Dec 30, 2008

I See What You're Saying! -- Second Edition



Well, here it is! This is such an exciting day for many of us in ye olde blogging world!

Special thanks to Lidna Linda over at 2nd Cup of Coffee for hosting this most memorable day. I can't wait to see everybody's video! If you hadn't decided whether or not you were going to do this, just DO IT! You know you want to.

Enjoy the vlog...and then go pay a visit to the other crazy participants at 2nd Cup!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

video

Dec 16, 2008

Christmas Tour of Homes



Do you see the date on that button? Story of my life: Always a day late and a dollar short.

Not really. But it sounded fitting.

I probably won't be able to link up now, but I thought at least one or two of my online buddies might be interested in all the Christmas paraphernalia I have around de casa. And maybe my mommy. If you're not one of them, then just carry on. It's okay.

I might be at risk for crashing all of blogger with all the pictures I plan to post, but HEY, how much fun would life be if it weren't for the unexpected, right?

Here is what you see if you were to come to my front door. It's really comical that I'm posting this first, as if you were coming to my house and actually coming through the front door, because nobody ever uses the front door. There's about an acre of land that is our front yard, and there is no sidewalk, stepping stones, or even a worn trail leading up to our front porch. Nada. Nuttin. Nix.

How's that for some alliteration awesomeness?

On with the tour:



There is one of these wreaths on all the sets of windows on the front of our house. I would have taken a picture of the whole front and shown you all of the windows in all their glorious splendor, but it was raining when I took the pictures.



And this little guy has a thankless job: he greets the numerous visitors who grace our front porch through the holiday season. I think one time in six years he's seen a UPS man drop off a box. Poor guy.


Once inside, you would walk around and see this, our family Christmas tree. We have an artificial tree, but someday I would like to have disposable money enough to purchase a real tree again. Oh, the glory years. How I miss them. Well, in reality, we just haven't made it a priority in several years to get a real tree. Ultimately what I would like to do is put this tree in our bedroom, and get back to purchasing real trees. I miss the smell, but mostly I miss the shape of a real tree. They are less triangular-shaped, and more...well, tree-shaped. Natural, that is.

As you can see in this picture, we have an electric train track immediately around the tree. But we also have a much larger track that circles the entire living room. That track has since been taken down so that mom doesn't break her neck tripping over it while carrying alpine loads of laundry through the living room.



Yes, God gave me this old farmhouse with pink carpet in the living room to test the manhood of my family. Believe me, they pass...with red-blooded, macho colors.

Anyway, here's another view of the train sailing through the house.



One of our family traditions is to collect one new train car each year. We started out with the locomotive and its tender car, and then we bought one car for each boy. Now we add one car per year, and will continue to do that until they all leave home. That way, when we're dead, they can fight over who gets which ones.

Okay, moving on...

Since we don't have a fireplace (well, we do, but 160 year old mortar doesn't hold up so well, so somebody walled it up about a decade ago. Shameful, I know.) Anyway, we don't have a fireplace that you can see, or hang stockings on, we just hang them on the TV cabinet.


Moving out of the living room now, I'd like to share my kitchen with you. This centerpiece is, unlike our tree, made from real balsam fir. Funny, I actually typed "fur." I think I need some coffee. As I was about to say, our home school co-op sold these as one of our fundraisers this year. I couldn't be more pleased with it!

The ornaments you see around the bottom are actually laced together with a ribbon and go all the way around the centerpiece. They are very old ornaments I picked up at a flea market years ago. I absolutely love love love vintage Christmas ornaments, so I have plenty. Most of them go in bowls around my house:



Some of them actually go into a glass box my daddy made years ago that I now use as an end table. Normally, there is a statue of Clint Eastwood with an old revolver, a belt with bullet slots, an old pocket watch, and a few Dirty Harry VHS movies in there. (I told you we have ways to battle the pink carpet for the testosterone domination in our house.) But for Christmas, we stash these treasures:


I took that picture with just the Christmas tree lights on, so it gave it that reddish-pink hue. See how it makes the carpet look almost white! The battle, it never ends.

Anyway, one year I filled that glass box with waded up white tissue paper, and then placed the ornaments tucked inside the folds of the paper against the glass. I spaced them out so they looked like polka-dots and then wrapped the outside of the box with a wide, gold ribbon and tied a bow on top like a present! It was one of the coolest things I had ever done. I would love to show you a picture, but it got wiped out with our old computer. Sniff.

Okay, almost done: The kitchen has the near-death-experienced cabinet I wrote about here. Needless to say, it's the showpiece of my kitchen (at least it is for DH and me).

I have a garland on top with (you guessed it) old vintage lights that my grandmother gave me years ago. I don't know why I like old stuff so much, but I do. The bubble lights are new, but they are an old concept.



I've placed all my Christmas china in one cabinet, so it's actually displayed during the holidays (what a concept!)
I have a nativity on this cabinet that Brown Eyes has decided he wanted to use as an interactive nativity.
I guess the first thing you might notice is just exactly how empty it is. That's because it's not Christmas Eve yet, and neither Mary and Joseph nor the kings have made it to the manger. So here's Mary and Joseph on their pilgrimage to the manger, and every day Brown Eyes moves them just a little closer to it.

The three wise guys stay hidden on the other side of the kitchen (afar), but get mysteriously moved every so often. *wink*

I also have another nativity on a shelf in the living room, and I'm sure you observant ones would notice there is no baby Jesus. He will find His place on...you guessed it again...Christmas Eve night.

But still staying in the kitchen, this is the little tree we keep in here. It sits on top of my grandpa's old ice box. For you young-uns, it's a wooden box they used to keep a block of ice on top (thus the term ice box) and the cold would fall into the bottom part, where they would keep their foods cool. I guess you could call it the pre-refrigerator. Anyway, here's the tree:

I love a nativity because it reminds us of the reason we celebrate this season in the first place! I think too many people get wrapped up in the tinsel and lights, the gifts and food (basically, the consumption of it) that they don't remember or don't care about the real celebration. I don't want that to happen in our home, so I have a nativity in just about every room in our house. Here are the ones in my kitchen and bathroom.



This second one is my favorite of all; it's made of olive wood in the holy land. My grandmother gave it to me years ago, and I cherish it most of all...even as simple as it is.

This is the one that is in our office/schoolroom on Mini me's desk. It belonged to DH's grandmother. My friend Dena at Green Acres has the same one posted on her tour! Such a small world, really.



I was going to show you some of my favorite ornaments on the tree, too, but I think I'll save that for another post. I would like to post at least one more time before Christmas (Lord, help me!) so I thought I could share those plus our favorite Christmas traditions. We have many to fill up the huge Santa gap that some people think we must leave empty for our kids. Not so, it's just not so.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dec 12, 2008

Back to Bethlehem

So yeah, everybody's busy.

Me too.

I just wanted to share with y'all what I've been up to that has been consuming my time (aside from school, of course).

Back to Bethlehem is a ministry where we build a replica of the city of Bethlehem during the night of Christ’s birth. It’s a very moving experience to go through it. I am the first storyteller that people listen to right before they enter the city. They then walk through and see the Roman census takers and soldiers, as well as people dressed up as townspeople, merchants, etc. We have an innkeeper and his wife (I play their daughter…and I tell the people about how my father had a young couple come in who was GREAT with child, and he sent them out back to sleep in the STABLE!)

The city is built in the parking lot of the church, and it’s lit only by fires burning in torches above the city. The ambiance is indescribable. When you go through the city, you can stop and talk to the merchants, who all “sell” something in particular (bread, spices, fish, fabrics, etc.) They are knowledgeable about their product during that time, so you get many history lessons has you go through and visit.

We even have camels, llamas, goats, sheep, and chickens being walked around the city! They come from a local petting zoo, and the kids love to pet the animals.

Then at the end of the city, you find a living nativity complete with angels and beautiful music, and then you walk further toward the building and there is the place of crucifixion and resurrection, too! I myself have been moved to tears at this part of the presentation.

After our visitors have made their way through the whole city, they find themselves in the fellowship hall for coffee or hot chocolate and cookies. They get a chance to warm themselves there before they head home. It's a very pleasant experience for all.

Anyway, here's a video from last year just so you can get a better idea of what we're doing for nine nights here. Copy and paste the following link in your address bar to watch the movie, or I found some still shots on youtube as you'll see below:

http://www.backtobethlehem.com/Media/3%20Min%202006.wmv

Nov 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Fun




My sweet bloggy friend Edie posted a Thanksgiving meme and I am joining in. I know Thanksgiving is almost over, but this is the first chance I've had to sit, let alone get on this computer!


So anyway, this looked like fun, so here we go:


1. Which do you like better: cooking at your house, or going elsewhere? Cooking at my house, using my super duper awesome dishes that my totally awesome God provided for me this year!


2. Do you buy a fresh or frozen bird? Frozen because I always buy it waaayyy ahead of time.


3. What kind of stuffing? My Grandma taught me to make the cornbread dressing (not stuffing) which is why it is the BEST. [Well, this is just weird, because this is actually Edie's response, but it's really just perfect for me, too.]


4. Sweet potato or pumpkin pie? Pumpkin Pie. I had never had sweet potato pie until I moved to Georgia, 6 years ago. No, I'm not kidding.


5. Do you believe that turkey leftovers are a curse, or the point of the whole thing? Absolutely the point! I love turkey: sandwiches, dumplins, sandwiches, soups, sandwiches, casseroles, salad sandwiches...



6. Which side dish would provoke a riot if you left it off the menu? Dressing, green bean casserole, or Grand Marnier Sweet Potatoes.


7. Do you save the carcass to make soup or stock? Yeah, but we had a 23 pound turkey, so I only save part of the carcass.


8. What do you wish you had that would make preparing Thanksgiving dinner easier? A maid.


9. Do you get up at the crack of dawn to have dinner ready in the early afternoon, or do you eat at your normal dinner hour? We usually eat around 2 pm, so I do as much as I can the two days before. I make my pie crusts, cornbread for the dressing, and spice leaf cookies two days beforehand.


10. If you go to somebody else's house, what's your favorite dish to bring? Side: Grand Marnier Sweet Potatoes; dessert: pecan pie or chess pie


11. Is your cranberry sauce fresh or canned? Ocean Spray, baby.


12. What's your absolute favorite thing on the menu? Dressing with giblet gravy. Nothing like it.


We had a great Thanksgiving Day today: family, friends, fellowship, and food...who could ask for anything more?


I'm also thankful, by the way, for my very special blogging friends. You guys mean more to me than you will ever know this side of heaven. I have been encouraged, uplifted, and inspired by you. Thank you, from the depth of my soul.

Nov 25, 2008

Cooking, Cooking, Cooking....




I love Norman Rockwell pictures. They are usually so cozy and old fashioned, with expressions from people that I can usually relate to.


Anyway, things are really getting cooking down here in the South...in fact, I just overheated my cast iron pan and the smoke detector sounded. Everybody else is in bed already. Oops.


Well, I think that was Divine Intervention...and He is telling me I really shouldn't be on here. So I'm gonna post my Thanksgiving Day Menu and scat. Just in case somebody can't sleep tonight until they know what I'm serving for dinner. Lookin' out for ya.


Appetizers:

Garlic Dip with fritos
Cream cheese and pepper jelly with crackers
Pumpkin Dip with ginger thins

Meal:

Turkey and giblet gravy
Grandma's Old Fashioned Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli Rice Cheese Casserole
Grand Marnier Sweet Potato Casserole
Cauliflower and cheese
Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin rolls


Dessert:

Pecan pie
Chess pie
Pumpkin pie
Spice leaf cookies


I never really noticed how much we're really into dips and casseroles.


What about you...what's on your menu? C'mon, I really need to sleep tonight...!

Nov 23, 2008

I Feel a Little Like a Thief...Almost

I love me a good deal, y'all. And the one thing I like about shopping is finding some steal that I can feel good about paying our hard-earned money for.


I enjoy the thrill of looking for the best deal for the best quality. And when it fills a need for our family, it's like I've hit the jackpot! You know, if we like...played lottery.


So I share this in all earnestness and enthusiasm...because this deal made me almost feel guilty.


Seriously.


But I got over it in about 30 seconds.


DH and I love the holidays. We really love the holidays. By holidays, I am specifically referring to Thanksgiving and Christmas. And more generally, I'm referring to November 1 through January 1.


We have a lot of fun and meaningful traditions that we do for each. For example, for Thanksgiving, we have a glass jar that I put out on November 1. I buy a special, pretty pad of paper (not sticky) and put that inside the jar with a pen. From the first of November until Thanksgiving Day, we all have been writing on a piece of paper something that we notice we are thankful to God for. We don't sign them, we just write what it is, fold it, and drop it in the jar.


We've been watching it slowing fill up through the month, and on Thanksgiving Day, after dinner, we will gather together in the living room and take turns pulling a piece of thankfulness from the jar to read aloud.


After the day is over, I collect all the papers in a plastic baggie, write the year on it, and seal it up to store in our desk. Talk about leaving a legacy! I can't wait to peruse through them in about 10 years with my grown and/or almost grown kids. Wow. The last 10 years went pretty quickly.


*sigh*


So anyway, back on track: we love the holidays. And we love to have people over for the holidays, too. Which gets me back to my original purpose of this post: steal of a deal.


We have a family of 7 coming over for Thanksgiving this week, which I am so excited about. However, in the area of dishes, I have enough of the everyday china that my grandmother gave me when we first got married, but it's blue and yellow and green. Very "spring-y." Then I have our regular dishes that have roosters on them, but I only have a place setting for six.


And our budget is stretched, to say the least.


What was I to do? I'll tell you what I did: I prayed. I asked the Creator of the Universe, the One Who Sees all things, good and bad; the One Who is eternal, and knows how many hairs are on my head today; the One Who has already done way more for me than I could ever deserve...to provide me with some new dishes. Yep.


And you know what? He cared. He listened. He provided. He's so good to me.


Get this:


I asked Him if it was His will that I spend money on new dishes, then for Him to just let me find what would work for the fall, be inexpensive, and then provide the money. If not, then I was okay with that, too. Shortly afterward, I had the idea to check with Garden Ridge Pottery online to see what they have.


Turned out they don't offer shopping online, but they post their current circular on their website.


Lo, and behold, they had a teensy, weensy picture of some dishes that were on sale...a whole set for $7.99.


Yeah, that's what I said. No way.


But I had to find out. The sale was to end the next day, so I needed to go check this out. I stopped by five other places just to make sure I wasn't going to get a better deal somewhere else, because come on, this was too good to be true.


I pulled up to Garden Ridge and prayed one more time. Lord, it's all up to You. I want what you want. I don't want to spend money where you say I shouldn't, so please lead me.


Here we go, You and me, Lord.


I walked back to the dishes section of the store. My eyes were constantly scanning for piracy waiting to be had. And then I saw them: Boxes of autumn-colored dishes with raised embellishment around the rim. Exactly what I had in mind.


Each box contained a 20-piece set...for exactly $7.99. I couldn't believe my eyes.










So I bought three sets...$120 worth of dishes (retail) for $24 bucks! Deal of the century. Our God knows how to delight His girl!

Nov 18, 2008

REBEL-UTION!

TheRebelution.com: The Modesty Survey

Okay, I know I haven't been around in a few days, and this is really cheezy to post someone else's words on your blog when you've been away. In this case, however, the words they used were SO compelling that I thought I would just leave them the way they are and include a link.

If you have teenagers, know any teenagers, or have children who will one day be teenagers, then you have GOT to check out this website! I am absolutely blown AWAY by these teenage boys and the Rebelution they have started.

Oh how I pray for my boys that they will have this kind of integrity and courage as young adults!

The following is straight from their website:

TheRebelution.com has launched the results of their massive Modesty Survey! Over 1,600 Christian guys have answered questions on everything from glitter lotion and lip gloss to swimsuits and skirt slits! It's everything girls have ever wanted to ask guys about modesty, but were afraid to ask!

For guys, it's really interesting to see what other Christian guys think! Most importantly, the survey is presented as a resource to help Christian girls (and guys), not a list of legalistic rules, and it is accompanied by the Modesty Survey Petition (which tons of guys have signed) which encourage young women to focus on the heart, not the hemline, to honor their parents, etc.

The results were released on St. Valentine's Day as a gift from 1,600 Christian guys to all Christian girls -- and I can't think of a better one! Now the survey is being endorsed by people like Shaunti Feldhahn ("For Women Only") Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Revive Our Hearts), CJ Mahaney (Sovereign Grace Ministries) and Shannon Ethridge ("Every Woman's Battle")!

Go check it out: www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey

But also make sure you spread the word to all your friends. We want as many Christian girls (and guys) as possible to see this, so forward this on!


P.S. Guys, they are still accepting signatures for the Modesty Survey Petition, so this is an opportunity for you to still share your voice on the topic of modesty!

THE MODESTY SURVEY http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey

Nov 10, 2008

Fall Into Flavor...Again!




WOO HOO...two in a row! Linda, aren't you proud??


If you have no idea what I'm talking about: Linda over at 2nd cup of coffee has brilliantly started a blogging carnival for every Monday during the fall season. Go check her out at the end of this post!


So for today, I am going to share my favorite recipe for Apple Dumplings. Or as we say here in the South: Apple Dumplins.


Allow me to precede this exceptional recipe with one statement:


These are the best apple-anythings I ever tasted in my life. Ever. Bar none. The best.


Can I be more clear? Excuse me while I wipe my salivation. That's a nice word for drool. It would be shame to short-circuit my keyboard on my beloved laptop computer.


I suppose it's possible that they wouldn't have been as big of a deal to me had I had them before I made these. But as these were my first experience of Apple Dumplins, they are deemed The Best by me and all my household.


Okay, enough with the blabbering. But really, they're good. REALLY.


Apple Dumplins
Ingredients:


2 to 2-1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. milk
4 to 6 Granny Smith or other cooking apples, cored, peeled, and sliced (I actually chop them in bite size pieces)
approx. 1/2 c. sugar, for sprinkling apples
cinnamon
nutmeg
butter, cut in small pieces


Syrup:

2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 c. hot water
1/4 c. butter, melted

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening (I used my hands) until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add milk, stirring to make a soft dough. Roll dough into a 1/8" thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 5-inch squares.


Place 3 to 4 apple slices on each square. Sprinkle each with 2 tsp. of sugar, a sprinkling of cinnamon and of nutmeg, and dot with butter. Moisten edges of each dumpling with water; bring corners to center, pinching edges to seal.


Place dumplins 1 inch apart in a lightly greased shallow baking dish (must have sides!).


Combine 2 cups sugar, 1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg, 2 cups hot water, and melted butter. Stir to dissolve sugar. Pour syrup over dumplins. (It will look watery...don't be alarmed!)


Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.


Serve with syrup spooned over and vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
And believe me, you desire.




Nov 6, 2008

Treats and Traits Thursday -- Bright Morning Star


This week, there's been a particular name of Christ that has reminded me of His faithfulness, reliability, and the bright hope He brings to a lost and dying world.

I homeschool my kids, but we are also involved in a homeschool co-op that we attend every Thursday afternoon. We used to participate in the full program (which is twice per week), but honestly, with Minime's new subject load, we just needed to be home more than when we started in 2nd grade!


I teach one of the three classes he attends at co-op, which is the 5th grade Astronomy class (not to be confused with Astrology...we learn planets, stars, constellations; not signs, horoscopes, and superstitions). In Astronomy, we are able to study the solar system and outer space as all part of God's creation.


Last Thursday, we completed our unit on the planet Venus. It's the second planet from our sun, and it's also the brightest celestial body in our early morning or early evening sky (besides the moon, of course).

And since prehistoric times, the presence of Venus in the morning sky has always been known as the eastern herald proclaiming the dawn of a brand new day:


"Because of its appearance in the eastern sky before dawn, it was thought of as the harbinger of sunrise. The title Aster Lampros Proinos presents a powerful and beautiful image of the One who is also known as 'the light of the world.'" (Immanuel, Praying the Names of God through the Christmas Season by Ann Spangler, page 123).


So here it is:

Jesus, the Brightest Star in the early morning, proclaiming the hope of dawn, which in itself holds relief from the night and promises of newness of life. Thank you, Jesus.

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." Rev 22:12-16


Artist's rendition of Venus in the early morning sky


Nov 5, 2008

Toys Worth Buying -- WFMW

This week's Works for Me Wednesday is a themed edition: Toys That Are Actually Worth Buying (presumably for Christmas).

Big shocker here, but I won't be offering any Barbies or My Little Ponies. The only thing I know about girls' toys is the whole Bratz sensation...and the only thing I can say is that if I had a girl, I wouldn't buy them.

When Mini me was three, my uncle gave him a very small figure "8" wooden train set for Christmas. He played with that thing like you wouldn't believe -- it fed his little boy-brain that wanted to build and tear down constantly. So the next year, we invested a little more and got him a full set. We didn't see any need to spend the extra just to get a name brand (like Thomas), so we just got him one from Target that I think cost about $40.

That set, and later others, successfully developed in this child a love for trains and "designing the coolest track ever!" They still play with this set (Mini me is now almost 11 years old!) and we have since supplied them with other pieces of buildings, a train station with lights and sounds, etc. to add to it.

Sidenote: although the tables are kinda cool, we refrained from buying one. I'm really glad that we did refrain; most of Mini me's tracks have been some convoluted shape that would never have worked within the confines of a table!

At least for my boys, this has proven to be the most beneficial buy in many, many Christmases:





So make some tracks over to Shannon's Rocks In My Dryer for more worthwhile suggestions!

Nov 4, 2008

Trip to Kentucky, Numero Dose

Well, in the spirit of "Do Overs," I am going to post my new (but not new) slideshow.

See, here's what happened: I spent a lot of time creating this fantasic slideshow on the Rock You! website. When I pasted the code to my post, it showed me the wrong slideshow. I emailed the company, but got no response (to this day). So I then emailed a friend who has had the same problem, and she said hers eventually published just fine; maybe the spanish slideshow is just a filler until your post actually publishes the slideshow. Great! So I scheduled the thing to publish.

WELL, my DH stayed home for a bit this morning, so I didn't check my blog until 7:30 am or so. Some of you had commented already; including one dear friend asking if we speak spanish fluently! Well no, we really don't.

So I sent another email, sent a message to their online "live chat" (which was OFF line), and after searching for a phone number on their site for some time, called their offices...which had NO ONE to answer the phone.

Go figure.

So Smilebox is now my internet hero. (I have others, but those are either God, or people...this one is just a website). Anyway, they saved the day for me.

At least I hope so. As I am typing this, I haven't actually published it yet. :-)


Click to play Trip to Kentucky
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Trip to Kentucky

So my mom was here for 10 days for the first time in four years. Yep. Four years. Usually we go home (she lives in Texas) at least once a year, but I had told her we most likely wouldn't make it home this year. So she did what any self-respecting Mamaw suffering from grandchildren withdrawals would do: she hopped on a jet plane and came to see us!

We also have some friends who are much further along in life than we are. She and I worked in women's ministry together for a while and got to develop a Christ-centered relationship through that. Even though she and I don't get to attend church together anymore, we still have that sweet bond that joins two believers together and nothing can separate...even time away. She and her DH have spent the last couple of decades saving up money and furnishings for land and to build a cabin in Kentucky, which is where their roots are. (Talk about inspiration!) Both of them grew up within just a few miles of their property, which they call Twin Oaks.

Their dream all those years was to build a cabin in which their children (and now grandchildren) can congregate for the holidays and reunions, etc. They have a large family, so the cabin needed to be accommodating...and boy is it.

My friend (I'll call her Penny) and her hubby are so gracious as to allow people (including our family) to visit their cabin when their family isn't using it. My DH built a few things for her kitchen, including a pot rack




and a bea.u.ti.ful shelving unit that is mounted to her cabinet





So couple that with the fact that this is our third time to stay in this glorious cabin, and you have a small sense of ownership on our part! It's like a home-away-from-home for us. Really, it's more like a heaven-away-from-reality. Yeah, it's like that.

Anyway, while we were there, Brown Eyes celebrated his 8th birthday, and even though he hasn't had his "party" with his friends and all, he (and we) had a ball. Enjoy the show:


[EDIT: Apparently Rock You! has some serious issues, because we are not a hispanic family, but that's the slideshow that was posted here this morning. I have an email into them to see if we can fix el problemo.] :-)

Nov 3, 2008

Fall Into Flavor


Okay, y'all. I don't really believe that there's anybody who reads my stuff that doesn't know about Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee, but just in case one of you may have inadvertently missed her post about "Obamaman," you absolutely MUST go read it. And send it to all your friends. I promise at least one out-loud laugh along with a minimum of one eyebrow raise.


But then you should come back here, because I have a second link to Linda for her Fall Into Flavor carnival. Or meme. Or whatever. Does anybody know the difference between the two? I haven't figured that out yet.


Pitiful as it is, I haven't participated in this wonderful {insert preferred bloggy term here} except to read other people's contributions. I really don't know how some of you get to post as often as you do! But I am loving reading them and posting as often as I can.


Anyway, here's my first-ever offering for Fall Into Flavor:


Pork Chops with Apples and Stuffing



6 boneless pork loin chops (1" thick)
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pkg. (16 oz.) Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing mix
1 or 2 cans apple pie filling (I like lots of apples, so I use 2)
ground cinnamon, to taste


Preheat oven to 350.

In a skillet, season chops with salt and pepper, and brown chops in oil over medium high heat.

Meanwhile, prepare entire bag of stuffing per directions.

Spread pie filling into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Place the pork chops on top; then spoon stuffing over chops. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.


Enjoy!

Nov 2, 2008

Diaper Cake

There's a brand new phenomenon in baby showers.


I didn't know this, and maybe it's not as new as I think it is, but last week I was visiting Tiffanie over at Our Life, and saw her version of the apparently wildly popular (unbeknownst to me!) Diaper Cake.


Have you heard of these? Maybe it's just been too long since I've been to a baby shower. I was clueless until about a week ago! Well, in good bloggy etiquette, I asked permission from Tiffanie (who is as sweet as pie) to use her idea. She of course said she didn't mind, and in fact even gave me some instruction, so here is my creation:






This is the most pink that has ever been in my house at one time. I'm just sayin.

So have I just been completely in the dark on this one, or what?

Oct 29, 2008

We Don't Do Halloween...So Happy Halloweenie!

Yeah, we're one of those freaky families that doesn't celebrate Halloween. I know. We don't do Santa, either. Scared yet? Well, don't be afraid; I won't go into all the spooky reasons why we don't include these two traditions in our family. That's a whole 'nuther post.

I would like to share something that I, in fact, did do that is kinda Halloween-ish.

But before I do, I have to tell you that just yesterday I saw on Dena's Green Acres that she shared some really cute food projects for this week that even if you don't "do" Halloween, you might get a grin like I did. The reason I bring that up is because she had this very project on her site. I told her I was going to post this even though she beat me to it because I enjoyed my name for them so much. Plus, I had already gone through the trouble of taking and downloading the pictures, editing them, and uploading them on Blogger. I can't stand wasted effort.

Anywho, I got the idea from a Pillsbury coupon booklet at the grocery store. Pillsbury calls them "Mummy Dogs," but I like to call them "Halloweenies."





Here's what you need to make them:

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations™ refrigerated flaky dough sheet
2 1/2 slices American cheese, quartered (2.5 oz)
10 large hot dogs
Cooking spray
Mustard or ketchup, if desired

(I used the Recipe Creations dough sheet; it was much easier!)

What to do:

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles.

3. With knife or kitchen scissors, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces, making a total of 40 pieces of dough. Slice cheese slices into quarters (1/2 slice cheese, cut in half).

4. Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog and 1/4 slice of cheese to look like "bandages," stretching dough slightly to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for "face." On ungreased large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs (cheese side down); spray dough lightly with cooking spray.

5. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard, draw features on "face."

I think I forgot to "spray down lightly with cooking spray" so they didn't get as brown as they probably should have been. But my kids loved them!

And since we don't do Halloween, they just associated them with Ancient Egypt and mummies from Egyptian history, which is where they get their fix for dead people. :-)

Just kidding.

Thanks, Shannon, for hosting another infamous Works for Me Wednesday!

Oct 26, 2008

My Recent DIY Project

Well, the first thing I want to say is: my blogging padres, I've missed you. I feel like I have skipped two weeks of therapy...my viscous prescription that holds my sanity together.

Oh this feels so good. Sitting in my red, over sized chair-and-a-half with my feet propped up on the ottoman and my Sony VAIO reposed on my lap. I have a hot cup of coffee on the end table beside me and Frank Sinatra playing softly in the background. I have looked forward to this the whole time I've been away. Seriously, who needs a therapist with a diversion like this?

I have uploaded all my pictures from the last two weeks (hundreds upon hundreds of them!) and have begun six different posts...just so I don't forget anything that I've been planning to tell you. Oh I have so much to say! I've been meticulously collecting posts in my head since my mom got here and left. Okay, meticulously is probably an exaggeration. Bear with me; I haven't been able to type words like "meticulously" in days and days!

Alright, enough basking...on with the intention for this post.

When DH and I first got married, we had nuthin. I mean nuthin. We were in desperate need of an entertainment center and money simultaneously. So DH got up one Saturday morning, made a materials list, and went to Sutherlands (a local version of Home Depot). He came home and called a buddy of his to come over and help him build us a "temporary" entertainment center so our little 13" TV could sit on something other than a folding TV tray.

Because those trays are meant for your dinner while you watch TV, not for the TV itself. Just in case you ever wondered.

So these two literally threw this thing together on our shared driveway. I only mention the driveway so you can appreciate the necessity of finishing the thing in one day. We seriously rolled this 10-foot long made-of-solid-pine (meaning too heavy to pick up) monstrosity...rolled it...on a radio flyer wagon! Too bad we were too poor for a camera.

Eleven years later, our "temporary" entertainment center was less than stellar. It was less than haggard. Truth be told, it was just a notch above rickety.

Last fall, we finally bought all new living room furniture and it was time for the "rustic" (as we affectionately called it) cabinet to meet its delinquent doom. As DH was shoving it out of the living room and through our farmhouse kitchen, it occurred to him that this piece of, um, furniture, fit quite precisely along an empty wall in the kitchen.

Thus the old relic was saved. He decided to take the sagging bottom doors off and add some bead board to the back and just generally spruce it up some. Then I got some advice from an extremely talented furniture finisher at church who let me in on some creative secrets on how to get the finish I wanted for it.

After many (wo)man-hours sanding, painting, more sanding, more painting, staining, and finishing this piece, it is now something that DH and I can be proud to own! We finished it last year just before Thanksgiving with just one exception.

Remember the doors I told you he took off from the bottom? They simply had to go, but we hadn't done anything to replace them. We went just about a whole year with open cabinets on the bottom of it.

Until Momma was comin' to town.

For some reason, nothing motivates us to finish projects like someone special coming over.

When I was little, my granny had kitchen cabinets with fabric "doors." Since I like old-fashioned, I decided that's what I wanted for our new cabinet.

The only problem with that is I don't sew. At least not normally. But my DH convinced me that "how hard could it be?" and if I could labor and deliver three kids with little to no drugs, why couldn't I do this?

So I did:


Here's some pics of the top of the cabinet with the awesome bead board and finish that my friend Janet taught me:









The curtains are these precious rooster panels that say "Le Chanticleer" and "Le Coque" with their cute little French country selves! And as you can see, the outer fabric has chicken wire over black...which was just perfect. I finished them the week before mom came to see us.

But here's the entertaining part: A very good friend of mine gave me an antique Singer sewing machine several months ago that was merely for decoration. Well, a little cleaning, oiling, and some more TLC by my DH, and voila! It works!

I discovered from the serial number on it that it was made in 1926 in Clydebank, Scotland. And get this: it's a HAND crank!



And I, with my inexperienced single-handedness (since I had to crank) made those delicious curtains you see in the picture! Me! Can you believe it? It's true...here's proof:



Oh, and one other amusing component to my sewing expedition: the rubber thing that turns the thingy that winds my bobbin on the machine is unusable until I get a replacement, so my ingenious DH rigged up a bobbin winder on his drill:



Yes he did.

He's a pretty amazing fella if I do say so myself.

Well I have much more to share, but I know if I have any readers left at all, ya'll don't want a book all at once, therefore I will refrain...for now.