Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dancing With The Stars: Week 2

Surprise! Double Elimination! They shocked us right at the beginning of the show. Oh my, I was really worried that one of my favorites might be sent home, especially after they declared Billy Dee safe. Love his heart.

Drew & Cheryl danced a fun jive. Drew is definitely a crowd pleaser and improved from week one. Does anybody else think that Cheryl's face looks different this season? Just one of my odd observations! Scores: 7, 7, 7

Danica & Val did a samba. Poor Winnie Cooper was crying from the stress. I'm worried about her because this is just week two. It's only going to get harder, Winnie. She did a good job, but the dance was a little too suggestive for my taste. Scores: 8, 8, 8

Billy Dee & Emma danced a tango next. He seemed to be having some difficulty during rehearsals. When he said he wanted to cry, it made me sad. Then, he had his sunglasses on inside. Why? To hide the tears maybe? They brought in some extra girls to dance with him, and that seemed to lift his spirits. I do think he did a little better this week, but I agree with the judges that he needs a lot more content in his dances. Scores: 5, 5, 5

Meryl & Maks did a swing dance. Y'all, she is seriously precious. It was a great dance with lots of lifts. Maks disagreed with a couple of the judges' negative comments. That's nothing new, he never agrees when they aren't all positive. I think Meryl reminds me of Snow White from the original movie. So, if the ice skating thing doesn't work out, maybe she can work at Disney World! Scores: 8, 9, 8

Diana & Henry are eliminated. She handles it so graciously. They get to do their dance anyway, and she is a very good sport about it.

Candace & Mark are next with a rumba. Again, she makes a statement about being a Christian. She also said, "My life revolves around my relationship with Jesus Christ." DOUBLE FIST BUMP! I am just so, so proud of her. I may have even cried a little. Ha! Anyway, her dance was absolutely breathtaking. Then, the judges were so hard on her. They scored her WAY lower than they should have. I was so mad that I actually voted (I hardly ever actually vote). Scores: 7, 7, 7

Amy & Derek do a swing dance. Again, she is amazes me. How is it even possible what she does? Scores: 8, 8, 8

James & Peta are ready for their salsa dance. I still think he is a cutie patooty, but I think he was playing the sexy card way too much. Just my opinion. Score: 9, 8, 8

Charlie & Sharna danced a tango. Wow! It was very good! I think he definitely has an advantage (like Meryl) since they are professional ice skaters. However, it was great no matter what! Scores: 9, 7, 9

Nene & Tony did the jive. I thought she did better than last week. She also looked very pink from head to foot! Scores: 7, 7, 7

Sean & Karina went next with a salsa. He seemed to be trying hard and actually smiling! That's improvement. Scores: 7, 7, 7

Cody & Whitney danced the tango in some light up costumes. I did like their performance better than last week, but I'm still just not sure how I feel about the dancing overall. Scores: 7, 7, 8

Uh oh, Sean & Karina are sent home. That just goes to show that it helps to smile and not be a "bad boy". And it also helps when people know who you are before the show starts. I didn't have a single clue who he was before last week.

To sum in up, most people improved. I'm mad as a hornet about the scores the judges gave Candace. The End.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekend Update: "Just Leave Me Here To Die" Edition

We had a pretty relaxing weekend!

 Friday night, we just stayed home and took selfies.
 On Saturday, Brian went to work on construction at the church for most of the day. I cleaned a little then got on a big organization kick. I mentioned to Claire that she needed to clean up her room. Oh my, the drama that ensued. She literally got in her bed and cried. When I went to talk to her she said (AND I QUOTE), "Just leave me here to die". And she's only eight. Heaven help us all.

It is important to note that she is very messy. She throws stuff everywhere, creating perfect hiding places for rats to come in and build nests. When questioned about it, she says she likes it that way. 
Me: "Do you want to have nests suitable for rats in your room? Do you really want to live like this?"
Claire: "Sure. I like rats. Welcome all rats." 
Or something like that.

Anyway, we worked for a long, long time in the aforementioned rat's nest. It looks fabulous. Just as I like it, clean and straightened. It will likely stay that way for approximately half a day until the rats show back up with their couches, lamps, and welcome mats. 

Next, I moved on to a little place I like to call UNDER THE STAIRS, otherwise known as THE PLACE TOYS GO TO DIE. We clean it out every once in a while, but somehow it's always just a mess. We recently decided to move Max's bedroom to UNDER THE STAIRS because we are ready to reclaim our half bath for actual bathroom purposes. I was thinking of renaming Max Harry Potter since he will be sleeping under the stairs. The closet got all cleaned out and organized.  Max spent his first night in there last night and did great. Bless him. 

P.S. Brian finally acknowledged that we do in fact have room for another dog. However, for the record, I am not to get my hopes up or to get the kids hopes up.

In other news, my hopes are up.

So after a long day of working and cleaning AND a week of healthy eating, we took ourselves to Ridgewood for some homemade blue cheese and the best barbeque known to man. I had looked forward to it all day. I couldn't wait. I had only eaten a few bites in preparation for the big event. 

The line was so long that it stretched out the door and down through the parking lot. The pain is still too fresh to really speak of it, but we ended up having to eat somewhere different.

(First world problems)

We also made a stop for some ice cream.The kids love to go to Dollar General  and pick our their own ice cream from the freezer. Everybody gets what they want. DG for the win!

 I may have picked up a little something for myself to ease the lingering Ridgewood grief.
After church on Sunday, we ate lunch and headed to the mall. Claire has grown so much lately and has no shorts that fit her at all. Since we are headed on a vacation soon to a (hopefully) warm place, she needed some shorts badly. She tried on about 794 pairs until we found a few that would fit. It seems all the shorts are super short even for little girls. I dread trying to find them for her long legs when she actually is a teenager because I know it's hard to find anything modest at that age! 

I also finished Restless this weekend. It is such a great book, and I learned a lot about myself. I may write a little more about the book later, but I highly, highly recommend it!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cream Cheese Enchiladas

 These cream cheese enchiladas that I found on Pinterest looked way too good not to try! A while back, I made a different Pinterest enchilada recipe that had green chiles in it.  Brian and I both loved it, but the kids...not so much.  When I saw this one without the chiles, I decided to give it a whirl.
 They really turned out pretty good! We all thought they were great (except Claire who doesn't really like anything but chocolate). 


5 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sour cream
2 cups prepared salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded pepper-jack cheese, divided
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced
8 8-inch flour tortillas


1. Preheat oven 325 degrees. 2. In a medium bowl cream together cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa. Stir in 1/2 cup of each type of cheese. 3. In a second bowl toss together the chicken, corn, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and half of the scallions. Add the chicken mixture to the cheese mixture and stir to combine. 4. Spread about 1/2 cup salsa in the bottom of a baking dish. Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup filling on a tortilla, roll up and put in dish seam side down. Repeat process for remaining tortillas. 5. Pour remaining salsa over enchiladas, spreading to coat all of them. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. 6. Transfer to preheated oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions and serve warm.
***My notes ~ I omitted the corn and scallions because I wanted the kids to actually give it a try before making a judgment.  They will eat corn, but don't exactly like it.  I also didn't season the chicken the way the recipe calls. I just used lots of different spices and stuff that sounded good.  Ha!  I also added some extra cheese to the top.  I think you know by now how I feel about cheese.

So we agreed it was worth making again! 

Original Pinterest link here

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekend Update: Doughnut and Meximelt Edition

We had another fun weekend.  The weather was nice, and we didn't have too much on the calendar.  On Friday night, our family went to serve at Haven of Mercy then over to help at IHN (a local organization where lots of churches work together to assist the homeless population in our area).

After that, we had some free doughnut coupons that were burning a hole in our pockets.  People, they expired the very next day.  So, I ask you, what choice did we have? We had to get them! I actually was able to resist eating one until Saturday morning since I had already had dessert, but it was HARD!

 Saturday was such a pretty day so we went to the park.  So did everybody else because it was very crowded! Then we went home and grilled some yummy food.

 Sunday we went to church and out to eat at a very fancy local establishment called Taco Bell.  

Sidenote: I went through a long period where I never ever wanted to go to Taco Bell.  I think we have established that I am quite picky.  The meat got chunky and the quality just seemed to go (even farther) down.  (I'm laughing because I'm talking about Taco Bell and quality in the same paragraph.) Anyway, I've recently rediscovered a love for two beef meximelts no pico sauce.  I have no idea why, but I've encouraged my people to take advantage of it while it lasts.
One side of the table

And the other side


   I'm not sure why I'm holding my hands like that.  I must have been on the verge on a cheer or maybe some jazz hands.
Why so serious, sweet Brianaby?
 The rest of Sunday was rainy, so we stayed home and caught up around the house.  Please don't interpret that as cleaning because that didn't happen.  Yes, it should have.  But it didn't.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dancing With The Stars: The Premiere!


It's back! One of my favorite shows, Dancing with the Stars, began it's new season last night.  When the case was first announced, I was a tiny bit disappointed.  There were just a lot of names that I didn't recognize.  So I approached last night's episode with cautious excitement.  It's just always better when you know who the stars are before the show.  In my humble opinion of course. 

First, we need to address Erin Andrews replacement of Brooke.  I have to admit I was a little shocked when I heard about the switch-a-roo.  Brooke seemed to do a good job, and I had no issues at all with her as co-host.  I should add, however, that I have always thought that the show made a mistake way back when they chose Brooke over Melissa Rycroft.  She would be fabulous! But as usual, ABC didn't ask little ol' me.

1. First to dance was Nene Leakes. I honestly may be the only person alive who didn't already know who she was, but I didn't. I had heard her name a few times, but that's it.  She looked like she was having so much fun.  I also couldn't help but notice that she looked beyond thankful to be done. She had so much relief on her face! One more thought...how in the world are her teeth that white?!?! WOW.  Scores: 7, 7, 7

2. James Maslow, the cutie patooty, came on next.  Again, no clue who he was.  However, Claire knew and filled me right in.  Apparently, he's from Big Time Rush.  I would assume that's a reality tv show being created to film live at the Murray house every morning before school.  Right out of the gate, the producers are trying to get us roped into a SHOWmance.  Apparently, James and his partner Peta went out on one date a while back, and now we will all be watching to see what unfolds in the weeks to come....I thought he did a great job dancing (and looking like a cutie patooty) and definitely has some potential.  I need to mention that Peta's dress looked like a pair of suspenders.  I could have used a little more coverage.  Ahem.  Scores: 7, 7, 7 (should have been higher)

3. Danica McKellar, otherwise known as Brian's teenage love of his life aka Winnie Cooper, was the third to dance. Seriously, Brian would list The Wonder Years in his top three favorite shows ever. I never really liked it. I did hope that he might agree to watch it with me this season since his old friend Winnie was dancing.  No such luck.  Even Winnie Cooper can't make him a DWTS viewer. So I give up. She did a great job and was just so excited to be there. Scores: 8, 8, 8

4. Sean Avery (WHO?) was fourth.  Never in my life have I even heard the name Sean Avery.  Granted, I do live under a rock at times, but who?!?! He didn't exactly impress me when he started talking and described himself as a "bad boy".  His voice was kind of monotone, but Karina says he's funny.  He did a lot of running, jumping, and catching Karina.  Scores: 7, 6, 7

5. Billy Dee Williams was next.  Because I was never much of a Star Wars fan, I really wasn't familiar with him either.  See above: I live under a rock.  Bless him.  He's 77 years old with arthritis and two hip replacements so I say, "You go boy"! He's a cute little fellow and seemed to be having fun.  Scores: 5, 5, 5

6. Meryl Davis, an Olympic ice skater, danced her way right into my heart.  She just seems so precious! I also thought she did a fantastic job dancing.  Scores: 8, 8, 8

7.  Candace Cameron Bure was one of the only people that I recognized.  She immediately made a statement about faith, family, and modesty. So I sent a fist bump through the tv screen. Then she did a wonderful job dancing, so I'm really excited and hopeful that she will stick around for a while. Scores: 9, 8, 8
8. Cody Simpson ~ I've at least heard the name. Ha! He's only 17 years old and full of energy for sure.  I love his Australian accent.  I'm not sure about his dancing style, but time will tell! Scores: 7, 7, 7

9. Now Drew Carey, I know! He was next to dance, and I couldn't get over how much weight he has lost.  Yay for him! He made a good effort. Scores: 7, 7, 7

10. I'm sad to say I didn't know who Amy Purcy was before, but she is amazing.  She is a snowboarder with two prosthetic legs.  I promise you that I couldn't snowboard with two natural, albeit chunky and wobbly, legs.  I was just so proud for her and her accomplishments. I'm definitely a fan already! I accidentally forgot to write down her scores probably due to my shock of what I just watched her do!

11. Diana Nyad, the swimmer who swam from Cuba to Florida, danced next. The dance just seemed a little slow overall for me. I did love her motto though of  "Never, ever give up"! Scores: 6, 6, 6 

12. Charlie White, another Olympic ice skater, was the last to dance. He seemed like a very nice guy and danced really well. I'm anxious to see him dance more for sure. His scores were the best for the night: 9, 9, 9

So, after watching the new contestants dance and hearing some of their back stories, I'm very excited for the rest of the season. I just wish we didn't have to wait a whole week until it comes back on again! I'd love to know what you thought about the premiere!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

What I've Been Reading...

It's been quite a while since I've done an update on what I've been reading.  I actually read quite a bit believe or not.  Finding the time is the main problem, but I really enjoy it.  I mostly enjoy nonfiction books, but an occasional fiction book suits my fancy too.

Quite a while back (like last summer) I read Loving Frank.  It's based on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright.  To be honest, I didn't really like it.  It just didn't end well.  Since it holds pretty close to the actual story of his life, I guess the ending just is what it is.  Or was what it was I suppose.  So, I really don't recommend it.  If you want to read it anyway after that glowing review, here you go! Ha!

There's also been a big slew of books that I either started and didn't finish OR skimmed through and read parts that looked interesting.  For example,

I can't remember why I read some of this one.  Quite possibly, it was recommended on a random blog that I came across.  That's where I get most of my book recommendations.  I only read part of it.  There was a little bit of bad language, and it just didn't really fit my interests at the time.  But if you must, here you go!

Then for some reason that I don't even understand myself I read two books about the Kennedy family.  Come to the Edge was about John F. Kennedy Jr. and his girlfriend.  It was pretty interesting. 

Once Upon a Secret was interesting to read too.  It's written by one of JFK's supposed mistresses.  Of course, he's not here to back up (or deny) her story, but it sure sounded convincing! Also, you should know I am fairly naive and easily convinced.

Then the teacher in me read (parts of) these two books: Hope Against Hope and The Smartest Kids in the World

Both were informative, especially for those of us who work in education.

Somewhere along the way, someone recommended Girlfriends to me.  I'm always interested in the topic of friendship, so I read some of it too.  It was ok but didn't keep my attention very well.

Of course, there have been lots of cookbooks.  I ALWAYS read cookbooks.  In fact, it's kind of an obsession with me.  I own way too many, and I love to read them.  I read them like a novel.  It's a little disturbing.  I'm sure it all just links back to my crazy love of food.

So recently, I got on an Ina Garten kick.  I'm sure she's a lovely lady and chef, but she was just never one of my favorites.  I think she just seemed a little fancy for my little East Tennessee self.  Since I try hard not to get above my raisin' (because my brother Mike likes to remind me not to), I had never read any of her books.

Then I checked them out at the library.  And read them all.  There are eight.  And yes,  I read them all. I kept checking out the next one and then the next until Brian finally asked, "So what in the world is up with all the Ina lately?"  Ask me how many of her recipes from those eight cookbooks I've actually made.  On second thought, don't.


I also read parts of these two cookbooks too.



I read most of Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies.  I didn't get to finish it because I renewed it the maximum number of times at the library, and the mean library ladies made me return it.  (They aren't really mean.  In fact, they know me by name because I am in there so much.  I also check out lots of books that I use in my classroom, and they have my number on speed dial to tell me my books are in! I'm pretty sure I keep the local library in business.)

I haven't read this one yet, but it's already on my nightstand.  So many writers I am familiar with have recommended it.  I am not a great writer by a long stretch, but I am interested...


Now, we need to talk about Bread & Wine.  Again, it was a book that I heard about from various blogs I read.  I just can't say enough about this book.  I loved it.  Loved. It. I had checked it out from the library instead of buying it.  Again, I renewed it the maximum times before my library friends pried it from my hands.  I'm going to stop here because it deserves it's own post. So stay tuned... 


I fell so in love with Shauna Niequist (see above) that I ordered my own copy of Bread & Wine as well as two of her other books (below).  I can't wait to read them!



I just finished Quitter today! I've been familiar with Jon Acuff for quite a while.  I read his first book and follow his blog.  He's a hilarious writer!


This is another one of his that I have already checked out and hope to read soon.


I couldn't wait to read The Antelope in the Living Room.  I've read Melanie's blog for years.  I was excited to meet her back in the fall.  She was just precious in person too!  Seriously y'all, I laughed out loud over and over again while I read it.  I finished it in one day because it was just that good. Her first book was just as funny, so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I highly recommend it.


I also bought Love Does recently, but I haven't started it yet.  Unless, of course, you count the times I've read big chunks while sitting in Barnes and Noble.  I have my highlighter ready and seriously can't wait!


When I ordered Love Does, I also ordered Hands Free Mama.  I "previewed" it at B&N too, and I can tell it will be right up my alley.


On the fiction front, these are next on my list: 

What Alice Forgot is about a women who wakes up from a fall to realize she's forgotten ten or so years of her life.  I actually started it a while back then got side-tracked by some other books.  Then the library ladies came calling.  As usual.  So I've checked it back out, but I have so many others currently in progress or waiting in the wings.  I hope I can get to it before they make me give it back. 

(Sidenote: When I started reading it, I had a dream that I couldn't remember important people and events in my life.  It was scary, so I hope finishing it won't make me have more scary dreams!)


I also already have this one checked out, but I doubt I'll get to it in time.  We'll see!

Oh, and this one too.  I've checked it out at least twice before this time.  I still haven't started it, but I keep getting it because so many people have said it's great.

And last, but oh so not least, there's Restless.  I am in the middle of this one now, and it is rocking my world.  When I first heard about it, I knew I needed to read it.  I'm SO GLAD that I am.  Most days I only read one chapter.  Since I'm using it to go along with my Bible study time, I am really taking my time with it.  I want to let it all sink in and am praying that God will really use this book to speak to me in some specific ways.  Like I said, I haven't finished it yet, but I really love it so far.

I think that just about catches me up on my reading list. Whew!

So, what have you been reading lately? I'd love some more ideas for books I should read!