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Showing posts from 2019

Taco Soup in the Crock Pot

So I don't forget -- I made a delicious taco soup in the Crock Pot while my mom was visiting over Thanksgiving break. I am making it again today and don't want to lose the recipe in and among the hordes of similar recipes. This one is probably the easiest out there, but I might have added too much water today! I eyeballed it until the crock pot was full, egads. Here's my slightly modified version, mainly that I cook the meat with the taco seasoning instead of adding it with the liquid).
Brown one pound of ground beef and one chopped onion with packet of taco seasoning until meat is brown.Put the mixture into the Crock Pot. Add 2 cups of beef broth (about half of a standard size box); a 28-oz can of Rotel, undrained; a 15 oz can of pinto beans, undrained; a 15 oz can of corn, undrained; and one cup of water. Stir it up, sprinkle on a dry packet of ranch dressing and slowly stir in. (There's probably a smarter way to do that too without sloshing the liquid! Maybe sprinkle…

Just Pretending

We are slowly getting our Christmas stuff out. It feels like pretend. I don't know if it's the calendar, the weather (so hot, and our A/C is on the fritz!) or a combination of everything, but I don't feel merry yet. Just kind of stressed, which I guess is in keeping with Christmas, at least the secular version.

My first decoration that we hung up is a new one, from my friend Paige's business called Beezus & Roux. She started making art from Mardi Gras beads, and they're beautiful. Epoxy means they'll last. I'm not sure about the bow -- if I were more decorative myself I could fluff it or something, but it's fine for this year. I'll need to keep it inside in the linen closet instead of outside with the other Xmas junk to keep it from melting. A small price to pay. (It is a small piece, so not a huge space sacrifice either.)

I did some Christmas shopping today, buying a bunch of small Frozen II items. The girls both want a BIG Frozen thing -- a v…

Skin Sins

I hardly took any pictures yesterday, certainly none at our dinner with friends. What is wrong with me? Anyway, I did some "beauty filter" shots -- above left is with the filter and right is without. I'm not really self conscious about the lines on my forehead, but definitely notice them more now and hate them. Look how the filter even blurred my neck a little. LOL.

I am interested in more serious skin care -- a regime to give a glow up perhaps. BUT I think what that really is -- young people who use expensive skin care but have great skin mainly because they are young. I am aging out of the young range, but will still probably throw money at my face. Really if I would just be more consistent with sunscreen I'd look a lot better. I don't go OUT in the sun regularly (and when I do there's sunscreen involved generally), but every day exposure is something I slack on.

Gobble Gobble Wobble Wobble

Back from our friend's house and it was a lovely holiday. I am very full and tired. Still have to get the girls showered and in bed. I took corn casserole, pumpkin dump cake with ice cream and cranberry Jello salad.

I thought of a sort of good blog post to write, but I'm going to try to use it for the magazine, i.e. get paid a little bit for my writing. We'll see where it goes though. I haven't been writing the last few weeks much. Been busy/distracted/boycotting a little. I don't know. Will catch up me next week for deadline!

Only two more posts to go before December. I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I had an index card somewhere with some post ideas. Kind of in a food coma now and just want to watch TV after the kids get in bed. We watched 3 hours this morning with the Thanksgiving Parade. Screen time is my favorite.

Lack of Cooking

In usual Novembers, and NaBloPoMos past, the day before Thanksgiving has been another free space for me because I can catalog what I've been cooking. Today all I made were deviled eggs. I have some cooking to do tomorrow and actually a couple easy things to make tonight because I forgot. (Cranberry salad and pineapple cream cheese ball.)

Instead of cooking the full meal for the five of us (my mom is visiting), we decided to accept an invitation to a friend's apartment. I hope it goes OK, and I'm not sure my mom totally wants to go. But the allure of not having to do the entire meal (turkey included) was too much to pass up. And we had Thanksgiving with this friend last year and it was pleasant. I've gotten to know her better this year too. I just hope the worlds colliding (of family and chosen family) goes OK.

We went to "Defy," which used to be "Area 51," which used to be something else. It's a trampoline park. The girls had a great time -- I k…

Thirty Nine and Feeling Fine

Another birthday, nothing much to report. I woke up pushed to the very edge of the bed by a little 3-year-old. I stayed up too late and got up early-ish, so still pretty tired. I got some presents, which are fun, and I will start wearing my new Mama Bear slippers tonight I think.

We went to the 9:20 a.m. showing of Frozen 2. I liked it very much but would have liked it better without that same 3-year-old climbing all over me. And out of the theater they ran after the movie, including out the door of the entire place before I could stop them and herd them to the bathroom (I always have to pee after movies, even if I haven't drunk anything). Very irritating, and it's like they act even worse when my mom is here (or really any company).

Next we went to Superior Grill for lunch. I ordered large queso, which would have been enough for a meal. It cost more than my meal - LOL, whoops. Girls were mostly OK, although Jane still pushed my buttons due to being hungry (both of us).

We st…

Shopping Luck: Mama Bear

I saw these slippers on a deal blog with availability at Walmart, but they were sold out by the time I read the post. They were about $25, but I was willing to buy because I love em! I never ran into them at Walmart either.

On Saturday when my mom, aunt and I did some shopping we went in Tuesday Morning looking mainly for Advent calendar goodies and I found these for $10. I didn't think they would have my XL size but they did!! And I'm pretty sure I have a matching set of jams I got at Target on clearance last year after Xmas. Huzzah!!

They were on another deal blog today. They are Dearfoams so I think it was from their site. Still twice as much as my score!

Happy birthday to me! LOL

Photo Cards

It's feeling like crunch time for Christmas and it's not even Thanksgiving! We are one month from Christmas Eve, but the turkey hasn't even hit the oven... It's just a calendar quirk, and usually Thanksgiving falls earlier in the month (hello, Friday November 1). But the realization is still sharp, and it will mean less time listening to Christmas music (I haven't been able to avoid it while shopping). I can continue it through Advent and maybe won't have the itchy feeling to get all the decorations down and the house back to "normal."

I have purchased a few gifts but am nowhere near done on my list. I also don't have gifts for family in Alabama, and one of them is here visiting while my mom is here. So I could save some bucks on shipping if I'd planned better or thought ahead. D'oh.

I DID take Christmas photos of my girls yesterday. I had bought buffalo check plaid flannel shirts when they were on sale at Old Navy, and they consented to w…

Advent Planning

Every year after Christmas I wrap children's Christmas books in tissue paper, and my girls can open one each night of Advent. (I wrap one for each of them, for a total of 48 books wrapped). We also have been doing separate calendars too. Trader Joe's sells chocolate ones for $.99, so that's a win-win. Last year Jane had a LEGO Friends calendar, and Livia got a Paw Patrol one. Both were good.

This year I thought I'd just do books and chocolate, because when I asked Jane that's what she said she wanted. (She just wants candy, frankly.) But then I was in Ollie's shopping and there were two Frozen Advent calendars. They're big castles and look pretty neat and sturdy, so reusable. But what I wasn't sure of was whether there were any Frozen contents or gifts inside. I bought them anyway, but some internet sleuthing made me realize they are empty.

SO - do I return them ($12.99 each)? I could surely find 24 times two little do-dads to go inside the cubbies, alt…

Cooking for Crowds

I'm kind of a terrible housewife in that I hate to cook and hate to clean. Cooking isn't SO bad, and I definitely like to eat. But the clean up is annoying and the constant cycle of come up with ideas, shop for the ingredients, make the food, rinse and repeat, is a less-than-delightful part of my life.

Today I cooked multiple things. Tomorrow we are going to a Friendsgiving dinner, so I made a cornbread dressing and deviled eggs. The dressing is the kind Gran made for holidays -- cornbread, a stuffing mix, butter, onion, celery and seasonings. I hope I didn't make it too salty. Meh. It makes two big pans, so I'll save the other either for Thursday or for Christmas, depending on what we end up doing for Thanksgiving proper.

I also made a Mexican black bean lasagna that we'll heat up for tonight. It's basically onions, jalepeno, red bell pepper, corn, black beans, garlic, chili powder, cilantro and lime juice as a cooked filling layered with red enchilada sauce, …

A Very Online Life

I've started working on a task I've had on my to-do list for months: updating mariwalker.com. I want to have links there to all my work -- the articles and blog posts from BR Parents and past blog posts that have been published (anywhere but here basically). I want a place to easily find them (and still link to the actual sites where the full articles and posts live). And it would be a nice portfolio of sorts.

I wrote a few blog posts for Woman's Hospital during and after my second pregnancy. They have since moved to a different blog, and not all of them have my by-line. I've figured out which ones I wrote though (I have the emails I sent to the blog editor). That was the first step. I've got draft blog posts linking to each one.

Next step will be making posts for all my BR Parents content -- and there is a lot. Several blog posts but even more articles. On the site my byline search comes up with 45 hits. And that doesn't include the content sections I write (m…

Two Little Pumpkins

My latest commission is two pumpkin hats for an aunt to gift to her nephews who live somewhere much colder than south Louisiana. They are pretty cute and I hope they fit -- still working on arranging delivery and payment. The vertical crochet makes for a nice stretchy hat, and the brim lets you roll it up or down to further customize the fit.

This pattern is really just a method -- chain until it's about the height you want the hat to be (because adding the top will allow for the brim fold) and double crochet in the back loop only back and forth until it's as long as the hat needs to be around. Sew up the two sides to make a tube. Then attach the green to one end of the tube and single crochet evenly around. Decrease every 10 stitches, then every 9 stitches, etc. until maybe 8 or 9 stitches left and single crochet around to make the stem. Decrease until you sew up the top. The curlique vine is easy - chain the length (knowing that it will curl up) and put three double crochet…

Beauty Filter

I take selfies with Livia while we wait in carpool sometimes, and I noticed a button on the phone's camera. It's a beauty filter and basically smooths out all wrinkles and takes away freckles! What a way to see myself. I am making a totally goofy face, but damn, I look young!

I always thought I would age gracefully and that I didn't really care that much about appearance. That did not turn out to be true and it turns out I was just young and cute. Maybe I thought I always would be?

My forehead wrinkles are the thing I notice most of all now. They're all lines from raising my eyebrows. Not so much frowning lines, so I guess that's good -- maybe a sign of more happiness than sadness? I've started trying a Clinique serum that a cousin gave me (someone gifted it to her and she doesn't need it). I don't know if it will make a difference. I am thoroughly tempted by the Sunday Riley Good Genes serum, as I've heard it really does great things. But the pric…

Second Grade Realizations

I was in second grade when I had a crush on a boy that I remember. Or maybe just the first crush that liked me back -- just for a little while. He wrote me a note on a slip of paper saying he liked me. We were in the Halloween carnival together a few weeks later, so it was in October. I remember roller skating with my Girl Scout troop the night I got the note and we'd been chosen as our class' carnival king and queen. I was skating on air - what a funny feeling and memory.

(I have a second grader right now - look out world!)

Just that memory, of my nascent opposite sex attraction, keeps my wheels turning. Obviously it was just who I was, who I am. Not something I wanted or chose. How can we deny other people's experiences? Especially when they're so similar to ours in the core ways? Love is love is love is love.


Great Haircut

At church today at least three people, maybe more, commented on my hair -- great cut, looks great, etc. I have been cutting my hair off for a while, and this is the same general style. My last cut was in October. It's already growing out, which is good, because as per usual my cut was initially simultaneously too short and too long. (Mullet seems to be what stylists hear when I say I like it choppy and layered.)

Don't get me wrong - my hair looks great today. It is clean - washed and dried it last night (with my amazing Revlon brush dryer), smoothed it a bit this morning with the flat iron to make it a little less flippy (the round brush dryer gives a lot of body and flips the ends in the front, cute but I prefer straight ends).

But what's REALLY happening, and why people are commenting is that I've lost weight and my face is much slimmer. That makes my hair look better in general, based on our societal standards. The weight loss is intentional, after a weird injury t…

Geauxing To Vote

It's Election Day here in Louisiana. I early voted, and I'm team John Bel Edwards in the Governor's race, even though he's not nearly progressive enough for me. Even so the attack ads against him are saying he's "too liberal for Louisiana" and is in the pocket of national Democrats. Kind of a joke. He's pretty popular in general (he's a Democrat in name only basically), but there's a very real chance he will lose this election because of that party name. I am heart-stricken knowing that, as the opponent is just a mini-45, spouting similar racist and hateful catch phrases, dog whistles that are basically screams. How can you miss it? People I know and thought I respected campaign for him, post about his parties and generally gross me out.

I early voted last Friday so that I wouldn't have to worry today or take both girls with me to the polls. Our polling place rarely has lines and is easy in-and-out. But we had a church event in Lafayette t…

Decade Accomplishments

A social media question that has come around and around this week was something about how the decade is coming to an end and what have you accomplished. People have written about amazing successes. Ten years is enough time that things certainly change. But I know not always for the better. For me, I'd say yes in a personal sense. (For our country, OMG, this is the authoritarian, Nazi-driven pits.) But for fun, and an easy blog post here's what's different about my life from the end of 2009 to end of 2019.
2009:28 years old (nearly 29)Been married for just over a yearLived in New York City in a studio apartment, rarely droveWorked from home full-time doing communications work for a non-profit organizationWorked out, ate fairly well - beginning the cycle of weight lossAttended Park Avenue UMC in Manhattan, minimally involved - I think by then we'd gone to a young adult event/volunteered at a food pantry and I'd designed a logo of sorts 2019:38 years old (nearly 39) …

Written Words

So ridiculously tired. I had a church meeting tonight, hired a babysitter since Shawn left for a trip. Ca-ching.

Then I stayed up doing some ads for the school play. Jane's not even in the play. I don't have to do them all tonight. I hate having things hanging over me though.

So very, very tired and this shouldn't count for NaBloPoMo, but it's rounding to midnight, I'm already running on fumes every morning. Every morning I say to myself "tonight I'll go to bed early!" And every night I manage to keep myself awake...

Here's me from earlier in my lumberjack shirt. I'm still wearing it -- gotta take my shower before I can hit the sack!


Going Home and Online Safety

I've been a Twitter user for more than 10 years, joining in mid-2008. I've never gotten into real heated arguments or had much trouble with "trolls," although I've certainly seen their work on others' tweets and threads. I mostly post innocuous stuff and even when I'm upset it's vague or about something offline most often. Retweets don't usually get hate spewed back to the retweeter.

I had a weird experience this week in that I retweeted a post with a comment. It was a request for female clergy and their allies to retweet their support and that women pastors should not "go home," as a powerful white man (or men?) has recently said. My comment with the tweet was "A woman's place is in the pulpit."

A man I don't know commented back about "the Bible says" women are only allowed to teach younger women and never in a church so #GoHome. Kind of hilarious, as I am a homemaker/stay-at-home mom basically doing what he …

Cutie Crochet

A friend from church commissioned two hats for her one-year-old great niece. I added bows, although they are removable on hairclips. Thinking now I should have just sewn them on since it's basically a baby going to wear them, but a baby who can unclip things for sure! Oh well. She seemed happy with them, and hopefully I'll get to see a photo of them in action later on. She originally asked for "whatever Christmas-y hat you have left over that would fit a one-year-old," but didn't like what was left (I even had an adorable gingerbread girl!). I was happy to make these, even though they're not really Christmas-y (I added the red sparkle bow to the penguin to try to make it so!).

My friend said she could be my agent and get lots of people to buy tiger hats, but they're very fussy to make -- the stripes aren't terribly hard, but figuring out the sizing with two different stitch heights (black is single, orange is double), plus the ear flaps and braids, …

Myths & Stereotypes - Thanksgiving Conversations

While reading for magazine ideas I came across a great curriculum put together by Oklahoma City Public Schools about culturally appropriate ways to teach young students about Thanksgiving. It lists myths and things to avoid and has suggestions of alternatives plus plenty of craft ideas and book recommendations.

Liv's preschool has an annual Thanksgiving program of some sort, and they dress up the three-year-olds as Indians. I am NOT about that, so once they tell us the details (it's next Tuesday!) I'll make a decision about whether Liv can participate at all. I'm not sure a boycott will do anything but soothe my conscious, but that might be enough. It certainly will mean disappointing Liv, since they've been working on all kinds of things for the program. So far I've only heard about hand-print turkeys and painting feathers, but I definitely don't want my kid to sport a feathered headdress or anything else that basically makes fun of another culture even i…

Unpleasant: Feeding My Family

I've been a stay-at-home mom for about eight years (I worked part-time from home for a half year after maternity leave when Jane was a baby, and I'm definitely working from home now). Even so, I still don't have the hang of the homemaker duties. Cleaning definitely is not something I enjoy or excel at. It's never ending, of course, and my piling tendencies and just general I-want-stuff desires makes for clutter. And I just don't have patience to deep clean, although I much prefer a deep cleaned house. I keep up with vacuuming the floors, cleaning bathrooms as best I can and laundry of course. Shawn manages dishes and most kitchen cleanup.

Another awful-to-me chore is cooking. Day after day, coming up with meals that my family will eat and that are somewhat nutritious is grating on me. When Jane was little I was much more thoughtful about varying things, making sure there were veggies on every plate, that fruits were colorful and plentiful. The girls still eat fruit…

A Main Event Party

A new "entertainment venue" opened near the mall, and we decided to have Jane's birthday party there. It was today, and I'm over-peopled and wiped out. We had about 12 kids show up, plus Jane and Liv, so it was a lot to keep up with. More parents stayed than I expected.

The party host was new, only her second party, so some things didn't happen the way they should. The experienced host who helped dragged things out (opening presents?!) and we ended up feeling rushed out of our space because the gravity ropes started late. Kids were wandering around wanting to play games and parents wanted to leave to get home for the LSU game.

Because of when I scheduled the party it was over the lunch hour, and there really wasn't food included for parents -- and a LOT of parents stayed, more than I would have expected. By 3 pm when our family finally left (over an hour after the party was supposed to have ended) I was dehydrated and hangry. I kept it together mostly, but i…

Eight is Great

Today is Jane's GOLDEN birthday. She turns 8 on the eighth!

We celebrated by visiting her at school for lunch, going to Knock Knock Children's Museum after school (and showing up at carpool early so she was one of the first kids to leave), supper at Red Robin and plenty of presents.

Tomorrow is her birthday party, and most of the girls in her class are coming plus a few friends from church. I'm hoping it will be a good time, and I can get another "free space" NaBloPoMo post by writing about it tomorrow.

Today I took Liv to swim and early voted in addition to the birthday shenanigans. I also did a phone interview and wrote a quick draft of a story. I baked Jane's birthday cake, which is a cookie cake. I hope it tastes OK. It sure LOOKS great and smells fantastic. I used this sheet pan chocolate chip cookie bars recipe and then added my standard buttercream frosting. I put yellow sprinkles on the 8, and I wish I had used white frosting for the 8 or left the spr…

Twitter-Guided Shopping

We live in a consumer world, and being online makes it that much easier to find out about cool products, things that work and what should be avoided. I've been a Twitter user for more than a decade, but it's only in the last couple years that the people I follow have given recommendations I've actually taken. Here are some of the things that I bought that I loved because I read about them on Twitter, and a few that I'm considering...

Nivea Hand Cream, 79 cents at Target or Walmart. This was in a thread about proper skin care and experiences in elementary school teaching other children how to use lotion. I didn't learn that as a kid and always had rough elbows (I actually thought it was from the way I laid on the carpet to do homework or color). Since using this little tin my adult elbows are nice and smooth, and as the air has been getting a little cooler and drier it's helped my legs too. I even bought the bigger tub, which is still very reasonable.

Revlon One S…

Jump Scare

Jane is reading Harry Potter, and tonight I was reading a chapter aloud. Shawn had been at a work dinner, and Liv was in bed. Shawn came home but I couldn't hear him. He opened Jane's bedroom door and I screamed, rolling off the bed to assume a defensive position. That ended up with me  flat on the floor having bounced my butt on the bedframe. It wasn't even a scary part of the book!

Just a scene from a life, as I keep forgetting to write. Although ideas are bubbling my writing time is limited. Busy-ness...

Visiting a Temple

The Baton Rouge temple of the Church of Latter Day Saints was renovated and they had an open house, inviting members of the community to come visit it. Once the temple is re-consecrated non-Mormons won't be able to go inside and there aren't temples in every city, so when our pastor mentioned it as something worth seeing I thought I'd check it out. This temple services people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

I went with a friend, and we had to go when we each had a kid with us. Hers is a newborn, and mine was a 3-year-old, who I carried on my back. I've recently lost some weight, but she weighs more than what I've lost, so I definitely was feeling it for the hour she was back there and we were on our feet the whole time. Livia did really well despite it being really boring for her. She got many compliments on her behavior. My seven-year-old would have been a disaster.

I came away with way more questions than answers, and they weren't really encouraging questions.…

Where Are My Gloves?

I'm in a Bible study at my church on Monday mornings, and a lady there calls me Marianne. I hadn't fully registered it, but today when I walked in she said it clearly and I said "MY NAME IS MARI." She thought it was funny and was maybe embarrassed she'd used the wrong (almost right) name for so long. I've been at this church for more than eight years, and she and I were at a conference together in May. My name also appears in print sometimes as webmaster/communications volunteer.

I had a conversation about my name -- actually I'm Marilyn -- and why my mom chose to use Mari rather than Mary. (It all came together for the best I think!) No one's ever called me Marianne except her -- usually I get Mari rhyming with sorry or Marie, and once in a while Murray (but that's more of a southern Virginia accent thing, LOL).

Today's name mistake it also reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, which my girls love and Jane was in the school's production l…

For All the Saints

This morning was our All Saints Day worship service, and we remembered those who have died, going before us, specifically those who have died in the last year. I am a teary-eyed person anyway, and I weep easily during worship even on "regular" Sundays. No one who is close to me in real ways died in the last year, but I still cried.

There is Rachel Held Evans, my favorite Christian author, a contemporary, and prolific writer and theologian who died in May. I had been praying fervently for her recovery after learning of her unexpected and terrifying illness that left her in a medically induced coma. I learned that she died the morning of Jane's first piano recital. We were in an Episcopal church and I was helping my three-year-old potty before we left. Rachel had left her evangelical church tradition for the Episcopal church, and she was a mother who left behind two small children and a beloved husband. And she left a hole in my life, even though we were strangers. (We we…

Being in Charge

My girls are growing up. Their stories are less MY stories to tell, so it's fits and starts when I sit down to write or think of ideas. I'm a bit out of practice. I share too much on Facebook, but always running commentary "here's what we are doing" kind of thing. Nothing intense.

My husband is out of town on the second of four trips (actually three because the last two got merged because it didn't make sense to fly home from the East Coast to be home for less than a day before flying back the same way ... plus they have Amtrak!). He hadn't been traveling as much since the summer, so I was spoiled in a way of having ongoing two-parent lifestyle. His job is flexible that he can be relied upon when things come up -- a sick kid but I can still get my scheduled doctor's and hair appointments done. I even took a trip for a church conference (his parents came to stay with the girls and help with carpool and all the sundry activities).

We always eat at Fuzz…

Remembering November

It's the start of National Blog Post Month, or NaBloPoMo. I've done it for several years, mostly successfully. I figured last year would be my last because it was so hard, and it still might be. But I didn't want to say no for sure today, and so here is a post.

I barely wrote at all on this blog since last November. Really a conflagration of things -- church volunteer work, actual work for both a magazine and some other clients, my girls being in lots of activities and needing lots of parenting, some crocheting. Mostly I've written so much for the magazine, and I've been blogging for them about twice a month since the summer, taking all my best ideas. There are plenty of non-parenting things I could write about here, or delve into things in a different/perhaps more political or even religious way. But I just haven't. Maybe November is the time. Maybe.

Writers are going to write, but I just haven't been writing here. I still do my weekly emails chronicling …

Hats: The Characters

See the post Want to Order a Crochet Hat. These are the "character" hats. Faces and embroidery take more time, so the cost is a bit more. Contact me for details, but generally $15-$20 per hat.

Hats: Cute Designs

See the post Want to Order a Crochet Hat. These are the non-character hats. (Faces and embroidery take more time, so the cost for those is a bit more.) Contact me for details, but generally $10-$15 per non-character hat.