Friday, February 27, 2009

Power Outage


While I do not typically work on Fridays, today was supposed to be an important exception because I need to get our T4s out today (The Canadian answer to the W2) and prepare for the auditor who is coming on Monday. However, I received a call from a coworker this morning that there had been a pretty serious transformer fire down the street from our office and as such the power was out and not anticiapted to come back on for some time.

And it is now 12:30 and it still isn't on. So... despite the fact that I really need, legally, to get these T4s done, and I have work to do for the auditor, I'm at home about to get some much-needed housework done. Once the power's back on I'll have to go into the office, even if it means working this evening, but I'm not complaining... it's been nice ot be home with puppy and hubby today. We even went out to Wendy's for lunch because Caleb had to drop off some things in town for work. I've read everyone's blog, did some extended devotionals, and now I'm going to turn on my golden oldies station and do some house scrubbing.

I hope you like my version of the cartoon above. That's a saying my boss likes to repeat, and I thought it was much nicer than the original caption, not to mention very timely for today.

Blessings on your day, ladies!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

I want to start out by thanking you ladies so much for your prayers for me when I was sick at the beginning of last week. They meant A LOT. I was better by Friday morning and able to travel, and the trip was such a great time of connecting with my family (and a little bit of shopping, too... ;) ).

The highlight of the trip for me was definitely seeing my nephew Devon. Devon was born on July 10 2008, two months early and with the condition gastroschysis, which is where the intestines develop outside the body inutero. He was in the hospital, undergoing various surgeries and treatments, until mid-December. There were some scary days when we were quite concerned for our little Devon's survival. And yet, not only has he survived, but God be praised he is thriving! If you didn't lift up his little onezie and see his scar, you'd never know he ever had any issues. So, without further adeau, here are some pictures of my far-too-adorable nephew


Having a sleep with mommy


Time to wake up!



Aunt Nikki having fun feeding him


MMm...ticktack containers are good...



Do you want some Aunt Nikki?



Snack time with Grandpa


I love this picture... my grandparents' dog was seeing little Devon for the first time. He was so smitten he jumped right up and started sniffing his head. Look at Devon's cute look of surprise!



The teething monster- Aunt Nikki was just trting to get him dressed and he grabbed her finger for a bite before she could get away.



And probably the cutest picture ever- it looks like he's giving us a peace sign! How sweet!

So Devon was definitely THE highlight. But there were other great moments, too, like:



Seeing Dominic, Devon's younger brother, coming to a hospital near you in June of 2009.




Getting to enjoy Dunkin Donuts (I do NOT like Tim Hortons, which is what we have here in Canada- yuck!)


Mmmm.... lattes!

Mom and me had a girls' day out of lunch at Ruby Tuesdays and shopping!

First, we had to stop here:



Because we saw this sign in the sky:


But we weren't there very long becuase the place was a bit too foo-foo shee-shee for me. Mom loved all the lovely French Provincial stuff, but for me it all looked overpriced, breakable, and stuffy.

Then we were onto Oldies But Goodies. Quite possible the cutest store I've ever been to.





All sounds good! They couldn't fit "cutest stuff you've ever seen" on the side of the building...

Oldies But Goodies has that great Old Country General Store feel, and you can actually go in and buy an old repo General Store sign if you want to! I was so impressed with their HUGE selection of beautiful reproduction antique and retro-style home furnishing and accents. Often I'm not a fan of repo stuff becuase it looks cheap and tacky. But the selection at Oldies But Goodies was very true to the name- it looked old, and it was good quality! And cute!

I love signs and they have a fantastic selection at this store. This is a lovely old repo of a sign for Elmira College. It was on sale for 35 dollars and if it had fit anywhere in my house I would have gotten it for sure!


They had whole walls of repo tin and wood signs. Look at the splendor!
Mom loved the store
Is this a confession or an accessory? Either way, it's cute!
They also had beautiful hand-crafted pine furnite in the rustic country style:
Look at that gorgeous dry sink- how cute! And very reasonable, I think it was like 250 dollars.
They know what's important!
As if the signs and the furniture weren't enough, then we wandered into the Kitchen section of the store. Girls... they had whole little kitchen set up with different themes. And they had a whole red/white/black kitchen! Oh no my covet machine was on in full tilt!!

So, I behaved myself and didn't spend much, but you know I had to walk out of there with a few cute things for my kitchen. Viola:



It's hard to see from the picture but there is a metal tab on the sign that allows you to hang it so that the sign is jutting out away from a cabinet or the wall, and says "coffee" on both sides. It is truly too cute, and I can't wait to get it up in my kitchen.

They make these beautiful repo pine signs there at the store. Just like an old diner sign. Cute!
Well, ladies, thanks for enjoying my trip home with me. If you're ever in the Elmira, NY area, be sure to check out Oldies But Goodies... you won't regret it!
Blessings on your week and thanks again for the prayers!

I'm Baaaack....


I arrived safely home last night after a wonderful weekend at home visiting my family, most notably my scrumptious little nephew Devon (most notable because it was my first time being able to visit him out of a hospital)! Believe me there will be some adorable pictures to follow, but for now I'm diving right into work head first. I would SO appreciate your prayers, friends, as I am up to my *eyeballs* in it right now, and feeling a bit intimidated by some of these year-end procedures that I have only done once before and it's been a whole year now and I'm afraid I won't remember how to do them.

More pictures and fun stories to tell (including visiting THE cutest retro repo store I've ever been to) soon. Pray for my work sanity, ladies, thanks!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heading Home!


Hello my sweet blogging friends! Thank you all SOO much for your diligent prayers and encouraging words and great advice about my cold, sinus infection. I am indeed better now, and minus this lovely cold-sore that is a reminder of being sick, I am good to go and ready to hit the road!

Unfortunately I won't be hitting it until tomorrow (Friday) morning, as I just had too many things to jam into this week than would allow me to leave this afternoon. But that's ok... I'll get up at 6, head to Starbucks, and be on the road by 7, which should put me to mom's by about 2ish, if traffic and weather cooperate.

Thanks again, ladies. I'll be returning with lots of great pics of my adorable nephew, my pregnant sister, and probably some sweet little second had goodies, not to mention the china set I am bringing home from mom's house!

Blessings on your weekends, ladies!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Update


Thank you ladies, all SO much for your prayers for me, and your encouragement and suggestions. Karen I LOVE the suggestion about garlic... I am going to try that! For those of you concerned I should see a doctor, I so appreciate it, but I'm pretty sure it's just my immune system is trashed from being sick previously this winter, and then all the stress from work/life balance, etc, that I've been struggling with in the new year. I've struggled with sinus infections for years, and antibiotics only make it worse, which is what a doctor will give me. So, I really just have to take lots of vitamin c, get rest, pray, and ride it out (unless it moves into my chest at which point I do go see a doctor). And now I'm going to try garlic!

And the good news is I woke up this morning not feeling worse than when I went to bed the night before, which is a good sign that I may well have this licked by Thursday. Typically with sinus infections I loathe going to bed at nght becuase I get little sleep and wake up feeling worse than before. But not this morning; my sore throat is gone, my sinuses are much less impacted, and while still a bit stuffy, air can travel through my nasal passages, all good sinus. No sinus headache either. As is my body is telling me not to count my health chickens before they hatch, however, that last sentence was interuped by fit of five violent sneezes in a row. So... still not out of the woods here, but I think I can see the light through the trees.

I thank you all so much for your prayers, i do believe they are working. Going home this weekend is very important to me. I have a very long day today, work late and then, as Karen mentioned in her post, I am supposed to go to Awanna tonight. I really don't feel like I can miss it, as I've missed a few times this year already from sickness, and I am at least functional (and will Lord willing stay that way) so I should go, so pray I can come home and go right to bed and get lots of sleep.

Thanks again, ladies. I am so touched to have so many comments on that last post. You're all the sweetest friends a gal could have.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Sick (again!)


Oy vey, ladies, I am sick AGAIN. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, and didn't even have coffee before church (that's major). The symptoms just got worse during the day, with sore throat moving to stuffy nose, and that cold, achy feeling I get when my body is fighting something. After not a great night of sleep, I was up this morning and I can feel my sinuses impacted and I'm coughing a bit, whcih is not a good sign at all.

Please pray for me ladies. I am driving on Thursday afternoon down to New York to visit my family, whom I haven't seen since American THanksgiving, despite the fact that my beloved nephew Devon came home from the hospital (after being in it since he was born in July) in December. I miss my family a lot and really need to see them, and have had this weekend planned for a while as its the only one that works for a while. Buf of course I can't travel if I am sick, not only for me but also becuase I can't share this sickypoo germs with little Devon- his health is very important.

SO- please pray. Sometimes when I get these sinus infections they go away in a day or two, sometimes they stay longer. Please pray for day or two and then complete recovery. Also, work is nuts right now, I have so much on my desk (I keep joking "just one match... just one match would clear it all away!" and this week especially as it will be a bit shorter for me. I can't afford to be sick!

This past six weeks has been a rough one for me health wise. This is my fourth time being sick in one fashion or another in these past six weeks. On top of that, and this is probably TMI but I'm sure you'll forgive the indiscretion, I am now officially 3 weeks late for my period. 3 weeks! And NO, I am NOT pregnant. I have taken three pregnancy tests and have no symptoms of pregnancy. But something is not good, as I am a very regular kind of gal. My guess is it's the combined affects of all the illnesses at the begninng of January and the stress from work. But it's not helping me feel any better... I need my body to start cooperating here!! :)

I am hoping that I will have the strength to make this day worth something, despite being sick. I have so been enjoying my Mondays lately as it's been a great at home day of productivity, but I'm no so sure about today.


Thanks for your prayers, ladies, they mean a lot!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And The Winner Is...


Christy Lee from Petals and Pines!

Congrats, Christy! I have contacted you on your blog and we'll touch base so I can get you your apron and images.
To you other ladies, fear not... this has whet my appetite for my Give Aways, so "stay tuned" for more in the future!
Thanks for entering! Blessings!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Funny Valentine


Funny he is. And smart, and creative, talented, sweet, romantic, hard-working, and handsome too! That's my beloved, Caleb, whom I have had the pleasure to be married to now for over 6 years. We've never been ones to be formal about things, or feel obliged to celebrate certain holidays or other observances any one way. We tend to forget our own birthdays, and we're usually really casual about gift giving (except on Christmas... we're serious about Christmas, y'all :) ).

To really illustrate how casual we are about these things, take my 29th birthday this past September. A few days before my birthday, Caleb and I were at the video store, and i saw a set of Foyle's War that i really wanted, and asked if that could be my birthday present. "Sure", said my generous husband. Fast forward a few days and it's Sunday. We get up, go to church, go for lunch, come home, check the answering machine and it's my father wishing me a happy birthday. we look at eachother and say at the same time, "It's my/your BIRTHDAY!!" We had both totally forgotten. We took it as an excuse to go up to the bookstore and Starbucks and treat ourselves to some lattes and a magazine. And that was my birthday. :)



All of this to say that when it comes to Valentines Day.., again, we're casual. I could hardly list what we've done these past years, beause I can't rememer. I know the second year we were married Caleb brought me flowers to work the week before VD, just to be sweet, and once we realized it was a week from Valentine's, we both said, "Ok, that's my Valentine's present."

But typically we just make a point to spend the day together and I usually try to make a nice, romantic dinner, and make sure to stop in at the LaSenza (Canada's answer to Victoria's Secret) the week before (oh don't look shocked girls, intimacy is important in a marriage! ;) ).

And that's what we did this year. Caleb bought me this super romantic present yesterday:


Which was actually very sweet of him because I need this number pad attachment for working at home from my laptop, and we both joked it was my Valentine. For caleb, I made him a nice dinner, and took the time to make things a little more romantic than usual.


So, first thing first: I made a lovely pot of decaf french vanilla coffee. And yes, that is a scooby mug, which i have had since college and love it dearly.


When does the Armchair Housewife start a rather complex dinner? You got it, at a quarter to six. :) We are used to eating late, especially on weekends, so this is the norm.

On the menu tonight:
Stuffed Shells
Ceasar Salad
Italian bread and butter
Brownie cake

Stuffed shells is one of our favorite dishes, it's like lasagne but a bit less work. If you've never made them I highly recommend it!


First I get a nice big box of Jumbo Stuffed Shells. I've used all different brands. Be careful when you purchase them and bring them home; pack them with you bread and treat the like eggs. It is no fun to open your box to make stuffed shells and find past confetti.



Boil them in nice salty water unitl Al Dente. For the size dish I am using I am using 3/4 of this box, but you could probably just boil the whole thing if you're feeding a family.

For the filling, you want these ingredients:



Ricotta chese, mozzarella, your preferred combination of italian spices, lots of salt and pepper, and one egg (ignore the cream, that was for my coffee).


I'm sentimental about my old spice jars, the sweet little hodgepodge of containers I made do with during the first few years of our marriage. i wouldn't trade them for fancy new ones for the world. :)

Oh! and I almost forgot two very important ingredients!


Garlic!!!



And true Parmesiano Reggiano cheese. Ladies, i cut some corners when it comes to cuisine (as you will see in a minute), but once I switched to true parmesan, cut fresh off the wheel shipped from Italy, about two years ago, there is no going back. Be sure to us a fine grater with parmesan and don't throw the rind away: you can use it as a finisher for soups to give them a little creamy accent.


I'm really an "until" cook, which is why I don't post as many recipes as i'd like to. for the filling, it's one container of Ricotta, one egg, then... mozzerella, parmesan, spices and garlic "until". I'd say I roughly used 1/4 cup of each cheese, a 1/2 tblsp of garlic, and a mixture of spices until it covered the service of the other ingredients as seen above. It's very forgiving, ladies, so just give it a try!



Next i get my truly authentic, homemade pasta sauce (um... remember the cutting corners I mentioned?) and some left over from earlier in the week (which had some ricotta stirred into it) ready for the dish.

You put down some of the sauce at the bottom of the pan


And then you fill each shell with some of the ricotta mix, using a teaspoon, and organize them so they fit snuggly in your baking dish.

Cover with generous sauce, and repeat another layer, and cover with sauce again.


Cover with some more Mozz and Parm, and pepper, and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes- covered the first 20.



MMMmm.... it was delicious, although it was a bit dry as the extra ricotta in the sauce i used didn't allow for enough moisture. Next time I will use the plain sauce.



Ceasar salad with baby romaine

I didn't take a picture, but if you've never had "Italian bread and butter" you must try it. You just get a nice, crusty baguettte that is soft on the inside, and on a small plate pour a little pool of good quality, extra virgin olive oil and grind some fresh pepper on top. Simply dip a slice or chunk of your bread in and MMMM!!! Way better than the American version! :)


(possibly my favorite ad ever)
My authentic, from-scratch dessert



Mmm... thanks, Duncan Hines.

Setting the mood with a pretty tablescape and some candles and WKHR cleveland playing romantic big band in the background




We had a wonderful dinner, Caleb told me he loved the meal and loved me, too.


He was worth every dish!!

When I was cleaning up afterwards, an old 40s version of "The Way You Look Tonight" came on and I called Caleb into the kitchen. My beloved indudged me with a bit of a slowdance. Stuart was eager to get in on the love, and so Caleb picked him up and we all danced together in our kitchen.


It was a beautiful evening. Ladies, whatever your marriage looks like today, don't give up on it. God wants to build into your marriage and make it a thing of beauty. No matter how rough the road may seem, you CAN have joy on the journey with your husband. Ask God to help you be the best wife you can be, and to be thankful for the man your husband is, no matter how perfect or imperfect he may seem to you. Work at creating these kinds of moments. Don't let yourself be stuck on how romantic or unromantic your husband is, ut instead ask the Lord to show you ways you can create romance and intimacy for both of you to share in and enjoy.

My prayer is that you all had a blessed Valentine's Day. I am mindful of both Lois and Tara who are struggling with pain right now, and ladies I pray that your day was filled with enough love and tenderness to dull some of your physical pain.
Thank you and bless you for stopping in!! Tomorrow I will announce the winner of the Give Away!