Posts Tagged ‘cars’

Seven weeks does not a new habit make, but I will say it is getting more natural to plan ahead and make sure I have everything I think I will need to tide us over from Saturday to Monday. (Did I really just use “tide” in a sentence? After Saturday night’s epic fail to ‘bama?  Abject apologies to all my Vol-fan friends and family.)

Anyway, we ate up a variety of leftovers for lunch and it was as varied as a restaurant menu, with choices including 3-cheese pasta with chicken and alfredo sauce and toasty warm French dip sandwiches. Hot, fast, delicious and it used up food that would probably wind up tossed out otherwise.

After lunch was out of the way, Mr. Official and I each headed to the old house – he to mow, I to install closet cubbies and rods. I coulda/shoulda spent part of Saturday on this task but I chose to play with the grandpuppy and bake instead.  I knew before I went that I’d stall out midway – there were some items I’d need to buy in order to finish up (which is why I had planned to work on it Saturday.  Procrastinators Anonymous meets tomorrow, right?) 

Background, in case you didn’t follow our house adventure.  It began almost a year when I got a wild hair to look at our old Oklahoma house, which turned into a wish list of features I’d like to have in a house.  In turn, that became a casual, then serious house hunt and eventual purchase and move.

My, how time flies. We moved out of our old house back in May, then somehow the summer flew by and we never quite got around to putting it on the market (an unusual situation, to be sure.)  The good news is, we have a family moving into it in a matter of days.  The bad news is, all the postponed to-do’s must turn into checked-off “dones” in the next few evenings.

It’s a manageable list, especially since I no longer need to cool my jets outside the swimming pool for a couple hours each evening. Yes, another vehicle has joined our caravan, so swimmer girl now has her own wheels to get her to and fro.




Dinner last night was a new recipe featuring sweet potatoes and black beans in some spicy chili.  (Recipe will be posted on Wednesday.  I know I’m featuring pumpkin recipes for the next several weeks, but sweet potatoes and pumpkins are nearly indistinguishable once they’re cooked right?)

And because I planned ahead, I am enjoying my coffee with cream this morning as I type this.  (I was running dangerously low on both by Saturday, so swimmer girl and her oldest brother took my credit card and headed to fill up “her” Highlander and snag a few foodstuffs from Publix.)

So are you tempted to join me in this little social experiment?  C’mon…it’s easier than it sounds. And honestly, doesn’t it sound pretty simple to just steer clear of the mall and restaurants for one day a week?  Give it a try – you might find, like I am, that it is fairly easy and certainly more economical to give your family (and yourself) a day of rest, with a combination of leftovers and freshly prepared food that hit the table faster than most sit-down places can deliver. 

Happy Monday,

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Shifting gears

I love a car with a stickshift.  I learned to drive with a stick in Colorado, which meant not only learning how to get a standard transmission in gear, but I had to be able to pop the clutch without a) killing the engine, and b) rolling too far when trying to get started on an incline.  Not easy for those of us with limited hand-eye-foot coordination.  But I did master the art and science of driving a stick.

My “baby” (a 1979 baby-blue Mustang) had four on the floor.  So did my next car, a white 4-door Oldsmobile: my first mom-mobile.  It was so small it was almost cute for hauling around the first baby (“Thing 1”), and then Thing 2, too.  My 315i Ultimate Driving Machine was a graduation gift from my husband, along with the thick payment book.  It was a blast to gear down and zip around curves and maneuver through traffic on my way to pick up Things 1 and 2 from the sitter’s.

But then I hit my third decade of life and had Things 1, 2 and 3 to convey and chauffeur, so it was time for a sensible car: a full-size sedan.  Yawn.  With an automatic transmission. Double yawn. Fast forward a decade.  My next vehicle was the next-most-sensible choice for a 21st century carpooling mom:  an SUV with a 3rd-row seat.  Also with automatic transmission, of course.  It’s totally boring, according to Thing 3, who is now a driver-in-training.

But this post isn’t really about cars.  I was coming up with the title “shifting gears” and that made me think how much fun it is to actually SHIFT the gears when you’re driving.  Unless you’re trying to juggle a drink, a phone and the steering wheel.  (Only moms can do this, or at least do it well.  Often we’re also reaching behind us to swat at mini-miscreants in the backseat.  Thank goodness for eyes in the back of our heads.)

But back to the subject at hand: shifting mental gears.  Namely, dinner routines and menu choices.  This time of year, I really have to shift my mental gears to adjust for my favorite football official’s schedule.  And swim practice will begin in a few weeks.  And “Thing 2” starts back to MTSU, so his schedule will become even more hectic with job and work.  It won’t be cool enough for crockpot meals like roasts and soups and stews, not for a few more months.

But I need dinner menu plans that are either extremely quick to put together, or hold well.  Or reheat well.  Or – ideally – all three.  Stay tuned:  I’ll be sharing some of my favorite weeknight meal ideas and recipes.  Because we could all use a few more tried-and-true recipes to rescue family dinnertime from the doldrums and over-scheduling, right?

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Impeccable timing

I bought my 2004 Toyota Highlander six years next month. Practically every day for those six years, this vehicle has been started at least twice a day – some days many more times than that.  Conservatively speaking, I have inserted the key, turned it over and had it roar to life without so much as a cough, hiccup, burp or sputter at least 4,000-5,000 times.

We took the girl and four of her closest friends to a weekend getaway in Pigeon Forge to celebrate her 15th birthday.  So all weekend we piled (stuffed is more like it) seven adult-sized people in my trusty little SUV and scooted around Pigeon Forge, up to the The Sinks (yes, pictures coming) to jump and swim; we visited restaurants, shopping, and everywhere else we decided we wanted to go.

This morning, we gathered all five teenagers up for one last excursion:  to one of the local pancake places for breakfast before heading home.  We packed in our bags and ourselves, and I put the key in the ignition and turned it, just like always.

And it went “click, click, click.”

Long story short, the battery had conked out.  But it couldn’t have happened at a better time – we still had access to the cabin, had a second car to go get a new battery, and I have an awesome husband who comes prepared with tools and the automotive skills to get the battery out, find an auto supply store, and replace the battery lickety split.  We still had time for the obligatory pancake breakfast (it’s a Smoky Mountain thing) and made it home by mid-afternoon.

I’m thankful it didn’t happen when we were all out and about (it would have been especially inconvenient if it had died while we were swimming yesterday afternoon); and I’m extra-thankful my husband was willing to risk his sanity to help me chaperon five teenage girls this weekend.  He’s my hero!

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Most weeks are actually fun cruising through, but occasionally I have a week I’m just really glad to put behind me. This one is shaping up to be one of those, so I’m truly grateful it’s Friday. (It IS Friday, isn’t it?)

Winter finally loosened its icy grip on the South, and we’re back to daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s. It seems almost balmy outside! I happily queued up with every other self-respecting ‘boro resident to wash my car yesterday, and was very thankful for the new Super Speed Wash that opened near us, complete with free, unlimited vacuuming. The car is shiny outside and relatively clean inside – hooray!

The final BHS swim meet for 2009/2010 was last night, and our frosh swimmer did awesome, especially in her 100-meter breast stroke event, giving the upperclassmen a real run for their money. I also got to catch up with some friends in Lebanon, whose daughters also swim…it’s hard to believe we all have kids in high school (and beyond) these days.

Tomorrow is our annual “reveal” meeting for the Highland Heights Secret Sisters (it was postponed last week due to the cold and snow that lingered.) Amy W. and Courtney D. have done an amazing job of getting members involved in this group, and it has grown and flourished under their super-organized and enthusiastic nurturing. I’m excited to find out who my secret sister has been; I know I have been blessed by her prayers and notes of encouragement throughout this past year. I’m also grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to get to know my “sister” better over this past year while thinking of her and praying for her and her sweet family.

I think I’ll make the hot chicken salad (mine is pretty similar, but I add a bit of cream cheese, and use potato chips instead of corn flakes) that I was planning to carry last week. For dinner I’ll try my hand at pan pizzas like these. My family loves pizza, and they say they like my homemade pizza, but I’m always looking for a better crust recipe. We’ll see how this one goes.

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