Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

pray for daisy

i "met" daisy after her story had already been written.

she was a beacon of light and pink butterflies who passed away four days ago from cancer. but her story and her message have made it around the world at LEAST four times. at least.

if you have the time and some spare tissue, i suggest reading her story at prayfordaisy.com . watch a video or two. read her parents' brave words and outward hope they carried since learning their kindergartner had a rare form of childhood cancer three years ago.

i sat here crying like a crazy person when boy wonder came to see what was wrong. "why do you do that to yourself and watch it?" he asks. it's a fair question.

as a mama, how can i not? i am blessed so far to have healthy, happy, amazing babies. some not so baby-ish anymore, but still. bright, shiny babies. but the truth...the hard, gut-wrenching truth is that not all mamas' children are healthy. they get sick. they go through hell and back in treatments and testing. some get better. some don't. but they all have a life worth learning about and remembering and honoring.

"that's all i'm doing," i tell my anxious child who hates it when my mascara runs down my face like a crazy person. "i'm hearing her story and saying a prayer for daisy love."

daisy's mama wrote the following on the family web site. you should read it. it's advice from her and the family for living from this day forward.

My final request to all who read this blog: love. Love your babies, your husbands, mothers, sisters. Love each day like it’s your last. All you mamas out there, you have been entrusted with the precious gift of a human life who depends on you. Enjoy your gift. Breathe in the scent of your child’s hair, breath. Let them cook with you and make a mess of the kitchen. Play hide and seek with them, build sand castles with them, take them on picnics, read to them!  Listen to them, value and respect them, never shame them.  Your words they will carry with them their whole life and you have the power to give them wings or stunt their growth. Motherhood can be tough but it’s worth it. It can be exhausting, boring, tedious, but never for long. You blink and they’re grown. It has been my honor and privilege to love Daisy these last 8 years. I’m thankful for every minute; the joyful and the terrible alike.
I know The Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” (Psalm 16:8-11 NLT)

daisy love's memorial service will be february 23. it will be live streamed and to give you an idea of how amazing this little girl truly was, she wanted people to dress up like characters from the 1979 cartoon version of "the hobbit" (boy wonder's and my favorite movie to watch together).
god bless, daisy love. and love and peace to your grieving family.


crowded kitchen: red beans and rice in a slow cooker

I'm pretty sure that once, maybe twice (forty times??), I've mentioned how much I love using a slow cooker during the week. It makes my evenings a little less scream-worthy. It makes clean up waaaay easier (I try to get everything, minus the crock itself) washed up and put away before I serve dinner). And it makes me search for new tastes and recipes because I can't really keep serving chicken burritos or the 10,000 variations I've found every single night. Though I've tried. Ha!
This is my latest find. I love red beans and rice and I usually prepare it out of a box. FOR SHAME! (Dirty secret right there...I'm a HUGE Zatarain's fan.)
This one is homemade, but less fussy than the traditional method. That basically  means I don't really know how to buy a hambone, so I use a ham steak, cut it up, and let it flavor the dish. Sue me. (Please don't.)
Super easy. Super delish. Make some. Noooow!

Slow Cooker Read Beans and Rice
  • 1 ham steak, cubed
  • 1 pound small dried red beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • Chicken stock
  • Seasonings (I prefer Tony Chacheres, Liquid Smoke, Garlic Salt)
  • 1 cup uncooked rice

Combine everything but the rice in slow cooker. Cover with chicken stock and turn on high for 6 to 8 hours, depending on your machine. For the last 90 minutes of cook time, add rice. Easy peasy, right? To be fancy, you can add diced tomatoes, cubed chicken, smoked sausage...the options are endless.
...happy eating!...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

the beauty of five minutes

sometimes i think i should change the name from crowded kitchen to DIRTY KITCHEN. lucky for me, it's small enough that five minutes usually does the trick. thank gosh, or we'd be takeout-eating fiznools 'round here...


Friday, February 15, 2013

"Warning" by Jenny Joseph

I could read this poem every day and lots of days go by that I do. It's fun. It's encouraging. It makes me want to buy fussy hats that do nothing for me but make me stand out like a crazy person in a crowd.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple. 

(the poem, read by the amazing Helena Bonham Carter.)

...have a great weekend...


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Easy Valentine Project: Baby Food Jar Moss Terrarium

We needed a quick valentine for Boy Wonder's teachers. Normally, I'm not the best at remembering these after buying the obligatory box of boring, generic kid valentines and spending the morning filling them all out for the kid...but it just so happens that today I'm volunteering in the classroom. Yipes.

It helps that I live in the warm, humid wilds of Gulf Coast Texas. We spend lots of our winter days out at parks and since I started saving Roo's baby jars, I started collecting all the moss I can find in hopes of making a terrarium shop on Etsy. When I figure out how to SHIP them, well, then I'll be in business. But until then, I'll just be the weird moss chick who keeps tiny terrariums on her window sill.

I bought the carbon and the fish bowl gravel at Walmart for about $4 each. I did a shallow layer of gravel and topped it off with a tiny bit of carbon to cut down on the mold factor. Then I just sorta smooshed in the moss and dirt I'd collected, arranged a cute little twig or rock and voila...masterpiece.

Add a red bow, a Hershey's kiss, and one witty pun...and BAM POW BOOM...instant adorable valentine.

Hope your day comes up roses...assuming that's your thing. If not, here's wishing you chocolates, or jewelry, or...umm...moss terrariums!

....with love....


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Love Lent and I'm Pretty Sure I Love You, Too

I just don't always show it. Or know it.

I love the season of Lent. In the past, I've written about how in my younger, wilder days, I'd give up booze for a week or two and feel pretty sanctimonious about it. I got older and fatter and thought those coffees I gave up were not only trimming my waist, they were earning me direct communion with the Almighty.

I was a pretty silly rabbit, wasn't I?

I love Lent because it means simplicity. It means reflection and observing our rhythms and habits and assessing the ones that work, don't work, and the ones that just downright hinder us. (I have a heap o' those, I'm afraid.)

Around this time each year, I get addicted to Facebook. In previous years, it was because I was in Alaska and the winter days made getting out impossible. Lately, it's because I'm not working and being home with the tinies makes me nearly insane with isolation and facebook seems a cheap, easy substitute. Except that it's not. Too much facebook makes me competitive, judgmental  and dismissive of others. It also makes me self obsessed, but I'm pretty sure I'm wired that way... air can make me self obsessed in the right conditions. That part's true.

I love Lent because we focus on God. Our family. Church. Traditions. Prayer. Spring. Being together. You know, those things...

And I love Lent because I always step away from social networks and realize how I abuse them. I stalk people. Mock people. Compare myself to them and let jealousy rear it's ugly head. But during Lent, I have 40 days to remember that we're all part of the human experience no matter how emo our FB posts are or how annoying all those self portraits really get. Forty days away gives me perspective on the ones that matter (the ones who live here with me) and the ones who don't. (Funny how I always clear out my friends list after the hiatus...at this rate I'll be the one person on FB with twelve friends...ha!)

The kids and I will go to Shrove Tuesday Pancake night at our church and talk about what we're going to do for Lent. I think Boy Wonder is giving up computer time. I'll talk about Facebook and being online in general. We'll talk about how we'll do good deeds for others and we'll map out just what that will look like. We'll decide (or I'll decide for them, hahaha) that the television will get turned off at a certain time each night and we'll read, or draw, or paint, or play games together. They'll fuss at first, but then they'll love it. They always do.

I'll wonder what my friends are up to online, but then I'll get into our new routines and habits and I'll hope they're all doing well and I'll pray for good things to happen for them this year. And then I won't miss Facebook so much.

I'll pray for productivity and focus this season. I'll pray to honor the time...all the glorious, maddening, exhausting, exhilarating time I get with these tiny humans and be grateful. I'll work hard to be a better person. In general. Overall.

And I'll probably give up coffee, too. Just to be sure Jesus know's I'm serrrrrious about it all. :)


Andrew turns 4 and we go to the zoo. A true story in pictures.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

crowded kitchen: a week of meals

happy sunday, friends!

here's the bottom line when it comes to me and cooking during the week: i hate it. no, no...i love food. but i hate preparing it when i have the four minions all to myself without my sweetheart in sight 'til well after bedtime.
the last thing i want to do is suffer through those grumpy last hours trying to cook and not lose my cool.

'cause sometimes i lose my cool. shocking, i know.

monday through thursday, i'm a bit of a cheater. i wait until p comes home for lunch and i cook dinner then. well, by cook, i mean shove a bunch of stuff into a slow cooker and let it cook for me. i've done that for two weeks now and it's made all the difference in the world when it comes to dinner time. i can pull makenna and boo apart when they're at each other's throats, i can toss riley roo up in the air four million times like she likes, and i can help boy wonder with his homework (that really means i can be on his hiney like a hawk when his attention drifts every three seconds...'cause that's how it happens 'round here.)

last week we had sloppy joes, picadillo, chicken burritos, and french toast. friday is always pizza night (night off!) this week we're trying a couple new ones, thanks to my absolute FAVORITEST cooking site in the world, Skinnytaste. Have you checked Gina out over there? She gives WW points and everything...I love her so.

I also found the world's coolest menu planner and shopping list template thanks to the Project Girl. She's another neat one to know. I filled in the menus for the week and all the ingredients needed for my shopping trip. Woo hooo. I'm ready.

So here we go...

Sunday (tonight)
Roasted rosemary mediteranean chicken (my recipe)
Twice baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese

Santa Fe Chicken (slow cooker)

Greek turkey  meatballs with tzaziki (slow cooker)

Chicken Taco Chili (slow cooker)

Grilled cheese and soup (easy peasy, lazy me.)

Pizza night (thanks, Papa Johns!)

Cheese Ravioli and Marinara Sauce (dad's cooking...wooo!)

Wednesday morning is special breakfast day around here and I'm doing Gina's Insanely Good Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins. Hooray!

What's on your menu this week?

...happy eating....


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Coffee Date Link up (yay!)

my FIRST coffee talk with alissa at rags to stitches. and guess what? I wimped out on the vlog part. I know, I know. I had all the intentions in the world to work on it last night, but then my third grader and I made the world's WORST space hat for a parade he had today and we had to re-do it a 10 p.m. YUCK!

That said, I never made the vlog. (sad face). And trust me, ya'll wouldn't want to see me without the make up right now...so I'll just do my typey typey thing and promise that NEXT week I will get on the video camera and babble away.


I felt terrible. I loved all of your vlogs this morning so I busted out the camera, skipped the makeup that might have masked my awful chipmunk cheeks and tired eyes...and vlogged. I cringe at my voice and my cheeks..but whatevs. It's for ya'll and ya'll are sooo worth it!

if we were to sit and have some coffee right now...

no kids allowed!

i would try not to talk about my kids. but then i'd have to tell you that my Boo is FOUR today. FOUR! ohmaigosh. he's such a big boy.

we're going to have some birthday donuts later, swing by our favorite park, have a pizza party tonight with the family, and hit the zoo tomorrow. i know, right? big deal around here!!

weight watchers

this was week two for me and i totally bombed on the tracking thing. last week, week one, i was a good girl and wrote down every miserable bite i took and lost almost four pounds. yaaaay! this week, for some reason, my hand is broken and i can't write it down. booooo! i weigh in at 7 a.m. tomorrow and i'm just a-hopin' and a-prayin' that i didn't totally undo all that hard work from a week before. i eat my meals just fine...it's just the snacks. they kill me. and having a house full of four kids means their cruddy snacks are everywhere...even the carpet. hahah! (i promise i don't eat ground up cheez its...thought it's crossed my mind in my darkest hour...)


i'm a little more than a week into my blog everyday in february and i haven't fallen off yet! wahoo! it's actually not too hard since i combined my food blog over here...now when i am lazy i can muster together some old recipe of mine and it counts as a post. is that cheating?? hahha. and photoblogs...ohhhh photoblogs are my favorite way to take up space. what about you? how do you keep blogging when you have nothing to say?

i'm also still in the planning phases of a hyper local blog but i am just stuck on the content. do i want to focus on writers and things to do in the awesome creative writing community here in the houston area (there's tons) or do i want to do a family fun on a budget thing? there are lots of online family calendars but none of them attempt to help out large families like ours by suggesting tricks and tips to do fun stuff without re-financing the house or selling the car to buy zoo tickets. i guess if i don't know, it means the idea isn't solidly formed in my head. so i need to keep doodling, brainstorming, and learning about wordpress...because when i finally launch it, i'm going to go all in and go wordpress for the first time. wheeeee!

so enough about me?

how are you?

did you vlog, you overachiever? (i'm proud of you!)

did you blog like me? (it's totally ok, too. you're still a rockstar...)

what's going on with you this week?

lotsa love!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

how not to meditate

if i see that "if every 8 year old in the world knew how to mediate" meme again, i'm probably going to scream.

it's not that i don't agree with the sentiment... i do. it's just that the kid in the picture makes meditation look so damn easy...like she's curing cancer and solving a quadratic equation all in one sitting. damn overachiever...

my sentiment is that if this 34 year old knew how to meditate, then maybe there'd be less drama in this zip code. not that i'm rife with drama or anything, but my head, well, it can be anarchy sometimes and i wonder how much more productive i'd be if i could wrangle it into submission.

the kids cooperated relatively early this week and went to bed before midnight. p wasn't home from work yet and i had a huge living room floor all to myself, no nba games on, and nothing but boring ol' castle reruns to ignore. let the meditation begin...

i sat.

the first thought that floated through was how hungry i was.

"i just ate," i argued with myself.

"i want a cookie," my meditating mind said. "there's a stash you bought the kids in the pantry. it's just four steps away. get me a cookie. get. the. damn. cookie."

i'm not a big cookie fan, mind you. i mean, if i made them i can snarf the whole batch...but those things from wal-mart that are good enough for my kids are really more like chemical equations some baker/scientists figured out than actual food.

i gave up the cookie thought and watched it roll on down the meditation highway. so long, cookie.

then i got antsy. and fidgety. and my quads burned like i'd done sprints all morning and the thought made me laugh because i haven't done sprints since sometime long  before andrew was born.

and while my imaginary muscles were sore, i thought about mma. and my mind got aggresive and wanted to make me some badass action hero so i thought about fights except i couldn't picture an opponent's face...i'm 34 years old, i stay at home with my four kids...i don't really have enemies or rivals anymore so the best thing i could drum up was the girl who kicked me out of our club "girls with style" in fourth grade.

wasn't much of a fight seeing how i'm well into my third decade and tiffany was still 9 years old. i felt sort of like a bully as the timer on my phone went off.

i stood up...hungry, sore from an imaginary workout, and feeling guilty for beating up a fourth grader.

meditation: 0, megan: 1.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sketchbook: Riley's Pink Pajamas

lol. i laugh at this one. doesn't exactly look like riley...but it captures how much i absolutely LOVED her pajamas that night. love you, riley!