Thursday, December 31, 2009

I was a little scared, but it turned out okay.

A few years ago, I heard a woman say that she prayed one year to become organized. It was the worst year of her life. The next year she prayed for organized friends and things have been great ever since. Well, yesterday, my organized friends, Mandie and Aimee came to visit. Mr. Bean and Filbert took off with the kids and I was left to fend for myself against the organizational push. Three rooms were tackled and defeated. Mandie made me get rid of my wedding shoes and then even after that she said I had get rid of at least one more pair, but preferably three pairs. (This is when it got scary.) (This is also when the term Nazi entered the conversation.) (In my defense, it was actually Mandie that said it.) (I just quietly agreed.)

After about 3 hours, 3 rooms were clean and organized, except for a couple of piles of Filbert's stuff in our bedroom. I even went a little further after and Aimee and the Nazi Mandie left. My entire fabric stash is organized and stored on a book shelf. Yay me!

And Yay for Organized Friends!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spring Whirlwind

As spring approaches, we (the Bean family) are looking forward to some whirlwind changes. Mr. Bean has been approached about a part time job that is temporary, but could be long in nature (to start in February-ish). We are also expecting String Bean's sibling to arrive around the first week of May.

2010 is going to be interesting to say the least!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

When You are a Mom...

You will appreciate the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. All the stress of pulling off the perfect Christmas is behind you and most of the hosting of dinners and parties have passed. You have a week to relax with your husband home (hopefully) and your child(ren) have all the new toys they could possibly need to keep them entertained. Christmas decorations can be left up until New Year's Day without anyone questioning your ability to keep house.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I'm dreaming of a living room that looks a little more like this:

Merry Christmas from the Nuts and the Beans!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


It has been a tradition in my family since my dad was a kid (eons ago) to have a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve.

String Bean is 25 months old and has adopted "Happy Birthday" as her favorite song. I believe this has something to do with her birthday 6 weeks ago and Daddy's just a week ago. There is nothing quite like explaining to your 2 year-old that we will be singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and watching the glee on her face as we sing her absolute favorite song.

This is our nativity. String Bean points to it when we refer to Jesus' birthday.
(This is not a photo of OUR specific nativity, just on from the Willow Tree stock photos of their product.)

Merry Christmas, String Bean! May you learn soon the meaning behind the birth of Jesus.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Operation Christmas Child Delivery!

We got our e-mail today telling us where our Operation Christmas Child shoebox went this year!

Drumroll please....

There is a 2-4 year old girl in Malawi wearing a princess tiara, brushing her teeth with bubblegum toothpaste, enjoying a few Christmas-y items, and loving some candy.

Sadly, there is no WD-40 in the box.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Too Much TV

In an effort to enjoy our time off from work, we often put in a video for String Bean when she wakes up before 7 am. Often-times, lately it is A Charlie Brown Christmas.

We knew she was watching too much of it when she started quoting lines from the movie before they were said. She's only 25 months old! Usually it is quoting Charlie Brown and saying, "No, no, no!"

Today we were watching it as a family and as the parts for the Christmas play are being handed out, Linus asks, "What do you need her for?" and String Bean yelled out, "Wife!" before the reply of "She's your wife" was uttered.

*Smacks self in forehead*

At least there is a redeeming message in this movie. If only we could start getting her to quote the scripture passages instead of the silly lines.

Monday, December 21, 2009

3 Shopping Days until Christmas!

I am always shocked when people are still in the midst of Christmas shopping this late into the season. Christmas wrapping not done, yet? That I understand a bit more. I just finished mine two days ago.

I went to a shopping area today to pick up lunch for myself and started to circle looking for a parking space and got lucky with a good spot near the restaurant. I could not believe the traffic, the lines, and the lack of joy on people's faces during the "most wonderful time of the year."

I can't help but think if people took joy in gift giving rather than seeing it as a chore, they probably would enjoy the season a bit more than they do and at least the joy would be restored to the late-in-the-season shoppers.

Don't get me started on the traffic! I'm just glad I survived the ordeal.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


For years, Mr. Bean and I have been the only married siblings. All that changed today (and explains my lack of posting here recently).

I am glad to have a brother-in-law who also does not know the intricate details of every childhood event of the family. Whew. No longer alone!

Congratulations, Carolyn and Ryan!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mama's Pound Cake Recipe

Before my great grandmother, who we called Mama, died, she shared her pound cake recipe with my Aunt Joan making her promise to share it with others. So, here I am sharing it with you. I hope to make this cake for Jesus' birthday cake this year.

Light Pound Cake

1 pkg (1lbs) powdered sugar (3 ½ cups)
1 cup shorting (2 sticks of butter or margarine)
3 large eggs (4 medium to small)
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Cream sugar and shorting together. Add eggs one at a time mixing well. Add flour, salt and baking powder, alternating with milk. Add vanilla.

Bake in greased and floured pan at 350 for 50 – 70 minutes. When toothpick comes out clean.

This cake freezes very well, and keeps for a while. You can also put in extras, like chocolate chips, nuts, etc. If you do, the cake will be a golden brown in center and darker on sides when done.

To freeze, wrap in foil.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Misheard Lyrics

Happy Christmas (War is Over) is not a song I hear often, but for some reason I have heard it about 10 times this season already. I've always thought the lyrics were:

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any beer.

I always thought it was odd that the Christmas song would sing about lack of beer. I guess I thought it was part of a mothers against drunk driving campaign or something.

Not thinking about what you are singing (or saying) has interesting results.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Long Overdue Photos

String Bean enjoys the Bears Rams game on December 6, 2009. Bears win! Also pictured: Guy. Guy is her trusty companion and curer of all that ails.

Making a fashion statement. Of course boots, a winter coat and mittens go with a diaper-only outfit!

Merry Christmas from the Bean family!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Full Day's Work

Two batches of mint chocolate chip merengues made (because I put too much peppermint extract in the first one and had to make a second to balance it out), cooled and stored away...

A shopping trip to pick up part of my mother-in-law's Christmas present, some wedding things at Target and wrapping paper for some of the larger gifts completed...

A batch of sugar cookies made, cooled and stored away...

A trip to the zoo to see the Christmas lights...

Dinner out with the husband and child...

Made a breakfast casserole for a friend who is packing up to move...

The kitchen cleaned and ready for another day of cooking...

Balanced the checkbook...

And now I am waiting for Mr. Bean to get up and start prepping his famous homemade lasagna so I can clean up after him. At least a huge chunk of my to-do list got checked off today!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Meal Planning

I am doing most of the holiday cooking this year. Here is what is on the menu:

Main Dishes
White Chicken Chili with crusty bread
Stay-in-Bed Stew
Baked Macaroni and Cheese + broccoli as a side

BBQ Meatballs (oven)
Cool Veggie Pizza (crescent rolls w/ cream cheese and veggies)
Deviled Eggs
Fruit stuff
Artichoke Dip w/ triscuits
Cheese/Crackers or Nacho stuff
Jesus’ Birthday Cake

Breakfast Foods
Breakfast Casserole (bread, cheese, bacon, eggs)
Cheesy Potatoes

Cookies and Snacks
Russian Tea Cakes
Sugar Cookies
Chex Mix
Mint Chocolate Chip Merenges*
Molasses Gingerbread cookies*
Mint Chocolate Oreos
Spritz Cookies (made by my brother-in-law)*

I will be adding more main dishes to the list, but my cookies/snacks are almost finished! Only the ones with asterisks still need to be made. If you have any suggestions for improving my
menu, let me know!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It Has Arrived!

The new-to-me oven has arrived. It is installed. I can begin baking now!

Our handyman friend, Eric, installed the new oven for us. We had to run across the street to Ace Hardware to get a part for it. Of course, we are having a frigidly cold day today and the snow is falling and blowing everywhere. Eric entertained String Bean on our walk by purposely sliding in the snow. Incessant giggles followed. One 88 cent part and we had no other snags.

I am looking forward to getting going with my holiday preparations now.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Regis and Kelly Called Me!

I was watching Regis and Kelly. Of course, Regis is out due to hip surgery so Bryant Gumble was co-hosting with Kelly Ripa. It is funny I even know all this because I rarely watch them, usually just when I am doing things and TV is on in the background.

Well, I fell asleep during the opening credits, but heard in my subconscious the dialing of the phone for when they do their daily giveaway. Their phone started ringing at the EXACT moment my home phone started ringing.

Have you ever had those really irrational dreams that happen between snoozes on your alarm clock? That's kinda what I had going on. I thought to myself, "Wow, the Regis and Kelly show is calling me for their daily trivia question. I didn't even enter, and I sure as heck didn't watch the show on Friday, so the chances of me getting this question right isn't very good. At least I can win the consolation prize."

So, groggily I got up. I walked up to the phone and saw the caller ID. Sure enough it was "unknown number" as I'd expect it to be when a live TV show is calling you. Of course, they don't want their real studio line phone number to get out.

I answered the phone. "Hello?"

Long pause. "Wait," I thought to myself, "the phone on TV is still ringing and I've clearly picked up the phone. What is wrong with their end of the line?"

It was at that moment that I realized I was being called by a telemarketer.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Baby's first Bears Game

String Bean enjoyed her 2nd ever professional sporting event today: a Chicago Bears game. It was in the 30s, but that did not stop her from napping during the first half and cheering throughout the second half.

She was by far the youngest child at the game (that we saw). She loved the attention she got from all the fellow fans. Sporting her Bears jersey, she rooted on the home team. (Like my play on words there?) She taunted the Rams fans sitting next to us, and ignored the drunk guy (who eventually passed out) a few rows in front of us.

All in all, it was a good day to visit Soldier Field! Bears win!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I want her.

Sophia I first discovered her a couple months ago. I made inquiries, but we just plain and simple don't have the money for a home study. It makes me sad, because we seem like the perfect family for her and she seems like the perfect addition to complete our family. So, if anyone has a couple thousand bucks lying around with nothing to do with it....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I am having one of those weeks where I make a to-do list and start checking things off feeling pretty good about what I am getting finished. Then while working on one of the to-do tasks, I realize there are multiple things I left off the to-do list.

I feel like I am doing a delicate dance that is turning out not to be very graceful. Instead, I'm tripping over things and fighting with my two left feet.

In about 2 weeks, the to-do list will be empty and I will go back to being graceful. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Answered Prayer

Yesterday, I told the story of our oven's carbon monoxide problem. Today, the repairman made a house call to evaluate the cost of repairing our oven. Verdict: get a new oven. The repair was going to cost almost as much as the oven itself cost us 5 years ago.

When Mr. Bean came home, I broke to him the bad news of the broken oven and unwelcome guest who had been or is currently living under it. Mr. Repairman told me it was "a creature women tend to not like" and left it at that.

I threw up a few hail Mary prayers. You know the kind that go like this, "Well, Lord, we can't afford a new oven right now. I suppose you already know that. So, as we set forth on our adventure, please pave the way with good sales and 0% financing for 12 months." Of course, on the way out the door, I updated my Facebook status to read I am "open to any and all of your oven buying advice as it seems we are in the market for one. We can use our old one if we want to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. We are opting to purchase a new one." I had a few replies of suggestions of brands and off we went.

What we wanted at store #1 was unavailable until December 12. We could not gamble waiting that long since we start our parade of holiday parties on December 13 and I have a large amount of baking to do.

At store #2, we settled for the next best thing which did not have all the features we wanted. The price was lower than at store #1. They offered free delivery and haul away. The installation cost was only $20 and we could get 0% financing for 12 months. So, we bought it.

We got home and the following comment was on my Facebook status, "
We have one you can have! Ask my mom about it." Figuring it was worth the phone call and vaguely remembering talking to his dad about them having this stove sitting in their garage post-remodeling looking for a new home, I called.

It the the exact brand and color we were hoping for. It also has all the features we want, they are willing to deliver it and take a look at our visitor situation under the current oven. All we have to do is find someone to help us install it. Luckily, a mutual friend of ours is a handyman. Check, check, check, check, check and check. The best part of the whole deal is that its FREE. Oh, yeah. That's my kinda deal.

I'm out $70 for the repairman's fee, but that's a small price to pay for getting the thing replaced. I don't know how much our handyman friend will charge for installation, but it will be much cheaper than the cost of a new oven.

It is amazing to me that even the small things we bring before the Lord matter to him!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hello, Mr. Firemen!

When our carbon monoxide (CO) sensor went off this afternoon, I picked up String Bean (who was out cold taking nap) and went outside. That is when I started laughing because I realized that the public service announcements tell you to get out, but do not really elaborate on what to do after you leave the house.

I tried to call Mr. Bean, but he didn't answer, so I did the next best thing. I called the 85 year old lady who lives upstairs. She laughed and agreed she didn't know what to do either. We decided we'd walk over to the Fire Department (at the end of our driveway basically) and ask them what to do.

Once we got there, they called it in and told us they'd meet us at the house. We walked back home and soon heard and saw the fire truck behind us. Really, Mr. Firemen? A fire truck is required for you to walk into my house with a hand held meter and check the CO levels?! And it takes 3 of you? Must be a slow day at the firehouse. (Interestingly, when they arrived, I got to hear my emergency call go over the radio...not that it was an emergency...nor did I call.)

Upon arrival at our house, one of the neighbor's sons (a 20-something) frantically came running out of the building telling us that the fire alarm was going off in the corner unit and no one was answering the door. About then I think he saw the huge fire truck following us. It is nice to know that the neighbor was concerned enough to bang on our door and then run out to try the windows to see if anyone was inside. Thanks, neighbor.

One fireman took the levels of CO with his handy meter. One looked talked to the 85 year old I brought along, and the third took our alarm off the wall. I asked him if he was impressed that I'd left a step stool for him to reach the alarm with. He was. Says that does not happen very often. (I'm here to serve!) He then lectured me on what a bad alarm we have. Well, Mr. Fireman, it did go off and alert us to a problem, so it can't be all bad.

Ends up our oven is emitting a large amount of CO whenever we open the door. Although the levels themselves were not very high in our condo when they arrived (our door had been wide open for a period of time prior to their arrival), the levels were off the charts when they opened the oven. A repairman will be visiting tomorrow and charging us an arm and a leg to look at it and possibly fix it.

I guess this is a good excuse to put off baking for Christmas for another day or two (depending upon when that repairman shows up tomorrow).