Monday, January 31, 2011

Last Chance for Gorgeous Stuff (for my crafty readers)

Today's the last day you can place an order from the Close to My Heart January "Inspirations" mini catalog. (I have a short grace period at the beginning of February, so if you are reading this after the 31st, please email me right away and I'll see if I can sneak your order in.)

This mini catalog is one of my favorite releases CTMH has ever had. The stamps and papers are GORGEOUS.  You can view the catalog here: (Click "View January Inspirations" in the bottom right.)  For starters, look at these gorgeous papers from the Wings collection:

Now here's the deal.  If you buy the Wings Workshop on the Go Kit (for $30), it opens up to you the possibility of getting crazy savings on the rest of the things in the mini catalog. Stamp sets are as low as $5.  The GORGEOUS, new, Bohemian Alphabet (an E-size set, normally $35, see the "free as a bird" letters below) would only cost $25.  But here's the best part.  You know how you normally need to spend $100 to get the Stamp of the Month for free?  If you buy the Wings Workshop on the Go Kit, plus 4 other different items from the mini catalog, you can get the stamp of the month set free.

This means for as low as $50 or so ($30 for the workshop kit plus 4 other items at $5 a piece), you get the free stamp set.  LOVE THAT.  It also helps that the Stamp of the Month is gorgeous.  I got it for the butterfly alone, and LOVE having the bird and the shoe and everything else to go with it.  You can see the stamps at (Click on "Stamp of the Month, Find Your Style" in the upper right corner.)

Read the Inspirations Brochure carefully to make sure you don't miss out on any great deals.  Please note, if you buy the Workshop kit, it includes the black accents collection, so you don't need to buy that separately.  If you want to follow the workshop instructions exactly, you will also want to make sure you own the Vineyard Berry Reinker (Z2257, $4.25) and the Create a Shade Pearl Paint (Z1039, $2.95), neither of which are included in the kit.  You can easily add these on to your order.  You'll be making your own shimmer mist spray in the new and awesome spray pen (included in the workshop kit).  

Come to think of it, you also need the Vineyard Berry Ink Pad (Z2157, $5.25) and the Black Ink Pad (Z2105, $5.25), but CTMH addicts like you probably already have those.

Starting tomorrow, CTMH's new 6-month catalog goes live.  If you would like one, please email me and I would be happy to send you one.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Everything All At Once, in a crappy way

Many of you will recall that "Everything All At Once" is the Gutsy Family motto. Given my husband's career and the general way that life can unfold in a rather, um, chaotic manner at times, we find ourselves embracing times of Everything All At Once every few years or so. (Take 2006, for instance, when I quit my job, had a baby, sold my car, converted our home to a rental, and moved to Europe all in about the space of 8 weeks.)

Well, today was a microcosmic Everything All At Once kind of day. No, no one is quitting or moving or having a baby any time soon. But in the course of about 2 hours this evening my car died, my 4 year old vomited quite thoroughly while at church, and the dogs had a double diarrhea accident in our dining room.  On the good rug. Oh yes, and because I was a little distracted by all this, I poured a hot pot of homemade marinara sauce into a hot frying pan of homemade meatballs without removing the frying pan from the burner.  This resulted in boiling hot tomato sauce splattering and spewing all over the stove, cabinets, floor, me, microwave, counters, and my precious laptop. I recovered from that and then proceeded to burn the sauce anyway.

The kids are now in bed and the carpets have been cleaned. (Thanks, honey.) The car will be dealt with in the morning.

I'm watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece and calling it a night.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Madelyn led the prayers tonight at bedtime, spontaneously.  She said:

Dear God,
Tanks for my flam-lee.
Tanks for my sippy.
Tanks for my dinn-or.
Uh. (Pauses. Thinks. Then:) Papa? You help here?

And that just about sums it all up.


Do you see that handsome man up there snuggling with my children? That is my big brother, Jim.

He has always been a wonderful big brother to me. (Actually, I am blessed with two of those.) He has literally picked me up off the floor and held me in his arms. On several occasions. Once was due to heartbreak long ago, and a more recent time was due to vestibular neuritis. (He shouldered that burden--literally--with my husband.) But I digress. The point is, my brother has always been there for me.

So when Jim came to visit this weekend, in the midst of managing his own difficult time, I was amazed to see how resilient, how strong, how there he STILL is. I am not even sure how to describe this. Have you ever known someone who, even in the midst of personal challenge, makes people admire him for his incredible attitude? That's it. It's attitude.

So much of facing what life throws at us is attitude. Sometimes, if you are feeling overwhelmed, you just have to get out of the fray and let your attitude adjust itself. Once your attitude is set, well then back into the fray you go, and better prepared to boot. This is something I really need to practice: the stepping back, the settling into a healthier attitude, and then the jumping in.

I first heard the following quotation in my Yesterday + Today class from my instructor Ali. I think she said her mom had this framed on the wall in their bathroom when she was growing up. I have done the same for myself. I've been reading it every morning and it has really been helping me set my attitude and intentions for the day.

Here's to you, big brother!

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. 
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.
It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. 
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you... We are in charge of our attitudes.
Charles Swindoll (b. 1934)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Urgent Matter Easily Addressed

Madelyn is calling "Mommy! Mommy!" from her crib to signal to me that naptime is over. I head into the girls' room to get her out of the crib.  She says:

Maddie: Oh. Mommy. Where's Jillson. I willy needa talk to her.
Me: You need to talk to Jillson?
Maddie: Yes. I willy needa talk to her.
Me: Hold on. (While I'm changing Maddie's diaper, Jillson walks in. How convenient.)
Maddie: Oh. Jillson. I willy needa talk to you.
Jillson: Okay. What is it?
Maddie: You have 'nack yet?
Jillson: No, I was waiting for you to have snack.
Maddie, giggling: Ank-oo, Jillson.  Ank-oo fer waiting me fer 'nack.

They are now having snack. Together. Happily.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I've been spending some time with some older photos, and thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.

These are my paternal grandparents, the infamous Nana and Primus. I think they are on Heron Island in this picture, because of the shingles and the vaguely Maine-y reflection in the window. I wonder if they dressed that nicely every day in the 1940s. I think they probably did. People don't do that anymore, especially at summer cottages.

These are my other grandparents; my mom's adorable family. I love my uncle's wide shirt collar spread out over his jacket, and I love how friendly my grandfather looks here. I really wish I had known him.

Classic early 80s cheese. Please note that I am clutching "Pinky," a blanket my Nana (first photo) gave me. I LOVED that thing. I still have it. And it still smells like home. Please note the similarity between my haircut and my mom's when she was little (above). See those stockings peeking out behind my brothers' shoulders?  They live on!  You can see mine below.  

My Nana knit them for all of her grandchildren, and my mom has dutifully knit new ones for all the additions to the family. I love that. Although we are obscuring them with our shoulders, please know that all 4 Gutsies have the same knitted stocking. (The dogs have the doggie ones, of course.)
And that concludes this day's trip down memory lane. 

It's time to make a plan for the day. 

We are snowed in (though the Gutsy Dad must still go to work), the kids have already been out for round one of snow play during the morning driveway shovelling. Now they are enjoying round one of hot chocolate with the Gutsy Dad. 

I've brushed off our bird-feeding area on the back deck and the little finches and juncos are so happy. I am still in pajamas. I am missing my step aerobics class at the gym, and I am trying to be okay with it.  

I feel like I should be baking bread and making soup.  Hmmmm....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Haircut

Jillson's been begging me for a haircut for weeks, and while I prefer her with longer hair, I caved.  After our trip to the salon (i.e. 5 minutes in the bathroom) she shook her head from side to side and said "Ah! Thanks, Mom! Now I feel much more Jillsonish."  

I thought the orange paper strip was rather Jillsonish, too.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Last of the 2010 Top Tens

Can you tell I like to recap before starting afresh? And that I like to make lists? Oh yeah, baby. I promise this is the end of the lists for a while.
Top 10 Things Trending at the Gutsies Right Now:
1. USAA online bill pay
2. Family dogwalks
3. Barbecue sauce (currently working on two from Oklahoma Joes, two from All Slabbed Up, plus the inimitable Salt Lick)
4. Listening to Paperclipping Roundtable and Foolish Adventure podcasts
5. Groupon
6. MeYou Health daily challenges
7. Lemi-Shine (There’s a longer story here, but you'll have to wait.)
9. Count-down calendars (Meme and Kiki are coming back in only umptynine more days!)
10. One Little Word for 2011 (Mine is motivate, but you’ll hear much more about this later.)
Top 10 Things I Would Love to Have Right Now:
1. an iPhone (Santa owes me one, but says I have to wait to see where we are moving)
2. a gym-quality step aerobics step (so I can choreograph fictional classes at home)
3. more dot-runner adhesive
4. my Spiriva refill (just haven't picked it up yet)
5. a new sports bra (it's time)
6. a waterproof wipeboard for the shower (best ideas occur there)
7. Pitt Artist pens in black
8. ravioli salad from the Bayrisch-Irish
9. hardwood floors
10. an agent
Top 10 Things I Am Grateful to Have Right Now:
1. a warm cup of coffee
2. cute pajamas
3. a smokin' hot laptop
4. a smokin' hot husband
5. two pretty amazing kids
6. an optimistic attitude
7. my trusty camera
8. enough scrapping supplies & the corresponding imagination to last a millennium
9. memories of a year without drama or stress or RLBTs
10. a year full of love and change and everyday bliss to look forward to
Here's to 2011, y'all!
The GM

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top 10 Songs from 2010

Here are my top ten favorite downloads from 2010. (It was even harder to narrow this list down than it was to narrow down the recipe list. It helps that three of my favorites are already documented here. I also doubled up two songs per artist in two cases because I just couldn't choose.) So now, without further ado, I present, for your listening pleasure:

The Gutsy Mom's Top 10 Favorite Songs Downloaded in 2010:
1. The Luckiest by Ben Folds. I love Ben Folds because he says the "oh" vowel like a true southern boy and he is quirky. But I bet he gets tired of being called quirky, just as I grew tired of being called chipper by every teacher I had from kindergarten through 8th grade. Anyway, this song is neither quirky nor chipper. Just a man, his voice, and his piano. Ooh la la.

2. Barcelona & One Cup of Coffee by Emily Dunbar. The entire album is delightful, notably her song about John Cusack, but I especially love the sentiments expressed in these two songs.

3. Forget You by Cee Lo Green. I will admit that I discovered this song thanks to Glee, and I love the Gwyneth version of it which I'm sure you can find on iTunes. I also love the explicit version, in which Forget is replaced with another F word. (Sad, but true. I'm a geeky rebel on the inside. But it's just so much fun to sing along with the naughty words--while the kids are in another room or out of the house altogether, of course.)

4. Ready by Cheri Magill. A great song to put on your "I am determined to get in shape this year" mix.

5. Okay It's Alright With Me and Rock & Roll by Eric Hutchinson. Another young man with a voice and a piano. He just sounds like a decent guy. If you know him to be otherwise, please don't tell me.

6. She Moves in Her Own Way by the Kooks. Discovered this one thanks to a class I took last February called "Life Tunes." Thanks, Kolette!

7. Hey, Soul Sister by Train. I know, I know. Everyone else in the world is sick of this song by now, but not me! I heard it for the first time in the summer on Pandora, immediately added it to my workout mix, and have been bopping to it ever since. I also enjoyed Darren Criss's performance on Glee and Street Corner Symphony's performance on The Sing Off. (See, I told you everyone else would be sick of it.)

8. Love by Matt White. Some of the lyrics are confusing to me (from an interpretation standpoint, not a diction standpoint), and I am pretty sure this is now being used in a TV commercial of some kind, but I simply adore this song.

9. Billionaire by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars. If I could just find someone to do the spoken parts, I could seriously rock this at the High Noon Saloon Karaoke night next month.  (I hope I linked to the clean version. If sensitive ears are nearby, google the Glee version instead.)

10. Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I will now confess that I first heard/saw this song performed by Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze on American Idol, but I was entranced from the very first measure. I love this version by the people who actually wrote the song as well as Crystal and Lee's version.

I can't wait to start my 2011 playlist.  I think I discovered a few new sing-alongs tonight on Pandora while cooking dinner.  Yippee!

Top Ten Favorite Recipe Finds of 2010

I made so much seriously awesome food in 2010, mostly thanks to Gina's Skinny Taste website, that it was hard to narrow it down to ten recipes. Nevertheless, I managed to condense the list. These are in permanent rotation now--tried and true. I've linked to the recipe wherever possible, otherwise I've provided the recipe below.

1. Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Lime Rice and Pico de Gallo (serve with light sour cream, guacamole, and tortillas if desired)

2. Rosemary-Lemon Meatballs & Tomato Sauce (from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, Fresh Flavor Fast)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (28 oz each) whole, peeled tomatoes
1/4 tsp dried oregano

Heat oil over medium in pot. Cook onion and garlic, stirring, 2-4 minutes. Add tomatoes (with their juice) and oregano. Simmer, breaking up tomatoes, until thickened, about 20-30 minutes. Buzz with stick blender, if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, make meatballs.

8 oz ground beef
8 oz ground pork (all beef is okay, too)
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh (or 1/2 tsp dried) rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl combine all ingredients except the oil. Shape into 12 meatballs. Heat oil in large skillet or pot, and brown meatballs for 10-12 minutes, turning the balls as needed. Carefully pour sauce into the skillet, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, simmer 8-10 minutes or until balls are cooked through. Serve with or without pasta.

3. Barbecue-Glazed Turkey Meatloaf
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey breast
1/3 cup dried, seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded, lowfat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 egg
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp light brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp spicy brown mustard

Line bottom and side of slowcooker with foil. Mix turkey, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, egg, oregano, salt, and pepper in medium bowl with hands until well combined. Shape into a loaf and place on foil in slowcooker. Cover slowcooker and cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Combine ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in a small bowl. Spoon mixture over meatloaf, spreading it out smoothly. Cover slowcooker and cook until glaze is set, about 30 minutes longer. Using the foil to help, lift the meatloaf out and cut into 6 slices. 

4. Shepard's Pie, Lightened Up (serve with a dollop of light sour cream that has been flavored with a bit of tomato paste)

5. Suet
This one is not for humans. And I can't find the recipe. But I've really enjoyed, for two years in a row, watching my children make homemade "suet" cakes for the birds in our backyard. My dad leads them in this task. It involves peanut butter, Crisco, and getting your hands dirty. I'll need to get the recipe from him to post here. My kids are seriously into the backyard birds because of this. I love it.

6. Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (from the Usborne Children's Book of Baking)
2 medium carrots, grated
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sunflower oil (I used canola)
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a small cake pan (7x11 inches) with spray. Line with parchment if desired. Beat oil and sugar together in large bowl. Add beaten eggs and beat well. Stir in carrots. Sift flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt over mixture. Gently fold everything together. Spoon mixture into pan. Bake 45 minutes until well-risen and firm. Allow to cool, in or out of pan as desired.

1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz lowfat cream cheese, room temp
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla

Sift sugar into a bowl. Add cream cheese, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat well. Spoon onto cooled cake and spread it out.

7. Spicy Chicken Cakes with Horseradish Aioli (found this one on DailyPlate)
2 (1 1/2 ounce) slices whole wheat bread
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/4 cup chopped, fresh chives
3 tbsp lowfat mayo
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
2 tsp canola oil

Place bread in food processor, pulse 10 times or until crumbs measure 1 cup (discard remaining crumbs). Set aside. Place chicken in processor. Pulse until ground. Combine chicken, chives, mayo, seasoning, salt, egg whites, and breadcrumbs in medium bowl. Form into 8 cakes, 1/2 inch thick. heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties 7 minutes each side.

2 tbsp lowfat mayo
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp bottled, minced garlic
1/8 tsp salt

To prepare aioli, combine the above 4 ingredients in a small bowl. (I usually double the amount.)

8. Garlic Roasted Broccoli (best side dish ever)

9. Dijon Roasted Potatoes
2 tbsp mustard
1 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 lbs uncooked new potatoes, red or white, quartered or halved

Preheat oven to 425. Coat 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, oil, paprika, salt, thyme, and pepper. Add potatoes and stir to coat.  Transfer to baking dish and roast for 15 minutes. Stir. Roast for another 15 minutes.

10. Poulet Au Vinaigre (Made this one for the first time tonight. It is an instant keeper. In fact, it is all I can do to stop myself from going out there and eating the leftovers. Right. Now.)

Happy Eating in 2011!