Saturday, June 28, 2014

3:33 am

Can't sleep. Been thinking about too much which is weird because you can usually hear the wind rattling as it blows in my ears, through my empty head full of exactly zero important thoughts, and out through my mouth.

(That "wind" is actually the sound of me complaining, you say? Huh...) 

Anyway just laying here trying to fall asleep when a certain someone (not naming any names here) just rolled over, took a super huge deep breath, and then farted. Like a super long and super loud fart. 

Really? Did you just huff and puff and adjust for that fart even in your sleep?

Honestly, I wish that was me right now. Instead I get this: 

Bored to tears, tired but not tired, and awake for long enough that I'm getting really hungry. And super blown that Carolina will be waking up in about two hours or so. 

In other news, I love this:

Thank you, Kendra from Love the thought-provoking quote and the image to go with it. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stop F***ing Cussing!

Scott Avett literally has the most beautiful voice ever. Everything he sings I immediately have to agree with. This is one of those lyrics to which I found myself nodding I agreement...

"Ever since I learned how to curse,
I've been using those sorry old words.
But I'm talking to these children and I'm keeping it clean.
I don't need those words to say what I mean.
No, I don't need those words to say what I mean."

(From Tear Down the House by the Avett Brothers.)

Amen to that. 

You see, I have an addiction. To cursing. Never in my life did I envision a time when it would cease to be cool. Why did any of us ever start cursing? Because our parents did? Because it wasn't allowed? Because it made our friends laugh? Because it made us rebellious and edgy?

For me it was all of this and more. I think it came mostly from a yearning to be noticed. My friends in elementary school thought I was so grown-up. People were in awe of me and it felt good. That was all the reinforcement I needed, and then I got to go home and hear the endless and ingenious string of curse words and insults otherwise known as the normal speech of an Italian immigrant, aka my dad. (p.s. Love you Pappa!) (p.p.s. I only get to even mention this because I know he will never read this in a million years.)

Now, just because he used that language did not mean we were allowed to do the same. A phrase I remember hearing more than once was for us to "Stop f***ing cussing!" My holy and beautiful mother surely taught us by her example to guard our speech. But the allure and the habit of using bad language is hard to escape, especially if you don't even want to. I had absolutely no desire to stop cursing. I mean, the F-word is one of the most descriptive and versatile words in the English language. It can be used to express pain, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, and more, as well as being a stand-in adjective whenever other words fail you. You can cut someone down in seconds by adding the F-word to whatever snarky comment you're making, and make your joke 1000x more funny with just one or two strategically placed F-bombs. Why would anyone want to give up such a treasure?

Well... it's just this little bitty thing about kids, and their extremely functional ability to instantly memorize a curse word, even if you just say it once, under your breath, in the other room, while they're sleeping, in a foreign language, just spelling the letters, backwards... you get the point. KIDS COPY EVERYTHING YOU DO. I know I was told this before having kids but, my Lord, it is so true. Not only do I not need Lenny copying the swear words I use, I don't need him to see and absorb the attitude that comes with it. It's just a really bad habit for me and I am doing my best to stop. Over the past few years I have gotten better but it is a long and hard road.

Now, all you cursing-and-proud-of-it people out there, listen up. Pleeeeaaaaase stop cursing in front of me! You might as well be smoking a pipe in front of a crack head. Yep, that's me. The F-word crack head. All y'all are making it real hard on me. Especially certain people who I look to as an example on how to live my faith. I see other Catholics striving to grow happy and holy families, to develop a deep and personal relationship with God, and to make an impact on their community by reflecting Christ's love for all people. These people work hard to grow in their faith and to be a good example. They go to daily mass. They study the Bible. They pray constantly. They curse.

Hold up?!?

Yes, many of these people curse just in casual conversation. I know I am the last person on Earth to judge, and I am not condemning anyone. But when people I look up to are swearing like sailors, it's hard to convince myself that it's not OK. The Bible makes many many references to using profane language, one of which is from Colossians 3:8- "But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths." So ya know, its whatevs. I'm just saying, when you're with me, for my sake, just STOP F***ING CUSSING.

Thanks. :)

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Psalm 141:3

Friday, June 13, 2014

"Five Years, Stuck on my Eyes"

"Five years, what a surprise." Not really... It's just that spending all week thinking about our five-year anniversary coming up has got "Five Years" by David Bowie stuck in my head. And it's actually a really sad song so it in no way applies to our marriage. But it's also beautiful, and beauty is always relevant and reverent. And I find both in the line, "I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk!" What an evocative and unforgettable sentiment. When the world is ending and there are no words to express the horror and sadness, the narrator of the song expresses the soul's deepest yearning in these simple words. It's a little bit like being in love. The joy and emotion are too immense to express through words, and so we use the simple phrase, "I love you." In these three tiny words a cynic can find nothing but trite emptiness. But for those who have ever experienced love, it is not empty, but endlessly vast. It encompasses everything and it is everything. It is an instant in time and it is also eternity. When we love, we experience God.

In honor of our fifth anniversary I wrote a little letter to my husband that I'd like to share.


Today is our fifth wedding anniversary, and it marks ten years that we have been together. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, but most of the time I feel like we have been married forever. It's hard for me to remember a time in my life when you weren't by my side. Sometimes I take you for granted. I've gotten spoiled by the good life and it's hard to remember to be thankful and to show it. So now let me please thank you. Thank you for everything you do and all the hard work you put into this marriage to make it awesome.

Thank you for refusing to argue with me. It takes a strong man to put anger and frustration aside and just let it go. You know the quickest way to nip arguments in the bud and you always do, regardless of what the argument might be about. Especially when you think you're right. (Even though we both know you aren't. Just kidding!) You inspire me to be more forgiving, less angry, and more patient. When I grow up I want to be like you!

Thank you for being the spiritual leader of our family. Whenever I want to complain about something, you tell me to offer it up, and when I'm angry about what someone said or did, you always tell me they had the best intentions. You tell me to pretend the person who cut me off on the road was Jesus, even though you know that gets on my nerves because I just want to be a big fat complainer. You do all of this because you want what's best for my soul, and you're not afraid to drag me down the right path even when I'm running in the wrong direction.  

Thank you for working so hard. You seriously work so hard. Not only do you work long hours, but you do all your work with such integrity and honesty. You don't take short cuts to make things easier because you know that everything you do impacts people's lives and you want to make sure everything is fair. You are such a powerful example to our children, that we should take pride in our work, no matter what the task. 

Thank you for trusting me. You never question my choices. You trust that I am competent to care for our children, manage our finances, and look after our home. If I tell you that we don't have enough money to eat out, you don't ask me why not. If a week's worth of laundry is piled up, you don't mention it to me. You always assume I am doing the best I can for our family. Your complete confidence in me is such a treasure. You show by your own example the importance of letting loved ones, especially our children, make their own choices. 

Thank you for the love you give me. You always go out of your way to say that I look beautiful, even when we both know I look like a hot mess. Because even though you love to see me all dressed up, you really couldn't care less what I look like most of the time. You see the beauty that doesn't depend on high heels or make up. You love me and you never miss an opportunity to tell me. It takes a special man to look at a woman right after having a baby, to see the stomach flab and all the red and purple stretch marks and blood everywhere, face drained of blood, drenched in sweat with the most raunchy breath, to see this woman and think she is beautiful. And yet somehow you did, and still do. Thank you. 

There is so much more that I wish I could express to you, but love exists beyond words because love is of God and God is beyond all human comprehension. Thank you for your selfless love and friendship.

May I never, ever take you for granted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Eating on $8 a day

Last month our food budget was $6 a day and no one really believed we could do it. But we did! Now this month we are eating on $8 a day and to a lot of people this still seems impossible. Honestly it takes some prep and planning but once you figure it out it is easy. Since I generally shop for four days worth of food at a time, that would give me $32 for a shopping trip. Again, the shopping list is based off of only what I have to buy. I really don't have the patience or time to divide a bag of flour into eighths or a jar of jelly into sixteenths. Also, we have fresh herbs growing on our porch, which is why they aren't on the grocery list. Here is a meal plan that fits this budget:


Veggie mac'n'cheese

Cook two boxes of whole grain mac'n'cheese with a box of frozen spinach and a half a bag frozen broccoli. Mix in a few extra tablespoons of half and half and parmesan cheese with the butter and milk called for on the box, and top with seasoned breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated parmesan and bake until lightly browned.

Pizza and salad

Make pizza crust with 2 packets yeast dissolved in 1 1/4 cups warm water. Add in 2 cups white flour, 2 cups wheat flour, 1 TB honey, 3 TB oil and 2 tsp salt. Knead the dough for 10 minutes and put in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes. Roll out into a large jelly pan and top with marinara- one can crushed tomatoes simmered 30 minutes with a bay leaf, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, and with 1 TB honey mixed in. Add 2 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top and bake 15 minutes at 475 degrees. Chop up a head of iceberg and serve with homemade vinaigrette.

Veggie basil calzones

Same dough recipe from the pizza. It's easy to make double the first day and then let the extra rise in the fridge until you need it. Divide into 6 equal parts and roll into 9 inch circles. Fill with a mixture of half a bag frozen broccoli, half a bag frozen corn, half a zucchini chopped, one cup mozzarella cheese, a small container of ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, garlic and about 1/4 cup fresh basil. Brush with oil and bake 15 minutes at 475 degrees.

Zucchini fettuccine alfredo

Cook a box of whole grain fettuccine according to package and when there are 2 minutes left of cook time, add 1 1/2 zucchini, sliced into half-moons. Make the alfredo sauce by melting 1/4 cup butter, then adding 1 cup half and half, a teaspoon garlic, and 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese. Simmer for 5 minutes then take it off the heat and add a few tablespoons fresh chopped parsley. Toss the pasta and zucchini with the sauce.


All the dinner recipes make twice the amount we would eat, so Chris, Lenny, and I all get leftovers for the next day's lunch. We also have peanut butter and jelly, frozen peas and corn, steamed zucchini, strawberries, and salad. Carolina will eat whatever we eat.

Evidence of Lenny's lunch. 
He would happily eat all the strawberries and nothing else if I let him. 


Toast with butter and jelly or cereal with bananas. Adults get coffee (yay coffee!) and Lenny gets milk. Carolina will eat a whole banana by herself. This girl just started eating so much out of nowhere!

Grocery List:


3 zucchini $1.53
Strawberries $1.50
6 bananas $1.08
Iceberg lettuce $0.99


Grated parmesan $2.97
2 bags shredded mozzarella $3.76
2 sticks butter $1.68
Ricotta $1.97
Half and half $1.08
Half gallon milk $1.88

Dry goods-

2 boxes mac'n'cheese $1.24
Fettuccine $1.08
Flour $0.87
Yeast $0.85
Crushed tomatoes $0.69
Bread $1.88
Peanut Butter $2.00
Corn flakes $1.68


Broccoli $1.09
Corn $0.96
Spinach $0.75
Peas $0.96


So there ya go!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Carolina Rose

You are our little southern flower. We love you so much. I want you to remember this always.

Part of my decision to start blogging was to document your's and Lenny's lives so that we could always remember the good times we had. So here are some of the things I love about you. 

I love all your nick names. We call you Care-Care, Caro-Waro-lina (Lenny calls you that), Care Bear, Kiki, Karo Syrup (just me), Carrie Warrie (Lenny again), and Daddy calls you Little One Tooth. 

How could he not?

One more of that tooth.

I love how when you smile you wrinkle up your nose. It is the absolute best. 

I love how you look back at me to see if I am watching you when you think you're getting into something you shouldn't be touching. 

I love how much you have changed in just nine short months. When you were a tiny baby you loved to get your diaper changed. Now you think it is a game. As soon as I lay you down you roll over and crawl away, and the more frustrated I get the more you laugh. 

I love how when I walk up to you super slowly and stomp my feet and yell your name, you scream and smile and "run" away laughing. 

I love how you always speed crawl to the dishwasher no matter where you are or what you are doing whenever you hear it open. You are so eager to help put the silverware away. 

I love your fat chunkin legs and your wrist fat and your wispy little blonde hairs. 

I love how you growl and grunt whenever you want food, and growl extra loud to get a piece of whatever I am eating. Even salad. And when I ask if you want milk you growl and smile and scream all at the same time until you get it. 

I love that Lenny is your best friend. He tries so hard to make you smile and to entertain you. You always laugh the hardest at the things he does and you get so excited when you see him first thing in the morning or when he walks into the room. 

You stole our hearts from the first moment we knew I was pregnant. When we found out you were a girl I was so shocked. I unexpectedly busted out crying at the sonogram appointment because I was so happy. I didn't even know I wanted you so badly until I heard that you were a girl and Daddy said to me, "our Carolina Rose."

You have made us happier and happier every minute since then. We love you so much!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Eating on $6 a day

In order to pay some credit card bills this past month, we were stuck with a very limited grocery budget of only six dollars a day. Honestly, it has been hard. But 4 or 5 vegetarian meals a week later, we realized we could actually do it! 

Although, this is the current state of our fridge:

I typically shop for 4 days worth of groceries at a time. That gives me $24 for one shopping trip. So here is a sample menu for four days plus the grocery list and total price. The grocery list is based off of everything I actually have to buy, not staples that I already have. 


Day 1- rice, bean and cheese burritos

1 1/2 cups cooked rice, half a cup salsa, one cup corn, one can beans mixed and heated through with cheese and lettuce on top in flour tortillas. 

Day 2- veggie pot pie

Pie crust (I had one left from a two pack) filled with almost a whole bag of mixed veggies, can of cream of celery soup, and poultry seasoning all mixed together with a giant biscuit (made from bisquick and milk) on top and baked. 

Day 3- chili

Half a sautéed onion and just under 3/4 pound cooked ground turkey mixed with 2 cans beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a half cup salsa, salt, cumin and chili powder and simmered on the stove top. 

Day 4- tacos

Just under 3/4 lb cooked ground turkey mixed with a can of beans and taco seasoning, in corn shells topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese. 


For Chris (varied throughout the week, I don't give him the same thing every day)- dinner leftovers, banana, hard boiled eggs, carrots and ranch, chewy bars, applesauce, yogurt with dried fruit or honey, mixed veggies, PB&J, salad (aka lettuce with dressing), or oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts.

For Me: 
The rest of the leftovers if there are any. If not, PB&J, maybe a banana, and salad if there is any left. 

For Lenny:
PB&J, frozen veggies, banana, or hard boiled egg


For everybody:
Oatmeal or toast with butter or jelly, or if I am in a spirit of mortification, plain toast ;)
If Chris is feeling fancy he will make himself a breakfast taco with a flour tortilla and scrambled eggs. 
Milk (for Lenny) and Coffee (for the big people)


During the day, Carolina will usually just eat off of me or I will give her some banana/oatmeal/diced veggies. She doesn't eat much yet. 

Ok so here is my grocery list for all this. And by the way I got this app called grocery IQ which allows you to organize your grocery list according to the set up of the aisles in your own grocery store as well as enter the prices so you know how much it will cost. This has been so valuable to me! It helps me to know how much I will be spending in advance so I can weed out non-essentials as well as make sure I am buying the absolute cheapest possible version of whatever it is that I need. It has seriously helped me so much!

Grocery list:

6 bananas $1.08
Carrots $0.78
Onion $1.05
Iceberg lettuce $0.99
Roma tomato $0.19

Half and half $1.08
Shredded cheddar $1.88
Eggs $1.88

Dry goods-
Brown rice $0.64
4 cans beans $2.72
Cream of celery soup $0.68
Diced tomatoes $0.68
Taco shells $0.98
Bread $1.88
Oatmeal $0.97
Chewy bars $1.88

1.25 lb ground turkey $2.98
(I had a $0.50 off coupon)

Frozen food-
Corn $0.96
Mixed veggies $0.98

Total: $24.28

The yogurt, peanut butter, jelly, dried fruit, milk, coffee, butter, honey, nuts, etc. I do not go through every four days so I didn't buy them on this shopping trip but I did have to get other staples- the oatmeal, half and half, rice, chewy bars, cheese and eggs. I usually have to get three to six staples on each trip that will last me between a week to a couple of months depending on what it is. 

So there you have it. I definitely would not be able to stick with $6 a day for more than a few months since there are always the more expensive staples like olive oil and seasonings that always seem to all run out at the same time. This upcoming month our food budget will be $8 a day so we can actually eat a bit healthier. I usually try to have extra veggies in each lunch and dinner and haven't been able to buy that on this budget. We also will be able to get more meat. Yay for meat!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Peanut Butter and Strawberries?

A thousand times yes.

You need to immediately make yourself one of these bad boys:

A peanut butter, strawberry, and jelly sandwich. 

Just slice one or two strawberries and stick them in between the peanut butter and jelly of your choice. I went raspberry preserves all the way. 

I invented this sandwich out of desperation, since we have been on a very limited food budget this month of only $6 a day. Which has stuck me with the choice of starving until dinner or eating like 5 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Because really, eating only 1 makes you even hungrier  than you were before. 

I thought adding the strawberries would mix it up a bit and I was so right. It's like a whole new level of comfort food. 

You're welcome.