Friday, September 30, 2011

How my husband lost 5 lbs without even trying

We Brem's love food.  As I've probably stated before, eating truly is our hobby.  We like other stuff too, don't get me wrong.  We like watching baseball (while eating), going to the beach (with a picnic), hanging with friends (eating with them) and I like to run (to fend of the results of my eating habit).

In recent months, our eating hobby has really turned into more of an "eating-out hobby" and our home-cooked meals dwindled and became less than inspiring.  I know, Dave Ramsey would be ticked at us for this development.  It didn't help that we had discovered some really amazing places to eat around here AND we'd had numerous guests from out of town that we were wanting to show a good time and good food...I blame them and take no responsibility for those extra couple of lbs that mysteriously popped onto my scale over the summertime.  Thanks a lot "friends".

A few weeks ago, we decided that we'd had enough of eating out.  Well, not really.  We just knew that we probably shouldn't be doing it so much and maybe our budget and waistlines could really use a break.  Some of you are amazing and never eat out and I applaud you.  I am even slightly jealous of your discipline.  But that all is pushed out of my mind when I think of the chicken fajitas at La Casa Del Sazon or the pasta bolognese at Dametra Cafe or even a mustard-fried cheeseburger from In-N-Out.  I like food.  I also like leftovers and not cleaning the dishes.

Some friends of ours who suffer from this same weakness/lack of discipline/love for eating-out/growing waistlines challenged us to a "not eating out" competition a couple of weeks ago to help us all break our evil restaurant habit.  No Starbucks, no restaurants (not even if someone else was buying!) and all food had to be cooked at home for two weeks.  In the event that one family did choose to succumb to the siren song of restaurant food, they would be forced to buy the other family a very nice dinner AND be known as the big, fat losers.  Brem's are not big, fat losers...just fyi.

I'm happy to announce that we survived!  AND we have been inspired!  AND Gavin magically lost FIVE pounds.  AND we saved a billion dollars!  Well, not really on that last one, but I'm sure it's somewhere in that ballpark.

I was seriously in a major cooking rut before this competition.  The thrill of it all matched with pinterest recipes and a desire to use everything we already have in our fridge and cupboards (even the stuff hiding in the back of the pantry) mixed with the inspiration that comes from watching the Food Network has really turned the Brem fam into new (skinnier, richer) people.  We are changed people, people!

Here are a few things that we've used these past couple of weeks that have been the inspiration to change...

*Rosemary Olive Oil Bread found on Pinterest, which led me to the recipe here.  This was AMAZING! 

(I didn't take this pic, it's the one from the site where I found the recipe)

*The BEST Marinara sauce we've ever made in the Brem household.  Oh my.  Found here.  Easy peasey.

*We tried those squeeze tubes of fresh herbs that I always see in the produce section, but never give a second thought.  They are awesome!  They stay good in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

*Finally, we discovered our new favorite cooking show on the Cooking Channel.  I didn't name it, so please don't think I did.  It is HILARIOUS.  It is called "Bitchin' Kitchen" and it is a must-see and has definitely inspired us to venture more into our kitchen.

We went grocery shopping before the competition started and besides a couple of trips to the store to grab 1 or 2 items, we did use almost everything we had.  I love using everything we have!  Things that have been hiding in the pantry are gone!  And nothing goes to waste!

Here's a pic of our nearly empty fridge the day our competition ended...

Can't wait to go to Trader Joe's and fill er' up!

The competition ended this morning and I have no desire to eat out.  Well, almost no desire.  I am getting tired of those dishes.

Anybody have any tried and true "must-try" recipes for us recovering restaurant addicts?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I think I might just be a real baseball fan

Welp, Fantasy Baseball ended for me yesterday with a lovely punch in my face.  I lost.  In the finals.  TO MY FRIEND WHO NEVER CHECKS ON HER TEAM.  I might be slightly disappointed.

Although I won't claim to know everything about baseball, I learned A TON this year and I am so grateful that I got to experience this addiction that my husband has suffered from for the past few years for myself.

AND, I confess, it was really pretty darn fun.

AND I can hold my own in conversations about baseball now and not feel like an idiot.

AND I actually paid attention while watching games with my husband rather than flipping through magazines or checking facebook.  All right, I still did those things, but WAY less than I used to.

AND my husband thinks I am amazing.

I caught myself checking in on my fantasy baseball team (and sometimes praying for them) a couple of times a day and even found myself listening to sports talk radio when Gav wasn't in the car.  I have the fantasy baseball app on my iphone alongside the app.  Oh boy, this may be the real deal.

I've always enjoyed going to baseball games (and eating my way through them), but this year I actually watched the games that we went to and even watched the games on TV when Gavin wasn't even home!  Oh man.  I've become someone that I never imagined I would be.  A baseball fan.

At least I can no longer be accused of being a poser when I wear my Giants or Mariners gear.  Because being accused of being a poser is the worst.

Also, does anyone besides me actually use the word "poser" anymore?  I think I learned it in 7th grade and it was quite possibly one of worst things to be called back then.  On that note, please also never call me a "scrounge".  Thank you very much.

Go Giants and Mariners in 2012!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Week Is Locked In My Cell Phone

Another week of my life documented by my glorious iphone...

Last Saturday night, my sister entrusted me 
to have both of her boys over for a sleepover...
Sorry buddy...I hope you still love me...

Jude spent this morning at Art class.  I'm not sure what he did was actually "art", but he sure had fun making blobs of paint and swishing around the brown paint water...

I think all good Daddy's play with doll houses...

The boy is beginning to eat us out of house and home.  Yesterday, he had 2 eggs, lots of bacon, 1/2 of a bagel and then proceeded to ask for cereal.  I'm already dreading the grocery bill for when he is a teenager...

I'm feeling really proud of my plants.  I planted them last year when they were babies...

Okay, seriously?  I have NEVER used a cauldron.  And I'm really sad that Noelle thinks that I look like this...

 Saw this at a store yesterday.  My mind is still spinning...

life rearranged

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Friend, Karen

Howdy there friends!

In another effort to use our blog for good and not evil, I'd love to introduce you to my friend, Karen.  We've been friends with Karen for many, many years now and just think that she is fantastic.  Many of you may know Karen too and I'd love to hear anything you have to say about her, since I know that nobody has anything bad to say about her!

Karen works in the high school ministry with us and is unbelievably committed to her group of sophomore girls at our church.  I'm inspired by her love, commitment and the influence that she has had on hundreds and hundreds of students throughout the years.  She also works full-time as a teacher for autistic students in one of our local elementary schools.  I honestly can't tell you how much respect and admiration Gavin and I both have for her.  Karen has been a huge advocate for Ovarian Cancer research, has been featured in a handful of newspaper articles and has even traveled to Washington DC recently to share her story and petition for funding and research.  She's just plain ol' amazing.

Plus, she's hilarious.  I mean, really, really funny.

This January, I'm running a half-marathon with a group of ladies called "Team Karen" in an effort to raise some extra cash for our friend during this difficult time.  If any of you feel led to donate to her cause, please let me know and I'll get you all of the info.  Any little bit helps!

There is a brand spankin' new facebook page just created for Team Karen 2012 if you'd like to stop by and check it out.

Also, Karen has a blog if you'd like to hear more from her.

Here's a note one of our friends wrote about Karen and "Team Karen" -

A little bit about Karen Adams:

In December of 2008 Karen was having pain in her lower right side. The pain continued for at least 2 weeks so she decided to go to the doctor to get things checked out. Doctors ruled out appendicitis but decided to send her for a CT scan. 45 minutes after the scan she got a call that changed everything. She was told she had masses on both her ovaries. The next day,December 31, 2008, she saw a doctor who told her she was pretty sure these masses and the other small tumors found on the scan were the result of ovarian cancer.

Karen was 34 years old and was told she needed to have a radical hyterectomy and would never have the chance to have children of her own. The doctors also told her that the survival rate for this cancer was around 30% over 5 years. On January 12, 2009 Karen had a 5 1/2 hour surgery to remove all of her reproductive organs and cancerous tumors that had spread throughout her abdomen, colon, and into her diaphragm. She spent 2 weeks recovering in the hospital, including 5 days in ICU where the doctors kept her sedated because the surgery they performed was so intense she needed the sedation to heal properly. Karen was told she had stage 4 ovarian cancer and even with chemo she had a 25% chance of making it to age 40.

That was not a good day.

Karen has continued to fight. She went through 19 rounds of initial chemotherapy and praises God her body handled the drugs so well. She was in remission for about 9 months, when in April of 2011 she began to have more symptoms and a CT scan showed a few small tumors. Karen is currently back on a different chemotherapy drug and will be getting her 5th dose of Doxil next week.

She has continued to work because it has been the best way for her to keep some normalcy in her life.

In January 2012, a group of Karen supporters (Team Karen 2012) will be participating in a half marathon as a way to support and raise funds for Karen’s cause.

While the event is not a fundraiser and donations are not tax deductible, we are asking family, friends and all other Karen supporters to prayerfully consider assisting her with financial support.

A savings account has been opened in Karen’s name. Should she need to exceed her allotted ten days of sick leave this school year, we hope to assist with resources that will allow her to pay necessary bills and allow her the financial freedom to stay home if feeling ill and recovering from treatments.

On behalf of Karen, thank you for checking out this page, and thank you for your support! Please contact any of the team members if you are interested in donating.

Team Karen 2012 is...
Bridget Dimaggio Luke
Courtney Creel
Crystal Vasquez
Deana Parkins
Dora McKean
Kate Steinbarger
Kerry Harvey
Kim Cross
Kim Milward
Michele Turner
Patty Brem
Ryane Parkins
Tami Creel
Terri Hawkins

Here is a link to another article featuring Karen:

I swiped all of these photos off of her facebook! 

Thank you!  Go Team Karen!

Monday, September 19, 2011

That One Mama I Might Know

Once upon a time there was a Mama who got ahead of her to-do list.

That Mama actually got a workout AND shower before noon.  It was a Christmas miracle happening in September.

That Mama grabbed a towel out of her freshly filled linen closet before she got into the shower (all of the laundry was done - another Christmas miracle!).

Expecting a hot, relaxing shower, the Mama was a bit surprised when the hot water ran out quicker than expected.  This Mama that I'm talking about lives in a rental house that maybe hasn't been taken super good care of by the owners...and maybe the hot water tank has multiple personalities that maybe sometimes burns the skin off your hands by how hot the water runs and then the next day only offers you 4 minutes of lukewarm water for your shower.

Anyways, this particular Mama wasn't going to allow a lukewarm shower ruin the productivity high that she was feeling that day.

That Mama that I'm talking about finished her shower and grabbed the freshly laundered towel and proceeded to dry off her face with vigor.  And then she smelled it.  The towel smelled like barf.  It didn't smell like "left in the dryer too long", it actually smelled like barf.

This Mama tried not to gag as she flew through the catalog of her memory searching for the last time someone in her household had barfed, and lo and behold, she remembered that this particular towel had been the one used to catch that particular hurl.

Apparently, that Mama's washing machine isn't workin' so well, either.

And that Mama got to spend a bit more time showering in lukewarm water and doing laundry that day.

The End

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Uh-oh, I'm obsessed.

Oh my goodness.  I've found a new obsession.  I know, I'm late to the game...again.  At least I showed-up though, right?  One word: Pinterest.  Holy cow.  I've spent WAY too much time on this site already today, BUT I've already recycled an old running t-shirt that had a couple of holes in it and turned it into a headband, so...worth it?  YES.

I've also planned the fall decor for our house and decided on our next 85,000 recipes we will be trying.

I found this cute and SUPER easy headband tutorial on pinterest and it sent me here:

It took me about 10 minutes, but I didn't glue the headband (note to self: buy a hot glue gun).  Instead, I stitched it up with a needle and thread real fast (also, not pretty, so don't look at the part of the headband that is under my hair).

I can't wait to try to put some cute beads or jewels on it.

Also, I think I cheated by using an old t-shirt (hopefully, it doesn't smell like B.O. and hopefully, I'm not immune to my own B.O. smell).  I just cut strips off of the bottom of the shirt and used 2 strips to tie the knots and make the headband.  Yay for being resourceful!

Even Gavin liked it!

Look how cute my girl is...

I look really tan...

Thanks iphone, for my very tan looking skin.  Oh, and thanks California...

 I'll leave you with reason number 842,796 that I LOVE Disneyland...
They give Tapatio away in packets like ketchup!  Yahoo!  We have 8 in our fridge right now...

Yay for Tapatio!  Anyone know how to make that awesome accent that goes on the "i"???

Friday, September 2, 2011

In Defense Of My Baby

My little boy is autistic.  And I love it.  And I love him.

For those of you who have been around us for any length of time, we've made it known that Jude is high-functioning autistic.  A psychologist who sat down and watched him for 20 minutes came to that conclusion.  Neat.  Thanks for your thorough diagnosis.

Anyways, having a boy like Jude is amazing.  I wouldn't have it any other way and I think he is the greatest little boy in the world.  And he's my baby.  

Jude is in 1st grade right now and is reading, writing and doing math WELL beyond his grade level.  He has been playing the piano for about 2 months now and has memorized how to play "Happy Birthday", "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and the first half of "The Star Spangled Banner".  He taught himself to read.  He has memorized the numbers, positions and names of every player on the San Francisco Giants and can tell you the scores of the last many games they've played.  He knows how many home-runs his favorite players have hit and nearly every name on the roster that has been on the DL this season.  He LOVES his big sister.  He is VERY affectionate.  He is hilarious and LOVES to make anyone laugh.  He will always offer to share his water or snack with you.  He goes to bed without a fight.  He dresses himself, goes potty by himself, hasn't wet the bed since he was 2 1/2 and can make his own breakfast, lunch or snack.  He is obsessed with video games, like most 7 year old boys.  He rarely throw fits.  He only argues a little bit.  He loves Star Wars and Legos.  He makes quirky noises.  He's super easy to babysit.  He is a fabulous child.  And he's my sweet little baby.

Sometimes, professionals (and some non-professionals) forget that they are talking to me about my baby. They start talking to me about some autistic child with "primal behaviors" (she saw him stick his hand down his pants while he was sitting in a chair - boy, maybe?).  They use words like "services" and ask things like "Don't you think he needs help?" and "Are you socializing him?" and "What kind of therapies are you doing?" and "Make sure you consider his needs in your future plans."

Um, I'm his mom and I think he's amazing.  Also, I spend my entire life considering his needs.  Thanks, though.

It's just that I probably wouldn't talk about your baby like that.  Especially if it was even half as cute as Jude.

I appreciate that people care, I do.

I LOVE his homeschool advisor and how she thinks he is just fantastic.  I LOVE his old speech therapist who thought Jude was just the greatest thing around and cheered him on with me.  I am SO thankful for his preschool teacher, Lisa Southard, who I know probably knew in her heart that Jude was on the autism spectrum, but held her tongue and loved him and cuddled him and only spoke words of great blessing over him.  I LOVE my friend Carrie Jones, who celebrated Jude's milestones with me and never saw his quirks and issues and problems.  I LOVE my nephew Jonas, who protects Jude and is rarely annoyed with him.  I LOVE my friends Joel and Deana Parkins, who go out of their way to make Jude feel special and cool and talk about him like he is the greatest kid around.  I am SO thankful for my friends Aaron and Kerri Gentile who have embraced Jude as if there's never been a thing wrong with him from the beginning.  And that's the truth.  I TRULY believe in my heart of hearts that God allowed Jude to be this way and I wouldn't want him any other way.  And I think he is just plain fantastic.

Sure, Jude will never play professional baseball.  But he may own his own professional baseball team someday...

When Jude was little, I am so thankful for those that held their tongue and didn't point out what was "wrong" with Jude and spoke words of life over him.  I needed that.  I needed to grieve and believe that things were fine back then.  Because they really, truly are.  Even if no one had said anything, I would've figured it out.  I knew already anyway, because I am a good mom.  And good mom's know what is best for their babies.  And it was best for Jude to have a mommy at that time who believed that everything was hunky-dory.  Eventually, I was ready (it didn't take that long) and we are where we are today.

We had Jude officially diagnosed about 2 years ago and it has changed nothing in our family.  Thankfully, "high-functioning" allows us to do most things that "normal" families get to do.  Although, I wouldn't necessarily say that we are a "normal" family...haha.  I'm not worried about Jude's future.  He's a genius.  He's probably going to go to college and make millions of dollars doing some geniusy thing.  Who know's if he'll get married?  Who knows if Noelle (who's not autisitic) will get married?  I'm not worried.

For future reference, if you are a well-meaning person, I encourage you to embrace these little people as people.  They are all somebody's baby.  And everyone wants to hear how great/fantastic/cute/smart/funny that their baby is.  I also want to know how to help my baby, but please, talk about them like they are a human, a child, my love, my baby.  Not a weird, retarded, outcast with problems.  Thanks again.

PS (for anyone who is concerned)-
*Jude is getting weekly speech therapy.  He has a problem with the "L" sound.  I'm sure it would eventually resolve itself if left alone, but we are being "responsible" parents and getting him speech therapy.
*Jude is socialized daily by playing with his sister and neighborhood friends.  He also does Awanas through our church and LOVES it.  He attends Sunday school and spends quite a bit of time hanging around and being wrestled with by high school students.
*He's doing 4th grade level math and 3rd grade level reading.  
*He ran 1.67 miles with me this morning.  I think he might be a cross-country runner.
*He LOVES to annoy his big sister and takes great joy in his role of "little brother".

Right Up My Alley

My friend Carina recently started doing this on Fridays and I LOVE it.

I am constantly forgetting my "real" camera and end up taking millions of photos with my iphone.  Here is my week in cell phone pics...

My house was all clean.
I turned my back for 2 minutes and went into the kitchen.  
The girl struck again.
 Apparently, the "pets" wanted to watch a show...

This is what happens when the girl plays with the firefighter from the Hero Squad. 
 I hope he's enjoying his cocktail!

The FAIR is here!  
Jammie bought Noelle a giant ice cream followed by a giant lemonade 
and then let her go on a bunch of rides.  
An 8 year old's dream come true...

See that little dolphin Jude is holding?  
Yeah, that cost TEN bucks and had a hole in it before we even got home.  
Worth every penny because Jude believes he won it by popping a few balloons with darts...

I'm in this "use everything we have in the fridge and cupboards before I go grocery shopping again kick" and this is what I made on Wednesday and it was AMAZING.  
Red beans and rice made with leftover turkey taco meat. 
 I'm drooling just thinking about it...
(Here's the recipe - I substituted yellow pepper for green and ground leftover turkey for kielbasa -

I love this SO much.
 It looks like he's going 40mph, but he's really going 2mph...

Back 2 School night for Noelle was last night.
I had to guess which of these little people was her.
 I guessed right.
The tie-dye shirt gave it away...
life rearranged

Happy Weekend!  Woe is me, I'll be in Disneyland come Sunday...