2012, Out with the old…

Last year, I wanted to…

1. Grow as a photographer. I failed miserably when it came to completing the 52-week challenge that I chose. I did take a lot of photos, though. I even attempted photographing a couple of newborns, which thankfully were not the worst photos I’ve ever taken. For Christmas, I got a new camera to try out. It’s a Diana+ medium format camera, so I’m trying my hand at fun, lo-fi photos. I’m excited to see what these first few rolls of film will look like. Probably awful. I’m sure I’ll have loads of room for improvement.

2. Run a half marathon. I did it, loved it, and I’ve got my second coming up in February. Speaking of, I’m going to have to get to work on my costume soon!

3. Decorate my bedroom. Weeellll, I didn’t do it in the last house. When we moved in September, I at least replaced the bedding with something that looks nice, matches, etc. The whole room isn’t done, though. I may be doomed never to have a decorated master. It seems to be a recurring trend.

4. Organize my pantry. Did it. Moved. Did it again. The new one is staying pretty tidy, so far.

5. Make and accomplish a summer checklist. Nope. Didn’t even remember this one come summer.

6. Find a happy medium in healthy eating. I’m pretty certain this is an ongoing process. I didn’t gain 50 pounds in 2012, so that’s good. I still have a long way to go. I have eaten way too many sweets this Christmas.

7. Take the kids to Disney World. We went in June. And it was awesome. We’ll be back, Mr. Mouse. (Me sooner than the children. Hee hee…)

8. Get my front tooth fixed again. Did it. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last time it needs help.

9. Read more. Toward the end of the year, I pulled this off. I’m addicted to James Patterson murder mysteries right now. Thank goodness for e-libraries.

I’m sure I’ll have some new thoughts for 2013 soon. I’ll keep you posted!


Trains, Planes, Automobiles, and Mary


It’s almost time. I sat down at the computer for one last photo-dump before packing the camera up. Sorry, nothing really worth sharing right at this moment. I may put up the last few elf pictures tomorrow. I may not. Tomorrow evening, we’ll be getting on one of those bad boys up above and heading to Minneapolis. The kids are extremely excited. I hope that they’re not so excited that they can’t sleep, since we will be traveling overnight. It is all of our first time riding on the Amtrak train. It should be an adventure. We’ll be on the road/tracks/in the air for right around 24 hours before we make it home to Nashville for Christmas. It’s a little nerve-wrecking.

I plan to get through it by remembering Mary. This time of year about, oh, 2,000 years or so ago, she had to do some traveling of her own. She had to walk, or ride some beast of burden, for days. Super pregnant. Poor girl. I will be thankful that I am not traveling pregnant, that it will only take one day, and that I have a room waiting for me when I arrive.

Family – Elf Shenanigans

Here we are, 11 days into December, and it occurred to me that I haven’t shared a single thing that Buddy the elf has been up to at our house. He arrived the day after Thanksgiving, before I’d even gotten any Christmas decorations out. He seemed to like my bird, though.


Last year, Buddy spent a day hanging out with Barbie. Apparently one lovely lady isn’t enough for Buddy anymore. he does seem to prefer Ariel, though. Good choice, Buddy. She’s always been my favorite. 😉DSC_0107

We did not manage to get our tree up and decorated all in one day. Until we started digging through the boxes, I had forgotten that I threw out the tangled mess of ornament hooks last year with the intention of replacing them this year. The tree and lights were ready to go, but we had no ornament hooks. Buddy was concerned. Aidan left a reply.



We made hot cocoa one evening, and I think Buddy spotted the marshmallows. The next morning, we found him roasting them over a candle. Sorry we woke up before you got to eat them, Buddy.


Buddy has also had the misfortune of getting himself stuck inside my lantern. He must have climbed in to play, and the latch fell on him. No worries, though. We left it unlocked so that he could get out the following night.


I know that a lot folks feel strongly one way or the other about the Elf on the Shelf. We love ours. It’s all in good fun. He helps perpetuate the magic of Christmas at our house. I’ll share more elf shenanigans once I’ve rescued the photos from my camera.

Run – Training Update


It’s been a little while, so I figured it was time to give a bit of an update on the ol’ half marathon training. I wouldn’t want the girls traveling all the way to Florida with me to think I’m slacking off.

I have been following the Jeff Galloway plan on RunDisney pretty much exactly. I sometimes shift from Monday, Wednesday, Friday to Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, but other than that, I’ve done a fairly good job of sticking with the program, which I’m fairly proud of, since it had me doing 6.5 the day after Thanksgiving. I have a 10- and 12-miler on the schedule for Christmas break, which I hope I can pull off while we’re traveling.

The only thing that has taken some major adjustment for me is the whole great outdoors vs. treadmill issue. When it’s been above 30 and the sidewalks are cleared, I run outside. That usually happened about once a week when I began in October. Now, not so much. I have used the indoor track when I can, but I’m using the gym on base. They have the track closed for physical fitness testing most of the days I’m in there. It’s frustrating. Running in a circle feels better than running in place to me.

Last Friday, I used the treadmill for a long run for the first time. I monopolized that baby for 90 minutes, ran 8 miles, watched a whole episode of Rachael Ray and half of The Price is Right. I used to hate the TV’s on the treadmill, but it does help break the monotony when you’re going at it for that long. The upside is that I definitely maintain a steady pace.

So there you have it. I am on track. I feel good about the plan I’ve chosen. Here’s hoping I can keep it up!

Eat – Homemade Marinara

At our house, we like to know what we’re getting when it’s time to eat. I will not tell you that we’re super hard core and don’t buy anything processed or feed our kids Goldfish crackers or fruit snacks, because 1) it’d be a lie, and 2) our children would starve. We are gradually changing the way we look at food, though, and hopefully our preferences will eventually rub off on the kids.

It all started last Christmas when John requested the meat grinding attachment for our Kitchen Aid. You heard me. I thought he was completely nuts. But now, almost a full year later, we grind our own hamburger meat and make sausage like it’s no big deal. With no filler and preservatives, it tastes a lot better than what you buy in the store, and it’s nice to know we’re not eating a bunch of extra junk in our ground meats.

I recently saw a recipe online for homemade marinara sauce. Super simple, so I decided to give it a try. Guess what? I love it! Now, I will know exactly what’s in the sauce when we have spaghetti, make pizzas, etc.

I adjusted the recipe to our tastes, and I will share how I made the sauce.

Homemade Marinara

8-10 tomatoes, I mixed Roma and on-the-vine

1/2 yellow or white onion

garlic, 4-5 cloves, peeled

olive oil



salt & pepper

tomato sauce, 8 oz.

Chop all that mess up, and load it into a roasting pan. Toss it with olive oil, salt & pepper. Stick it in the oven on 200 degrees F for about 3 hours. I got a little eager and took mine out about 15 minutes early, and it turned out fine. You want everything to be nice and mushy. Put it in a blender or food processor and puree. Add your can of tomato sauce and puree some more. The sauce should be pretty smooth. Taste it, and season the sauce as needed. You could probably even add some Parmesan or Romano and give it a cheesy flavor at this point. I’ll try that next time. I’ll probably add more garlic, too. 🙂

I ended up with two pint-sized jars of marinara sauce. I’m not even worrying about canning it or sealing them up, because we’ll use those suckers fast. If you think you won’t get to it for a while, you should either can it (with a pressure cooker, because of the acidity of the tomatoes, bacteria, blah, blah, blah) or freeze it (easy-peasy!).

Photo – Holiday Card Sneak Peek

Most years, I’m pretty good about having a card photo done and cards at least ordered before Thanksgiving. This has not been one of those years. I’ve had an idea. I finally got all my props ready to make it happen, and then….clouds. We have had cloudy day after cloudy day. All I needed was a decent amount of sunlight to make the shot, and the weather has not been cooperating. Finally today, it was quasi-sunny. Enough that I had a spot in the house where I could make it work. Thank goodness, because my Tiny Prints coupon expires tonight! Talk about last minute. Anyway, this photo didn’t make the card, but I still love it and wanted to share. Happy December!