Friday, April 30, 2010

Have you heard

that saying "What other people think about me is none of my business"?

Do you think it's true?
Do you think it's said mainly by the unliked, unsuccessful, and unattractive people of the world in order to soothe over their troubled hearts and minds?
Do you think it's true if other people say what they think about you right to your face?

Someone who undoubtedly didn't even know she was hunting took a shot at me yesterday. She got me, too - right in the middle of my insecurities.

For Crying Out Loud, and Mercy Me. That's all I can say about it. And now I'll have to find a way to move on from it and not let it color every thing I do, say, think, and feel.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sometimes it takes a picture

to show you what's happening right before your eyes.

My Little Friend isn't so little anymore. I took this pic of him at the last Pinewood Derby we will ever have to endure - where he took in stride the fact that his car didn't do too well - and I was just shocked when I saw it.

Gone is the softly rounded baby face. Gone are the dimpled little hands. Gone is the visible sweetness and general air of innocent childhood. Present in the place of those things are large, manly hands, puberty, and a growing awareness of the big, big world.

It's a transition for me - my littlest one is growing up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some days are like that

Some days I have it all together, some days I don't.

This week I didn't make a menu or a shopping list. I did go to Walmart and filled in with some items that we needed. When I asked my Dub men what they needed from the store Jake said "bread and milk" which cracked me up. It's like they think if they don't tell me exactly what to do every step of the way, chaos ensues.

Anyway, there is no menu this week. I've back-slided (backslid?) a little and lost some of my focus with the budget/menu planning goals but I have my reasons. They are my own reasons, and may not be very good, but they're mine. I've decided that it's okay. I don't have to be perfect all the time. If I work my plan most of the time, it's better than not trying at all and lots better than giving up because I fall short sometimes.

So this week we are eating what is already in the fridge/pantry/freezer. Friday night I picked up take-out burgers and chicken nuggets. Saturday night we think it was nachos. Sunday was leftovers, Monday was tacos, and tonight we had lentils.

The lentils are SO good - this is one of my favorites, and my Little Prince requests them quite often and specifically asked for them tonight. Maybe not the most suitable for a hot spring day, but definitely delish:

Sara Hunt's Lentils
  • 1 lb lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 8-9 cups chicken stock (or water and chicken bouillon powder)

Combine the ingredients in a large cooking pot and bring to a boil. I usually start with 6 cups of stock and add more as needed. Reduce heat and simmer 45-60 minutes or until lentils are tender. Then add:

  • 1 package (I think it's 12 oz.) smoked sausage/kielbasa, sliced into bite-size pieces.
Continue simmering until sausage is heated through, maybe 5 or 10 more minutes.
Serve in bowls with a spoonful of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Corn muffins go along great with this. It needs to be thinned a bit with water or broth when reheating. I like it a little more soupy than thick.

I wonder if I've shared this recipe on the blog already. I feel a little deja vu. If so, well, there you go. I'm not into being perfect this week.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My life, in a single photo

My cousin J did a fun post on her blog about the things she keeps in her purse. I thought it was a neat idea, so here's mine.

Looking at the junk I carry around with me really says a lot about what goes on in my life:
  • cell phone: I hate it and I love it. Hate, because I can't ever hear it ringing when it's in my purse, so if you call me I probably won't answer. I absolutely cannot drive when I'm talking on my cell phone (here's a little something I've observed while driving around town: YOU can't talk on the phone and drive at the same time either.) Love, because my Little Friend leaves me long voice mail messages about where am I? and when will I be home? and am I bringing anything for him to eat? and James is torturing him! and he loves me.
  • band-aids. I rarely need one but other people need them quite often. I feel so prepared and useful when I'm able to give somebody a band-aid when they need one.
  • chapstick. My boys always need it.
  • antique excedrin pill box filled with tylenol and ibuprofen. Not excedrin. I've had this pill box since my early twenties.
  • cloisonne pill box filled with benadryl tablets. My sister C gave me this pill box as a gift and I always keep benadryl with me. Lots of allergies in the family.
  • my keys. Car keys, and other people's house keys. I don't have my own house key on my key chain. That could prove to be problematic some day. Hmmm...
  • church keys. I have a key to the outside door, the inside doors, and some cabinets. I don't have a key to the church attic. Which I want, but am not permitted to have. What do they keep up there anyway? Hmmm...
  • Groovy notepad that I found for $1 at Michael's. It's got a giant, red letter A on it. Which I get a kick out of for some perverse reason.
  • random piece of paper. This time it happens to be a old, yellowed, and expired Garden Center coupon. Usually it is a Walmart or Taco Bell receipt.
  • hot and spicy breath mints that look like aspirin tablets in a Chevron tin. Mr. Dub got them at some chemical/engineering conference/convention/show type thing.
  • emery board. In case I have an attack of nerves and chew off all my fingernails down to the quick. Ouch.
  • pens. I got the blue enamelled one from my grand-dad after Gram died. (Note to everybody: when I die, please just throw my junk away. Don't give it to somebody else - they don't need it, and then you won't have to ask if they still use it and can you see it again?)
  • Epi-pen. In case my Little Friend needs help in an allergic emergency.
  • hand cream. I have dry, sensitive, itchy skin. Ouch.
  • inhaler. For breathing. You know.
  • blue thingy. For "personal" supplies.
  • small mirror. For entertaining fussy babies.
  • naphcon eye drops. For itchy, allergy eyes.
  • hand sanitizer gel. Because I live in a world that is just full of disgusting other people and their filthy germs.
  • my Coach wallet. I'm quite vain about this, which I realize is totally dumb, but there you go. It's different, because it's blue, and I get tons of compliments on it. My Mr. Dub got it for me for my birthday. Also my Coach purse. Which I like because it isn't obviously Coach. It's like my own little secret. It's also small, which is good because otherwise this list would go on indefinitely.

There you have it. Did it remind you of this?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Charity Never Faileth

I got a new calling at church last Sunday - Relief Society President. I, being who I naturally am, have quite a bit of anxiety about this in general, and about one lady in particular in our congregation that I anticipate I will be working with quite a bit. Previous to this week I've been worried that I won't be able to handle her, deal with her, or help her in a way that is both meaningful and acceptable to either one of us. That I personally won't have the patience and understanding she's going to need.

One day this week I was thinking about her and wondering what on earth I'm going to do, when I felt a great love and concern for her come over me. It was a very familiar feeling, one I felt quite often during all those years of seminary.

And now I know it's going to be okay. I will undoubtedly make some mistakes, just like I did in seminary, but it will be okay. And I know that I don't have to do this all on my own strength.

For that I am grateful.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Food for thought:

"If you really want to be happy, no one can stop you" ~ Sister Mary Tricky.

Various people have said similar things to me at various points in my life. To them I'd like to say: I finally get it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I was reminiscing to my bff D today about how when my kids were little they didn't like onions. My bff D doesn't do onions. Not when she was a little kid, and definitely not now. Today when she unwrapped her hamburger there was an onion particle stuck to the bun. That does not please my bff D. She can always tell when the burger that she ordered without onions had onions on it before the cook remembered and scraped them off.

So I was telling her about how when my little onion-hating nose-pickers were small and happened to come across onion particles in their dinners, I told them that all it was was "flavor bits".
I think it was a particularly brilliant parenting technique. Because anything can be "flavor bits", from chocolate chips to minced onions to snipped chives to chopped pecans. All you need is some kid saying, "What's that in my food?" and boom! You say, "Oh, you're so lucky! You got the flavor bits in your piece!". They can't argue with that.

Flavor bits taste good. They are still one of my favorite foods!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I took this pic in a hidden corner of my flower garden. This clump of what I've been calling "oxalis" grew there on its own. The clump has grown bigger each year for the past couple of years, and this year there are two good-sized clumps... I didn't plant seeds or seedlings for this, and have no clue where it came from. (I do take credit for being smart enough that when I see something interesting happening I leave it alone and let the surprise unfold. I don't yank up the magic by its roots just because it's not part of my Grand Splendid Plan. You know? There's a life lesson there, folks.)

I love it. I love the tiny pink flowers and the shamrock-style leaves. I love that it's hidden away in a corner. I love love love that it has spontaneously grown there without any help or direction or hassle from me.

From the little bit of internet research I've done, it might be oxalis crassipes. Which is a perennial (yes!), and is also called pink wood sorrel.

I like that.

It seems like every few years there is some new surprise in my yard for me. My volunteer pink and white vinca that comes back every year in the front flower bed, my serendipitous pink lilies that bloom all over the backyard lawn, and now this sweet pink wood sorrel hidden away by the back fence.

Hope your springtime is full of lovely pink surprises, and may you find blessings everywhere you look!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mother Nature

Have you seen this commercial? So funny...

I just love Mother Nature...and her oh so cutie cute gift.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Bard

"How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?"
(Henry IV Part 2: Act 3, Scene 1.)

Old Bill gets me. I think that on the morrow I will betake myself to Ye Olde Half Price Books and shop, perchance to buy, one of his less exciting works to memorize. So that when "nature's soft nurse" eludes me, as she does this cursed night, I will have something different to think about and hopefully slow down these racing thoughts.

Iambic pentameter - that ought to do it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's for dinner?

Next week we have, for your dining pleasure, the following:

Monday: Falafel-stuffed pitas (from Cooking Light Magazine's Dinner Tonight cookbook) with grape and walnut salad (that's it in the photo above)

Tuesday: Turkey burgers and apples

Wednesday: Tacos and black bean salad

Thursday: Chicken Tagine (I'm following a recipe reviewer's suggestion to use a sweet potato in place of the eggplant, because I have a sweet potato sitting around waiting for something. Also, couscous will have another chance to redeem itself with this recipe.)

Friday: Lentil with smoked sausage and carrots

Because I drove to Dallas and back yesterday I didn't have a chance to write out any menus or to do any shopping. Consequently our dinner tonight had to be made from items I had on hand. It was meatloaf, cheesy mashed potatoes, and green beans. It was delicious. Even though I'm making menus and shopping from a list, I have in the past and will continue to always have in the freezer and cupboard the basic ingredients to prepare at least a few complete meals without having to go the store. I had the ground beef and green beans in the freezer, and the mashed potatoes came from instant potato pearls from my food storage. I will always have garlic, onions, some cheese and other basic ingredients like that. It's how I was raised.

Part of my long-range goals are to be able to last for quite a long time, months or more, without having to go to the store. To be able to this, even if I don't ever have to, adds a feeling of safety and security about how I would feed my family in a crisis situation. How much more pleasant and comfortable it would be if we are able to eat the normal foods that we like, instead of living on wheat and rice and beans! (Although I'm sure I'd be grateful that I have those things if it came right down to that.) How much easier to possess the freedom to spend perhaps limited funds on electricity and water bills instead of food! I plan to use whatever grocery money I have left, after carefully shopping from my list, to save up for and purchase a deep freezer and food to fill it, and to acquaint my family with meals that can be made from mostly non-perishable food - like the falafel pitas above.

I've noticed something about myself in the last couple of weeks, and that is that when I take the time to really cook dinner, and not just throw some stuff together, I feel like I had dinner. It must be a psychological thing, because the sight of a prepared meal makes me feel like I ate, and then I'm not scrounging around the pantry for food a couple of hours later. Maybe my new plan will not only us save some money but help me lose some weight.
And wouldn't that really be something!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ah, Texas

Driving north on I-45 today I saw some beautiful scenery. The pine and oak forests, the wildflowers, the green, green grass. Breathtaking, really.

Sam Houston said it well - "Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has ever blessed my vision."

(I didn't take that photo because I forgot my camera. But I saw this view many times over while driving today.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just a reminder

It's been a few days since her photo was up in this space - and I don't want you to forget how frankly adorable, how utterly precious, and how perfectly luscious our sweet little Miss Buttercup is.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lumberjack Hash

Last night was Lumberjack Hash for dinner. It was good to try a new recipe but it tastes exactly like you think it will. Good, but not really new. It would be perfect as a Sunday morning breakfast with a fried egg on top.

Lumberjack Hash (from Cooking Light Magazine's the essential dinner tonight cookbook)

2 tsp. canola oil (I used olive oil)
2 tsp. butter
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed (about 1 lb.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 oz. ham, diced (I used 8 oz. because 4 oz didn't seem like much for 4 people for dinner)
3/4 cup shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese (I used the regular shredded cheddar cheese already in my fridge)

Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, and ham; cook 16 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Top with cheese; cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Yields 4 servings, about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

I served it with my own fruit salad concoction:
1 large mango, diced
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups green grapes
juice of 1 or 2 limes

Stir the fruit together and sprinkle with lime juice. I like it better at room temperature, but store in the refrigerator.

I highly recommend this cookbook! I first saw it at Walmart and made both my Little Friend and my Little Prince look at it so they could remember it when Mr. Dub took them shopping for my Christmas presents. Every recipe has suggestions/recipes for what to serve with the entree. For Lumberjack Hash it suggests corn bread twists (such as Pillsbury) which I originally thought was overkill on the carbs, what with all the hash brown potatoes, but now that I've had it, I think corn bread twists (such as Pillsbury) would have been great with it. The book also suggests Honeyed Citrus Salad and gives the recipe; I already knew I wanted the other kind of fruit salad.

You can look forward to seeing lots of new recipes and reviews from this cookbook here on AmyDubDub!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who the heck is AmyDubDub?

I was asked a question at some point in the last year: "When you were young, what did you think you'd be when you were older?", and all I could really think of to say was that I thought I'd be more than I have turned out to be.

More what, exactly, I don't know. It's hard to say for sure. More important, more well-liked, more successful, more interesting? All of it, I guess.

In the book The Happiness Project it says (paraphrasing here) that the more components you have in the way you define yourself the happier you will be. That when you are defined by one thing or by very few things, the more threatened you feel when one of those things is, well, threatened.

This strikes a chord in me. It reminded me immediately of the question about what I thought I'd be when I grew up. I still haven't quite figured that out but I know it's not a race and there isn't anyone I'm competing against. I've defined myself mostly by my relationships with other people, and the things that I do. I'm not sure that that is the wrong way to go about it, but I am ready to try or learn something new to add to my self-definition.

Now. What is it going to be? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One of the best girls ever

All of us in Houston are thinking about how much we love her and miss her, especially now when she must be missing her mom so much. She's forever in our hearts and prayers.

We love you, C! We hope that happiness and love will surround you all the days of your life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sorrow v. Happiness

Today my whole family is sorrowing. We've had a tragic loss and it's hard to get my head around it. I desperately don't want to believe that this could happen to us again, but it has happened. I know that the source of this kind of trouble is depression, despair, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

Ironically, I am reading a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I only just started it last weekend and it's interesting so far.

"One of life's small pleasures is putting something in its proper place; putting the shoe polish on the second shelf in the linen closet gave me the archer's satisfaction of hitting a mark." p. 33.

So I'm going to bed tonight after having picked up the stray shoes, dishes, mail, and random pieces of paper, and I've delivered them all to their proper places. It's not enough to silence the grief, but I've learned that you can be sorrowful and essentially happy at the same time. And I've learned that it is getting through each day, doing each day's work as it comes, that leads to a full recovery and a light heart. It seems like the whole world should stop at such a time as this, but the fact is that the dirty dishes and unpaid bills start to pile up and people keep needing clean clothes to put on in the morning. Taking care of daily life helps keep a person sane.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Emilio and Seth Aaron and Mila, oh my!

I dvr'ed the last challenge episode of Project Runway and finally watched it last night.

Can I say "WOW!"?

It was awesome. Emilio's was far and away the best gown of the bunch (which was a relief after the cord and washer bikini catastrophe of earlier).

I don't really care for too much that Mila puts out there, but she is second (and maybe tied) only to Emilio in her sewing skills, so it will be interesting to see how she does in the face-off with Jay, who in my humble opinion is not very consistent with his designs.

Seth Aaron's clothes are just fun and cool. And unexpected.

I can't wait to see what happens! I'm rooting for Seth Aaron, because even though I like Emilio's clothes better, I think he's become kind of arrogant and snotty.

And I got enough of that last season with Irina.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why? Oh, Why?!?!

Remember that line from the old Carter's baby clothes commercial?

"If they could just stay little till their Carter's wear out..."

This darling little Buttercup is rolling over. I can't believe it and I don't want to accept it. I knew it was coming because she was very diligently working on it when she was here earlier this week, but I think I was hoping that she'd forget about it.

She'll be all grown up and going out on her own before we know it. I know that's true because it happened exactly the same way with her own darling, pretty Mama.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's a funny thing, time.

Last night when I posted my epic novel about money and food, it was about 1:30 in the morning here. But it posted as 9:30 pm.

Is anybody else still trying to recover from that whole Spring Forward mess they call Daylight Savings Time? Or is it just me?

I'm wiped.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tap, tap, tap...

... is this thing on?

I've run into some sort of mental block where I literally have nothing to say. I've sat myself down at the computer countless times in the last couple weeks, written a few paragraphs, and then decided "Nope" and deleted it all.

My loverly Mr. Dub is snoring. So I'm taking the opportunity to write some stuff that's been on my mind lately.

My good friend R. lent me a book called The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I know he has a radio show and a TV show and I know he's written several other books. I've never heard him on the radio or seen him on TV or read any of his other books. But I've read this book all the way through now, and here's what I think:
  • He talks in a way that is zealous. He comes across to me as overzealous. He is trying to convert people to his way of thinking about money. I like his way of thinking, don't get me wrong, but I find myself resisting what he's saying because of the way he says it.
  • He has great ideas for people like me who know there has got to be a plan but aren't quite sure which direction to go, and where and how to begin. He gives people a place to start and a plan to stick with.
  • He isn't about "get rich quick" schemes. He isn't trying to get people to buy depressed real estate and flip it in a month. He doesn't want you juggling debts as a way of getting rich and delusionally thinking that that makes you wealthy.
  • He preaches self-control and debt-free living.
  • He hates credit cards and all other revolving types of credit.
  • He talks in a way that is pretty simple to understand.
  • He stresses the need for husbands and wives to cooperate with each other in managing their money.

I have decided that I am going to follow his plan, mostly, for a couple of years and see if what he is selling in his book actually works. ( I am going to change it a bit to fit our family and circumstances.) He outlines several steps in the book, which are:

  1. Get a $1000 emergency fund.
  2. Aggressively pay off all debt but the mortgage.
  3. Get 3-6 months worth of living expenses saved up.
  4. Get investing and saving for retirement.
  5. Get your mortgage paid off.

There are a couple of steps after that but this is what I have my sights set on for now. He says that people who follow this plan conscientiously are done through step 5 in about 7 years. That's quite an accomplishment. I'm going to try it.

I feel like I am a little bit ahead of the game already because we do have some savings and retirement accounts and we have $0 credit card debt. This week I have been working on a budget, which is different than what I've done in the past, which was just recording how I spent all the money. Budgeting is planning how you're going to spend all the money. A budget is going to help me find all available dollars to aggressively pay down our debts, which consist of two car notes and a home equity loan that we took out to replace the rotting wood siding on our house with hardiplank siding. The budget requires that I have a set amount of grocery money. Which requires some thinking and decision-making.

So today I made out a week's worth of dinners menu. This is it:

Friday: spinach pie (quiche with spinach, roasted red peppers, swiss and feta cheeses) and grapes.

Saturday: Vegetable lasagna and bread sticks.

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: pan-seared tilapia and broccoli-rice casserole.

Tuesday: Turkey paninis with spinach and pesto, and apples.

Wednesday: Lumberjack Hash (from the Cooking Light cookbook I got for Christmas!) with fruit salad (diced mangoes, sliced strawberries, and green grapes sprinkled with fresh lime juice).

Thursday: homemade pizza.

I have budgeted $150 per week for groceries, and when I went shopping (with a list!)today for the groceries for this week's menu, and also including other ingredients for breakfasts and lunches, I spent $78 dollars. It is true that I am using some food that I already have in the house in these meals, so I might not be able to get away with that every week. It was pretty fun looking through my collection of cookbooks for ideas and recipes to fill out a week. My old way of meal planning was to mindlessly buy a lot of the same stuff over and over again and make the same meals over and over again, along with regularly running to the store at the last minute to pick up some ingredient I didn't have (and other stuff too that I saw while I was there but didn't really need). I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the basics of cooking and shopping, and I do have quite a bit of food for my year's supply, but I think this new way will be fun and will cut out a lot of impulse buying. And to be honest I am sick to death of the stuff we always have for dinner. I've bought and also received as gifts a number of new cookbooks lately, and we are going to experiment. FUN!

That is one thing that I have realized about myself this past week: I am an impulse shopper. Even though I think I don't like shopping I spend a lot of money unnecessarily because I don't have a plan. A budget and a written down menu are plans.

So for now I am all on board with this. I do feel that debt is bondage. I do feel quite strongly that I need to do a better job of managing our finances and the other resources we enjoy. I'm glad I now have a plan and some direction.

My good friend R. that lent me the book told me about a bumper sticker she saw: Debt Is Normal - Be Weird.


There are changes coming shortly in my life that will make it difficult for me to continue my "flying by the seat of my pants" lifestyle. I will need to be better organized, and less anxious and stressed (my two favorite states! Not.) in order to succeed and keep my home, my family, and myself peaceful and moving forward.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Hope the Easter Bunny brought you lots of beautiful dyed eggs and a chocolate bunny!

Friday, April 2, 2010


is not the same as twenty-five. It's not even the same as thirty-five.

I've been pacing the floor tonight with a fussy little buttercup. She's not happy tonight, especially not when someone puts her down. So at about 1 a.m., when I saw the fatigue in her face and posture and heard the exhaustion in her voice, I sent my Pretty Girl to bed and stayed up all night long with her pretty girl.

Now, at about 5 a.m., I have reached the end of my rope. And after only 4 hours of sleep my Pretty Girl again has peace, love, and kindness to offer the baby. She's downstairs singing, talking, and comforting.

I'm going to bed. Don't call me - I'm forty-five and I stayed up all night.