Two blogs, too much!

Hey all...

So I've been concentrating on my blog posts at Mandyland and have failed to cross-post or check in over here.  I just can't figure out a decent way to do so and I've been so busy that I obviously don't get a chance to copy and paste all the time.


If you want to see what's been going on with me, go to and bookmark it, follow me or some other sort of thing.

I'm still going to be using LJ, but I think I'm going to take a page from Katie's book and use it primarily for personal posts that I don't want the world to see.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween and I'll catch you over at Mandyland - and here when I've got a vent to rant.  lol

Oh!  And I now have twitter.  Which is weird.  But if you want to tweet around, I'm @in_mandyland.

And I WILL still be reading your posts.  I can't totally walk away from y'all.

BodyMedia FIT - Week 3

Tactile 60 inch Tape MeasureThree weeks using the BodyMedia FIT and first, let me say...

I lost one pound this week.

Cue ticker tape parade.

No.  Seriously.  There is zero sarcasm in this post.  I lose weight at an incredibly slooooooow rate.  A full pound in a week is cause for celebration.


Like I said.

Cue the ticker tape parade.

Thank you.

As for the BodyMedia FIT itself...I still love it.  I don't actually feel it on my arm any longer and have even slept through the night with it on.  (81% sleep efficiency, thank you very much.)  It is getting harder to stick with the meal logging, but I know how important that is.  I had two days last weekend that I didn't log my calorie intake.  Bad.  I know.  But I couldn't find a calorie count for a roasted veggie sandwich with goat cheese.  Or Indian Fry Bread.  (Oooohhh...I bet you're wondering where I went.  Details to follow.  Don't worry.)  Then too, we were out and about all weekend, making it hard for me to log in.

This is when it'd be seriously cool if I had an iPhone or a Crackberry or even something that does more than dial a number.  Something with quick Internet access so I could log my food on the go.  Chad told me pen and paper work just as well.

Spoil sport.

I'm still shocked at how few steps I take each day.  It's inspired me to walk more - even if it's just to pace around my house.  When I'm putting away dishes or cleaning house, I'm much more...aware...of the calories I'm burning.  By the way...scrubbing a tub?  Big calorie burner.  Huge.

So...bring on Week 4.  Big numbers, no whammy!

Thank you

Part of my vision board (or vision quest, as Chad calls it) regards friendship.  I've been thinking a lot about my friends and realized, I haven't said thank you in a long time.  And when I think of showing my appreciation to my friends, only one thing pops in my head...

The Golden Girls theme song.  What?! Don't tell me it doesn't pop into your head. 


Thank you for being a friend.
Traveled down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.
Thank you my dear friends who remember me as I was before kids, before marriage.  Thank you for going with me to see Spice World, for driving me home when I got drunk, for comforting me after a break-up, for making sure that I didn't go home with that strange (but gorgeous!) man.  I may have been mad at the time, but I thank you now.

I'm not ashamed to say
I hope it always will stay this way
My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow.

Thank you to my dear friends who witnessed me starting the Marriage Adventure.  Thank you for listening when I waxed poetic about how "perfect" Chad was, got lost in thought while I contemplated how "perfect" Chad was and then didn't say a single word when I realized he wasn't. 

And if you threw a party,
Invited everyone you knew.
You would see, the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say,
Thank you for being a friend.
Thank you to my dear friends who help me as I journey on the path of motherhood.  You save my sanity.  You bring me meals when I'm too exhausted to cook. You ease my fears. You give me hugs when I think I'm going to break apart.  You remind me daily that you're there for me, that a messy house will eventually be cleaned and every child is potty trained by the time they start Kindergarten.
With walking canes and hair of gray.
Have no fear, even though it's hard to hear,
I will stand real close and say,
Thank you for being a friend.

I've met you at work, reverse trick-or-treating, via mutual friends, in gardening group, on forums and through blogging.  You span the age range from 22 to 62.  You give me so very much:  wealth of knowledge, energy of youth, commiseration of someone going through exactly what I am.  I truly appreciate you and all you do - even though I may not always say...

Thank you for being a friend.

Salt of the Earth

"Hey Mom...what are you doing?"

"I had to stop on my way to work to get gas.  Hold on, Mandy.  There's a couple with the hood of their truck up and all of their stuff out.  I'm going to see if they're okay or if they need a ride into town."  Mom put the phone down and I could hear her muffled voice, "Hi! Do you guys need any help?"

Muffled voices replied.

"Okay!" Mom laughed.  "I was just checking."  She got back on the phone with me, "They're fine," she said.  "Just having breakfast."

"I'm so glad you're my mom."


"Because you and Dad are amazing.  You're always willing to help people out.  Not everyone is like that.  It makes you very special."

Mom laughed again, "Oh honey!  That's because we've been there!"

"For some reason, I think you'd do it even if you hadn't."

Do you know the saying, "he'd give him the shirt off his back"?  That's the perfect description of my parents.  No matter how little we had, my parents shared it with those who needed it.  Food pressed into the hands of those who were lacking.  Money, when they had it, given - not loaned - to friends and family.  Clothes and toys found their way to young mothers with little ones.

When I was nine, my dad came home with a tiny runt of a puppy.  On his way home, he saw a man throw a bag into the river.  Stopping his truck, he jumped in and pulled out a little black and white bundle who was soon named Rudy, the best dog a family could have.

I remember my mom, on her knees, helping Mrs. Box, our 80-year-old neighbor, weed her garden, chatting the whole time.  She gifted Mrs. Box with her time and, even more priceless, the gift of company.

There was the time a neighbor had an opossum under her house.  My dad wandered over and, for the price of a piece of cake, crawled under the house and came out with a 'possum in his hand, releasing the "critter" into the woods.

There are countless stories of kindness.  The funny thing is, they never once told us that this was something that we "need" to do.  They just...did it. When we'd question or express frustration, Mom would just say, "I've been there." And that would be the end of it.

They never care what a person looks like - he could be dressed in rags or wearing a suit. They never judge if a person truly "needed" what they gave.  They never drive past when they could help.  And even though there have been times - a lot of times - when their generosity of spirit was taken advantage of, they never let it make them bitter.  Friends are family and strangers are friends.

They do it without fanfare, without ever once saying, "Look what I did."

But the funny thing is...their daughters did look.  We saw, we witnessed and, as we got older, finally understood.  We understand that kindness and compassion are free.  We understand how important it is to not judge.  We understand that generosity isn't always writing a check.  Sometimes it's giving your time.  Sometimes it's giving a listening ear.  Sometimes it's giving a helping hand. 

I can only hope that my children will learn as much from me as I have from my parents. There are some awfully big shoes to fill.

Where's the Jam?

I think I've mentioned before that my family loves jam. Loves it to the extent that we go through two pints...a week.

I'm not sure if they enjoy it so much because it's full of homemade deliciousness or because there are so many jars sitting in our cupboard begging to be devoured. Whatever the reason, they eat it on bread, on waffles, on pancakes, on crackers. They would probably eat it in a box, wearing socks and even with a fox.

But there's a problem...

You see...I have an amazing group of friends who are as addicted to canning as I am. Even better, they're amazing cooks with a spirit of culinary adventure running through their veins. While I make strawberry and sometimes get buck wild with strawberry kiwi, they're making orange ginger marmalade, pineapple jam, blueberry lime jam.

And oh how delicious it all is!

I know how wonderful these sweet concoctions taste because, when they visit or when we go to an event, they bring me a jar. A jar full of such sweet yumminess that I do the only thing I can think to protect from the Jam Locusts...

I hide it.

I secret it away in odd corners of the fridge so I can smear it on fresh bread while drinking a cup of tea.

I stash it behind applesauce in the cupboards so I can bring it out on a bad day and enjoy a luscious spoonful on my That Kind of Day ice cream.

I hoard it, refusing to even hint that we might have something special in the cupboard. I don't want to share with my husband who, while touring the Waterford Crystal factory said, "I don't get it. It's just a bunch of overpriced glass."

I know. That made me gasp in outrage too.

So...what's the point of this post? Well, this morning, while toasting my English muffin, I looked on the door of the fridge to see what jam I might add to my morning fare. There, front and center, was my jar of Sarah's blueberry-raspberry-orange jam. Soft set to perfection, I was saving it to top an angel food cake.

And the jar was...

nearly empty.

Now, I'm a glass half full kinda gal, but really, I scraped and scraped and was able to salvage one measly teaspoon of jam from the jar.

I asked Chad about it and he said...

"Oh. Joseph and I had it for breakfast."

"The whole jar?!"

"It was really good."

"How did you eat it?"

"I ate it on Saltines and Joseph dipped his sausages in it."


"Well, he had a waffle, but didn't eat it. He said the sausage tasted good with the jam."

Gasp and gag! I need to find a new hiding spot.

Autmn Garden Update

Today's the first day of autumn.

I'm not quite ready yet.  And, considering half of our tomatoes have yet to bloom, I think it's safe to say that I'm not the only one.

Chad, the kids and I spent a couple hours last weekend ripping out dead, dying and "failure to thrive" plants.  We dumped containers of soil into the main garden bin.  We trimmed and we discussed the successes and failures of the year.  And I finally talked Chad into adding two raised beds to replace a portion of our yard that is currently occupied by dead or dying grass.

For the record, I had nothing whatsoever to do with said dead grass.  I would never stoop so low as to purposely kill a plant in order to get my way.  And shame on you for even thinking it!

Although, I did sort of accidentally forget to water that portion of the yard.

For two months.

Moving onward!

I found some amazingly simple-to-read and hopefully simple-to-build raised bed plans on one of my new fave blogs

Side note: This woman is amazing!  She builds, well, pretty much everything.  I have to say that I'm inspired to put on my Handy Mandy safety goggles and give some of her shelving plans a whirl.  And I've actually started contemplating building a bunk bed.

Chad's sceptical over the bunk bed idea.

I'm planning on spending what is shaping up to be a long winter, building, improving my soil, drawing plans, dreaming of acres of farmland, devouring seed catalogs, and, most importantly, convincing myself that this year, this year I will be able to grow my veggie plants from seeds. No more Boxes of Death for me!

I'll start my "winter" garden in another month or so - snow peas, lettuce, spinach, beets, turnips, onion, garlic.  I'm going to finally start my worm bin in a corner of the main garden where Maggie likes to take naps.  I also need to read up on and get my head around drip lines.  I don't want to have to worry about watering the garden by hand next year.

And I might start tackling a couple of craft projects as gifts for my gardening friends.  To quote Forrest, "That's all I'm going to say about that."  After all, they're some of my most loyal readers.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying a tiny trickle of tomatoes.  My paddy pans are slowing down, but still producing and my basil is, miracle of miracles, still alive.

Maybe next year I'll put up a little statue of St. Fiacre.

Although, St. Jude might be more appropriate.

BodyMedia FIT

I've spent one week wearing the BodyMedia FIT and I have to say...

First, I've lost three pounds!

Excuse me?  Did you hear what I just said?  Or rather, did you read what I just wrote?  Three pounds!  Where's my ticker tape parade, people?

Then I have to say, wearing it has become somewhat addicting.  I can't wait to enter my calories.  I can't wait to see how many I've burned, how many steps I've taken, how many minutes of activity I've had and how well I've been sleeping.  (49% efficiency, for those wondering.)

It's like I'm playing SIMS in real life.

Ohhh...Mandy's activity bar is kind of low.  Time to exercise.

Uh-oh.  Mandy's calorie count is a little high for this time of day.  She's getting lots of veggies for dinner.

Oh look!  Mandy just got a Personal Best trophy!  How exciting is that?

Today, I plugged it in to re-charge while I took a shower and then...left the house without it!  I'm so used to wearing it that I didn't notice until I was halfway to work and then...I almost turned around to go get it.  That's how addicted I am.  Chad talked some sense in to me and said that I really shouldn't be a half hour later for work.  But now...I'm feeling a little lost.  What am I going to do without my little reminders to exercise?  Oh.  Yeah.  I guess I could go old school and remind myself.

That's just not nearly as cool.  And when you have the phone that I do, without a data package, cool points are hard to come by.

It's also been very eye-opening.

If you'd asked me, a week ago, how many steps I took during the day, I'd have answered, "Oh...probably around 15,000 or maybe 15 million."  The truth is, even though I'm on my feet for a good chunk of the day, I'm having a hard time getting 8,000 steps in without *gasp* going to the gym.

I told Chad this is proof positive that I need a bigger house.  "But honey, a bigger house will help me lose weight!"

He told me to go take a walk.

So I did.


Ballet Slippers

The kids and I decided to take our houseguest on a little trip to the beach today.  Since we were in a bit of a rush to get out the door, Elizabeth decided not to cooperate.

"Baby!  Hold still and let Mommy get you dressed," I struggled to pull Elizabeth's shirt over her head.  Scrambling, I grabbed hold of a kicking leg and wiggled it into her pants.  I wondered how many calories "dressing a baby" burns as I blindly reached for Elizabeth's box of shoes.  I grabbed the first shoe I felt while calling out to Joseph over my shoulder.

"Get your shoes on!  We need to leave five minutes ago!"  I looked down to see that I'd placed a silver ballet slipper on Elizabeth's bare foot.  "Sorry, babe.  Let me grab your sneaks."  I pulled off the slipper and reached for her leather sneakers.  Pulling them on her feet, I set her on the floor to play while I went to check to see what was taking Joseph so long.

Elizabeth immediately started crying.

"Oh hon!  What's wrong?"  She looked up at me, her lower lip trembling in an upside down smile, her eyes watering.  "Baby.  I'll pick you up in a minute.  Just let me go get your brother and our beach bag."  She opened her mouth in a scream.  I picked her up (of course) and held her as she arched her back and let out a cry that echoed off her bedroom walls.

I shifted her to my hip and started to walk out of the room.  She kicked and squirmed to be put down.  I set her on the floor.  Still crying, she toddled on unsteady legs to her shoe box.  She reached in and pulled out her silver ballet slipper.  Plopping down on her diapered bum, she tried to put the shoe on her feet, crying the entire time.

"Do you want to wear the silver shoes?  They're not really beach shoes, baby."  She tried to push the slipper over her sneakers.  "Fine."  I pulled of the practical sneaks and slipped on the ballet shoes.  Instantly, her cries quieted and like the sun coming from behind a cloud, her face lit with a smile.

Apparently, at 13 months, Miss Elizabeth knows what she wants to wear.

Roasted Crockpot Chicken with Tarragon Vegetables and Wheatberries

Wow!  Long title, but I think I got all the elements in there...

Remember that 30 lb. container of wheatberries?  Well, we're slowly working our way through them.  (Glacially, more like.) Last night I decided to give them a chance to co-star with roast chicken.  A star was born.  They overcame the chicken and ended up taking center stage.  Introducing...

Roasted Crockpot Chicken with Tarragon Vegetables and Wheatberries

First there's the chicken...
1 chicken
1 c. water
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
4 carrots, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the chicken, removing the giblets. (Or have your husband do it.)  Place in your crockpot with the other ingredients.  Cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.

Then the wheatberries...
2 c. rinsed wheatberries
3 c. water
salt to taste
Boil the water in a medium saucepan.  (Known in our home as the mac and cheese pot.)  Add wheatberries, stir and simmer until tender.  Drain off excess water.  Sprinkle on salt to taste.

And finally, the amazingly delicious veggies...
1 potato, peeled and chopped (I used purple for fun.)
1 sweet medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3 c. chicken stock - from your crockpot chicken, preferably
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. Tarragon
pepper and garlic salt to taste

Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil until onions are clear.  Add tarragon, pepper and garlic salt. Toss. Add remaining vegetables and chicken stock one cup at a time, allowing it to reduce between cups.  What you're going for here, is a thicker "sauce" rather than broth.


Serve over the wheatberries, with chicken on the side or in a bowl with everything stacked.

Don't let the sheer number of ingredients intimidate you.  This is easier than it may seem.  I made it, after all.