Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I Wore Sunday: The suck it in, suck it waaaaaaay in edition.

It's been a while since I played along with What I Wore Sunday.  As my husband snapped my picture he asked why.

Honestly, it's because I've just been wearing whatever fits...which isn't that much.  And nobody wants to see the same black tee shirt and white pants week after week...even if it is spiffed up with a different accessory.  (And since we are being honest, I usually don't even bother with an accessory.)

But this week, I wore an outfit that I bought at the beginning of spring hoping that as summer wore on, I might be able to wear in public.

Even though I'm still sporting 20 extra pounds, I decided to throw caution to the wind and a white shirt over the dress, hold in my stomach and call it good.

I even threw on an accessory.

And I felt like I looked pretty good at Mass today.

Photobombed by a cute 11-year-old!


Maxi tank dress: Target
Shirt (that thankfully covers lots of sins: bulging belly, back fat, bra straps): Target
Sandals: Kohls
Necklace: Charming Charlies

And there you have it folks!  Go check out what the other ladies were sporting today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

If you give a bored stay at home mom a giant basil bush...

The other day I posted this picture of our two basil plants on Instagram.

I would love to take credit for these two beauties but the garden is my husband's domain.  Occasionally I will water and pick things but only if he's out of town.

I had been eating a lot of this in an attempt to use up our tomatoes and this gorgeous basil...

...but while very yummy, this was going to leave a lot of beautiful pesto wasting away on the bush.

Several people told me that I should make pesto, and low and behold, guess what the Pioneer Woman posted today?


And guess who had free time today and all the ingredients?

That's right!  Me!

So I set out to make a batch of homemade pesto.  And in honor of Ree, I took pictures to document the process.

I collected a load of basil and trimmed the stalk ends. It filled up my colander to give you an idea of the amount of leaves I used.  Probably about 5 cups.

Then I tossed it into my food processor and pulsed it a bit until the leaves were broken down.  And then I added two cloves of garlic that I grated on my microplane just like PW did.  She said this allows you to have the garlic flavor but keeps you from getting big chunks of raw garlic in your mouth. Good tip!  I also added 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and several large pinches of kosher salt.

She only added 1/2 cup of cheese but she also used almonds.  (Most pesto has pine nuts or almonds or pecans but since Peter is allergic to all nuts, I omitted them and added extra cheese.  If I had had more parm, I might have even gone up to a cup but I used all I had).

Then I pulsed away until it was all combined and then I started to add olive oil.  I did as PW instructed and started  processing the basil while slowly drizzling in a 1/2 cup of olive oil.  After it was combined, it looked like this....

It was still a little chunk so I continued to add another 1/4 cup of olive oil until it looked like this....


PW added another 1/2 cup but I've got a feeling it's because of the almonds.  Since I didn't have any nuts, I didn't need the extra oil.  You'll just need to process and add oil and check for consistency.  It's better to have to keep adding that to get too much in there.

This stuff tasted so good!

And then, because I was hungry from all my hard work (ha!),  I had a nice little snack...

I can not even begin to tell you how good this tasted with fresh pesto.  It was wonderful!

And now I'm heading to the store to get more EVOO and more Parmesan cheese and some freezer containers so I can make mass quantities of this stuff!

Beth's Nut Free Pesto


5 cups of basil leaves, rinsed with the steam trimmed
2 cloves garlic, grated with a microplane
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated (not the kind in the green container)
3/4 cup of olive oil
kosher salt, several pinches


Place basil in food processer and process until leaves are chopped.
Add garlic, cheese and salt and process until combined.
Slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of olive oil while processing.
Check consistency of pesto.  If it's too thick continue to slowly add more olive oil until it's nice and smooth.


Monday, August 11, 2014

She bangs.

There's only two weeks left until my kids head back to school.  But we've still got lots going on...

A swim team party, guitar lessons, Boy Scouts, basketball camp for both kids, sleepovers for both kids, doctor appointment for Sarah, eye doctor appointments for both kids, tubing trip for Peter, and the list goes on...

While we are busy packing it all in and trying to enjoy the last two weeks of freedom before the homework grind begins,I'm in the midst of a minor battle with Sarah.

She has been asking begging me for bangs.

I have told her several of my bang horror stories (one involving Great Clips so, enough said) and trying to appropriately describe the agony of growing out your bangs when you realize that your hair isn't right for bangs and quite honestly, neither is your face.

I finally ended the discussion last night by telling her she could get bangs when she's 12.  I'm hoping that she comes to her senses in two years and realizes that bangs are indeed, not the way to go. (This worked when she was 8 and was begging for pierced ears.  I told her she could pierce them when she was 10.  And true to my word, in June, I asked her if she wanted pierced ears for her birthday.  Her response, "No.  I don't want them any more."  So, fingers crossed for the same results in two years.)

In the meantime, lest you all think I'm an evil mother for not giving in to her bang desires, I'm going to present you with some photographic evidence.

Sarah's very first hair cut at the age of 14 months involved bangs.  And only because she refused with all her might to keep any sort of hair clip in her hair.  Before said haircut...

Please note the hair hanging in her eyes.  Please also note how thin and young I looked a mere 9 years ago.

And the results of said hair cut...

What a cute little boy.

And I think it must have been at this point that I realized my mistake. (I think Sarah realized it as well.)  And apparently I am trying to cast a spell on the bangs to make them immediately grow out.

The spell did not work because here is my darling little basketball head three months and several more trims later...

 Blissfully unaware that the bangs make her head look ginormous!

Or maybe not.   "Mommy, why you make my hair look like dis?"

Peter, on the other hand, seems perfectly happy with his super short hair.

Or perhaps he's just laughing at his sister's hair?

Anyway, I'm sticking to my guns.  She can have bangs when she's 12 if she still wants them.  And in the meantime, she's been checking out all sorts of Back-To-School Hairstyle tutorials on YouTube.

And I've been sure to point out to her that none of them involve bangs!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Prayers for Courtney

Today I'm asking for prayers for Courtney Lenaburg.

If you don't follow Mary's blog, you should. Mary is Courtney's mom and Courtney suffers from cerebral palsy and has grand mal seizures almost daily. Mary's blog details the daily challenges of being a caregiver for an adult child with many, many needs.

At a recent doctor's visit, the doctor told Mary that Courtney had only 1 to 3 years to live due to the effects these daily seizures have on her body.  Courtney has been having seizures since she was only a few weeks old.

Courtney will be celebrating her 22nd birthday on August 18th and they will be having a small gathering on the 16th.  Mary asked in an early post for any of her readers with kids to do a drawing in celebration of Courtney and send it to her to hang up as decoration.

I consider Mary a friend even though I've never met her in real life so I knew that we would be sending something.  Sarah has finished her masterpiece and we will be getting it in the mail in the next day or so.

When I got on Facebook this morning, I read that Courtney started having seizures around 10:00 last night and in less than two hours suffered from 5 of them.  By the time she was admitted to the hospital and hooked up to the drugs they use to control the seizures, she had 10 seizures.

For the first time (and they've had many hospital visits in the last 22 years), Mary and her husband signed a DNR.  I know how hard that was for us with  Rebecca and I can only imagine the struggle they had signing that last night.

As of now, Courtney has stabalized and they are waiting for the doctors to come on their morning rounds. 

Please pray for healing for Courtney and for peace and comfort for her family. 

And if you get the chance, please read Mary's Story from her blog.  I read this right before I had Rebecca and it brought me such peace and comfort knowing that no matter what happened with my girl, I could and would care for her as long as God let me. 

And that's exactly what Mary is doing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

We did all the things!

Did I really go out of town and leave you with a post about a tomato sandwich on a hamburger bun and a collage of my disappearing sandwich?

I guess I did!

And now, ten days later, I guess it's time to remedy that and give you what you've all been waiting for.....

vacation photos!

Wait?  You all weren't waiting for that?  Well, sorry, but that's all I've got for you today.

We did a lot on our annual trip to Cape Cod.  In fact, we did all the things!

We went to the Maritime Museum and on our way saw a train bridge being lowered and watched a train cross...
 And while we were at the museum we saw the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship.
And tried to avoid full body photos!  
 And we biked to the beach...
 And played in the water....

 And then we hopped a ferry in Hyannis and...
 sailed to Nantucket...

 And spent the day and then sailed home...

And we went to a Red Sox game...
(pretend my eyes are totally open please)

And we went to the Barnstable County Fair...

where Dan an Peter rode the higher faster rides....

 and Sarah and I stuck to the slower rides....this is our view from the ferris wheel...
 And the kids even got a camel ride...

And we ate a lot of really good ice cream.  (Massachusetts, Cape Cod in particulary, has a wealth of really, really good local home made ice cream shops.)

And in our normal Cotell style, we even toured an old grave yard.  Peter was excited to find a tombstone that dated to1698.  That's pretty old, y'all!

And we even managed to swing by the Captain Bangs Hallett House for our annual picture under the 200 year old weeping beech tree...

 And that pretty much sums up our vacation.

I was very thankful that Dan's work schedule changed so that we were able to go on our vacation after all.  He's back at work and he's in meetings all week.  But the meetings are here in North Carolina and NOT in the United Arab Emirates and for that, I am also very thankful.

And I'm not even going to show you a picture of the tomato sandwich I was eating while I typed up this post!

Friday, July 25, 2014

You say tomato, I say I want a sandwich...

I was in quite the predicament at lunch today.  I had lots and lots of gorgeous tomatoes fresh from my garden.  And those babies were calling my name.

But w were out of white bread. And everyone knows you can't have a tomato sandwich without white bread.

So I had to improvise.

We had tortillas so I thought I could make a tomato wrap.  But that sounded all kinds of wrong.

We had lettuce so I though I could use the lettuce as bread and make a sort of PF Chang's type lettuce wrap.  But that sounded all kinds of wrong as well.

And then I spied the....

hamburger buns!

Perfect, I thought!

Hamburger buns are white-breadish...more white-breadish than tortillas and definitely more white-breadish than no bread at all...I'm looking at you lettuce leaves!

Turns out the hamburger bun is the perfect size and shape for a tomato sandwich. There was only one slight problem.  Because there's a bit more bread in a bun, you need to use a lot more mayo than with a regular slice of bread.  Never has using more mayo been an issue for me so I charged on ahead with an extra dollop of the white stuff and y'all - I just had one delicious tomato...burger?!

Isn't she a thing of beauty?

Going, going, going, GONE!
And if you're wondering if I licked that little blob of tomato and mayo off the plate, I'll never tell!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Midweek Miscellany

Here's a few highlights from the last week.

1.  The kids had their final swim meet this weekend.  It was the big county meet and even though our whole team worked hard, we fell about 53 points short of winning.  We were disappointed but I feel certain that we'll get 'em next year!  We've won the county championship for the last four years, and we went undefeated this season (as well as the last four) so I have no doubt we'll put up a good fight next year.

I took no pictures from the county meet because I just wanted to enjoy watching my kids swim.  Sometimes I think we get so caught up in pictures that we just forget to sit back and watch and enjoy.

2.  I noticed that my bra strap was showing the other day and I said to Sarah, "Sarah, if you ever see my bra strap showing, please let me know."

"Why?" she questioned.

"Well, because it's tacky that's why.  And nobody needs to see my bra strap."

"Oh.  I thought it looked pretty!" 

In her defense, the bra was purple but still.  So very thankful for school uniforms!

3.  My garden is going bananas with the cucumbers. I've canned closed to 40 jars of pickles which is plenty to get us through the next year.  I've given them away, I've made refrigerator pickles and I even ate a cucumber for breakfast a couple of days ago.  Now, granted, I did dip them in my jalapeno cilantro dip but still....cucumbers for breakfast?!

Yesterday I made another batch of cucumber salad and I whipped up some tzatziki to go with some spicy chicken we had for dinner.  Just trying to get creative with the cucs!

Last year I even made a cold cucumber soup and the verdict from the family?  GROSS!  So, I won't even be wasting my time with that this year.  If anyone has any other recipes for cucumbers, let me know!

4.  Sarah has finished with her short dance camp.  I think she enjoyed it but she hasn't mentioned dance class for the school year very much since taking the class.  I hope it's because she realizes it's not something that she really wants to do.  Because it's not really something that I'm interested in pursuing for her.  There are only so many hours in the week and dance class is something I think she could do without.  But, I held up my end of the bargain!

5.  Dan did not have to go to Dubai after all this week, so our vacation is going to happen as scheduled.  And, when we get back, the people from Dubai will be coming here for meetings so it's like the best outcome of all has happened!   Dan will probably have to spend a lot of our vacation time working which stinks, BUT, at least we will get a vacation this year AND he doesn't have to travel half way around the world.  I love it when God works things out because I know I put it a lot of prayer time about this and so did a certain mother/grandmother/mother-in-law!

6.  I've read three books so far this summer: Favorite Wife, The Red Tent, and Room.  And while I really enjoyed all three of them and would recommend them to anyone looking for a good book, my favorite was The Red Tent.  I highly enjoyed that one so if you haven't already read it, get to it!

That's enough miscellaneous from now!  Time to get some new tires for the car and get an oil change.  We have a road trip coming up!

Monday, July 21, 2014

I briefly thought that God was playing a bit of a joke on me.

We have two cats.  And not because we are cat people but more or less because we are kind.  (Or at least because our kids have a soft spot for fur.)

They both just showed up.  (AKA - someone drove by our house, slowed down, opened their car door, and tossed them out.)

Gray Gray arrived in October of 2009.  And yes, I realize he's not gray so much as black and brown but a cute little 5-year-old named Sarah named the cat so Gray Gray it was!  (And we love to give her a hard time about that now.)

Kitten, or Little Bit, who we originally named Moxie, showed up in July of 2010.  The name Moxie never stuck for some reason and it just became Kitten.  (Who obviously 4 years later is no kitten.)

The cats are cats.  They sleep.  They eat. And that's pretty much it.  The kids were excited when we got the cats but now all they do is tolerate them. 

Peter and Sarah have been working me hard this year for a dog and for the first time, I've been willing to consider it.  But it has to be the right dog.

The dog has to meet the following criteria:
  • It must not be a puppy.
  • It must already be house and crate trained.
  • It must be medium sized - not too big, not too little.
  • It must be sweet and love kids (even if these kids will eventually abandon/ignore it, because I know that's what's going to happen.)
  • It must not be a barker.  (I'm aware that all dogs bark but I do not want a dog that barks all the time and any little thing. Those dogs drive me crazy.
  • It must be free or practically free.
I'm sure you are thinking that I'm crazy.  How the heck am I going to find a dog like this.

I don't think it will be too hard since my bestie Jennifer owns a vet clinic.  People are always coming by with dogs they are trying to find good homes for and she always posts them on Facebook.  And typically, Jennifer already knows these dogs because they are clients at the clinic.

So I've told the kids that if the right dog comes along (and I've warned them that I'm not actively searching for this dog, this dog will need to "find" us in a sense), I will consider getting it.

In the meantime, I've done a little praying about finding the right dog...and guess what appeared at our door last night?

I told Dan that perhaps God was a little bit confused.  Or perhaps he has a warped sense of humor because the last thing I want is another cat. 

But never fear.  It wasn't a mistake or a joke - just a kitty that wandered away from our next door neighbor's house.  Our doorbell rang this morning and the two neighbor boys were wondering if we had seen their new kitten.

So Patrick (as Sarah had named him) is back with his rightful owners. And we are now back to being a two cat, one fish, no dog household and all is well for the time being.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Finding peace in a refrigerator.

Thanks for all the comments and emails after I wrote this on Monday.   Somehow, just writing that down and putting it out there made me feel a little better. 

And then?  Well, later in the day I saw something that Mary  posted on Facebook and Instagram.

Let me backtrack for a moment. If you don't read Mary's blog, you should. Mary is a huge inspiration to me.  In fact, before she was born, I was certain that Rebecca was going to live but that I would be spending the rest of my days caring for her and I was going to use Mary as my example of a godly woman caring for a disabled child.

Mary has a 21-year-old daughter, Courtney, who was born with cerebral palsy and has a seizure disorder.   Mary's blog details the family's struggles and joys caring for Courtney and detail what it is like to be a caregiver for an adult child.

Mary writes from her heart and leaves nothing hidden.  She writes about the pain, the hardships, the worry, the fear that come from having a special needs child.  But she also writes about the love, the joy, the smiles, God's provision.

They have a special van to drive Courtney to her various physical therapy and occupational therapy appointments and this van breaks down a lot.  They have large medical bills because Courtney has to go into the hospital frequently.  In addition to her regular feedings, they are now feeding her through a G-tube to help her gain weight.  The seizures take a lot of calories and she only weighs 90 pounds.  She needs to be closer to 100.

Their second refrigerator, which they use to store all of Courtney's G-tube feeding supplies and special foods, recently broke down.  And with no money available to buy another one, Mary did what Mary does best.  She prayed for God's provision.

And then she posted this on Facebook:

Fourteen years ago our lives were forever changed after we took Miss Courtney to Lourdes, France on a healing pilgrimage with the Knight and Dames of Malta, Federal Assoc. 

Our Lady moved us deeply and profoundly affected the next steps we took in our faith journey, as a couple and as parents. Courtney received her First Communion there in a dress the Dames provided her. We have been in and out of touch over the years with other pilgrims as well as the Dames and Knights from that trip. 

Today we were once again floored by the generosity and kindness of those individuals who took such good care of us all those years ago. 

It is no coincidence that on the Heaven Homecoming Day of St. Nicholas Borobia  this new refrigerator/freezer arrived to help provide extra storage for Miss Courtney's special meals which have to be made with tons of fresh ingredients. 

It is no coincidence that when praying for this particular provision, we prayed for the intercession of St. Nicholas Borobia and St. Rebecca Irene  and in less than four weeks, it was provided through the benevolence of those who care for the sick. 

Tears stream, my heart bursts with gratitude and I am humbly once more raising my hands in praise to the One who is forever faithful. To the Knights and Dames of Malta, Federal Assoc, my spoken thanks seem insignificant but we are so grateful for your gift. 

St. Nicholas and St. Rebecca Irene, please continue to pray for us! Thank you for your gracious intercession.

Reading this made my heart sing on a day that I had been so down.

I was happy to hear that Mary got a new refrigerator for Courtney.  I was happy to hear that God had once again provided for them.  But most of all, I was happy to hear that Rebecca had played a small part in it. 

Before I converted to Catholicism, I had a lot of misconceptions about "those crazy Catholics".  One of them being that they prayed to people other than God.

But what I have since learned is that they were never praying to people other than God, they were just asking the saints (people who have passed away and are now in heaven) to pray for them. 

Just as you would think nothing of asking your friends on earth to pray for you, Catholics don't think twice about asking people who have already made it to the feet of Jesus to pray for them.

Rebecca was sinless so there is no doubt in my heart and in my mind that the minute she passed away, she was immediately transported in to heaven.  There are no worries of hell or purgatory for my sweet one.  She is already where we all long to be.

I love that Mary asked Rebecca to pray for her.  And I love that God heard all the prayers and answered them.

Most of all, I love that this happened on a day that I really needed to hear, to feel, to see God.