Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just saying...

Being sick stinks.  Being sick while pregnant stinks even more.  I never realized that I was addicted to NyQuil when I had a cold until I couldn't have it, And tylenol just isn't doing the job.  This is what my nightstand looks like...

I cleaned up the snotty kleenex for the picture.  I ran out of kleenex at 2:35 this morning. I wept. Toilet paper is not soft like kleenex.  I've had the jar of Vicks Vapor Rub for 10 years.  Not kidding. It's moved with me 3 or 4 times.  The Bible is for when I'm awake at 2am and praying to God that he will clear my nose and let me sleep.
Just a few randoms...

Don't you hate it when you have a nice big glass of ice water and a clean shirt on, you take a drink and the ice gets in the way and makes the water splash all over your nice clean shirt.  I hate that. I hate it even more when the water is replaced with pop and the clean shirt is white. Man that really stinks.

I also hate when I realize I have eaten the entire fun size pack of 3 Musketeers bars I just bought yesterday. 

Then I realize I'm pregnant and the baby is hungry and craving chocolate so it's ok.

I DO NOT hate this picture...

My baby teaching my baby to use a laptop.  

Or this picture...

My daddy (yes, I still call him daddy) and my baby at Disney on Ice.  She loves her Papa, and oh does her Papa love her!

Final thought...

I planned to have my mother in law pick up Ally tonight so I can surprise The Duke with a romantic evening, just the two of us.  Let your minds wonder where they will.  Since our nights have been filled with sweatpants (me), tv, and a demanding but loveable 3 year old I thought we could use some time alone.  I want to look pretty when he comes home from work, but being sick I will actually probably look like this...

At least I have better hair than this lady.  Unfortunately the red nose will be accurate.  Here's hoping for a good evening!

Catch you on the flip side :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just a few things that make me smile...

Burlap makes a pretty nice wreath, who would have thought.  I made this one up yesterday.  I would like to experiment with different bows and such.  The Duke thinks I should sell them...any takers?
Tiny little glue gun and abnormally large glue stick.  It just makes me laugh.  I'm probably the only one.
Baby clothes, baby bedding, baby decor. I'm obsessed with baby stuff.  I have purchased enough clothes to last him until his 16th birthday.  All on sale of course.  The pile is starting to take over the room, yet I can't seem to talk The Duke into getting the room ready yet.  Does he not know the baby will be here in 17 weeks!  Let's get the ball rolling dude!
Ally had a sleepover last week, which was all fun and games until the actual sleep part.  Here she is with her buddy Harper. They are so stinking cute together. Right after this picture Ally tried to steal Harper's doll, but let's savor the innocence for a moment.
The first snow of the year was a welcome surprise in our house!  Ally was ready to play outside at 7am, so we bundled up and headed out.  This is her first snowman, she was hugging him and talking to him.  It was not fun when she looked outside later in the afternoon and he had melted.  Hopefully there won't be therapy in her future.

Ally playing dead.  She's actually trying to make a snow angel, but the snow was too hard and wet.  She could have laid there all day if I let her.           

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Traditions - We all have them

Most of my favorite traditions center around my family during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Thanksgiving night us Wandell's would start our countdown to Christmas with our first Christmas movie of the season...Holiday Inn.  It is not a movie about the popular hotel chain. It's a wonderful black and white movie with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.  Most of our holiday movies include Bing Crosby.  The first time The Duke watched this movie with us, he admited to me he didn't understand why we would all laugh at spots he didn't think were funny.  He doesn't get it, and for that reason he is now excluded from our family tradition.  Just kidding.  The day after Thanksgiving we set up the Christmas tree.  Always colored lights, never white.  And always and angel on top and not a star.  Changing any of this would greatly alter the universe.  Christmas Eve up until I started my own family was always the same, we watch a Christmas movie, usually A Christmas Carol, read Luke 2: 1-15 in the Bible, the story of the birth of Jesus, then my dad reads The Night Before Christmas.  When we were little we left milk and cookies, until my dad told us that Santa really likes beer and cheese, then we started leaving that.  When my Papa Bill (my mom's dad) was still alive, he and his wife Tiny (that's what we call her) would come over Christmas morning (early, my brother and I would wake between 2 and 5am, depending on the year) and watch us open our presents and have breakfast with us.  Breakfast was and still is the same...sausage strata and monkey bread.  I am so thankful that my parents started these wonderful traditions that we still cherish to this day.

Now that I have a family of my own, it has been bittersweet to leave those traditions with my family and start new ones.  With the blending of families we now have our own way of spending the holidays.  Christmas Eve is now spent going to church with The Duke's family, opening our gifts and eating oyster stew and soup and enjoying their company.  I'm still trying to convince my wonderful Father in law to read The Night Before Christmas, he's caving in.  The Duke, Ally and I then return home, set out our milk and cookies then head to bed.  Christmas morning is spent at home opening gifts then we hustle off to spend Christmas day with my parents.  We get there in time for brunch, which is still sausage strata and monkey bread.  Sausage strata and monkey bread are so good...but for some reason we only have it one time a year.  Maybe that's what makes it so special.

One tradition I am starting with Ally this year is a fun idea I found on Pinterest.com.  Each year, starting at age 3, I will ask her the same 20 questions and see how her answers change.  Here are the results from the first session!

1. What is your favorite color? pink
2. What is your favorite toy? baby doll with the nightgown (she saw this in a catalog and won't stop talking about it)
3. What is your favorite fruit? cheese
4. What is your favorite tv show? magic school bus
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? hot dog
6. What is your favorite outfit? pink heart shirt (she was wearing it at the time)
7. What is your favorite game? animal game (no idea what this game is)
8. What is your favorite snack? hot dog and cheese curls (what she was eating for lunch)
9. What is your favorite animal? all of them (animal lover apparently)
10. What is your favorite song? Zippity Do Da
11. What is your favorite book? Cat in the Hat book from the library (my least favorite book at the moment)
12. Who is your best friend? Seth and Kara (I'm a little sad she didn't say mommy)
13. What is your favorite cereal? "I don't know mommy, I don't eat cereal" (got me there)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? "ride my bike, swing, play"
15. What is your favorite drink? milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? "When Santa comes and brings me toys" (She must be referring to Christmas)
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? "my bedtime baby that Grandma got me" (she's never slept with it)
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? "oatmeal and sausage and eggs" 
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? "birthday cake" (duh)
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? " a snowman and a helicopter"  (I can't make this stuff up)

Oh what fun this will be!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Still Here!

Ouch!  Logging into my blog today the words...last post Oct 31st really stood out.  It's November 15. I didn't realize I had neglected my plethora of readers for that long! My deepest condolences.  I feel like using big words today.  The Duke sometimes makes fun of me for the words I use.  For example, the word pallet.  Some of you might only think of this as a wooden structure that you sit stuff on or use to move stuff with a forklift.  But the word pallet has a whole other meaning as well, get ready for it....it can also mean a small bed on the floor! This is exciting new information for some of you.  I use this word often.  "Ally, should we make a pallet on the floor to watch a movie?"  Or for unwanted guests, rather than offering them a bed to sleep on in your house, you could offer to make them a pallet on the floor.  The first time I used this word amongst my non-Missouri friends or relatives, I was laughed at.  But it is a word, I assure you.

Another word I get made fun of for using is woller.  I admit, it is not actually in the dictionary, but it is used quite often by my family.  It means (in our vocabulary) to wiggle around, or not stop moving.  I'll use it in a sentence, "Ally stop wollering on me and sit still!"  It has greater effect than actually saying, stop wiggling or moving around so much.  

Another favorite is cattywampus.  It's a fun word that means not straight, or out of order.  I taught Ally this word, now its fun to hear her say her shirt is cattywampus, or if her shoes are on the wrong feet they are cattywampus.  Her teacher must love me.

Words are fun. Unless they hurt. Then they are not fun.  Choose your words wisely :)  Lesson for today over.

In more exciting Duke news...we found out we will be welcoming a baby boy come March!  We are super excited!  I've been busy buying boy clothes, shoes and blankets. I even have the crib bedding and paint all ready to be set up.  The Duke tells me we have to wait until after the Holidays to get the room ready.  He's always spoiling my fun.  I am a tid bit nervous about having a boy.  They are rough and destructive.  I like things clean and organized.  And they have these things that spray urine everywhere if not covered correctly.  I'm not sure how to handle this.  But I think if we had another girl I would have become an alcoholic, just saying.

Well, my peeps, hopefully it won't be another 2+ weeks before my words grace your eyes again.  Until that time comes, keep on keeping on.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Gentle Reminder

There are people in our lives that we consider hopeless. Those who are the way they are and they will never change.  Some are gossipers, some are addicts, some are unbelievers, some we may even consider to be our enemies, or unworthy and unaffected.  I know I have thought this from time to time about people.  Why won't he do this, or why is she like that.  Sometimes it would just be easier to cut these people from our lives than to waste our time and energy on someone who will not change.  But sitting in church yesterday I got a gentle nudge from God.  I should PRAY for that person.  What?  I should use my time with God to pray for someone else?  Someone who most certainly isn't praying for me.  Someone who probably doesn't even want me to be praying for them.  Yes.  Those are the people who need it the most.  Because that person who seems unworthy, and prideful, or who claims they don't believe are the ones that need our prayers the most. The one most important thing I took away from church yesterday is that God has a vested interest in EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this earth.  HE created them.  So why should I decide that someone is not worthy of being prayed for just because I do not agree with their decisions or how they live their life?  I don't know where I would be right now if I didn't have people praying for me.  So the next time I have a conflict with a friend, or am resentful towards my husband (it happens, I'm human) I won't be so quick to write them off as I so often do.  We can't know they power of prayer until we use prayer to see changes. Remember, God is good. God is always listening.

Disclaimer:  I'm not preaching just felt compelled to share this message.  I'm not a perfect Christian or perfect at praying and most definitely not a perfect person!  But little reminders like this make me feel blessed for the things I have, blessed for the people in my life and hopeful for the things to come!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Portabella Pumpkin Pasta

True or False - The Duke loves pasta dishes.

True or False - The Duke loves dishes that do not involve meat

True or False - The Duke loves it when I experiment with dinner.

The answer to all of the above is...FALSE.  The Duke would prefer to not have pasta for dinner. Ever. The Duke considers a meal incomplete if meat is not involved.  Grilled meat is even better.  And The Duke gets nervous when I try new things with his food.  But because I'm growing a human inside of me, I do the shopping, and the cooking, and because I love pasta and despise meat right now, The Duke didn't have much of a say in dinner last night.  I decided to grab a few items out of the pantry and experiment.  Here are the few items. Four to be exact...

Portabella mushrooms, angel hair pasta, mushroom Alfredo sauce, and canned pumpkin.  Yes, because it's Fall, I do have to include pumpkin in everything.

Start a pot of water to boil the pasta.  While it's heating up wash and slice the Portabella mushrooms.  Melt 2 TBS of butter in a skillet, add the mushrooms and saute on medium high heat until soft. Add the Alfredo sauce to the skillet with the sauteed mushrooms over medium low heat. Add 1/2 cup canned pumpkin to the sauce and combine.  Cook until it starts to bubble, reduce heat to low. Add 1 tsp cinnamon and black pepper to taste.  Once water is boiling add salt and pasta, I used 1/2 pound.  Cook until done and drain the water. DO NOT combine the sauce and pasta, it makes it sticky and thick. No One likes sticky thick pasta. No one. 

This tasted wonderful!  The Duke even liked it.  Only thing he said he would do differently is make the Alfredo sauce from scratch.  Maybe in another life.  I hope you try this! 

Sorry there is no picture, once again, my hunger got the best of me and I couldn't get to the camera in time before I was shoveling it into my mouth!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Few Things I've Realized

I've had some realizations the past week that I feel compelled to share...

Realizing there was a stop sign at that school crossing AS the cop is pulling you over is too late.

Seeing someone else run the same stop sign a few days later will make you feel less like an idiot for running said stop sign.

Realizing there was no cop around to witness THAT person running said stop sign will only make you mad.

$5 dollar footlongs from Subway are awesome.

Cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce and onion on Texas Toast is awesome. 

Grilled cheese sandwiches are awesome.

Pretty much anything between two slices of bread that involves cheese, is awesome.

I am starting to realize I don't know if the words Texas Toast should be capitalized.

Just because I will Ally to take a nap does not mean she will take a nap.

Being angry about Ally not taking a nap only results in one thing, me being angry.

Arguing with a 3 year old really isn't productive and makes me in turn sound like a 3 year old.

Arguing with a dog just makes me crazy.

Big Band music makes me incredibly happy. 

I need my girlfriends. They make me happier than Big Band music. Which is incredibly.

I realize I have some pretty amazing girlfriends.

The Duke really does look like Tim McGraw.

I realize I haven't yet shared with my readers that I am now referring to Jon (husband) as The Duke.

I realize that just because it's Fall doesn't mean I have to consume all things pumpkin and apple.  Tell that to the pumpkin bread in my pantry, pumpkin cream cheese in my fridge, pumpkin spice latte on my mind, and apple butter on my toast.

I realize I like pumpkin and apple.

Ally looks really cute running around in her Dora underwear.

I realize she will before I know it and want it to happen be too old to wear Dora underwear, and run around with no pants on.

The Duke could grill out every single night of his life no matter how many casseroles and pasta dishes I try to make him.

I've had more realizations but I'm now realizing I have forgotten most of them. 

I realize I have a bad memory.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A 3 year old Master Manipulator

I have in my possession one very smart little girl.  I would never have imagined that someone at the tender age of 3 could know how to challenge a usually brilliant (me) adult.  But she does.  It happens every day.  The clock strikes 12:30pm and it's nap time in the Duke house.  Has been this way for the past year.  Something else happens at 12:30pm.  This beautiful little girl...

flips a switch and starts plotting.  "What's it going to be today?" she asks herself.  "Should I claim I have to pee and sit on the potty chair for 30 minutes, and when mom asks me if I really do have to pee, I say yes and squint my eyes and pretend to squeeze the pee out" 

Only she doesn't have to pee.  She is trying to get out of nap time. 

"Or should I pee right away, have mom put me in bed, then claim I have to pee again 5 minutes later so I can get out of bed, then sit on the potty chair for 30 minutes claiming I really do have to pee?"

I fall for it every time.  I am terrified of pee covered sheets apparently.

"Or should I have mom cover me up, read me a story, then when she leans in for a kiss, turn my head.  She'll walk out and claim she won't come back.  Then I'll cry that I want a kiss once she sits down."

I always go back.

"Or  will it be the old standby, Mom covers me up and walks out the door, I kick the covers off and scream for her to come back and cover me up. 3 times."

I really don't want to admit that I go back and cover her up. 3 times.

"Yep, today I think it will be all of the above."

It is usually all of the above. 

My child is a genius.  And I have created a monster.  But a cute monster.  I think I need help.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Holy Buckets of Energy...

is raining down on me!  I'm entering the second trimester. The good trimester. The little less stress filled trimester.  Bucket loads of glorious sun filled energy has been poured on me and I couldn't be happier! My butt is no longer glued to the couch, I get dressed most days of the week and my appetite has slowly began to resurface.  Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.  No really, praise Him.  With this new found energy has also come my absolute favorite time of the year. FALL!  Fall has puked all over my house in the form of fake leaves, pumpkins, tiny gourds and wreaths (I copied my friend Crissy's wreath, find the how to on her site here.)  Football is once again gracing my television (that's right, I watch and LOVE football. Born a Chiefs fan, Vikings fan by marriage, and it is once again a Cyclone state!)  Life is good.  Who doesn't love this time of year?  The 100+ degree days give way to 60 degree temps, cool Autumn breezes, pumpkin spice fill the air and our coffee cups, Columbus Day and Halloween are upon us.  Yes, it's a wonderful time of year!  I snapped a few shots of the house showcasing my love for all things Fall.  And you must know, I am not against decorating with fake sparkly leaves.
Old ladder back chair found at a garage sale for $5!

This year The Duke and I kicked off our season with a little vacation to North Carolina.  If there is one place in the country that I can totally picture myself living in it's the Great Smokey Mountains. God's work at it's best.  Such breathtaking beauty, even through overcast skies.  North Carolina is wonderful. The tea is sweet, the eggs are fried, and breakfast is served with grits and corn beef hash. Yes I think I've found paradise.  Not to mention we have some amazing friends who choose to dwell there.  Here are a few pics from our fantastic getaway.
Driving into the beauty...even with clouds

My future home. White house in a clearing complete with horses. SOLD!
The sun peeked out long enough to break out the shades

The only thing that could make this prettier was if the leaves were turning

This is how I hike, in ballet flats

Beautiful Crissy!  Such an amazing person and great friend. Only wish they lived closer!

I'm also back to whipping up culinary delights in the kitchen!  I found a list in one of my Rachael Ray cookbooks of things you should always have on hand in your pantry or freezer.  So this week at the store I stocked up on these items and along with a few meat purchases have found it incredibly fun and easy to create meals!  Here is a link to the list so you too can create!  Most of this stuff I already had on hand, such as spices, can goods, etc.  The rest is stuff you can get lots of use out of and is not too expensive to buy.  Great tool to make meal time easier. CLICK HERE

Tonight we are entertaining friends and on the menu is this Pioneer Woman recipe.  I had everything on hand to make it thanks to the above list.  Can't wait to give it a try!  YUMMY IN MY TUMMY
My great friend Monica is a vegetarian so she and I will be enjoying this dish as is. I will of course have to cook up some Italian sausage for our carnivore husbands to add to it.

Speaking of the fabulous Pioneer Woman, while in North Carolina, my wonderful friend Crissy taped her new show on the Food Network (since we do not have cable, it's a life choice.)  She is every bit as cute on TV as she is in her blogs. Solidifying the fact that we would indeed be friends if this where another world.

AND my beautiful sister in law Jacquelyn bought me a copy of Pioneer Woman's book...Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.  Can't wait to dive in and tell you all about it!

Well, I'm off to eat a pickle and start reading. Until next time party people!

I'm throwing this in cause she is so darn cute!

Hair a little wild and shirtless. Just perfect to me

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crazy Cravings

Disclaimer...this entry will not make you think in any way. It will not solve the debt crisis, world hunger, or affect you in any certain way.  This is just a pregnant chic talking about food.  Lives will not be changed. Carry on.


One thing about pregnancy is it has given me some odd cravings.  No I'm not sitting around eating pickles and ice cream, but I am finding myself wanting to consume things I don't normally reach for in the refrigerator or pantry.  Here is a short list of the food I have been shoveling into my mouth in the past few weeks

Green Olives. Salty little buggers.  I've practically eaten an entire jar in a 2 days.  Ally, being an avid black olive lover, reached for the jar yesterday saying she wanted one and I about took out my 3 year old.  Mine. Stay away.  Luckily they didn't appeal to her taste buds.

Pickles. Not just any pickle. Must be dill and baby.  The smaller the better. The smaller ones crunch.  I might drink the juice when the jar is empty.  Don't judge.

Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue Lays potato chips.  This exact kind.  I don't want barbecue sauce on meat.  In fact, I could be a vegetarian during pregnancy. I want it on crunchy, salty fried potatoes.  I'm sensing a theme here.

Wine.  Don't worry. I haven't given into this craving.  It's no secret I am a wine lover.  And now that Autumn is upon us (with the exception of a few 90 degree days left) and it's about to be grape harvesting time my mouth is literally drying out at the thought of not having a glass of vino.  But I have found an alternative.  Sparkling grape juice.  My wine club friends are laughing hysterically.  Apparently the thought of going 9 months without a wine glass in my hand is too much so I bought a bottle of Sparkling Catawba.  Not bad.  There are a few other variates available.  It's close enough to bad wine to get me through.

Cereal.  Normally I don't really eat the stuff. And when I do it's dry as a little snack. Lately a huge bowl with ice cold milk sounds simply divine at 2am when I'm up for the 2nd time of the night peeing.  Not sure why my brain goes to food while I'm using the restroom, but hey, I'm a little crazy lately.  One thing though.  I do not drink the milk.  I have never liked milk.  I'm pretty sure I didn't even drink it when I was a baby. Don't quote me on that.  I just like it for the wet factor on my dry Fiber Choice cereal.

Apples. Apple slices, apple pie, apple crisp, apple butter, baked apples, applesauce, apple syrup, apple slush, apple juice, and so on. Yum.  Here is an easy recipe for Apple Syrup.  Delish with my pancake recipe.  Find it in the recipe section of this very blog.

Apple Syrup

2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBS Cinnamon
2 TBS Water

Put all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened and syrupy.

Would be good on ice cream too, but since I'm not craving that at the moment, I wouldn't know for sure.  Dare you to try it.

Cold Turkey.  Not the lunch meat, but the kind you can only get from roasting a whole bird and carving it up.  I made a whole turkey breast last week for dinner just for the leftovers.  Lots of mayo, white bread and lettuce.  Thanksgiving will be wonderful this year.

Cucumbers.  Have you ever noticed how lovely they smell?  I made this recipe up today to satisfy this craving...

Cucumbers and Onions - This couldn't be any easier

2 cucumbers
1 onion
2 cups of water
1 cup of white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar

I snapped a pic of what you will need, for those who are visual

Pour water, vinegar and sugar into a pot and bring this mixture to a boil, set aside.  Wash, peel and slice cucumbers, place in bowl.  Slice onion.  Here's a trick to make sure an onion doesn't make you cry, cut it end to end, like this

If it doesn't work for you, this tip came from Rachael Ray. If it does work, it came from me.

Place onion slices in bowl with cucumbers, give them a little toss, a chance to mingle.

They look happy

Then pour the sugar mixture over.  Cover and let refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I like it nice and cold, so the longer the better. 

I'll add these 2 recipes to the Recipe section for easy reference.

Hopefully as time goes on my taste buds will evolve from salt and fake wine so I can try out some more recipes to blog about.  Until then...happy eating!

One more thing...

I'm now a brunette with a little belly - which is a result of the above mentioned food consumption.  10 1/2 weeks!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh So Many Things...

It's been awhile. A long while.  I have been completely and totally unmotivated to write in this blog.  My precious blog has done nothing to offend me, we are still close friends, I have just had the longest and most ridiculous brain fart imaginable!  I am sitting here even now wracking my brain for things to write about.  SOMETHING exciting and blog-worthy must have happened to me in the last countless weeks since my un-manicured fingers last graced this keyboard!  Well, let's see if I can think of any...

Hot, Hot, and Hotter

Summer is in full force in Iowa. I'm not a hot weather person.  I've decided that summer was a lot more fun when we were children.  This is especially true in my case seeing how my family had a pool.  No we weren't wealthy as I am sure you are thinking all pool owners are, it was one of those above ground round pools that my parents built a deck around.  It was heaven.  I spent my pre-teen days floating about the icy cool water, sipping kool-aid from wine glasses with my friend Jessica and talking about the latest boy crush I had.  There were a lot.  The summer nights were filled with sleep overs, catching lightning bugs and playing outside until it got dark and was time for bed, only to wake up and do it all over again.  Oh what a charmed life it was during summer in Missouri!  Summer was good for me until I had a child.  My carelessness was replaced with panic that the gallon of sunscreen I put on her 20 minutes ago was already wearing off and her delicate skin was going to burn to a crisp.  I don't even remember wearing sunscreen in my day.  And since the blow-up alligator pool my daughter has is not large enough to accommodate me, her, and 4 of her barbies, lounging in the pool is out.  Plus there is the sweltering, take your breath away, want to vomit heat wave we endured for months and months.  It seemed like months, I'm ranting.  Yes, summer is just not the same.  But I still do love the longer days, although not when trying to put Ally to bed at 8.  Her 3 year old brain can't comprehend that it's bedtime when the sun is still up.  I do love getting out on the boat, and grill outs with friends.  I love that my teacher friends are out of school and this stay at home mom has someone to talk to during the day.  But I must say, to the disapproval of my mother in law, once August hits, and the Iowa State fair is past...my mind drifts to cooler temps, football, sweatshirts, jeans, pot roast, and pumpkin spice.  For yes, dear friends, that wonderful season is upon us. Fall is just around the corner.  I just wish it came a little sooner on the thermometer!

School House Rock

Speaking of cooler weather and summer being over, that only means one thing. It's back to school time.  Usually this means nothing to me, except an increase in commercials for JC Penny and Macy's showcasing the latest back to school trends.  Which by the way, why don't kids dress like, oh I don't know, KIDS!  I can't believe some of the clothes out there made for children.  Wow I am getting old.  Anyway, back to school this year means the start of school for my little one.  Ally is going to preschool!  GASP! Tear :(  Two days a week for 2 hours a day I will have to let go of her tiny little hand and send her off to the Methodist Church to get educated.  OK, so 3 year old preschool is not so much for the education, but more for socialization.  Which she needs.  Staying home with momma all day may be great for her (and me) but she also needs some time with other kiddos.  Time to learn how to share, interact, and listen.  Despite the knot in my stomach I know it will be good for her, and me, to have this time.  I'll try to keep the tears to a minimum. Think happy thoughts, like how stinking cute she's going to be with a little backpack full of school supplies!  Better clear some space on the refrigerator for lots of crayola masterpieces!

Complete and Utter Exhaustion!

OK, here is a test to see how many people actually read my blog.  For the past few weeks normal Amanda has been taken over and replaced by tired, grumpy, nauseous, make-up and hair straightener free Amanda.  This is not a good looking Amanda.  This can only mean one thing.  I have a tiny sea creature growing in my body.  In other words, I'm knocked up!  (hoot, holler, let's make some noise!)  Yes, despite Ally's best efforts at making me want to never reproduce again (only at nap, bed, and tantrum time does this happen) we decided it was time to bring another Duke into the world. I'm in my 9th week and couldn't feel, well, worse.  I'm tired, my back hurts, my stomach hurts, and my once love for bacon has now turned into complete and total disdain for all things pork!  Pregnancy this time around is also making me irrational.  For example.  I've had sleepless nights over the fact that the hubs and I can not agree on a name for a boy.  I know how ridiculous this sounds, seeing how I have 31 weeks left to be pregnant.  AND, we don't even know if it is a boy and won't know until November.  But still, in my head it makes total sense that a name should be agreed upon in the first weeks of pregnancy.  Don't you think?  Don't answer that.  But we couldn't be happier and more excited!

So for all of you who read this you now know why you haven't seen me in the wine section at the grocery store for a while.  I know your typically not supposed to share this kind of news until your at least 12 weeks along, but I'm an atypical kind of gal. And who can wait that long, really!?!  Keep me in your prayers for a healthy go at this!

OK, so apparently I had a few things to write about.  Promises to not go so long until I grace your computer screen again!  Peace out peeps!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Shout Out to My Home Girls!

I have some uber talented friends!  I love that some of them have blogs so I can keep up on every little thing they do! I'm kind of snoopy :) It's so much fun to see that side of people you are close to.  Here are a few of the blogs that my lovely lady friends own. Follow them.  Despite what your were taught, it is good to be a follower!


Miss Southern Belle.  Crissy is a Texas gal living in NASCAR country.  Her husband Mike made her do it.  She has an awesome blog about her family, friends, decorating, cooking, and her wonderful  photography. Her hubs and mine are great friends and Crissy and I have become great friends as well. She is beautiful inside and out, smart and funny! We are planning a trip to North Carolina in September to see them, I can not wait! Check out her site,  I think she's pretty fabulous!  http://smothersfaminnc.blogspot.com

Kelly Nicole...

This is my sister from another mister.  We are Missouri gals with a love for all things country.  We believe we are related.  Digging into some old family documents I discovered one of my relatives shared her last name and lived in the same area her family once lived.  We are cousins. There is no other explanation!  Kelly understands me and all my quirks. She is my sister in Christ and constantly helping me be a better me.  AND she's a fabuloso mother and 1st grade teacher!  Check her out! http://allinafirstgradeday.blogspot.com/

My (real) cousin Katie...

My beautiful cousin Katie and I didn't spend too much time growing up together, she lived in Iowa, I lived in Missouri. When I moved to Iowa, she moved away. I didn't take it personal.  She was always the cousin I looked up to, she is beautiful (I heart her hair), fun, adventurous, smart, funny, the list goes on and on.  She lives in Texas now with her wonderful husband and beautiful son Harper.  Through the powers of Facebook and some wonderful visits we've gotten to know each other a little better and have decided that we would be inseparable if we lived closer to each other!  She is a fabulous baker and all together awesome person! Check out her two blogs. ovenlovinbakery.blogspot.com 

Cheryl is a friend of Kelly Nicole and I have the privalge to know her. She now lives in St. Louis (Nelly songs are running through my head right now) and has started her own children's clothing line. She is amazingly talented!  Check out her stuff. http://lionsandlilypads.blogspot.com/

Hope you all enjoy these ladies as much as I do!

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Struggle Within

We are all human. We all have wants, and needs, and desires.  I struggle with being happy with what I have.  There is always someone with a bigger house, more money, better clothes or a nicer car.  Instead of asking "Why can't I have that?" I need to consider what I have instead.  So I did a little soul searching and jotted down a few things.  Just a few...my list of wants is long.  Not something I am proud of, and something that I am constantly working on!  Here goes it...
I WANT a child who is disciplined, listens when I ask her to do something and polite.

I HAVE a child who is free spirited, has already mastered the art of selective hearing, polite when she wants something, independent, and beautiful!

I WANT a body that is lean, chiseled, and stretch mark/scar free

I HAVE a body that soft, strong, healthy, and shows the signs of a beautiful and interesting life.
I WANT a home that makes people talk. Beautiful decor, nice furniture, and smells of lavender and sunshine.

I HAVE a home that is perfect for my family, with room to grow and memories to make, decorated with things made by my own two hands, furniture that will last through children and pets, and smells of life, with a little black raspberry vanilla scent thrown in to cover up the sometimes not so good smell of life.
I WANT money in my pocket to spend. To not worry about the price tag or always shop in the clearance section.

I HAVE an understanding of money and pride in knowing that the things I am able to spend my money on are needed and a satisfaction in being thrifty and creative.
I WANT a husband who is romantic and spontaneous and sings to me.

I HAVE a husband who is practical, steady, provides for me, and loves me.  I have the radio to sing to me and as long as I don't watch too many romantic comedies, he is perfect.
I WANT adult conversation and interaction. To feel needed and respected. To be good at a career.

I HAVE an amazing opportunity to stay home with my child. To feel her need for me and take in her love. I have a career that directly benefits my family in a most positive way.  I am fluent in toddler and an expert play dough artist.
I WANT to not want all these things and to be happy with who I am and what I have.

I HAVE a Heavenly Father who is constantly seeking the good in me and in my talks with Him is helping me become the best version of me I can be.

I have everything. I just need to get my head out of my butt sometimes and realize it!

Enjoy what you have today!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fun Family Fourth!

This year on the 4th of July we were invited by some very good family friends to their lake house in the Ozarks.  We had a fabulous time floating in the water, cruising around on a boat, and watching the amazing fireworks show put on by the neighbors across the lake.  The whole family was there and it was wonderful to see some old friends who I will always hold dear to my heart. Check out some pics!

Ours friends amazing lake home. 
Jon and I before heading out to float our cares away on the lake.  This is a rare glimpse of me without makeup and no tan.  You can open your eyes now.

Our wonderful hostess Jennifer!
Indulging in some snacks.  This isn't even half of who was there, 18 in total!
The kids watching the ice cream maker do it's magic
Such excitement!
A few sweet pics of my baby girl
Long busy day relaxing at the lake
Melissa and Nathan, hands down the sweetest people you will ever meet.  I heart them both.
I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July and took time to remember our heroes past and present that make it possible for us to celebrate this wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Finally! After I months of not being able to make any Pioneer Woman recipes I'm back in the saddle!  OK, maybe it wasn't months, but it felt like it!  I had to dust the cobwebs off the crock pot.  Last nights venture was a crowd pleaser.  My husband and I don't signify a crowd so we added a few more Duke's to the gang.  Jon's brother Jason and his beautiful wife Jacquelyn, also known as my sister and brother in law, and the newest little Duke, Willow, also known as my niece, came over for some grub.  On the menu..PW Pulled Pork sandwiches with Cilantro-Jalapeno Cole Slaw.  Sounds fancy, delicious, and messy.  Also known as Scrumdidilyumptious.  Disclaimer, my camera does not live up to my expectations for taking pictures of food.  It could be the operator, but probably the camera.  So the pics DO NOT give this dish justice on how good it actually looked.  Check out Pioneer Woman's pics...her camera (or operator) do a much better job!

Pork Butt (he he)   
Cooked Pork Butt 

Jalapeno Cole Slaw and fresh Cilantro. It does not get any better then fresh cilantro in my mind.

Put the cole slaw and cooked pork butt on a toasted bun. I like toasted buns and butts. OK, this just got weird.

Here is the link to PW recipe. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/06/pork-sandwiches-with-cilantro-jalapeno-slaw/  I had to tweak it a bit. Hers calls for Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce which I could not find!  So I used half a can of Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies) and added some chili and cayenne powder.  It was good but next time I will search high and low for the Chipotle Peppers.

I'm getting out of hand now...tonight is another PW recipe.  Taco Pizza. Can't wait to try this one!  Shh...don't tell the hubs there is no meat on it. I would hate to have to force feed him.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just Some Tidbits

I have been wracking my brain on topics to write about on this here blog and have come up with nothing!  I have no new recipes to share, no new decorating tips or ideas that I've tried yet.  So this post is going to be about nothing really. Just a few tidbits from the past few weeks.

Birthdays! Whoop Whoop!  

We've celebrated 2 in the past week.  June 19th. My little peanuts birthday. Three years ago on Thursday June 19th at 4:45am my water broke.  My whole pregnancy I was worried that I wouldn't know I was having contractions and the baby would be born at home or on the way to the hospital.  These were valid fears at the time.  I prayed for my water to break, kudos to the Lord for coming through on that one.  I arrived at the hospital around 6am, Jon didn't see the need to rush and took the long route, after stopping at the ATM.  He was obviously trying to delay the birth as long as possible.  Some contractions, drugs, sleep, and pushes later (I am editing here) my whole world changed as my whole world was born.  Allyson Rae Duke arrived at 1:22pm.  What a blessing. What a joy.

This past week she turned 3.  Wow. Where has the time gone.  She doesn't look like a baby anymore, but a little girl.  A little girl with long curly hair and a smile that lights up the room.  A little girl who has everyone she encounters wrapped around her tiny little finger.  Happy birthday to our little Hot Rod...

June 22, 1983. The world got a little bit better.  The sun was shining, angels were singing, and the birds were chirping.  I was born.  Yes little did my parents know 28 years ago just how special I would be.  Just kidding! My birthday was yesterday.  For the first time EVER I actually forgot it was my birthday until my mom called. It will never happen again.  My wonderful husband took me out to dinner at Olive Garden. My favorite, and our first date location :)  Bread sticks are good.  I even got free wine and a little entertainment from the minors sitting in the booth behind us.  Here's a little advice to all you minors out there.  If you are going to try to order an alcoholic beverage, tell your friend who orders before you NOT to order chocolate milk to drink.  Also don't claim to be 25 and leave your ID in the car.  25 year olds don't do that.  But the poor child (who was most likely about 16) did provide me with excellent people watching for the night.  Happy birthday to me!

Me circa 1984

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing!

Ally loves The Wiggles.  You know the Australian group of all 30 plus year old men who sing and dance.  Yeah, it's a little weird, but she is so cute dancing around the living room I can't help but condone her watching them.  So for her birthday I got her a new DVD (I'm an enabler) and we have watched it about 6 times a day since Sunday.  She shakes and shimmies her little behind to all the groovy dance tunes.  All this was in preparation for her first dance class, which was last night!  Seriously, hands down the cutest thing I have ever witnessed. A class of 3 and 4 year olds trying to be taught first position (heels together, toes out.)  I was beaming from ear to ear watching her try to gallop, skip, stand still, stretch and freeze.  Mega fail for me though, apparently when the class description says for the kids to wear comfortable clothes, that does not mean sweats and a t-shirt, but rather a full dance leotard, tights and ballet shoes.  We will be going shopping before next weeks class.  Ally didn't mind though, she was all smiles...

The super cute bow was made by a friend. Check out her site! http://www.trosieb.com

OK so as it turned out this post was not about nothing at all (does that statement make sense?) Guess birthdays and dancing make for pretty good blogging topics.  Hope y'all enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Going to get my groove back

Ok, so I have totally been in a slump with my writing lately. I blame the moving delays and heat for my brain farts.  I promise to indulge in new and exciting posts in the following days including decorating and cooking!  Now that I actually have a kitchen that isn't full to the ceiling of boxes I can get started on some new recipes!  So stay with me, I will get my groove back soon!

Peace out my homies

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Hero

Well, here it is. Another one of those days set aside to honor someone who we should honor every day. Father's Day.  Pop, Old Man, Father, Dad, or for me, Daddy.  Yes.  I am going to get sappy, again. 

My dad is my hero.  It sounds cliche, but he truly is.  He's big, and tall, and cuddly.  Just like a dad should be.  He's tough when he needs to be tough and soft when he needs to be soft.  He was a Fireman and is now a Special Investigator (sounds so cool doesn't it!)  He's a lot of peoples hero.

Just hearing my dad's voice makes me smile because he still talks with a "Missouri accent."  When he sings he thinks he sounds like Toby Keith, and I think so too.  He shared his love of old movies and John Wayne with his kids while we were growing up, and now we share the same love.  I remember sitting in my daddy's truck when I was a little girl and singing my favorite old Nitty Gritty Dirt Band song, and he would have the biggest smile on his face.  He taught me how to drive on a back road in Missouri and still tells the story of how I maneuvered around a combine.  I feel proud that he remembers that moment. It's one that I will never forget, along with many others.

Growing up my dad was the cook in the house.  For breakfast he would always make my brother and I fried bologna, corn beef hash with cheese, or grilled cheese sandwiches.  I always loved his breakfasts.  He's an amazing cook, and master of the grill.

He is my baby's Papa. She fits so snuggly in his big burly arms.  Ally loves sitting on Papa's lap and reading books. I know he would go to the end of the earth for her if she asked him to. 

He's my daddy.  He will always be the number one man in my life. 

End Note: I would love to post a picture of how truly handsome my dad is, but my photos are on another computer. :(  

Monday, June 13, 2011

The beginning of the end

OK, I have procrastinated long enough.  My daughter will be 3 next week. She must be potty trained.  Why, I don't really know. I am perfectly content with her in diapers. It's easy.  I don't have to worry about her needing to pee while we are driving.  I don't have to watch her like a hawk for signs that she is about to puddle on the floor. Yep, I could leave her in diapers forever. Do you sense a theme?  I wasn't ready for the big girl bed, now I'm not ready for the potty training. Perhaps I don't want my little girl to grow up. I mean, what's next, driving? Alright, rewind.  So this week the goal was set. Princess underwear was purchased.  The time is here.

We started yesterday afternoon.  I got lots of goodies from the Dollar Tree for a Prize Bag!  If Ally goes in the potty , she gets to pick a prize! She was super excited to get a prize so I thought this may work.  Problem was she didn't want to sit on the potty chair.  This might be my fault.  I'll explain. Ally likes to come in the bathroom while I am getting ready, and she always goes straight for the toilet! Touching it, lifting the lid, wanting to flush it, etc.  My instinct has always been to scream "No touchy toilet...yucky, yucky yucky!"  Probably NOT the message to be sending a toddler who you're now trying to get to SIT on a toilet. My bad.  Must send more positive message about the porcelain throne.  Note taken.

So after explaining that it's OK to sit on the toilet and potty chair we dove in. Ally was not so keen on wearing the underwear so I let her run around naked.  I must admit the site of her little bum running around the living room makes me smile, but then accident number one.  I show her the pee, I show her the toilet. Pee, toilet.  Try to explain to her that the goal is to get the pee in the toilet.  I don't think she got it.  I tell her maybe we should put on the big girl princess underwear and that it would be a shame to pee on Cinderella.  So we put on the underwear, she wants a Snow White Pull Up on too.  She apparently has no problem peeing on Cinderella or Snow White because accident number 2 occurs.  But at least the Pull Up soaked this one up.  We try the no underwear approach again.  She starts doing her poopy face and runs to sit on the potty chair.  She stands up and points in the hole..."poopy mommy, poopy!"  YES!  Celebration time!  We flush the poop, wave bye bye then she gets to pick a prize!  5 minutes later, she wants another prize so I explain she has to use the potty.  I swear the child willed herself to pee because not 2 minutes later I hear her saying "pee mommy, pee!"  Awesome!  I'm thinking, this is great.  Fastest training EVER.  This is going to be a breeze! 

Then comes bedtime.  Daddy and I try to explain that she is going to wear a Pull Up to bed, but if she has to go to the bathroom, she can tell us and she can get up to go.  She says "No, me want a prize, me poop on potty chair."  Never thought of what to do to get the child OFF the chair.  Hmm...  Eventually we get her up and Pull Up on and off to bed.  I'm feeling pretty good about this so far.

Day 2 is in progress...the good feeling is fading.  3 accidents on the hardwood (thank God) floor and 2 poops in the toilet.  I think we will call her poop trained.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Good Dose of...

I'm going to start off by saying I am NEVER, ever moving again.  Our move has not gone smoothly.   I'll take that back, moving is not the issue since we haven't even begun to move, closing on our house has not gone smoothly.  Our house has been "sold" since December 26, 2010.  Almost 6 months and we are still in our current home with really no end in site as to WHEN we will close.  It is maddening and frustrating.  So I needed a good dose of something.  Alcohol is not an option as I still have to function as a parent  So last night I got a good dose of this...

God and scripture.  I started a new Women's Bible study last night, and felt all the anger and frustration I had yesterday melt away.  I laid it at God's feet. I prayed about it.  I was encouraged by good friends.  I'm not saying I am not still frustrated, but I am not going to let it consume me. It is out of my control.  Boy did I need that!

This morning, as every morning, I needed a good dose of this...

Large diet coke with extra ice.  Ally repeats my order when we pull in the McDonald's parking lot.  The worker's recognize me.  I am aware that it would be cheaper for me to buy a 12 pack or 2 liter from the store, but it tastes better when from a fountain, don't you think? 

I also needed a good does of laughter, which today came in the form of a memory.  I decided to clean out my old CD case and use it to hold Ally's DVDs.  As I was pulling out all the Cd's I haven't listened to in ages I came across this one...

"I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes and I am happy now living without you, I let you go-oh -oh -oh"  Ace of Base man!  Who didn't love the pop rhythm's of this fun Swedish group.  My friend Melissa and I back in the day made up a dance to The Sign.  I laughed out loud thinking about it,  and how we rushed into the living room of her house to show off our moves to our parents.  Oh what fun and innocence we had!

So today is a little better than yesterday thanks to these small "doses" of happy makers.  I have to remember that with God, Diet Coke and Ace of Base, nothing is really that bad.

Right now I need a good dose of air freshener to cover up the poopy pull up smell coming from the trash can. I really must start taking those to the OUTSIDE garbage!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


It's a goal. A life journey.  To be successful. To find success in whatever you choose to do with your life.  If you work, your goal is to be successful in business, to climb the ladder, make more money, live a better life.  For me as a stay at home mom and wife, success is measured a bit differently.  I don't get monthly status reports or raises for a job well done or a project completed.  I often don't get praise for the work I do or recognition for the choices I make for my family or myself.  Success for me is measured in the smiles I get from my daughter when we start out on a walk for the park.  In the happy little laugh when her daddy is tickling her and in the whispered "I Wuv You" after bedtime kisses.  Success is in the satisfaction knowing that my house is clean and laundry is done and that my family has a home to be safe in.  In Knowing that my husband leaves this house everyday to go to work to make sure his wife and daughter are taken care of.  I have been successful in love knowing that the man I have married will always be my best friend and will never break my heart.  I am successful because I am aware and abundantly thankful for the gift of God 's unending love and that the journey I have been on has led me back to Him.  So no matter what you do in life, you can find success.  Don't measure it in terms of money or job titles, but in the everyday activities and people you encounter.  I know that I am loved, and that I have love to give. I know that I am raising my daughter the very best way I know how.  I know that I have friends and family that will always be there for me and I for them.  And THAT is what makes me successful.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thrifty Finds!

When my husband and I decided that I would stay home from work with our daughter I knew I would have to give up my first love.  Shopping.  Some people have hobbies that include knitting, sports, drag racing (in my husbands case), etc. Mine is shopping.  I get high on spending money. I can't help it, it's genetic, just ask my dad.  So reducing our income meant I had to give up my shopping sprees, $200 jeans, yes I actually spent that much on ONE pair of jeans.  I'm not proud of it, and they don't even fit anymore!  I had to figure out a new way to shop that included spending less money.  I am now proud to admit that I am a true bargain shopper.  Thrift stores now excite me and me at a garage sale is like a kid in a candy store!  So on my most recent shopping trip with a friend, she bought some killer jean shorts that I was salivating over.  The damage, $40.  No way was I going to spend that on one item.  So the next day I headed out to my local Goodwill store and came home with a pair of Gap jeans for $5.89.  Then I got to work...

Here is the inspiration pair of shorts from American Eagle

Here are the jeans I bought. Cute jeans, but they were high waters on me!

First put the jeans on and mark where you would like them to hit on your leg.  I'm cuffing these so I marked where I would like the bottom of the cuff.

Next gather some supplies.  You will need a razor blade, scissors, tweezers and an old magazine.  Cut straight across the mark on the jeans to cut the leg off...

Next decide where you would like the distressing. Insert the old magazine into the pant leg so you don't damage both sides of the jeans.  Then use your razor blade edge moving it up and down with the grain of the jean.  You don't want to cut through the jean, just break down the fabric.

Then use the tweezers to pull out the BLUE thread. This will reveal the white thread to give you the distressed look without leaving an actual hole in the jean.

 I added distressing to both legs and one on the back pocket.  You can also use your razor blade on the pocket edges and zipper edge of the jean to make a more worn look.  Just run the blade back and forth until you get the desired look and fraying.

Next you will need to wash and dry the shorts. This will make the parts you distressed open up a bit to reveal more of the white thread. Roll up the bottoms to create a cuff.

 And your done!  You now have an expensive looking pair of distressed shorts for less than 6 bucks! 

Look how excited I am in my new shorts!  HOLA!!  

Your husbands will thank you and praise you for your bargain hunting skills and your girlfriends will never know you went Goodwill hunting, unless you want to share your mad skills with them!