza dough, but use half of it to do something a little out of the ordinary. I'll tell you all about that next week though :-)

A cliffhanger. Expect the unexpected here folks. I'm like the Spanish Inquisition over here.

Saturday
Burgers and grilled veggies
I'll offer these two variations. Bacon & Bleu Burgers and Cheddar Beer Burgers. Pick your poison. I know which burger I'm pickin'. One of each, DUH!
I like to make 'em mini and enjoy them on tiny homemade slider buns.

Sunday
My night off. We'll be at my parents' home enjoying something delicious. 

*NOTE: These are NOT affiliate links. I don't benefit financially or in any other way by linking to any of these blogs. Miammiammena.wordpress.com is my personal food blog where I post my recipes from time to time.

Linked up with Simcha Fisher for her What's for Supper feature. Check out her Monday meal...it's got just the sort of name that could get my kids to eat it!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chocolate Chip Scones

Each weekend, I enjoy making a "treat" breakfast for my family. One of the breakfasts my kids request with regularity is Chocolate Chip Scones. I can't blame them.

This recipe makes fluffy scones that definitely will never be confused for health food. But that is what makes them a weekend treat. If you don't think you and your family will finish all 12 scones for breakfast (I'd be impressed if you could), panic not, my friend! These are delicious at room temperature later in the afternoon as a snack.

Chocolate chips not your thang? You could substitute the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips. Or any crazy combination of those you can think of (hello chocolate chip, peanut butter scones - alas, I'm not as crazy as you think!).
I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine does!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#5Faves: Things Inspiring Me This Week

I've been in need of some inspiration lately in a few different areas of my life. So here is my short list of things that are inspiring me lately:

#1
I'm not as late to this party as I usually am. I have started creating a capsule wardrobe for me and my kids. I started this approach in the Spring when I had to shop for the kids' and my summer clothes and I have to say, it has made my life much easier.

For me, I went with approximately 10 shirts (8 black t-shirts, 1 navy blue t-shirt, and 1 multi-colored loose tank style top), 5 skirts (4 maxi-skirts, 1 knee-length skirt), 5 shorts/capris (2 beige capri pants, 2 jean capri pants, 1 pair plaid shorts), and 4 pair of shoes (1 pair beige flip-flops, 1 pair white flip-flops, 1 pair tennis shoes, 1 pair camouflage ballet flats). This is plenty for me as a stay-at-home mom even though it is way below her recommended number of items. I do also have about 10 tank tops/camisoles that I interchange beneath all the shirts for a pop of color, since you can see that most of my wardrobe is black or beige.

For our son: 10 pair of shorts (4 plaid, 6 solid), 15 shirts (polo style, t-shirts, character shirts), 3 pair of shoes (2 pair of tennis shoes, 1 pair flip-flops).

For the girls: They each have approximately 5 pair of shorts (jeans & cotton), 5 casual play dresses, 3 church dresses, 10 shirts, and 4 pair of shoes (2 sandals, 1 paid of tennis shoes, 1 pair dressy shoes).

This system has really cut down on my laundry, overflowing dresser drawers and general mess in the house. I also find we have less arguing about what they will wear since they can pick almost anything and it still matches. 

The big exception to this is my son's character shirts. Relatives send him character shirts with busy patterns (spider-man mostly) and he loves them so wants to wear them all the time. With plaid shorts. Ummm, no.

#2
What? You too? I thought I was the only one (who needs to declutter their abode). This system seems so doable to me. I actually feel like I could declutter one thing a day from my household. And I feel like I can put a plan in place to get them out of my house, whether by selling, donating or just trashing them. It's just one thing a day.

#3
This site has been putting out some fantastic and challenging devotionals lately. They've stung a bit, but I know that they are pruning me to help me grow. Really, you should check it out and sign up for the daily devotionals.

#4
I have been wanting to change up my own eating habits to get more healthy, fresh food. I saw this TED talk about Weekday Vegetarianism and have been thinking about it for about 2 months. I don't know that I am ready to completely commit to a Monday-Friday veggie diet, but I am slowly moving that direction. I have worked up to 3 days a week vegetarian diet for myself (my kids & husband...well, they are a different story entirely). I am still working on it and I started by eating salads at lunch every day. I vacillate between a hearty coleslaw and more traditional salads.

I'll keep you apprised of how this change pans out. It would be awesome if I dropped a few lbs during this transformation, but I'm not banking on it. Funny how all the changes your body goes through at mid-life make the vain benefits of this type of lifestyle change disappear.

#5
My kids were such good eaters until they stopped being good eaters. Junior gobbled everything we put in front of him until the age of 3 when he started refusing everything but noodles, bread and breadsticks. Alice has decided over the past few months that she will no longer eat anything that is not a hot dog, chocolate or cookie. Thankfully, my sweet LizzieBeth is still eating whatever is offered.

This phase d'opposition is supposed to be short-lived, but Junior, at almost 7yo, is still struggling to eat a more varied diet. 

And this mom is tired of the dinner-time drama.

I read this book recently and found a wealth of great tips for introducing new foods to my family and for getting them to try them and like them. We are working on it. Of course, the French methods and rules are not going to work 100% for my family for a variety of reasons, but all the "rules" are adoptable and adaptable. I am planning a more in depth post about this book and what its implementation looks like at our house soon, so stay tuned for that.

So that's it. #5Faves that are inspiring me lately. I hope you'll click over to visit Jenna today and see what others are sharing for their #5Faves today too!

None of these are affiliate links. Just some sites I've found useful, helpful or inspiring. I receive nothing for passing along their info or from you clicking through to them.


Friday, August 14, 2015

{SQT} Ridiculous or Incredible Moments This Week

So many funny, exasperating and delicious things have happened; it's been a good week.

#1
My 3yo, Alice, informing me that "PENGUINS HAVE BUTTS!"

#2
My 6yo, Junior, telling me "I don't want to be a teenager because that's when all the girls fall in love with you."

#3
My 1yo, Lizzie, pointing at the silverware drawer, crying and hysterically wailing, "FORK! FORK! FORK!" until I gave her the SPOON she so desperately wanted.

#4
Me being caught up on laundry. Including having folded and put it all away. Who am I?

#5
This moment of silence. Really, Junior is spending the day with his Grandpa & cousin. Lizzie is napping and Alice is coloring her new purse quietly beside me.

#6
Reading this. And letting it wash over me. As a con(re)vert, I've never felt particularly close to Mary. I believe in the Assumption of Mary, but never gave it much thought. I just sort of figured, "well, Jesus loved his mom, so why not?" But this explanation makes all the sense in the world.

Additionally, it was a great reminder that my children that have died before birth are still with me. And they will be with me forever.

#7
I made this and I ate this and I regret nothing.

Linking up with Kelly today. You should check out some of the other fabulous bloggers that have linked up there too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#5Faves: Favorite Meal Planning Methods

I was talking with my SIL the other day and my nephew asked why she doesn't bake the same things I do. Her answer was so perfect: "Because we all have different skills!" And I couldn't agree more. That lady, my SIL, has some mad skillz that I could never hope to replicate or even come close to mimicking no matter how hard I try (and I have tried...she's just too good). So I stick to the things at which I am good. Cooking. Baking. Menu planning. Trying new recipes. Modifying them to suit our tastes. Taxes.

In honor of something I am good at (and in deference to all the things I am not good at - cleaning, tidying up, basement organization, nursing, fashion, make-up, ahhhh the list could go on for days) here are five different ways I've found to menu or meal plan. These have each worked for me at different points in my family's life. There is no "one right way" to do this...you just have to try different things until something sticks for you and your family.

(I've got a another post on menu planning so give that one a look too. n that post I gave you all permission to change your planning method if it wasn't working for you, so zippity-do-dah-day, I have made some changes to my own planning routine.)

#1
Shop the Sales
Find out what your grocery store has on sale and make your menu based on those items. For example, Kr.oger will sometimes do BOGO on English Shoulder Roasts. If you saw that you could plan on a pot roast for Sunday dinner and French Dip sandwiches later in the week or the following week. If your grocery store runs a special on boneless, skinless chicken breasts (around here $1.99/lb is a decent sale price) you can stock up, freeze them in appropriate quantities for your family's needs, then pick a bunch of your favorite chicken recipes to use over a few weeks.

You could use this method to buy fresh food each week or you could use this method to stock your pantry & freezer then meal plan based on what you have on hand.

#2
Family Choice
This option works well for some families that have members who can't always agree on foods they like. It's a pretty simple concept:  each person gets to pick one meal a week. Kids figure out pretty quickly that if they continuously pick something their siblings hate that their siblings will return the favor. You can also set up parameters for the meals to ensure you aren't eating buttered noodles 4 times a week. You could say (2) chicken meals, (1) beef meal, (2) vegetarian meals, (1) pork/seafood meal, (1) pizza night and let a different kid choose first each week so they all get an opportunity to pick something they like from their favorite category. You could say no eating the same meal more than twice per month to ensure variety. Use your imagination.

#3
Theme Nights
To make your life simpler you can set up theme nights each week. If you always have catechism on Monday afternoons/evenings you could make that your slow cooker day. If soccer games & gymnastics keep you out of the house on Thursday evenings that night becomes hand-held dinner night. Taco Tuesdays can be a theme at your house (I'd broaden it to Mexican/Spanish/Latin American food on Tuesdays so I don't have to be locked in to Tacos each week). Here are three different ideas for setting up Theme Nights to streamline your meal & menu planning:

#4
Recipe Collector
If you are a recipe collector, whether on paper, on Pinterest, in cookbooks or on food blogs the key is keeping them organized and categorized. If you keep them organized and categorized you'll be able to easily sort through them to choose which ones you want to try. Then when you've tried them either keep them or toss them. If you have a recipe you want to try, look at how long it will take to make, check the ingredients (so you know if there are specialty ingredients involved or just your regular pantry items) and plan it for a day when you have the time and energy to do it.

The groupings I keep my recipes sorted into under my Main Dish category are as follows: Slow Cooker, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Turkey, Meatless (including egg, vegan, beans), Pasta, Soup, Salads, Pizza.

I don't keep a category for fish or seafood as I am allergic, and since I prepare 99.9% of all dinners at our home, I don't cook fish or seafood so I have no reason to collect those recipes.

#5
Let Someone Else Do It For You
Seriously. You could totally let someone else meal plan for you. There are several blogs that put up weekly or monthly meal plans and you can easily use one of their plans, swapping things out as needed to suit your family's budget and tastes. There are paid subscriptions where they will send you the plan and recipes each week or month. Many of these will also include a grocery list so you can just print it or download it, add any of your own items, cross off the things you have and head out the door.

Here are a few blogs (besides my own - see my Miam Miam Monday posts) that put up menus. Some of these are easy, family meals and some are more complicated...but there is something out there for everyone, you just have to try them out.

Mix and Match Mama does Meal Planning Mondays
The Recipe Critic does a Weekly Menu Plan
This Silly Girl's Life does a Weekly Meal Plan
The Prudent Homemaker has Seasonal Menu Plans (Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall, plus Holidays) that include breakfast, lunch & dinner. This woman is amazing at sticking to a budget, being thrifty and being a steward of the things her family has and uses. Seriously...check her out.
$5 Dinners is a subscription service that gives you a monthly menu, grocery list, and recipes

How do you menu plan? Do you have a unique way of doing it? I'd enjoy hearing your ideas - inspire me!

Linking up with Jenna at Call Her Happy for this week's edition of #5Faves where she's all about glitter. Which makes me want to be all about glitter. Which I sorta am since we had a Froz.en themed birthday party over the weekend and there is glitter coming off all the dresses all over this house!

These are not affiliate links. Just some sites I've found useful, helpful or inspiring. I receive nothing for passing along their info or from you clicking through to them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Honestly, It's Honesty That's Stunting My Growth

I was invited to a Blessed Is She Brunch this past weekend and I had a chance to visit with some lovely ladies and just do a little bonding over Catholic #BISSisterhood. It was absolutely delightful.

We all pitched in a dish for an amazing potluck breakfast. There were beautifully printed name tags for us each to wear. Mary was our speaker and was a spit-fire and I just wanted to drive her back to my house for chocolate shakes and be best friends with her forever. And I felt the same way about the ladies sitting at my table too. These were some quality women. Women you want to know, and learn from, and pray with, and laugh with, and eat with, and well, just be when you grow-up.

Mary talked to us about sisterhood and how it all starts with honesty. Jenna recapped her talk nicely here. This honesty can lead to affirmation. And that affirmation can lead to prayer for and with each other.

And I have to tell you, it's the honesty that is stunting the growth of my relationships into real friendships and sisterhood.

It's not that I'm not honest. I am. People who meet me, especially in a business setting, will quickly realize that I am honest and blunt. I will tell you the truth. You ask me about your product and I will give you an honest assessment of its merits and flaws. You ask me about your presentation and I will tell you honestly about the good points, the lost points and the no points you did or didn't make. You bring me an idea or plan and I will SWOT analyze it until you're ready to just plain swat me away.

To quote the Godfather, "It's not personal, it's just business." Because I am not my work and you are not your work, I find it very easy to be honest when it comes to work related stuff. I don't take business criticism personally because, when given properly, it is my idea or work product that is being criticized, not me personally. (I fully understand that some work is more "personal" in nature and some people feel that their work is a direct reflection of who they are - and when working with this personality type, I try really, really hard to adjust my blunt style. That's an entirely different topic for another day).

I'm honest with strangers on Facebook in various groups in which I participate. I share intimate, messy details of my life with people I will likely never meet. And the introvert and perfectionist within me hopes that I never meet them. Or at least if I do meet them that they don't remember the embarrassing details I shared when I thought I would remain just a screen name.

It's the honesty about who I really am in real life to the real people I meet that keeps tripping me up. I don't lie, but I don't share my heart either. I keep people in real life at arms distance and on the other side of my self-built wall. It's my vanity and pride that you might just figure out that I'm not perfect. And enough is enough.

Because I want real friends, who know the real me in real life, if you meet me you are really going to meet me. And we may not be best friends (because not everyone can be best friends), but it won't be because I was too prideful to be honest about who I am.