Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fun With Lists

New friend Relyn (pronounced Ruh-lyn) at Come Sit by My Fire is following the inclination of a few fellow bloggers and has pledged to blog one list per week for the rest of the year.  (Read Hula Seventy's blog where she makes the list pledge here!)

The mere idea of posting a list on my blog every week kind of feels like a cop-out!  I mean, how fun and easy is that?!  Haha!  I am a list fanatic.  My poor husband is not a huge fan of the list.  Probably because I have lists for everything.

For instance, when I first read Relyn's post about making a list, my thought was, "Oh man!  I can't wait to make a list of all the things I'm going to list on my blog!"  Wow.  Really?  Kind of sad.

Sometimes I think I need to remind myself to stop listing and start doing.

At my first job, I took 15 minutes at the end of every day to start listing things I needed to do the next day.  I quickly learned that I didn't want to be that organized and structured at that job because I wasn't busy enough - I needed to flounder a little just to pass the time!


My family and I used this website,, to stay organized.  We sync our calendars, make shopping lists that can be texted to our phones or emailed to us, and we can send each other messages!  It's great having it be web-based because we can access it almost anywhere!  But the point it - look at my sweet list!  It lets you leave crossed-off things on it so you can see that you are accomplishing things.  I don't like it when things just disappear from your list.  I need to see it crossed off.

So, lets see.  What will I list?  I've already listed some of my Wish List items (look at that!  I'm a week ahead of the curve!) but I have some more items to add to that list.  I could list movies all day long.  Same with TV shows.  I could list all kinds of random things.  I think for my first (well, technically second if you count the Wish List blog!) list, I will stick with something simple:  My Favorite Things About Coaching 14 Year Old Girls.

Here goes:
1.  They talk faster than that guy who used to do micromini commercials.
2.  You don't have to spend time conditioning them, they are all size 2s and look darling in their little spandex and they will never be in better shape than they are right now.
3.  They are all potential babysitters.
4.  They aren't "too cool" yet, they are just cool enough that they can still laugh at themselves.
5.  They have more energy all the time than I have on my best caffeine high.
6.  They aren't cynical yet.
7.  They haven't started to drive, so they still feel like kids, not entitled teenage brats.
8.  They do really cute and creative things with their hair that I try to imitate at times.
9.  They keep me hip and young and informed with the tween hollywood drama.
10.  I really do coach an exceptional group of girls and I would be thrilled if my daughter turned out like any one of them.  Well, maybe not one...there's always one.


Okay, can't wait for my next list!  I think it will be harder for me to do them only once a week rather than making sure I squeeze in one per week.  Yikes.

-Grace's Mom

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Simple Things

The very clever Christina over at Soul Aperture has given bloggers an amazing opportunity.  She has challenged us to write a blog about the simple things in life; the things that make one persons life worth living and might be meaningless to someone else. (Read Christina's "Simple Things" blog here!)

For every comment on her post that leads to a blog about the simple things, Christina will donate $1 to Doctors Without Borders (up to $250).  I was comment no. 110!  I believe she now has close to 150 comments on her post.  Outstanding!

Without further ado, my list of The Simple Things.

rainy days in summer.
the conversations you would only have with a best friend.
the smell of horse sweat and leather.
phone calls/texts/emails from my brother.
huckleberry martinis from Bistangos.
dancing with the girls.
designer jeans.
new handbags.
perfect weather for riding horses.
rediscovering something you used to love.
new (to me) television shows that are addicting.
hot chocolate.
a clean car.
wine tasting.
driving a new route - especially in the fall.
cooking from a recipe, not the back of a box.
inside jokes.
grande nonfat caramel macchiatto (winter)
venti vanilla iced coffee (summer)
watching the girls I coach "get it."
doing the tv crossword with my dad.
diet coke from mcdonalds - sounds weird, but it tastes a little different and it's amazing.
making people laugh.
my husband's life philosophy:  happy wife, happy life.

and finally, the most beautiful, pure and simple thing that I love, grace.

-Grace's Mom

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Full of Grace

So what was this great, wonderful thing I got to do today?!

Spend the entire day with my daughter, of course!

Monday, I just decided that I needed a Mommy-Grace Day, so I asked my boss for Tuesday off and being the wonderful person that she is, she agreed.  I didn't have to work at my second job today, I just had club volleyball practice this evening.  It really was a perfect day!

First, Daddy brought Grace into our room at about 8a when she woke up and wanted her bottle.  It's always more fun to wake up to my baby girl than to an alarm!

Daddy left for work, and Grace and I talked about what we wanted to do today.  Our day.

We plunked Grace in the bath tub and she soaked for about 20 minutes.  That girl loves her baths!

If I had all these toys in my bath, I might stay in there for 20 mintues too!

Then we got all dressed in our Tuesday finest and raced out the door for our first destination:  Starbucks.

I'd forgotten how hard it was to get a non-blurry picture of a 13 month old baby!

We don't have a Starbucks in my town.  The closest one is about 15 minutes away in a neighboring town.  I don't go there all that often, it's out of my way.  My usual one is closer to work, about 35 minutes from home.

Anywho, the baristas really took up with Grace, and got a big kick out of watching her walk all around Starbucks.  Grace had a short sugar-free vanilla steamer and a butter croissant.  Mommy had a grande nonfat caramel macchiatto and a butter croissant.


We found a short table that Grace could stand at, but she wasn't really having that.  Mommy was sitting in a comfy chair, so Grace wanted to sit in a comfy chair.  She ate her croissant and drank her "coffee" just like Mommy does!  If only she had a little blackberry constantly in her hand...then she would REALLY be my shadow!

Sitting in a big-girl chair, waiting for Mommy to hand her another piece of croissant.

We ended up having to purchase this weird fruit-drink thing they have at Starbucks because Grace found them and carried one around and around, dropping it occasionally and really putting some wear and tear on the packaging.  Small price to pay for such a perfect little girl on her first Starbucks outing!

Actually, this is not Grace's first time in a Starbucks - one time she went to work with me and therefore she went to Starbucks with me, but this is the first time I have ordered something for her.

Then, since Poppy (Grace's grandpa) works right down the road from Starbucks, we decided to pop in to see him.  Poppy works at a very large motorcycle shop.  The other day, Nana told me that Grace has started to call Poppy "Bop-po."  As we were walking in to the shop, she started to whisper, "Bop po.  Bop po.  Bop po."  I still find it hard to believe that my little girl is using the right words in the right context.  Most of the time I think it is either a fluke or coincidence.  But really?  This was QUITE the coincidence if it was one!

Just as we walked in, Poppy told me he was having a computer problem and snatched up Grace to go show her off.  I headed to his office to start working on his picture dilemma.  My father is quite cute when it comes to computers...until recently he didn't know how to send an email to more than one person at a time.  He would get a funny forward, and whoever was his favorite that day would get an email from him!

I didn't get any pictures of Grace at the motorcycle shop, but I do have a few from last May when we went to visit Poppy on Nana's birthday.

May 2009

We left the motorcycle shop and headed back to our town, but we had to stop at the school district office to pick up a Relay for Life Online Chair Handbook.  That's right, you are reading the blog of the new Relay for Life Online Chair!!  I am very excited to be getting involved in this program.  But I'll leave that for another blog.

In the twenty minute drive from the motorcycle shop to the district office, Grace took a power nap.  I knew it was only a matter of minutes before she would need the real deal.  I had a few more things I wanted to do, but I reminded myself that this day was about Grace, and pushing her to her limit was not something I wanted to do today!

So home we came, and Grace proceeded to take a three hour nap!  And lose a pony tail holder.  And completely drench her blanket in sweat.  Yet another way that she is like me!  We are hot sleepers.

She woke up and I made us some lunch - she got left over risotto and some french bread - my baby girl loves her carbs!  I made teriyaki chicken and couscous.  This was my first time eating couscous, and it did not go over well.  It tasted like play-doh to me.  I tossed it before my husband could come home and make a big deal out of how bad it was.  It's not like I messed up the recipe, it just had a rotten flavor.

After dinner Grace helped me finish up a couple of cleaning projects and she made a few "calls."  She LOVES phones, and she took mine and walked down the hall, holding it to her ear with her shoulder, saying, "Eh?  Huh?  Oh.  Uh oh.  Eh?"  And so on.  I couldn't take a picture of it because she had my phone!

She wants to be a blogger, just like her mom!

I did, however, snap this final shot of Grace playing with her dad when he got home.  I am so blessed to have such a happy little girl - she is so easy, and I wish I had more days like this to spend with her, but I know that it's because I don't that I am able to cherish every minute like I was today.

Yay!  Daddy's home!  Time to wrestle.

-Grace's Mom

Monday, January 25, 2010

SUPER Exciting Tuesday!

Tomorrow, I have something SUPER exciting planned!  It was kind of a last minute thing...something I have never really done but have been really needing to do.  And NO!  It is not a bikini wax!

All I can really say is that I am more excited about my day tomorrow than I have been about anything in quite some time.

It is not the ordering or arrival of a Kindle.

It is not tangible.

It is something a lot of people do and probably don't appreciate unless they haven't done it in a very long time.

It is something children like and something parents like, but not anyone else.

It is not hard.

It requires little-to-no effort.

Okay, I think that is enough playful hinting!  Stay tuned - my next blog should be very entertaining!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dream Job

The other day, while working at my part-time retail job, a coworker and I got to chatting about what our ideal career would be.  Neither of us is really in a position to take a big risk, career-wise, but we would both really like to!  The only problem is, we didn't have a detailed plan on what we would like to do.  So for about four hours we would randomly shout out business ideas and build them up until we ultimately decided that whatever business plan we were developing would fail for one reason or another.

It's just fun to think about what you would do, if you could do anything in the world...

I have been working in commercial sales for almost three years now.  I really enjoy it, but because I am not a commissioned sales person I don't make a ton of money.  I have tried sales before, and I'm just not good at coaxing people into parting with money they aren't completely sure they want to part with!!  I handle transactional business just fine.  My retail managers love me!  But when it comes to convincing someone to give me several thousand dollars for something they aren't sure they  I have a hard time with that.

You know I had a good day at work when you see the same commercial four times in a 30 minute program!  SORRY!

But, I always thought it would be fun to work for an advertising agency.  I am always included in brainstorming sessions when it's time to pitch a concept to a client.  I'm the girl who comes up with the funny, memorable commercial!  Oh man, I could write a blog all about my HILARIOUS commercial concepts!  Maybe another time.

I also have toyed with the idea of going back to my communications/journalism/marketing roots and trying to do a little PR for a business that I can get passionate about.

 If these women can do it, so can I!  Does vodka come with the title?

Or what if I opened a gift shop?  I could sell cute things and maybe even custom vinyl letters/words/sayings that you put on your wall?

This is not a picture of my house, but I do have some of these in my home, which I acquired by hosting an Uppercase Living party!

I did a lot of research about starting a nanny referral service.  I am in need of a temporary nanny in August (my fabulous nanny is having a baby!) and I am really stressed about finding someone I can trust.  I imagine there are a lot of parents in this situation and I thought I might be able to make a little money with a service that aided in this process.  I jotted down some ideas about finding nannies, running some background checks, and then finding parents and matching them up with qualified nannies.  It sounds really great in theory, but when I got to thinking about what could go wrong, I hit a serious wall.  What if something happened?  What if a nanny I recommended turned out to be less-than-reliable?  What if something awful happened to the child being watched?  Not only would I have to make sure I was covered legally, but I just don't know if I could live with myself.  It makes me sick to even think about it.  So I quickly backed away from that idea.

Maybe, since I have ideas for almost every business in my area, I should walk in to a few and pitch them some marketing or PR ideas and slowly work my way in to my own advertising agency?

Maybe I should go work for Amazon and they will give me a free Kindle just for being an employee!

Kindle...I want you!

Maybe I should be a stay-at-home-mom and focus all my energy on raising the most beautiful, brilliant baby girl in the world?

She got her first lap top around 3 months old...Baby Genius, I am telling you.

The possibilities are just endless.  There are so many different avenues I want to take!  One thing I have learned in the last two years, though, is that fate is pretty good at laying paths out for me, and all I need to do is keep my head up, my eyes open, and a positive attitude - things work out.

-Grace's Mom

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wish List

We all have things we want.  I don't just have a few, I have a list that I keep on my Blackberry (which was on the Wish List until last Thursday!!) and I take a lot of joy in marking the things I have saved up to purchase.  Of course, like with any good Wish List, I add items to my list more frequently than I cross them off.

Some of these are things that my family kind of needs...others are things that I have just dreamed of having for a while.  I thought I would share them with you in my blog, and I will keep you abreast of which items I collect.

Without further ado, in no particular order:

Grace's Mom's Wish List

1.  The Amazon Kindle.
I have done a lot of research on e-Readers.  I have tried the Nook from Barnes and Noble and it had a few too many glitches for my liking.  Glitches the sales folks explained by saying, "Well, a lot of people handle these, they are just demos, so they might not work 100% correctly."  Um, hello?  I have a one year old who is, at some point, going to her little Tot hands on my eReader.  It needs to be a little tougher than that!

I have also researched the Sony Reader, and my only drawback with this product is that the books tend to be a little more expensive through the Sony Web site.

Now the far, the Kindle sounds like exactly what I need.  For those of you who aren't quite sold on the eReaders, let me tell you why they are appealing to me.  For the record, I really enjoy physical books.  I like the way they smell, I like turning pages and feeling accomplishment with each chapter I complete.  But I live in a very small town.  The only place I can even buy a book is WalMart.  I work in a larger town, but it is not very convenient for me to pop in to a bookstore.  I cannot wait until Grace is old enough to go book shopping with me!  We will spend entire days in Borders!

Anywho, the convenience of buying an eBook is a huge selling point for me.  I am on the road quite a bit, so the idea that I could buy a book while I'm riding somewhere (i.e. NO PLANNING AHEAD!) is phenomenal.

But then, say I don't know what book I would like to read.  With an eReader, I can read previews of hundreds of thousands of books!  Amazon and Google both provide limited previews for free.  I definitely don't have time to be in Borders for an hour so I can preview each book I want to read!

Not only that, but eBooks are considerably less expensive than regular books.  New releases are $9.99.  And lets face it, I'm not working two jobs because I have tons of extra money floating around.  Those extra dollars I spend on books add up!

And finally, I commute about 45 minutes each way every day.  The Kindle will read books out loud to you!  Sure, I could buy books on cd, but those are expensive!  I'm sure the Kindle voice isn't James Earl Jones or Julie Andrews...but it's better than nothing!

The only drawback to the Kindle is that you can only get them by ordering them online.  You can't look at one or handle one before you make the $250 investment for the basic model.  However, I happened to run into a business acquaintance last week who told me that he just ordered his Kindle, and I sweet-talked him in to bringing it to my work for me to check out!  Now, he purchased the DX, the more expensive model ($400 or so) but I think this will give me a good feel for how the Kindle stacks up to the Nook and Sony Reader.

Can you tell I've been wanting one of these for a while?!

2.  Trip to Pheonix in May.

This is one I am really saving my pennies for.  I even had my dad buy me a bank that counts change as you put it in for Christmas so that I would be motivated to save my change!

My brother is an amazing volleyball player, and he has been playing with a national team in Washington.  I have played volleyball all of my life and am currently coaching a U-16 club team.  Memorial Day Weekend, in Phoenix is the U.S.A. Adult Open Championships.  From what I hear, this tournament is amazing.  There are all sorts of age brackets, including one that is 70 years +!!  Can you imagine?  I hear these guys are THE most fun to watch.

Anyway, a vacation isn't really in the cards for my family this year, as in 2009 we got married on a Mexican Cruise, hosted a reception back home, and bought a house.  So this trip to Phoenix might be just enough of a vacation so that we can get in a little R&R without breaking the bank.

3.  Kitchen Appliances.

Okay, not everything on my Wish List is super expensive, but the three items I am talking about today are.  This is probably the most expensive, but also the most needed.

When we purchased our house, it did not come with a fridge.  The day we moved in, we realized that what had appeared to be a practically brand-new stove was in fact the victim of a grease fire and did not work.  The fan above the stove is also completely melted.

Obviously, you need a fridge and a stove, but we were short on money because we had just used a bunch of it for a down payment and earnest money!  So to CraigsList I went, and I managed to find a fridge for $100.  It's about as old as I am (around 25 years old!) and it's that nice almond color...lovely.  My parents had their own stove that they offered to give us.  It had been sitting out in the barn for about two years since they had purchased their new stainless steel appliances.  It is also about as old as I am and in that lovely almond color!  So we do, technically, have a matching set.  And while both work fine...they are just adequate.  And both kind of have a funny smell to them.  Haha!  Or that might just be me imagining that they do because I don't care for them and have spent a fair amount of time shopping for their replacements online!

Lovely stove.

Matching fridge.

So, those are a couple of items on my Wish List.  I would love to think that my tax return will pay for all of these things...but I'm trying not to get my hopes up. 

Oh, and yes, there are things on my Wish List for Grace.  But she just had her birthday and Christmas, and while I was just cleaning up in the living room I realized that the last thing my little girl needs right now is another toy or pair of shoes!!  We are very blessed with generous family and friends...not so much with storage in our home!  Maybe I should add "storage" to the Wish List...

-Grace's Mom

Friday, January 22, 2010

Family Dinner Night

It happens rarely, so when my family is able to get the three of us around the same table, we try to make it special.

Tonight, the menu consisted of chicken paillards with lemon butter sauce, cheese risotto and french bread with oil and vinegar for dipping.

The other day I was watching Today and Martha Stewart was on.  She was making pork paillards, and I was very fascinated with the concept of pounding out meats so that they not only cook faster, but you get more meat for your buck, so to speak.

So, to I went, and I easily found the recipes.  First, I had to learn how to make the chicken paillards.  Not too difficult.  Here is what Martha says:

Step 1


Start with a bone-in breast half (this will yield 2 paillards). Insert tip of a boning knife near the ribs, and work the knife along the bone to remove the meat.

**I definitely bought boneless chicken.  I wasn't about to press my luck this far!  Moving on!**

Step 2


Place one hand on the chicken, curving your fingers up slightly for safety. Slice meat horizontally, cutting almost to the other side. Open it like a book.

Step 3


Place meat inside a plastic bag or between plastic wrap. Working from center out, pound with the smooth side of a mallet until meat is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 2 pieces.

And it really is that simple!  Well, for the paillard part, anyway.

Then, I went on to find a recipe for a lemon butter chicken paillard.  Seriously?  Lemon?  Butter?  How can you go wrong?!


Serves 2 to 4
  • 4 chicken paillards (from 2 breast halves)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced or sliced shallot
  • Segments and juice of 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock


  1. Season 4 chicken paillards (from 2 breast halves) on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until butter foams. Add 2 paillards, and saute on 1 side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Flip, and saute paillards until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Raise heat to medium-high, and repeat with remaining paillards.
  2. Add 1/4 cup minced or sliced shallot to skillet, and cook over medium heat, adding oil or butter as needed, stirring often, until golden, about 1 minute. Raise heat to medium-high. Add segments and juice of 2 lemons, 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock, and any plate juices, and deglaze the pan, scraping brown bits from bottom with a wooden spoon. Simmer until sauce reduces by half, about 3 minutes. Gradually stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces) until just melted. Season to taste.
From Martha Stewart Living, January 2010

I will not even pretend to be the world's greatest cook.  My risotto was out of a box; it's glorified rice-a-roni.  But I love taking on recipes like this simple one!

So here is out it all turned out:

I have my laptop out with my recipe, I have lemons cut up on the cutting board, chicken paillard sizzling away in butter in the frying pan, and my risotto in the red kettle.  Oh, and I thought Alicia Keyes was appropriate for this evening!  I still remember the first time I heard "Falling" on MTV...back when they used to play music.

 The chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper and fried up with butter and EVOO.

My assistant chef, looking kind of like a begging puppy...

My lemon-butter sauce - I elected to add a little flour to to thicken it up.  I see grown-ups do that on Thanksgiving...I took a chance and strayed from Martha's recipe, but it paid off!

Delicious cheese risotto.  Not the best picture, but it really is YUM-O!

Note the Martha Stewart spatula that was a wedding present?!  I'm channeling you as best I can, Martha!

Assistant Chef, keeping a close eye on her favorite part of the meal...THE BREAD!  But she held still just long enough to take a picture with mom.

 Here we go, the money shot!  My lemon butter chicken paillard!  We'll see if it tastes as good as it looks...

My hubby set the table and poured me a glass of Jackson Kendall Chardonnay - it's a favorite for a silly reason!

 Grace can hardly wait to get her mits on some delicious dinner!  I wish I had time for a picture after dinner...she was covered head-to-toe in risotto!  It was definitely a straight-to-the-tub night!

So, here is what Martha shows the chicken paillard should look like:

And here is what mine looked like:

I think that's a pretty successful first run at a recipe!  Stay tuned for more adventures in the kitchen!

Grace's Mom

How to Prepare Chicken Paillard

Chicken Paillards with Lemon-Butter Sauce

Kendall Jackson Wines

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So...I'm a mom.

I have been a mom for a while now. Obviously, not as long as my mom has been a mom...but well over a year. (*cue snickers from moms who have been in this game for 13+ years!)

I am trying to remember when I started to consider myself a mom. I don't think it was when I found out I was pregnant.

It might have been when I had my first ultrasound or found out the sex of my baby girl.

Or, shoot, it might have even been when Grace arrived on that snowy December evening.

I suppose it doesn't really matter.

What matters to me is when I became proud to be a mom.

When I was a single gal, doing the single gal thing, I couldn't relate to moms. The way they always seemed so distracted; I could barely have a conversation with a friend if her kid was in the room! And forget about trying to play cards or anything like that! Then there was the whole snot-wiping, spit-swapping, food-sharing disgustingness that I witnessed around formerly normal women. It would gross me out to no end to watch a mom share a straw with her slobbery child, or witness her lick her finger and try to wipe a foreign substance off her child's face. Gross.

If only I had known then what I know now!

I said all the politically correct things. "Being a mom is the hardest job." "Being a stay-at-home mom is just as hard as going to work every day." "All children are beautiful." "All pregnant women are beautiful." Blah, blah, blah.

If I'm being honest with myself, now, I didn't really believe those things back then.

However, there came a point somewhere in the arrival of Baby Grace where I drank the punch. I bought in to being a mom and all of it's glory 200%.

With that said, though, I think I have some rather unique takes on certain socially accepted "givens" about being a mom. Here are a few:

1. Being a mom is not hard. It can't be compared to work because it's not work. It's an honor. It's a huge responsibility, but being a mom is not hard.

2. Being a role-model is the hardest thing about being a parent. I have told several people that I am not worried about my relationship with my daughter. We will be fine. What I worry about is her watching how I relate to other people and potentially learning hurtful things in that way. Can you honestly say that every reaction you have throughout your day is positive?

3. There are no sacrifices when it comes to being a parent. It's just the way things are. You do what you have to do to provide for your family, and you don't look back. They are not sacrifices, it's just the way things are.

The third point goes back to point one - it's an honor to be a parent. Every decision you make, whether you prefer one choice over another, as long as you are taking care of your child it is not a sacrifice.

I'll get off my soap box now.

I have learned a lot in the last year and I continue to learn and grow. I have my crazy ideas about how things work, but I'm always open to new and interesting ways to do things or look at things. I hope this blog becomes a place to explore what it is like to be a mom, be a wife, be a career woman, and be a friend.

-Grace's Mom