Friday, February 29, 2008

Getting there

Well, the birthday preparations are well under way...practically finished on my part. I made the barn cake and some animal cupcakes, and they turned out great. Don't worry I'll post pictures later. I have the buns, I have the chips and other things, and we're packed and ready to go. Matt will be home from work soon, then we're off. We'll head up to my parents' house to stay overnight.

Tomorrow will hold many activities. Sledding, birthday party with cake and ice cream, presents, and dinner with family. I'm glad that my mother likes to over plan, because we're expecting somewhere between 20 -30 people tomorrow. And most of them are adults. But, nevertheless, it will be a fun time for everyone. I'm glad so many people will be there to celebrate with Zachariah. And I know he'll love all the attention.

I will catch up with you tomorrow. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Help with Showering

Help me our by voting for my blog friend, Katie. Her sister (K in the Mirror if you know her) nominated her for a virtual baby shower, and she's one of the 10 finalist. This is a fantastic prize and since she's have baby #4 (that she just found out is a boy!), I'm sure she can use some new things. You can only vote once per computer, so she needs us to help spread the word to vote. What are you waiting for? Vote, vote now!

Busy busy

We are 3 days away from Zachariah's birthday party. Last year I was very organized and had everything planned weeks/months in advance. And it wasn't even a big party. This year, uh, we almost forgot to plan the party. I didn't send out invitations, because we waited too long to decide where and what time to have it. So, I've been calling family (many who knew the date a while ago) and letting them know our plans. We decided to move the party to my parents' house. There is more room there, and it's closer for everyone (except us). But it made more sense for us to be the only ones to drive that distance.

We took Zachariah out Monday looking for presents and ideas for a cake. (Nope, still haven't decided.) I was strongly leaning towards the tractor thing. He looked at the tractor cake supplies and gave me an uh-huh-that's-nice-mom kind of reaction. Then he saw cars "CARS!" and Elmo "MELMO!". Which lead him to saw "Monsta? Cookie Monsta?". Nope, no cookie monster things. Then he started asking for "Eam gurk?" which means "teamwork" with means Wonder Pets. Nope, no Wonder Pets. Ahh. So we kept looking. The two places I looked for gifts didn't have much at all. Maybe they haven't restocked since Christmas or something.

So, no cake idea. And no presents. I spent the rest of the day Monday looking online for cake ideas. I found things for Elmo, Cookie Monster, and of course Wonder Pets. I did find a few do-able ideas, but I wasn't sure. Then I called my grandma to invite her to the party and my sister too. Zachariah heard me talking about his "birfday" on the phone and started saying "tractor tractor". Back to square one. I guess he has settled on a tractor theme. I found some cute ideas and was ready to get things for a tractor tonight. My mom called last night and saw a cute idea for a barn cake. Now I think I'm going to do that. And I'll buy a little toy tractor to place beside it (and then he can have a new tractor toy). So that settles the cake. (I'll be sure to take photos, because I have some great embellishment ideas.)

Presents. I have a few ideas and I'm hoping to get something tonight. I have my night out for choir tonight, and it's a good time to stop at the store by myself on the way home. So, we'll see what I can find, because time it running out.

I feel a bit frazzled, but I know it will all come together without too much craziness. Let's hope that Matt and Zachariah are both feeling better by Saturday too. (Matt came back home this morning sick. He is exhausted and has an upset stomach. Zachariah has a bit of a cold.) I'm still not sure why things got put off so badly this year, but I'm frantic and determined to get things back in order in my life. Time keeps ticking away.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Do you get tired of lists?

March NaBloPoMo....lists is the theme. I might give it a try. I can handle that. It kind of sounds like fun. And I need to get back into blogging more often. This might be a good jump start. Anyone else want to join me?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Chaotic

I have been feeling really unorganized lately. In my life and especially in my house. I see certain areas of our home that haven't been sorted through, looked at, or purged in years. What's the point of having all these things that we don't use any more.

It's almost overwhelming when I think about resolving this problem though. I see plenty of places where I should start, but then I think about all the other "hot spots" (to borrow a phrase from FLY lady) that need putting out. I know I can't do it all at once. And it seems rather convenient (sarcastic) that when I'm in the mood to start on some projects here that I can't do a whole lot with a sore, out of whack, back.

And why the sudden interest in taking care of these things? Matt and I were discussing the "one year rule" about clothes the other day. Basically if you haven't worn it in a year, then get rid of it. And I know we both have a lot of work we can do in that department. Then I see all the baby clothes that are still in Zachariah's closet (in bags) that should be stored.

So maybe this is all a pre-nesting thing. We have been talking about trying for another baby. I figure if I can't keep things organized with one kid, what will I do with two. And we've accumulated a lot of things for this one kid. Much of it I've let pile up (or shove it all in manila envelopes to save) and it just plain needs sorted.

I have work to do, and I may as well get started while I have some motivation. Since Zachariah's birthday is only a week away, I think the best place to start is to begin organizing and sorting his toys. And I can organize some small areas with storage containers/organizers that are sitting in our garage unused.

Our small group is having a garage sale at the beginning of May. The proceeds are going to Matt's Mali trip. I know as I'm organizing and sorting I will find things to put aside for the garage sale. I'm glad to know I have something to do with these things, and I know they won't sit in boxes in the garage for more than 2 months. I think we can handle that.

My mission this week is to pull out the empty storage boxes/units that I have. Then I will get some of Zachariah's old baby things put away. I know I will eventually move his dresser into his closet, then I'll have more room for him to have toys to play with in his bedroom. I think toys are a good place to start. Plus I know he'll be getting more for gifts next weekend.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Just isn't working

Apparently this exercise thing just wasn't meant to be. I have thrown out my back and haven't been able to exercise most of the week. Honestly, I was very disappointed about it. I have a back (actually it's a pelvis) problem off and on for several years. Sometimes it just slips out of alignment. I don't always know why.

Matt was a gem, and he met me at the chiropractor's office today during his lunch break. He took Zachariah out for lunch while I was being adjusted. We planned this yesterday, so I told Zachariah this morning that he could have pizza for lunch with Daddy. He talked about it all morning long. He was excited. Then by the time we got home, it was way after his naptime so he went right down for a nap. He woke up telling me about having pizza for lunch with Matt. So cute.

Matt's been offering to help out more and do things around the house so I can rest. He does when I ask him. I hate to ask. I guess I can't handle the being babied thing like he can when he's sick. I should milk it for all it's worth.

I feel like I'm getting better after being adjusted and I will probably need to go back next week. Let's hope I can get back to working out soon. That's the only way I can get healthier to make this better in the long run.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SEVEN 7 seven

Tag, I'm it. I got tagged for a meme by Carrie. I wasn't sure I would do it, but everyone else is and I have nothing better to blog about. So here goes.

The rules are as follows:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share seven random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
5. Leave a comment on their blogs so that they know they have been tagged.

My random/weird facts:

1. Matt and I are addicted to Big Brother. We've watched it loyally every summer since Season 2 in 2001. Right now we're happy to have a winter season to watch. Although, I have to say that this season isn't too great for me, but I still watch each and every episode.

2. My sisters and I all used to pile in a twin bed together once in a while and thought it was great fun. Oh, I should mention it was the top bunk. Ha. I usually bailed first (but it was my bed).

3. When I went into the hospital to have Zachariah, a group from a local school came in to present me with 2 new Dr. Seuss books. It was Dr. Seuss's birthday, so they were giving books to all the babies born that day. Zachariah wasn't born until the next day though. I was just there for observation the day before and then was induced the next morning. They still wanted to give him the books. I couldn't refuse. I love children's books.

4. Did I ever tell you that Matt crawled out from behind a rock when he proposed to me. He was taking too long back there (we were hiking and I was waiting to take a photo), and I thought he was going to scare me with a bug. I was surprised though.

5. I know how to play the French horn. (I wish I'd gotten the chance to play it more when I could.)

6. My baby sister just turned 22 this week. I remember the day she was born (or night rather). It was in the middle of an ice storm.

7. As a kid my first job was delivering newspapers. I did it for 7 years! It was a good way to learn about responsibility and money.


Tag, you're it now.

1. Devan at All D's - because, like me, she's bored that no one has been posting new blogs to read.
2. Mommy Brain - because she's been MIA for a while, so I'd like to see a new post from her.
3. Kelsey at Midwest Mom- because she's on bed rest, and maybe this will give her something new to do.
4. Shannon at Cerebral Palsy Baby - because she's been quiet, and I think she does have things to say.
5. Sarah at No Whey, Mama - because she just had a baby a month ago, and I need to hear more about this new little one.
6. Emily at Katydid - because she's one of the cool kids who I'd love to meet IRL some day.
7. And Misty at Rainy Day in May - because she's suffering with allergies and needs a little love.

Of course if you haven't been tagged by anyone else and would like to do this, do it. I can add you to my list if you want. ;)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Another Casserole

Last week I tried another new casserole recipe. We enjoyed it. The only thing I will advise is that I used canned corned beef (as the recipe gave the option for) and it made it a bit salty. Not in a bad way (I didn't think), but Matt thought it was a bit too much. It just depends on your tastes. And I think it serves more than what they say. We served it with vegetables too.





Creamy Corned Beef Bake




1-1/2 cups cubed cooked corned beef or 1 can (12 ounces) cooked corned beef
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
8 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed
1 package (7 ounces) small shell pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 bread slices, cubed
2 tablespoons butter, melted



1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Toss bread cubes with butter; sprinkle over top.




2. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.




Yield: 4 servings.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Valentine present






This weekend was Matt's Valentine present to me. All I knew is that we were going away on Saturday, and we were taking Zachariah along. Well, I found out on Saturday morning that we were only taking Zachariah so far. Matt had arranged for my parents to keep him overnight. So I packed him bag, and we dropped him off there. Then we headed to the botanical gardens in Ft. Wayne, IN. The last time we were there was after we went to a bridal show nearby and stopped in there afterwards. That was 8 years ago. It was really neat and we got some great photos (as you can see above). I've like to go back and take Zachariah since they had a Dr. Seuss theme going on right now. I did take some photos for him to enjoy, though. We really enjoyed our leisurely walk around the gardens.
After that we did some shopping. Mostly just walking around and also looking for exercise clothes for me. I had a hard time finding things in my size, and I didn't end up buying anything. Too bad. I guess I'll like with what I have for now. I came to the conclusion that they must not think fat people work out.
We went to dinner at Granite City based on the recommendation of a friend. We loved it. Matt enjoyed a beer sampler. They brew their own, so he was able to try their different kinds. (I don't like beer, so I was the designated driver.) The food was really good. I especially loved the Ale & Cheddar Soup. We will definitely go back there again sometime. Just know that we had to wait at least 20 minutes and that was just after 4:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday. People who came in less than 5 minutes after us were told the wait was now 30-40 minutes. Busy place. Highly recommended though.
Then we went to see a movie. We saw "Definitely, Maybe". It was a good movie. I really enjoyed Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin in it. I would describe it as a good chick flick (which my hubby likes from time to time) with a little bit of funny in it.
We stopped at a little shop nearby and bought coffee (for Matt; it was Seattle's Best, so he was really excited at our unexpected find) and some expensive chocolates. Then we headed home. It was a really nice day. And a great Valentine's present. Very thoughtful and it was nice to get away by ourselves.
My parents brought Zachariah back in the afternoon the next day. So we did have some time to chill and relax at home too. He had a great time with them. And they played in the snow and went sledding on my parents' property. He was good for them, and he's been really tired since being back home. But I know they love keeping him when they can. Maybe next time Matt's parents can spend the day with him.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Other local news

A boy from our area is one of the American Idol top 24! I saw his name and knew that I knew him. He was in the 5th grade class that I did my student teaching with. I haven't seen him in years, and of course he's changed so much. It sounds like he's still a smart grounded boy like he always was. I need to see if I have any pictures of him from his elementary years. Eeee, now I have a reason to watch and vote for American Idol this year. (I don't normally pay much attention unless there is nothing else on and we stumble upon it. But we did watch Season 2 religiously and parts of Season 3. That's it.)

So, go check out his AI site, and vote vote vote for him. :)

For the record his hair was short and spiky when I knew him. I think he hasn't cut it since I knew him in 5th grade.

Sad, heart-breaking really

I don't tutor on Fridays. I don't tutor late. But this week things were different. I worked late last night, because we were short-staffed. I went in for just a few minutes today, because I agreed to make a cake for a Sweet 16 party for one of our girls. While I was there today, I found out that only an hour (or less) after I left the apartment complex there was a shooting. One of our 15-year-old students was shot. I am more sad and scared than you can imagine.

I'm sad that this happened. I'm scared that it happened. Am I scared to go back to a place where I've worked for 4 years? No. Am I scared to take my son with me? Not really. OK, maybe a teeny tiny bit more now. What really scares me is that I left late that night. Less than an hour before this happened. I'm sad because I know this boy. He doesn't come in for our after-school program, but I see him around often. He also helped us a lot this summer. And I know his younger sisters well, since I work with all three of them.

The boy is OK for now. I don't know how serious his injuries are, but I know that he had surgery to repair damage done to his colon and bladder (maybe stomach too). I know he was shot in the back. I know this family is already dealing with more than their share of issues. They lost their mother 6 years ago and now live with their grandmother (and whoever else of the family lives there). I just pray for this family that things will work out. I pray that the boy is OK. I pray that he will heal quickly. I pray that the person(s) responsible will be caught.

I decided not to link to local articles about this boy, because it would give away too much about where I live and tutor. But if you're someone who regularly reads this blog (and I feel like I know you) or you know me in real life, I'd be happy to give you the links via e-mail. And I'd be happy to keep you updated with what's happen. I know that the police have no suspects. I know they haven't had a chance to talk to the boy. I hope he can help them, and I pray that justice is served.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Be mine?


Happy Valentine's Day, my friends. I hope that your day is full of hearts and flowers. (Mine's full of a little boy saying "dantine day" and "smiling" for the camera when he brought it to me. But I am glad he still fits into his cute little Valentine shirt [seen above] from last year.)

I got myself out of bed early this morning to make my sweetie breakfast. Then Zachariah woke up early to wish Daddy a Happy Valentine's Day before he left for work. So, we al had an early start to the day, but it was OK. I gave Matt a card I'd handmade in the shape of a heart with a love poem in/on it. He actually complimented me on it. I was happy about that. I gave him some miniature candy bars too. I got Zachariah a little heart-shaped box of chocolates with a train on it that says "Choo choo choose me". It's cute, and he loved it. He was so cute that I let him have a piece before breakfast. And for me there was another love poem about Valentine's Day in a bottle. It was sweet, and I love that Matt's left me these notes all week.

We have no fancy dinner plans tonight, because we have no babysitter and Zachariah wouldn't be able to stay up late enough. But Matt has made some sort of weekend plans, and I know nothing about them. I am really looking forward to it though.

I thought I'd at least be home a little after 6:00 tonight to enjoy dinner with my sweetie, but that wasn't meant to be either. I normally just tutor for a few hours after school, but one of our group leaders needs to leave early tonight. And another one is sick, and the other has class tonight so he leaves early every night. And we just had one person graduate and leave us a week ago. So we're terribly understaffed at our little after-school program. The director called me today to see if I could work until 7:00. Ugh. She needs someone to be there until close to fill in for our absentee co-workers. I can do it. I'm nice and those kids need someone to be there. Matt didn't seem to mind since we didn't have plans anyway. Zachariah will be ready for bed by the time I get home. So, Matt's plan is to just feed Zac, then we'll eat something nice after he goes to bed. That works for me.

I read about what some of you did/are doing on your blogs. How about the rest of you? Valentine's Day isn't all it's cracked up to be...especially when you're married with kids. Anyone else feel that way?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Same old

1. The messages in bottles continue to come. Each day there is a new one with a new love poem. They are always in places that I will find them with no problem. And I enjoy knowing there will be a new one each day.

2. My husband isn't the only romantic. Saturday on my way home from a friend's house, I stopped to get Matt a bouquet of beautiful purple tulips. He loved them. (OK, so I enjoy having them on my dining table too, but that wasn't the purpose.)

3. Zachariah has a great memory. One night last week when I was putting him to bed, I saw a spider on the wall beside his bed. I called Matt in to kill it. Then he went to sleep no problem. The next night as I was laying him down he was trying to tell me something about Daddy and pointing to something. I couldn't figure out what he was saying. Then it dawns on me, he said "Daddy... pida...wall". He wanted Daddy to kill the spider on the wall. I had to then convince him that there was not a spider on the wall tonight. Funny that he remembered it though.

4. I tried another new casserole recipe. I'll post it next week for my new recipe. We liked it.

5. Zachariah has a black eye. Have I told you that yet? Poor guy, everyone asks him about it. He points to his eye and makes a pouty face, then says "bauck" meaning "black". Ha ha. He even told Grandma about it on the phone last night.

6. Speaking of grandmas. Happy 49th Birthday to my mom! It was yesterday. She didn't get to go out to dinner with my dad, because the roads were a mess with all the snow we got yesterday. He still stopped at her favorite Chinese restaurant on his way home and got dinner for them. He's so sweet. I'm sure he'll make it up to her this weekend and take her somewhere really nice. (My dad is the type of guy I always wanted to find for myself. I don't think I did too badly.)

7. I've been trying to read a book a week. I'm doing well. I love to read, but I normally go in spurts. I'll read lots and lots of books, then I won't read for a month. I want to keep this up all year. And I want to expand my reading horizons. I'll be posting more about that some other time, because I'll need your help and suggestions.

8. A new season of Big Brother started last night. Yeah! My best friend and I love that show. We talk about it all the time while it's on. And we don't usually agree on our favorites, so we argue about it too. It's great fun.

9. I saw on KatieBug's blog that someone commented about making homemade Samoa cookies. What? Awesome! I'm going to try them! I'll let you know what I think.

10. Do you have plans for Valentine's day tomorrow? Do you give gifts to your kids? What do you give? Matt has something planned for this weekend. We don't have any babysitters here, and it's hard for us to take Zac out during the week. So, we'll do something later. I haven't gotten anyone anything yet. I think I'll get Zachariah a little box of chocolates.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This exercise thing

So, it's been 8 days since I've been working out now. Every day! I didn't even skip over the weekend. And I had to get up earlier than normal on Sunday to have enough time to work out. Yikes! I'm on a role. And I'm proud of myself.

I realized after the first two days that I was going to need new workout clothes. What I have is fine, but I only have one sports bra. And I don't like to wear it twice in a row after it's all icky and sweaty. So, I made a deal with Matt. I had to keep exercising daily until today, then we would go buy some new exercise clothes for me. I did it. This is a good commitment to him and I. And he didn't even expect me to workout over the weekend. I knew I had to if I wanted to keep the momentum going.

So, here we are a week later. What changes am I noticing? Not too many. I have more energy. I feel strong enough to do the workouts now. I feel more fit. But I still have a long way to go. The point of this first step (of exercising every day) was for me to get more fit. That's an important step for me. And I needed to develop this daily habit.

What comes next? Next is the hard part for me. I need to focus on losing weight. I need to start eating better. I have started on this, but I'm not there. Here's what I am doing: drinking more water, eating good breakfasts, eating better lunches. Our dinners aren't too bad. What I really need to concentrate on is more fruits and vegetables during the course of the day, less snacking, and cutting out evening snacks (I get pretty carried away there). So, I have some more steps to take. And I know what they are.

Then I have a weight goal. This is just a starter goal for now, and I will keep working at it. This will in no way make me skinny, because I have twice this to lose. But it will give me a good start and make me healthier. My current goal is 40 lbs. My reward for reaching that? Matt has agreed to start trying for a baby. :D I'm very happy about that, so I need to keep on this track. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Monday, February 11, 2008

New recipe - Take 2

In my attempt to try a new recipe each week, I'm doing well so far. I'm pretty adventurous abuot trying new recipes, so this isn't difficult for me. And luckily my husband is good at trying my experiments (and helping me make them sometimes). And my son isn't a picky eater, so he tries almost anything.

This week's recipe is one that I adore, and I'm sure I'll make it again and again. I've been eating the leftovers for days, and I haven't gotten tired of them yet. (I usually get tired of leftovers after eating it twice.) It is hot and yummy and great with a side of garlic bread and a small garden salad. It is also a casserole, so SaLy will appreciate that. It's a winner on a cold winter day. Withour further ado:


Mostaccioli Bake

8 ounces uncooked mostaccioli
1 egg
1 egg white
2 cups (16 ounces) 1% cottage cheese
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 cups meatless spaghetti sauce, divided


1. Cook pasta according to packaged directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the egg, egg white, cottage cheese, spinach, 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper; set aside. Drain pasta; stir in 2 cups spaghetti sauce.

2. Layer half of the pasta mixture in a greased 11-in. x 7-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with spinach mixture, remaining pasta mixture and remaining spaghetti sauce.

3. Cover and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Love is in the Air

Do you see that bottle? Inside of it is a little love poem from my sweet husband. I find a new one around the house somewhere every morning. He really is a sappy romantic at heart. I expect this will continue on until Valentine's Day. It's a pleasant little surprise trying to figure out where he put the bottle this morning. It's been in the refrigerator, on the bathroom sink, under the blanket draped on my chair, on my chair, and in front of the television. The other thing Matt has brewing is plans for Valentine's Day, but since it will be a week day he has something planned for next weekend. I have no idea what it is, but he's creative and sweet so I know it will be nice.

***
Please, pay no attention to the dust settled on the television. (I don't think you'd see it if it weren't for the little fingerprints smeared on it.) OK, I'm getting up and dusting the TV right now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Upcoming birthday decisions

Help me! I don't know what to do for Zachariah's birthday. Well, I know what to do. We'll invite our families over for a little party. Zac will be the only kid here, so he'll get all the attention. He's used to that, because that's the way it is in our family. There aren't any other kids around, and none of the friends we actually hang out with have kids. Anyway, he doesn't know different, so that's the party we'll have for him.

Mostly I'm looking for ideas for a theme of sorts, especially for a cake. Last year I went with Winnie the Pooh. His nursery is decorated in Pooh, and he had many Pooh things as a baby. Now my baby is growing up. He'll be 2 in less than a month. I'd love to do something that he loves, but he likes many different things. Some are non-commercial, and he's started watching a few TV shows that he seems to like. So those are some ideas to start with, but nothing sticks out as a particular favorite.


Here are some things he likes: cars, trucks, trains, planes, tractors, animals, books, Pooh (still, but I'm steering away from that since we did it already), Elmo, Cookie Monster, Wonder Pets ("Eeem gurk" is how "team work" from the show comes out. Adorable, I'll have to get it on video sometime.), Dora, Diego (but not as much as Dora), Thomas (but he likes Percy the best), and that's all I can think of right now.

So, any helpful suggestions. If I can just decide on what to do, I'm sure it will be no problem making the cake (or perhaps cupcakes). I just can't make up my mind. HELP!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Brownie S'mores


Brownie S’mores

9 whole cinnamon graham crackers, halved crosswise *
¾ cup unsalted butter, cut up
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely shopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
35 regular-sized marshmallows

1. Heat over to 350˚F. Spray bottom of 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange graham crackers over bottom of pan, overlapping slightly or breaking to fit, if necessary. (Depending on the shape of your pan, you may have part of a graham cracker left over.)
2. Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until blended. Stir in eggs until blended and smooth; stir in flour. (Batter will be smooth, thick and shiny.) Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon and gently spread over graham crackers.
3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until top is just set and toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
4. Heat broiler. Place marshmallows on their sides evenly over top of brownies. Broil 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed and tops are golden brown. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 35 bars
*I used about 12 graham crackers for my bar pan. It did nicely in there.

Firm

It's February 5th? How can that be? This new year is going fast, but I have to say I'm kind of glad that January is over. It was a little depressing, but now it's gone.

Where have I been hiding? As you know I haven't blogged much this month. I'm not sure why I don't have the desire to write much. Then last week we found out about the death of an old family friend.

Helen was 82, but very healthy until about 2 weeks ago. She got sick and sick very quickly. They found she had uterine cancer and it was already stage 4 when she went in. The family knew she was probably going to die quickly. This woman was our neighbor next to the house where I grew up. My parents moved into the house when they were first married. They just moved out (only about 5 miles away though) about 2 1/2 years ago. So, we've known this couple for a long time. They live in Florida in the winter and in Ohio in the summer. Her family was able to go to Florida and spend her last days by her side. Sunday I went to the funeral visitation with my family and Zachariah. It was very nice. It's been a long time since I've seen that many people from the community where I grew up.

Matt's been pretty sick. He was feeling sick a week ago and rested a lot in the evenings. He stayed home from work on Friday and slept off and on all day. Saturday he went with me to run a few errands, and that wore him out. Sunday he went to church (while I was up with my parents), came home and slept all afternoon. He did come to out Super Bowl party (YEAH GIANTS!), but he was exhausted by the time we got home. Monday he tried to get up for work and felt worse, so he got a doctor's appointment. He has a sinus infection and now has medication to clear it up. He looked and sounded better this morning, and he went ahead into work. I'm sure he'll be worn out when he gets home tonight, but at least he's getting better. That has kept me busy just trying to get him things he needs so he can rest, and then I have to do everything else by myself. Exhausting, but I'm doing fine. I'm just thankful Zachariah and I are healthy.

I'm trying to lose weight. I've known (for a really long time, actually) that I need to get to work. Matt and I have talked about it a little, and he's willing to start trying for a baby if I can lose some weight first. That was actually my idea, but he was OK with it. He's very supportive when I am trying hard. Last week I started by drinking more water and eating less. I still need a lot of work on my diet, but I'm changing things bit by bit. I think that will be best for me for now. Then today I got out the exercise videos and did 20 minutes of The Firm. I wish I could have done more, but I thought I would die if I did. I plan to try to get farther each day. I'll push myself to do as much as I can. I think the biggest problem today was that it was a new workout for me. I did pretty well keeping up with the instructor at first, but then I started losing her. It was getting more complicated and I was wearing out fast anyway. The more I do it, the easier it will get for me to follow and the better shape I'll be in.

I have an idea to try a brand new recipe every week for a while and post about it on here with a photo. I like sharing recipes, and I love trying new things. This weekend I made S'more Brownies. They were really yummy. I think I'll start with that one. Plus SaLy requested casserole recipes, and we just got a casserole cookbook for Christmas with some yummy looking recipes in it. I have yet to try any, so now would be a good time.

I hope I feel like posting more often. And I do enjoy reading your blogs. I miss writing too. I will be working on that as well.