Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicken Ricotta Bowls

This a new family favorite at our house. It's also great for parties. Rather than putting the whole thing here, I'm adding the link to Robin Miller's website page for hwe fabulous chicken ricotta bowls. Chicken Ricotta Bowls

Monday, November 29, 2010

It all comes down to this...

Today's the future depends on the contents of this folder.  It represents a year of hard work, stress and tears, not to mention thousands of dollars invested.  It holds the key to a new career, a new world that could open up for me, if I get in.  Its my application to dental hygiene school.

I am absolutely terrified as I prepare to turn my application in.  I really, really want this.  But I also know there are 150 other people wanting one of the 32 spots available in the program.  I'm also well aware of what getting in means...a two year commitment to a very stressful program, investing thousands of dollars, and heaping more on my plate than I can really handle - but having to juggle it anyway.

The changes this will bring to me and family are huge.  I also know what the payout will mean when I finish...a great job with very little stress, a salary triple what I now earn, four day work weeks, and getting home to my family at an earlier hour every night.

So today as I hand in my application, my stomach is in knots.  It will be months before I find out whether or not I get in.  It all depends on the contents of this folder...the application that could change my life forever.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Something Beautiful

Most people who know me know that I've been under major stress lately.  My parents are dealing the crisis of a lifetime, I'm finishing my hardest semester of college yet, there are big changes at work, plus lots of big events and church activities going on...I'm seriously stressed out.  Stress does have some good effects, drives me closer to God.

I have found that the more stressed I am, the closer I get to Him.  The more I have on my plate, the more I see that there is no way I can do it all on my own.  The weaker I am, the stronger He becomes.  During stressful times, and especially during a heartbreaking situation like my parents are going through, I realize that there is nothing I can do.  The only thing I can do is put it into God's hands and trust Him.

I love these verses...Psalm 66 (10) For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. (12) You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.  (NASB)  In hard times and stressful times, I hang onto that promise.  No matter how hard things get, God is here with me, and He will bring me through the fire refined as silver.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sour Cream Cheesecake with Praline Sauce

This is a holiday favorite at our house! I also make it for a lot of church potlucks - that way I get a little bit, and the rest goes home with someone else - otherwise I would eat way more than I need to! LOL

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter


  •  3 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract


  •  1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 Praline Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. For crust, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter - pat into bottom and sides of a springform pan.
  3. For filling, beat together cream cheese and sugar; beat in eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla; pour filling into crust and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Remove cake from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  5. For topping, mix sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until well blended; spread over top of warm cheesecake and return to oven for 5 minutes.
  6. Cool cake to room temperature in pan, then cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
  7. To serve, loosen cake from pan with a knife, then remove sides of pan.
  8. To make sauce, mix brown sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan; add in corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick; remove from heat, stir in nuts and vanilla, and cool slightly. Pour over cheesecake before serving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Family Traditions

I love family traditions.  Creating new traditions with my husband and kids is one my favorite things.  Since we live so far away from our extended family, we've chosen to make holidays a special time for just the four of us.

Aside from the time off of school, work, and church, I'm most excited about celebrating our family traditions.  First is our huge Thanksgiving meal.  We've blended favorite recipes from our childhoods along with new favorites to form our traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Another thing I'm excited about is our Thanksgiving movie marathon.  We hardly ever watch a movie, but we keep a list going of all the movies we'd like to see, and over Thanksgiving, we rent a huge stack of DVD's and have a movie marathon. 

To top it all off, we get up at an insane hour on Black Friday and hit the stores.  We do the majority of our Christmas shopping that day.  For bargain hunters like us, it's an awesome day.  We plan our shopping like a military operation!

So what are your favorite family holiday traditions?  Join in the discussion at the Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom community at the Blog Frog!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beyond Mommy Guilt

Burnout and I are old friends.  It has been a part of my life for many years, and I know why.  There's the easy answer, and there's the real answer.

The easy answer - which, by the way, is definately not a wrong answer - is that I simply take on more than I can handle.  A type-A, "I can do it all" person since childhood, I have a hard time saying no when someone asks me to take on a new responsibility.  There are a lot of things I love doing, and I have a hard time letting go of one to make room for another.  Which is why I ended up coordinating Vacation Bible School in August while working and taking anatomy and physiology II during the second summer session of college...yeah, huge burnout.

Then you have the real answer.  When I reach down deep, I know that the real reason I'm burned out is because of expectations.  I juggle so many roles in a day - wife, mom, manager/trainer at a women's gym, student, daughter, friend, pastor's wife, and CHO (chief home officer).  Sometimes I need to drop something, but no one is willing to let it be them.  Everyone needs me right now, and everyone needs me to give 100%.

I goes way beyond mommy guilt.  I think a lot of people would be surprized to know how much of the time I feel like I'm failing.  I think a lot of moms feel that way.  I try to do it all, and do it all well, and it's simply not possible.  When school gets crazy busy, my house is wreck.  When I'm stressed about what's going on at home, it's hard to give work my full attention.  When I have obligations because I'm a pastor's wife, I feel like my family doesn't my attention the way they need to.  I feel like the guy at the circus spinning plates, always running from one place to another to keep them all spinning.  Sometimes I need to let a plate fall - but no one wants it to be their plate.

Peer pressure doesn't end when you graduate from high school or even college.  I think that moms everywhere are pressured to do it all and be perfect at it all, and that pressure is what truly leads to burnout.

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things I Won't Negotiate!

#1. Top Ten "non-negotiables" in life.

#2. Would you have plastic surgery to get or improve your job? (based off story on Good Morning America.)

1.  God comes first in everything.

2.  My family is my #1 priority on earth.

3.  Marriage is a promise to God and each other, and it's meant to last a lifetime.

4.  My family is worth fighting for.

5.  I love my kids, but I'm their mom - not their best friend.

6.  There's a lot of satisfaction in hard work and a job well done.

7.  Ministering to other people isn't an option!  It's something all Christians should do.  (I've worked with kids ministry since I was in high school.)

8.  There are very few things in life that coffee and chocolate can't make may not fix it, but they sure help.

9.  A good workout can get rid of a lot of stress.

10.  Never give up on your dreams.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chicken Packets

This is a quick and easy favorite at our house! It also works great if you do OMAC (one a month cooking) freezes really well.
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 2 (8 oz) refrigerated cresent rolls
  • butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix chicken, cream cheese, chives, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (To freeze, simply pour the mix into a freezer bag.)
  3. Unwrap cresent rolls, divide chicken mix, and place on each triangle.
  4. Wrap each dough triangle around the mix and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. When done, spread a small amount of butter over each warm chicken packet.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How (Not) To Use Chore Charts

I'm a list person...a chart person...a person who likes to have things written down.  I feel so organized and together when I have things on paper.  I'm always checking out websites that offer free printables, looking for the best charts and listmaking sites I can find.  I've found some great resources that I use regularly.

Chore charts are a great way to keep your family organized.  The kids know exactly what they need to do each day.  You can stay on a schedule and keep your house clean and organized.  I've even found mommy chore charts with all the weekly housekeeping chores you need to do on a checklist.  I love the feeling of satisfaction I get when I can cross something off that list.

Unfortunately, I've discovered something about chore charts.  They only work...well, if you actually do the work listed.  Sure, they look great hanging on the fridge or the bulletin board or wherever you decide to hang it.  But if you can't motivate yourself to do the work on the chart, it's not doing much good.  That's where I am.  I love looking at my chore chart.  I think about what I need to do.  I'm just missing the step where I actually do the work.  So there's my goal for this week - learn to use chore charts the right way!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What I Really Want From Blogging...

I've been in kind of a transition mode lately when it comes to blogging.  Thanks to Theta Mom's post a few weeks ago on reaching your reader's expectations, and the one year anniversary of the launch of Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom, I've been rethinking my goals, my design, and the reasons why I blog.

I've thought a lot about how I came to blogging last year.  I had tried blogging before, and each time I crashed and burned within weeks, quitting altogether, only to try again later.  Finally, I decided to really research it and have a plan in place before I started blogging again.  I spent several months planning out what I wanted.  In November 2009, I started my blog on Wordpress, but being a newbie, I found myself struggling with the format, and early in 2010, I switched back to the Blogger account I'd maintained.  It took time, but slowly my blog started to build.  I started finding my blogging voice.

Now, after a year, it's time to reevaluate again.  As Theta Mom says, I want my readers to know what they can expect from my blog.  I also want readers to be engaged with me and my blog.  I want readers more than I want followers.  Don't get me wrong, followers are great.  I love mine and want to see my followers really grow.  But more than followers, I want to know that people are reading what I'm writing and that it means something to them.  I want people to identify with me and my blog on some level - whether it's a funny story about my family, something I've learned that helps them, or just the fact that we all know that as much as we'd like to, we can't be Superwoman.

I love the changes I've made so far.  I still have some tweaking I want to do, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.  I want to focus on writing about the things I'm learning, and the mistakes I'm making.  I want to share what I know about finding balance as I juggle the many roles I play in a day.  I want to somehow, in some way, help others by what I share.  Most of all, I want to have fun, and I hope to connect with some great people along the way so we can share each other's journey.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Love, Your Co-Workers - Working Mom Wednesday

#1. Eat out or brown bag with co-workers? Lunch room or desk? What your typical work lunch like?

#2. What would they say... write a post from the perspective of your boss or co-worker? (What would they say about you?)

Dear Amanda,

I am so glad that I work with you.  You're crazy and sometimes scatter-brained, but that's great, because we both think alike.  I love having a co-worker I can laugh and be silly with, especially on a stressful day.  I love the way we can work together and end up laughing until we're crying.

Honestly, I don't know how you do it all.  I know you're juggling a lot, and I appreciate the fact that when you're at work, you're focused on work.  Sometimes, though, you need to keep it together a little more.  When your mind is racing in several different directions all at once...well, sometimes that doesn't work too well.  Sometimes you walk into a room and forget what you went in for...and you're too young for senior moments!  But you're driven, energetic, and passionate about what you do.

I'm glad that all of us are so close...we're more like a group of close friends than co-workers, and I'm glad we can work in that kind of environment.

Love, your co-workers

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Favorite Mac and Cheese

Since it's almost Thanksgiving, I decided to share one of our family favorite holiday recipes today - the best mac and cheese I've ever had!  I got this recipe from a church member when we lived in south Arkansas, and it was an instant hit.  It's simple, delicious, and very popular at church potlucks, too!
  • 1 8-oz box elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 c. mayonanaise
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 small jar chopped pimento, drained
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 12 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 2 c. crushed cheese crackers, such as Cheese Nips 
  1. Mix together everything but the last 2 ingredients and pour into a a casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix crackers and butter; spread over top of casserole.
  3. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Five Mommy Must Haves

I keep up a pretty hectic pace most of the time.  I try to really take good care of myself, but sometimes I let myself slide...don't we all?  As soon as I stop doing the right things, though, I start paying for it.  I get worn out, stressed out, sick, and exhausted.  I've found five things that I absolutely have to keep balanced in my life if I'm going to manage to get through my days in one piece...

1. Daily quiet time

I started to get really stressed out about some relatively small things this week, and I wondered what was wrong.  Suddenly it dawned on me...I wasn't doing my daily quiet time for Bible study and prayer.  My quiet time is my lifeline!  It keeps me grounded and sane, and it gives me the strength to get through each day.

My resource page lists some great places to find daily devotionals and Bible study tools.  I also use a prayer journal, and I am really trying to focus on incorporating Bible memorization into my time.  I plan on posting about both of those subjects soon.

2. A workout routine

Yes, I work at a gym, but that doesn't make it easy for me to work out!  We stay pretty busy, so it's hard for me to squeeze in time for my workouts - but I'm trying really hard to get back on track.  This week I did four workouts, and what a difference it has made!  I feel so much better and I have so much energy.

Find what works for you.  Whether its walking, running, or going to the gym, take take out 3 to 4 days a week to take care of yourself.  It's not being selfish - you can't take care of others if you're not taking care of yourself first!

3. A food diary

Food diaries aren't just for dieters!  I've found that I am much more health concious and make better food choices if I'm keeping track of it.  Use a food diary that you can carry everywhere with you, such as a small notebook.  My current favorite is an app for my Droid X phone that lets me track my food and workouts, automatically calculating my nutritional information, such as vitamins, as well.

4. A place to vent

Go out with friends.  Keep a journal.  Blog.  Find a mommy support group.  Wherever you go, you have to have a place to vent without fear of what someone will say.  No matter how much you love your life, you're going to get mad, stressed, and upset at times, and sometimes all you need to do to feel better is to talk about it and let it all out.

5. Good planning

The most important part of keeping things together is planning.  Plan, plan, plan!  Plan your schedule, your meals for the week, your shopping list, your cleaning - if you have a plan in place, life is so much easier!  Nothing is more stressful than running around madly at the last minute, or worse, forgetting something completely.  Trust me, I speak from experience here.  Plan your work and work your plan, and life will flow smoothly...and even when it doesn't, you'll have a backup plan in place!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Still holding onto the dream

Dutchess and me, Christmas Day, 1993...I was 15 years old.

When I was 10 years old, I dreamed of the same thing I still dream of...horses.  I've loved horses since I was old enough to know what a horse is.  When my passion first started, my family assumed that I would outgrow it, like so many other kids do.  They were wrong.  The older I got, the more I fell in love with these amazing, majestic creatures. 

I would finally become a horse owner at the age of 14.  The time I spent with my horse created some of my favorite childhood memories.  Through the rough years of high school, I would go home and rush to the barn.  As I groomed my little Welsh pony/Fox Trotter mix, I cried and told her all my problems.  By the time I was done, she was clean and I had a fresh perspective on life - we both felt better.  She was my therapy.

Before I even owned a horse or took riding lessons, I dreamed of making a living riding and training horses.  As I got older, I realized I would probably never be able to make a career out of it, but I dreamed of continuing to have it as a hobby.  As I grew up and life became busier and more complicated, even the hope of keeping horses in my life as a hobby slipped away.  Shortly after I married my husband, I sold my horse, Dutchess, to a little boy who was just starting out on the very dream I was letting go of.  I embraced new dreams - marriage, children, and ministry with my husband as he pastored churches.

I know it will never be a career for me, but I'm not letting go of the dream.  Although I rarely get a chance to ride now, I treasure every opportunity I do get.  As I rush through the days and weeks at the hectic pace demanded of a working mom and college student, I still dream of returning to my childhood love - my lifelong love.  Now my dream is to rescue Thoroughbreds whose racing careers never took off, retraining them.  I keep promising myself that one day, when the kids are grown and life's crazy pace slows down, my dream will come true again, just as it did all those years ago.

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who is your Facebook friend?

Great questions today for Working Mom Wednesday...

#1. Do you accept your co-workers as friends on facebook? (or twitter or other social media)

#2. Honest confessions about motherhood

Oh, the joys of Facebook...I love it, but it brings with it a whole new set of work-related dilemas.  Yes, I do accept co-workers as friends on FB now, but at one point I didn't, and there was a really good reason for it.  Here's what happened...

I have been on Facebook for quite a while, and once I talked my husband into jumping into the Facebook world, we started a page for our church.  In no time, we had lots of church members adding us or even joining Facebook just because of our church page.  It's great!  That being said, as a pastor's wife with lots of church members as friends, I'm very careful about what I say online.  I don't want to say anything that can be misread, so I'm very careful about what I post and how I say things.

My former boss was not on Facebook, but some of her family members and friends were also my friends.  A few months ago, I was having a horrible day.  I had a raging headache that wouldn't go away, I was having problems with a co-worker, and one of my professors had given a very unfair and difficult assignment to the class.  I was not a happy camper.  I made what I thought was a very general remark about how I'd like to strangle someone - "I have a certain person or two in mind, but really anyone will do - the person checking out at Wal-Mart, the bad driver ahead of me..."

A few days later, my boss made some remarks about Facebook comments in a meeting.  I approached her about it, and she said I was talking about my coworker with the remarks I had posted and that other members of the gym might see them and know there was a problem.  I was livid.  For one thing, the remarks I had made were not directed at my coworker.  Work was never mentioned in the post.  The worst part was that only my boss and I (I thought) knew about the work situation, so someone (I had a pretty good idea who it was) read too much into what I said and tattled to my boss.  In addition to all of that, instead of approaching me privately and asking me about what was said, she brought it up in front of others in a meeting.

After that incident, I sent my boss an email letting her know that I was defriending all co-workers and work connections on Facebook.  I dropped them all, including her family members who were friends of mine.  I did not want anything I said being used against me or misjudged again.  Things stayed that way for several months.  Now I have a new boss who is very Facebook savvy, and she is a friend of mine, as well as my coworkers.  We have a much different feel to our business now, we're a very close-knit group, and with this group, I don't worry so much about what I say.  But just as a word of careful about work connections and social media!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What I planned to say...

I had a great post planned for Monday...I planned to rework Manic Mommy Monday into my new idea, complete with a new button - Survival Tips for Working Moms.  I had an awesome post on balancing our many roles as a mom almost ready to go.

So what happened?  Life happened.  The post didn't get finished.  Instead, I lived the post.  We celebrated my husband's birthday this weekend.  We had our church's Fall Festival, which I always head up. I hung out with my family.  None of my blog plans worked out.

Priorities shifted this weekend.  That's often the case with moms, especially working moms.  It's all about balancing jobs and responsibilities, shifting priorities to take care of whichever role needs you the most at the moment, whether its family, home, mom, wife, or work. 

Last week, it was family and church activities - blogging got put on the back burner.  This week, college gets moved to the top as I get ready for a major test, and blogging gets moved up again.  It's an ever changing map of the things that matter most to me.  To others, it may not make sense.  But to me, in spite of the craziness, its a pretty amazing picture.
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