Saturday, November 24, 2012

Being a Family

As my family prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving, I wanted to share this with you.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

C'mon Man Wednesday

Inspired by the guys on ESPN's Monday Night Football show, I thought I would do a different take on my random posts (especially since Cris over at Goodeness Gracious did one of her fun random posts today and I don't want to look like I am copying her! :)

My car is attracted to curbs. I swear. Somehow it has hit two this week, one in front of the frozen yogurt shop. Oops.

C'mon Man!!

Staying on the car theme...have you ever seen anyone driving around with their coffee mug on top of the car or their purse on the trunk? Did you laugh?

That was me this week. I set my cup of water on the roof so I could open the door without spilling my coffee. I pulled out of the parking lot and drove about 100 yards before hearing something hit the car. I drove another 100 yards before I realized what it was.

C'mon Man!! Oh well, hopefully I made someone chuckle.

What is it with bloggers writing awesome posts lately?

From laugh-out-loud funny ones, like Jent's story about her boy with no pants and HIMYF's engagement ring shopping escapades, to posts that made me stop and think, like Leah's post that asks if we are all fat, uppity Americans.

C'mon Man!! I wish I could write posts like these.

And finally...I just found out that there will no more new iCarly shows. No more Random Dancing. No more Spencer setting their apartment on fire.

C'mon Man!! Wait a minute...what did you say? No, I am not a 12-year-old girl, but I love me some iCarly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Be So Happy

As I sit listening to the rain (at least I hope it's still rain and not sleet or snow) on my window, I've decided to adopt this as my philosophy today.

Who's with me?

On another note, congrats to Laura F. who is the winner of the Tiny Prints Giveaway! Hope you have fun creating fun holiday photo cards or other fun photo gifts!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Uplifted by a Simple Hymn

I confess I am not a regular at my church each Sunday. Over the last year I have found myself going each Sunday for a month and then not going for the next two.

I'm not sure why I have slipped into this pattern.

My parents took my sisters and me to church every Sunday. I went to church during college (maybe not EVERY Sunday). When I moved away from home after school, I immediately found a church in my new town.

I feel better when I start my week off going to Mass. I suffer the crushing guilt most Catholics do when I do skip just because I can't seem to get myself out of bed on a Sunday morning.

However, I just haven't been able to find the motivation (or maybe inspiration) to get back in the pew regularly.

That was until this weekend. I went to Saturday evening Mass before a fundraiser at the church for my nephews' school. As I was sitting there with my hymnal in hand, the cantor announced that the board listing the numbers for the songs we would sing was wrong.

Instead of a hymn that I had never heard before, we were going to sing my all-time favorite hymn EVER.

The one that I continue to sing to myself for days after it's sung at church.

The one that I can sing because it doesn't have a lot of high notes.

The one that I think has a beautiful message, especially the chorus. It gives me goosebumps every time.

The one that inspires me to work at my faith more actively and go to church each weekend.

Which one is it? It's title is Here I am Lord. Have you heard it?

If not, I have included the lyrics below. If you want to hear it, just search for it on iTunes (or YouTube) for many different versions.

Here I am, Lord Hymn

I, the Lord of sea and sky, 
I have heard my people cry. 
All who dwell in dark and sin 
My hand will save. 
I who made the stars of night, 
I will make their darkness bright. 
Who will bear my light to them? 
Whom shall I send? 
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? 
I have heard You calling in the night. 
I will go, Lord, if You lead me. 
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain, 
I have borne my people's pain. 
I have wept for love of them. 
They turn away. 
I will break their hearts of stone, 
Give them hearts for love alone. 
I will speak my Word to them. 
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I the Lord of wind and flame, 
I will tend the poor and lame. 
I will set a feast for them. 
My hand will save. 
Finest bread I will provide 
Till their hearts be satisfied. 
I will give my life to them. 
Whom shall I send? 
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? 
I have heard You calling in the night. 
I will go, Lord, if You lead me. 
I will hold your people in my heart.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My NYC Trip Food Edition

As I was going through my photos from my recent trip to New York City, I realized that with the exception of shots of my nephew throughout the city I took a LOT of photos of the foods we sampled.

Like this Zucchini Pizza...yum!

Before I share some more of my favorite bites, I want to say that my heart goes out to those affected by Superstorm Sandy in NYC and beyond. We were lucky to visit just before the storm hit (flying out late the Sunday before Sandy arrived) and we watched in horror as some of the places we visited took some hard hits. 

As life slowly returns to normal for those hit hardest by the storm, we need to remember that there are still many without power or worse without a home. Here's a link to an ABC News piece that has ways you can help Hurricane Sandy victims. 

Now back to the food of NYC...

Each afternoon, my nephew would get a little surly. Too many photos to pose for. Too much mom and aunt time. How did we improve his mood...Chocolate in any form. Pastries, hot chocolate, and, of course, cookies.

Last year when we had our girls weekend in NYC (during the infamous Snowtober storm), we had the best of intentions of going to cool restaurants at night. However, after walking miles in the cold, wet weather, we didn't keep any of our reservations.

This year we did better, including an early dinner at Schiller's Liquor Bar (it IS family friendly, I promise). The best part? Since we ate so early, my sister and I took advantage of the Happy Hour specials and sampled their sliders and fries...yum!

 Their selection of NY beer was most excellent.

While Starbucks is a daily stop when I'm at home, in NYC my sister has a rule of not eating anywhere we can at home so we sought out local bakeries and coffee shops for breakfast.

 Almond Brioche Toast...heavenly

I actually found the recipe online here and it's from the Amy's Bread cookbook, which is the bakery we stopped at. I may have to try this for Christmas breakfast.

Sticky bun!! 

We also hit up a couple of places tied to celebrity chefs, including Mario Batali's Otto Pizzeria, and Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft in Rockefellar Center.

Roasted Pumpkin grilled!

We had so much other great food but I was too busy eating to take photos. I highly recommend the cookies from Levain Bakery...they are huge and gooey and heavenly! And if you are on the Upper Westside and craving a quick bite, check out Gray's Papaya and their hot dogs (2 hot dogs and a juice for less than $5). They are a great on-the-go snack.

We have decided to make our NYC trip an annual outing so if you have other suggestions of good places to grab a bite, please share.

Side Note: Until I uploaded the last photo, I thought the name of the restaurant was Witchcraft...I am very smart, I swear.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Picking Out Holiday Cards

Don't you think the above photo (sans the photographer) would make a cute Christmas card?

I do too!

We finally have the CD of our family photos we had taken a few weeks ago and now we are trying to figure out which ones to frame, which ones to put into a photo book and which ones to use for family Christmas cards!

Now, I am not planning to sending out photo holiday cards...not sure anything screams "I'm a single lady in my 30s" than a photo card featuring me, myself and I!

However, my mom really wants to send out a Christmas letter featuring photos of the family, especially her half dozen cute grandchildren. Instead of a letter printed out on her trusty (and not so crisp) printer, I am trying to convince her to use Tiny Prints to create her Christmas Photo Cards.

They have some great options in their 2012 Holiday Collection, including many styles featuring their new Premium DoubleThick™ Matte Paper. Check out this short video about the new paper.

As I was checking out their website, I picked out a few options for my mom AND my three sisters, who all have gorgeous families to show off on their Christmas cards.

For Mom...
I chose this great tri-fold card for Mom so she could feature a variety of photos of the family. She can choose between a matte or semi-gloss finish at no charge or for a bit more she can upgrade to a pearl white shimmer finish (fancy, fancy).

The best part of choosing this card? No need for a lengthy letter, the photos can tell the story!

For my older sister...

I love the colors of this card and it would go very nicely with the colors of our family photos. She has three boys so she can feature a photo of each of them and one of the entire family (or their dog Zoe).

If she wants to go with a more traditional photo card, I think this is a great option...

It's a bit less than the fancier square cards but just as attractive! If you are on a budget (aren't we all?), be sure to check out their Special Offers page.

For my younger sister...

She has two cuties so she can single each of them out and give a quick update on what they are up to and also feature a few other of the great family shots taken at the family photo shoot.

For my baby sister...

She has an only child so I think she needs to take advantage of that and feature JJ and her big blue eyes, gorgeous blond curls and impish smile front and center on her card.

I had such fun picking out cards for my mom and my sisters. Hopefully they will read this post and be inspired to create their own fun Christmas photo cards!!

Now for you, my dear readers, Tiny Prints would like for you to create your own cards and to get you started they are giving away $50 off your total order (expires 12/14/12)!! Just enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below (it's within this blog post). Contest runs through November 11 and I'll post announce the winner here on November 12.

Good luck!!

BTW...Tiny Prints did sponsor this post/giveaway but the opinions (and choices of cards above) are my own  like always!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 5, 2012

Where in NYC is Gal in the Middle

My sister, oldest nephew and I visited New York City recently (more about our trip soon).

We took in Times Square our first night there...can you find us on the large screen that captures live video of visitors?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Here's a hint...we may be circled below and I may or may not have a camera in front of my face!

As much as Times Square is so iconic to NYC, it's one of my sister's and my least favorite places there.

Way too many people in way too small of a space...if I wanted to be shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of strangers, I'd head to the subway!

Way too commercial...hopefully international visitors branch out from the Red Lobster, Applebee's and Olive Gardens located there to experience other unique NYC eateries. (Nothing wrong with those listed above but I can eat at those in Indy...I want something different when I'm in the big city!)

Way too easy to get turned sister and I both had problems navigating within Times Square. I had trouble navigating the streets of NYC period but my sister was a wizard with the map and always got us to where we wanted to go, except in Times Square!

Way too everything!

Can't wait to share more about our trip...stay tuned!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Let Us Not Question Why

This has been one of those weeks.

One that I look back on and ask myself why?

Why am I so lucky? 

Why am I the healthy one?

Why do I deserve to have a healthy, happy family when others are suffering?

Why do terrible, awful things happen to good (no, great) people?

I have to remind myself that it is not my job to question.

It's not my job to fix it.

It's my job to love them, to support them and to pray that they have the strength and faith they need weather the storm.

It's all any of us can do.

But it doesn't make it easier.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trying My Hand at Decorating

One of the 4 simple goals I set for myself a couple of weeks ago was basically quit thinking about the possibilities and just decorate my condo. 

Get some stuff on the walls.

Move furniture to where it looks and works best and not leave it in the same place it was plopped down when I moved in 3 years. 

So here is what I tackled first...

I love this piece. It was in my parents' good living room (did you have a "good living room" growing up?) and is one of the first pieces they bought after they got married. 

As you can see, I did a decent job with the inside of the cabinet (though my mom had to come over and help) BUT I had been using the top of the cabinet and a catch-all since after Christmas when I had my snowmen out.

So I cleared it off and started over again. 

Here's one grouping...

I'm really digging my initials lately so I grabbed this metal K at Pottery Barn Kids and paired it with a round mirror and my Indiana print from Etsy.

Then I tried my hand at being crafty with some beans, a candle and a large glass holder.

I couldn't find red beans so it kind of blah but I like it so who cares!

This is where my decorating skills had me stumped. I think I need something large to go next to or behind the candle. But I went through my condo and couldn't find anything that I thought worked. So I left it half-finished.

So, now I'm on the look out for a cool fall/autumn piece to round it out.

Now, on to another space in the condo. Maybe I should remove my old TV and stand that is sitting next to my new flatscreen...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday Family Photo Style

Our family finally got some formal photos taken earlier this week. While the real photographer was busy shooting the real photos, I snapped a few of my own just because. Here are a few of my favorites...

Before the photo shoot...

During the photo shoot...

After the photo shoot...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Attempt at Cake Mix Cookies

Add together Pinterest and my sweet tooth and you get this late night snack...

I have had these Lazy Cake Cookies from I'm a Lazy Mom pinned for a few weeks and decided on a whim last night at 9:30 p.m. to throw them together.

With just four ingredients and not much liquid, I decided to read through the comments to see what others said about them. Several said the batter was much drier than they thought it should be. One said to bake it longer than the recipe said. A few others talked about using different size pans.

Overall the comments were positive and the original blogger answered most of the questions asked so I just went for it.

I dumped a box of white cake mix into a mixing bowl and added 5 Tablespoons of melted butter and started stirring and stirring and stirring. It was really dry!

Oh no!! Had I been duped by a recipe too simple to be true?

No...I forgot to add the 2 beaten eggs to the mix! Oops.

Once I added the eggs and mixed it well (keep going when you think you've mixed enough) the batter resembled cookie dough. It definitely was NOT a "wet" batter nor did it look like cake batter! In went a bag of M&Ms and the batter was ready to go.

I spooned it into a greased 9x13 glass baking pan and pressed it down into the pan.

20 minutes in a 350 degree pre-heated oven and I had a pan of warm cookies at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night.

They had a unique flavor to them - thanks to the cake mix, I think.

I liked them. I liked them a lot - probably too much. So I did what any gal who is already having trouble zipping her jeans would have done, I took them into the office this morning and sent an email to my coworkers and let them help me save my waistline!

I will definitely use this recipe again when I'm craving something sweet or need a quick dessert for a pitch-in or family dinner.

Lazy Cake Cookies from I'm a Lazy Mom

Box of White Cake Mix
5 T. melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. M&Ms (or chocolate chips or Reese's Pieces or butterscotch chips or ...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish (I used a glass dish).

Combine the cake mix, butter and eggs. Mix well. Add in M&Ms and stir.

Bake for 20 minutes (edges will brown). Cool, cut and serve with a glass of milk!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday Harvest Style

I'm loving that I got home in time to capture some shots of corn harvest at my parents' house tonight. 

I'm loving that my nephew G was in the jump seat of the combine and when he saw me coming across the field, he struck a silly pose.

I'm loving that G invited me into the cab to ride with them! 

I'm loving that my dad let G "drive" the combine and that the responsibility made his "gut hurt" as G put it. It's a big deal to steer the big green machine through the field!

"Papaw said there's no driving age for the combine."

"Keep it between the rows."

The same field, just headed away from the sun!

I'm loving this shot. Not sure why, but I do.

I'm loving this shot of all the green machines in a row!

I'm not loving that the hot, dry summer took its toll on our fields. Someone asked my how were we affected and I think my dad explained it best tonight. 

He said that he normally had to unload the corn from the combine after one round through the field (up and back once) - in one really good year, he couldn't even go that long. This year he was easily making two rounds before unloading. 

Disappointing, yes.  Disheartening, yes.  The end of the world, no.

The beautiful part of farming is that every year we have a chance to raise a crop again. The ultimate do-over.

Linking up to this kind of love!


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