Monday, December 29, 2008

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out

I know you're chomping at the bit for a new post - and I've got several in the "edit" column...but for now, just enjoy this tidbit of my life.

Today I've been backing up my photos etc., preparing to purchase a new computer - hopefully this week. In the process I came across this gem from 2006 when my oldest son was barely 9 years old. At the time, I didn't know he'd taken this footage until I uploaded my photos and viewed it on my computer. My jaw hit the desk in amazement that 1.) he hadn't totally ruined and waterlogged my camera and B.) I didn't have an unquenchable urge to murder him. Something about him just gets me right here...

Did you ever go in your bathroom and wonder why the soap dispenser was empty when you just filled it a week before... Or see a scratch on your photos and then check your camera and wonder how in the world the little scratches got there?

Sweet, huh?

Who even talks like that??? The kid is homeschooled and it ain't his mom and dad!

Never leave a child unattended with your camera!

Stay tuned for more fun - Mommy got a digital video camera for Christmas...

Note: I've been trying all day to upload the three videos spliced into one...for some unknown reason, only one video uploads even though my photo editor shows the three spliced together - so if you want the full effect you have to watch all three...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winner, Say What? and Easy Way Out

Beach is one of my favorite friends to laugh with. When I went over to grab her blog addy to link her as winner of my Blog-iversary drawing I read that she thinks I have a "Power Blog". Good thing I was wearing my Depends when I read that... I've been such a poor blogger and I apologize to the four of you that are reading - or at least looking for something new to read. If you want links to some interesting blogs, just take a look at my "friends" list over there on the right. I enjoy making the rounds with them.

I'd say that my fingers have been stuck together and I've been unable to type - but...that's not true. We've just been so busy with the holiday prep. There's still a lot to do, but it will all be done by next Sunday when I have a few (more than my living room will hold) friends coming over for a gift wrapping party.

I was quite pleased to return from an all day church board meeting on Sunday to find my boys on the roof with their dad expertly outlining the house with Christmas lights! I jumped right in with them and we put a whole bunch more on the landscaping around our house (on the ground... I'm not a rooftop kinda gal.)

A bit later I sat in my living room, feet up, enjoying my TV program and a warm bowl of potato soup, admiring my pre-lit tree and the soft glow coming through the front windows. Suddenly the room (and the yard) went black. No tree, no TV, no glow. Seems we overloaded the circuits a teensy bit.
Until some of the cords are moved from the plugs on the front of the house to the back of the house, we'll only have the house lit. The landscaping will have to wait a bit.

It's time to get on to the meat of this post. I've got quite a day today - lots of last minute baking, shopping, crafting to do before the big party of the season - Homeschool Mom's Meeting. Almost all my favorite peers under one roof, laughing, eating, praying and holding each other up. Several of us put our heads together and have a plan for a humdinger of an evening that I've been looking forward to since last year's party. And no, not to avenge the taking of my Wood Wick candle in the gift exchange game.

In the interest of simplifying my life (and since a few minutes ago I fell asleep on my space bar and have had to figure a major edit without the aid of an "un-do" button,) I'll be doing a "canned" post today. Then maybe I can grab a quick nap before the troops roll out of bed!

Today I present some of my "Christmas Traditions":

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper only under my tree. Too many peekers... For friend or party game gifts I often use bags simply because I'm running behind.

Real tree or Artificial? This year I've gone Hollywood - Plastic all the way, baby. I miss the smell of the fresh cut greens, but after my allergic friend is done visiting I'll be adding some.

When do you put up the tree? I've been known to clear the Thanksgiving dishes and pull out the Christmas boxes...

When do you take the tree down? Yea... I'm going to plead the 5th here... I will confess that it's been up as late as March 16th before...

Do you like eggnog? As a child I did - now, not so much.

Favorite gift received as a child? My Dollhouse kit

Hardest person to buy for? My mother

Easiest person to buy for? Myself. Or my sister in law - we like a lot of the same stuff :0)

Do you have a nativity scene? Yes - a few. One big one on the fireplace, one collectible thimble sized one, and one that my mom and I made (I painted details and she artistically machine quilted) way back before I had kids that was made for them to play with. Sometimes we pack it up and take it to church as a "quiet" toy.

Mail or email Christmas cards? I used to write, or rather my cat used to write a lengthy Christmas letter and send it out faithfully every year. Since she's been gone the letter hasn't gotten written and the cards haven't gotten sent. I guess that proves that she really WAS writing the letter. I've had good intentions since then and actually purchased enough pictures of my kids in front of the Christmas tree to wallpaper a large bathroom, but just haven't sent them out for whatever reason.

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A HUGE doorstop that looked like a mouse wearing a "Mammy" dress and dust cap.

Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story ("I can't put my arms down")

When do you start shopping for Christmas? December 26.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not one from you...

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies that only get made this time of year like those Russian tea cookies or Snowballs, or whatever you call those cookies that are basically butter, flour and pecans rolled in powdered sugar! I really miss my Gramma's spiced pecans. I think that was part of my grieving her - when she had been asleep in Jesus for 8 months when Christmas rolled around and no spiced nuts came in the mail. That was 8 years ago, now. This year I have her recipe and I think I may give them a shot...

Lights on the tree? All white - except for my boys tree that has some blue lights along with their baby ornies.

Favorite Christmas song? It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - My first solo at the age of 7 with a halo of tree garland on my head...

Travel at Christmas or stay home? I prefer home - we just have so many traditions that aren't the same anywhere else.

Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yup. Even Donder - yes - d-o-n-D-e-r. Check the original poem...and it's called "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" not "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

Angel on the tree top or a star? Star on my main tree, snowman angel on my snowman tree, angel on my boys' tree, and on my daughter's tree, star on my froo froo girly tree in my bedroom, used to be a cow angel on my cowboy tree in the kitchen, but just got a rusty star for it this year and nothing on the new tree in the dinning room (which my DH STILL hasn't's 6.5 feet and stands at his end of the table... This is why my Christmas list gets put in his lunchbox...)

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? If you're opening your presents on Christmas Eve you just need to STOP IT. When's the last time you bought a Christmas Eve card? or wished someone a Merry Christmas Eve. Just STOP IT. If you have to, you may open one gift on Christmas Eve - but it has to be once sent from out of town or new pj's so you don't look like an urchin in the photos the next morning. Otherwise, everything else is opened Christmas morning. End of discussion.

Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The songs, Feliz Navidad, Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, The Hippo Song, and fruitcake.

Favorite ornament theme or color? Deep red hearts. That's the predominant theme on our main tree (which is otherwise mostly Hallmark ornies.)

Favorite for Christmas dinner? Mom's brisket with horseradish sauce.

What do you want for Christmas this year? This is about gifts, right? This isn't some sappy question about peace on earth... I want a new computer, and if Santa can't swing that, then I want a Bind It All machine (and accessories...) and I've printed him a 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon with which to purchase it...

I lifted this from Beach, who lifted it from P.S. He Loves You because it looked like an easy post on a busy day :0)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stuck On Christmas

I had a brief encounter with an old friend today – one I first made acquaintance with in the 70’s. My old friend Super Glue…

Not so “super”.

Why is it that Super Glue works better on soft tissue than it does the broken glass stuff that you’re trying to repair???

Someone (nameless – but shorter than me and not a licensed driver) broke the wings off of our Christmas “Activity Scene” angel. You know the Activity Scene… you probably have one… with Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus lying in the manger with the three Wise Guys looking on… It sits in a little wooden half-barn with moss hot-glued to the roof.

Anyhow – I decided to do a quick repair job on the angels’ wings while it was quiet and nobody would bother me. Quiet doesn’t always mean they’re “into something” around here. Lately it just means they’ve sneaked out of our classroom and back down the hall to their bedrooms or gone outside to play rather than do school work. And if they’re very, very quiet mommy will forget to get them back on task. Most times I let them sneak away for a bit – simply because I love the quiet. Or sometimes it’s just because I’ve gotten distracted myself. Now where was I??

Oh yes – the “Super Glue”.
So I have the angel wing pieces in my left palm and I’m holding the tube in my right hand and opening the tube with the thumb and index finger of my left hand. (Just so you know – I’m typing this myself…so it all ended OK…)

This wasn’t my first ever encounter with Super Glue – I’ve been making little (usually unsuccessful) repairs to broken stuff, including fingernails, for a long time now. I know it sticks and it sticks fast (but only if it’s something you don’t want stuck. Then it’s a forever bond!)

How ever experienced I was, when I removed the cap the glue shot from the little tube like a small child had jumped on the end of it and it splatted across the base of the fingers of my left hand and all over the wing pieces.

Of course I grabbed the angel wings, now dripping with “Super Glue” and for a millisecond tried to figure how to get the glue from my hand onto the broken edge of the wings so that it wouldn’t be wasted. I decided instead that I should get if OFF quick and then just reapply it when I had more time to think.

It was at that moment that my cell phone rang. Against my better judgment I answered it, knowing by the ring that it was my friend Grateful and she’d get a kick out of knowing I was having a super glue crisis. Ever so briefly the thought that I would be stuck talking to her forever (and ever) flashed through my brain and I quickly disconnected with the promise to call back later.

When I arrived in my bathroom 4.3 seconds later I was already unable to put down the angel wings OR the tube of Super Glue and I was painfully aware that my fingers were now completely fused giving me a webbed hand – and not in a good Super Hero kind of way. I'd have taken a picture for you - but I didn't want to hold my camera forever either.

The good news is I’ll never have to worry about losing the diamonds or sapphires out of my anniversary ring and my wedding band will never ever get lost (just wish they’d be rotated in the right direction rather than upside down on my hand). Also – this would be a great time to go out and rob a bank – since I no longer have any fingerprints.

I know you can remove it with nail polish remover (the reason I ran to the bathroom) but forgot that it can’t be non-acetone nail polish remover. You can try the non-acetone stuff, but really all you’ll get is chemical burns – a nice companion to winter-dry skin.

Hours later I had the bulk of the glue scraped and “peeled” from my hand. A warning to all the fourth grade boys out there – this is not as much fun as peeling Elmer’s from your hand. That part you get that looks like your skin IS your skin.

I did finally get the Activity Angel’s wings glued back on. But they’ve since broken again. When I find out what the anti-venom for Gorilla Glue is I might give that a shot.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkeyless Turkey Day ???

Several have asked, "just what DO you eat on Thanksgiving if you don't eat turkey?"

Well, I DO eat turkey (most years) because my mom usually makes a little one and I have some bites over there or she brings some bites here. But this year we won't be eating together since I'm hosting the Thanksgiving dinner at my church and mom isn't' up for that this year.

So this year we'll be having our vegetarian turkey loaf. I know your mouth is watering... much as it might just before you upchuck... But actually, it's pretty good. As my dear friend Linda says, "I don't make bad stuff".

Now, unfortunately, if you don't already have the ingredients for this on hand, you're probably out of luck this year. But you could get your pantry stocked before Christmas dinner rolls around.

The base product here is a vegetarian soy protein product that is produced by the Kellogg company and distributed through Morning Star Farms and Worthington. You've probably seen Morning Star Farms products in your local market's frozen foods section - vegetarian burgers (Grillers) and other sandwich patties are quite popular, also the "Meal Starters" soy protein meat substitutes.

The "Meatless Smoked Turkey" comes in a 4 lb. log about the size of one of those fire starter things, but it's a lot tastier. I'll share the recipe just in case you're wondering (or, perhaps you have your own frozen log of "Meatless Smoked Turkey" right now...)

Meatless Turkey Loaf

4 Cups Ground Soy Meat – Turkey or Chicken
1 Cup Light Cream
1 Cup Hot Water
1 teaspoon McKay’s Chicken Style Seasoning
1 teaspoon margarine
1 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs (Pepperidge Farms Stuffing)
½ Cup Chopped Onion
1 Cup Chopped Celery
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Accent
Salt to taste
Thyme to taste

Sauté onion and celery in 2 Tablespoons margarine.

Make broth of McKay’s, water and 1 teaspoon margarine. Combine all ingredients and pour into GREASED loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours. Let stand 15 minutes before inverting.

Hints: After greasing loaf pan, lay wax paper cut to fit bottom without overlapping sides.
After loaf stands 15 minutes, invert and immediately peel wax paper from “top” of loaf.
Garnish with tops of celery stalk, radish flowers, pepper rings etc. Great for holiday dinners.

This is another family favorite that is SO yummy. Raw Cranberry Salad. The mere name just starts my juices flowing! I look forward to it every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas (the ONLY time we ever eat it...and a little tiny bit the day before and a couple of days after, if we're lucky.) This is a family recipe that was passed down from my great-grandmother, Bess. She made it up in the 1930's.

Now, if you're accustomed to eating that red jellied stuff with the can ridges still on it - you might just want to leave now. Close the browser and you may not want to ever come back. We just don't do things like that around here.

If you know me in real life, you know I'm all about EASY. This is NOT a difficult recipe - especially if you have a food processor.

Raw Cranberry Salad
Great Grandma Bess White, circa 1930

1-2 Cans Crushed Pineapple – drain and save juice
1 Pkg. Raspberry Jell-O (6 oz)
1 Pkg. Cherry Jell-O (6 oz)
1 Envelope Unflavored gelatin
2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Cup Boiling Water
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 ½ Cup Fresh Cranberries – ground (consistency of pickle relish)
1 Small Orange, wash, and grind in food processor
1 Cup Chopped Celery
1 Cup English Walnuts – chopped.

Add water to pineapple juice to make 1 cup of liquid. Dissolve Jell-O in 2 cups boiling water. Add lemon juice and pineapple liquid. Chill until partially set.

Add crushed pineapple and remaining ingredients.

Pour into 2 qt. mold or bowl and chill overnight.

This is best the second or third day.

It's probably too late for you to run out and get the ingredients and if the store is open - they're probably out of what you'd need. I know there's been no celery here for a couple of days now.

But THIS is a yummy twist you might have all the stuff for right in your pantry...

Sara's Mashed Potatoes

For 5 lbs. potatoes yellow golds - scrub half and peel the rest, cube and boil.

When the taters are fork tender, drain and either pour them back into your cooking pot or into a big ol' Kitchenaid mixing bowl.

Immediately throw in an 8 oz bar of cream cheese, 1 stick of salted butter and about 8 oz of sour cream. Throw in some Kosher salt and grind in some black pepper to taste.

Whip them up - but leave some lumps! (Yummmmm)

These taters don't need gravy to be good. It's totally OK, and still incredibly yummy to go low fat on the cream cheese and sour cream.

If you want garlic mashed potatoes, use red skinned potatoes and crush 6 or 7 cloves of garlic and throw them in the pot to boil with the potatoes.

An hour before you boil the potatoes, cut the top off a large head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and grind some pepper on the top. Roast it in a 350 degree oven in a clay garlic roaster or heavy tin foil twisted at the top for about an hour.

After you drain the potatoes, throw in all that other stuff, and a few of those soft, roasted garlic cloves. You can throw in a half cup of Parmesan cheese too if you want - the fresh shredded stuff - not out of the green can... Oh man, baby! These are yummy and require NO gravy whatsoever!

Life is short - and good food makes it all that much better. Of all the things to be thankful for - FOOD has got to be right near the top of the list!

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Today my friend Revis sent me this - and I think it's the perfect sign off...

May your stuffing be tasty

May your turkey be plump,

May your potatoes and gravy

Have never a lump.

May your yams be delicious

And your pies take the prize,

And may your Thanksgiving dinner

Stay off of your thighs!

(Just forget that "no lumpy potatoes" part...)

My Frieda

Remember the Peanuts character, Frieda - known best for her "naturally curly hair"?

Well I have my own here... All it takes it sleeping in a few rags.

The beauty of it is, these curls will last all day - and some into the next day. Whereas a curling iron job is gone in 10 minutes.
Those hair-do pioneers were onto something!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Christmas Tradition First

Sunday afternoon, we, (my Mom-in-law, me and my darling daughter) had the ultimate "girls day out" and went to see the Nutcracker. This is the first time that I have ever seen it "live". Same for my darling daughter, although she has about worn out our Nutcracker "Little Golden Book". (Remember those?)

Michaela has been counting down on her calendar to this very special memory. Nana has talked about taking her for years now - and I think this was the perfect year to do it. It was made even more special because my mom and sister were also able to go (as a slightly early birthday gift for my sis.) and they were able to get tickets right in front of us. Also - we happen to know one of the little Sugarbabe dancers from our homeschool association. I really had a great seat - three rows back in the "balcony" which is basically about three steps up from the orchestra level, and on the right side. I had a clear shot from my knees, which served as my tripod, to the stage. I don't have three knees - but I'm unwilling to figure out a better word. I don't want to get into it too much anyway, since they announced that photos were a 'no-no'. So I was a good girl and only took 156. And I have no idea what happened to all my photos of the first act. Somehow in the dark hall with a little black bolero jacket covering the back of my camera I managed to deleted them all.

I just love this dress on her. It's a favorite of Daddy too - since it was only $18 at Costco. Can't beat that - I'm even willing to do the hand washing at that price. Every place she stepped in the hall people were stopping to compliment her on her dress and behavior. She sorta walked like a little ballerina in it and kept calling me "mother". Someday I'll tell you about her nearly perfect British accent... Too many prissy movies for this kid, for sure.

It really was a wonderful afternoon - topped off with a post-show visit to Culver's for a fancy kid's meal complete with chocolate milk shake, and frozen custard. I also experienced a "first" ever in my life at Culver's. Betcha can't guess what it was.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Blog-iversary to Me - The Terrible Two's?

Wow - two years of bloggin'. Who'da thunk it?

Please to forgive... I've been a little lax lately (especially with my "Thankful" posts), but it's STAYED busy here with party planning etc. going on. I'll have some more celebration decor ideas for you, dear, faithful readers, in that area real soon. Plus lots more recipes. I'm all for the EASY and impressive stuff - but they have to be both easy and impressive at holiday time - there's just too much else to do!

I'm doing some changing in here in honor of my blog-iversary. First some cosmetic stuff. Don't get all excited right now - my sweet friend is helping me by designing some digi stuff for me. I can't wait - as she is such an awesome artist! But the new colors here will give you a hint for the direction I'm going with it :0)

I've updated my music player too - right now all you get is some of my favorite Christmas music that I found. I have more Christmas CD's than anything else. I LOVE Christmas music!

To celebrate my anniversary (and make a shameless attempt at getting my hits over 5,000 this week), I'm offering a surprise to one of my commenting readers. Up for grabs is a Fiskar's Threading Water Border Punch. I LOVE mine and got a good deal on this one - so had to grab it. They're kind of hard to come by right now.

If you're not a scrapbooker - not to worry - this is a great tool for paper crafting in general. You can see where I used it to make a card here. And if you're not a card maker - you can use it to spice up the appearance of your grocery list - or just give it to another paper crafter for Christmas!

Just leave me a comment on THIS post before Friday, November 27 at 5:00 p.m. Central time (this is important...I'm watching the time stamps on this one!) If you want to share this little contest with other crafters I don't mind - just don't share my blog address with any stalkers - I've got enough to worry about party planning right now.


12/9/2008 - It's about time! But I've finally remembered to employ the Random Number Generator and comment number 6 was my winner - So, dear friend, Beach, is the lucky recipient of the Fiskars punch. Yay! I can hand deliver rather than mail! What a treat for me :0)

Enter a lower limit: 1
Enter an upper limit: 12

Random Number: 6

Monday, November 17, 2008


Ten more days and Turkey Day will descend upon us. For a vegetarian household "Turkey day" means so much more... not to imply that we don't eat like Romans, cuz we do, but we're trying to put more focus on being truly thankful this time around.

And so I will now begin ten days of thankfulness. I'll try not to be too long winded about this - just give you a little something to think about, and I promise to try to not have every post be about food... starting tomorrow... Maybe.

Today, however, the word is Chocolate. All things Chocolate. No, I didn't accidentally capitalize that either... I think every proper name should begin with a capital letter.

This is my son's mug of homemade hot cocoa from this morning. You can tell I was feeling particularly benevolent today since I topped it with whipped cream and a sprinkle cocoa. What's better than liquid chocolate? Solid chocolate maybe. Truffles are right up there... just bring it any way you can and you're my new best friend. But don't bring me the cheap stuff... I can be a bit of a chocolate snob. But hey - this is about thankfulness, right? So I'll even accept your Whitman's and your Palmer right now. Just as long as it's smooth and brown (or white...that'll do too.)

Coffee? We don't need no stinking coffee... We prefer to start our day with chocolate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bountiful Centerpiece

I truly love a good table centerpiece. Something beyond the standard vase of flowers and candles and really piques my interest. It gives me something pleasant to look at rather than lips smacking briefly to obstruct see-food... (I digress in the name of humor - I won't allow such things at my table - "potchen", as my Grampa Pop would have said, ain't allowed here. It's in the top three on my leg-long list of pet peeves...)

Back to table pretties... Each month I put a dinner together at church called "Women In Touch". It's meant to be an outreach as well as just a time for Christian women to have a night out to be waited on and fed spiritually as well as physically. It's probably my favorite job as Women's Ministry director for our church as it really feeds off the spiritual gift of hospitality. Every month requires an idea for a dinner and decor theme, plus the topic of discussion or the presentation. It's sometimes very challenging but in an enjoyable way. I've found that one of the best resources is the Better Homes and Garden's website - there are a TON of table decorating ideas there - complete with photographs and sometimes detailed instructions. Both the rectangular plate centerpiece and candle idea came from BHG this month. Both were super easy as well.

The pumpkins and gourds were purchased in a box at Costco for $4.99. There were enough in the box to make arrangements for three tables plus some little clusters on the serving tables. I just keep them in the fridge to make them last. I've had the rectangular serving dishes for about a year now - I got them at Wal-Mart for about $8 each. They have been VERY versatile I use them to serve vegetables for dipping, or cooked string beans or asparagus, or various candle centerpieces. At the left you can see how I used them last Christmas - just three different height pillar candles with some gold ribbon adhered around and various Christmas balls scattered around the candles. The glass candle cups with the Thanksgiving arrangement are also from Wal-Mart and less than $2 each, with a 4 inch pillar candle and some deer corn poured around the base of the candle.

There are also some "silk" fall leaves I found one year and I can't for the life of me remember where - but I'm so glad I bought two packs at the time - I use them a lot and they look so real. And if you look close you can see some bush clippings too - just some berries and fall-ish looking leaves from my yard.

Just work in odd numbers (meaning only one pumpkin - two if they're different colors and shapes and probably a total of three gourds or pumpkins. Keep the texture interesting - there's some little bitty Indian corn in there too. Right above, there's another idea for a quick easy fall centerpiece. The little Indian figures I picked up at Hobby Lobby in the before Thanksgiving sale last year. I think they were around $4 each on sale. I just scattered some mini pumpkins and those silk leaved around them. I love to hollow out the mini pumpkins and put a candle down inside. All you do is slice the top off your pumpkin - careful that you go far enough to clear the bottom of the stem, but leave a nice little "lid". Then just scoop out the inside with a spoon until it's all smooth. You can keep these fresh too, just put some plastic wrap over the cut edges and refrigerate them. They'll keep for a couple of weeks if you take care of them and watch for mildew.

I don't have a photo of the ones I made, but another quick favorite is to hollow out a pie pumpkin and stuff it with oasis foam - the kind of florist foam that holds water and has a flower preservative in it. Just pick up a bunch of fall flowers at the grocery store and build a mini arrangement in it. Start with the center flower being a little taller and cut the stems shorter to keep it round-ish. Use a lot of different colors and don't let it get too tall or top heavy. If you get a kabob skewer you can hang the "lid" from the side too - cut it shorter and just poke it down in your foam and hang the top edge of your pumpkin lid from it.

About those candle cups in the first photo... You can buy big bags of deer corn here in Texas and probably all over the Midwest too - it's just $7.50 for 50 pounds at WM - but I didn't want 50 pounds of deer corn - I seriously don't want them dropping their black jelly beans in my yard... So I bought a much smaller bag of squirrel feed instead. Most people don't want them in their yard either - but I don't have to feed them - and I've got a lot less to throw out. What I think I'll probably do it let the kids take some to the park now and then and drop it there :0)

Anywho... if you decided to get the squirrel feed - someone will need to sift through and pick out just the corn and leave the sunflower seeds and peanuts behind. It's a dirty job - but in the name of pretty centerpieces it must be done. Corn is the perfect centerpiece accent for Thanksgiving - you never hear about the Indians (Native Americans for the PC folks...) sharing their peanuts and sunflower seeds with the Pilgrims, now do you? Hire a kid - it's good practice for some day when they need to sort out all your pills for your pill box when you're old and blind...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Down The Slippery Holiday Dessert Slope

This has gotten rave reviews for years now... I love to take it to potluck suppers. It's a wonderful dessert for three basic reasons:
1) - it's delicious, B) it's EASY to make, and 3) - it saves you time when eating - cuz it's like eating a piece of pumpkin pie, a piece of pecan pie, a whole piece of cake and about a quarter stick of butter all at the same time! Oh - and a little whipped cream too ;0)

Just don't eat it all the time and you'll be fine. Although - I still contend that pumpkin is a kind of vegetable and so this shouldn't count against you in the battle of the bulge.

Pumpkin Pie Cake

9x13 pan 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour

4 Eggs beaten
1 ½ C. sugar
1 Can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 Can Carnation or Pet EVAPORATED milk (not Eagle Brand sweetened condensed)
2 t Pumpkin pie spice
½ t salt
1 Box Yellow Cake mix (Duncan Hines)
2 Sticks Butter melted (you could reduce to 1 1/2 sticks... but why??)
¾ C Pecans

Mix eggs, sugar, pumpkin, evap. Milk, spices and salt.
Pour batter into ungreased 9x13 pan
Sprinkle cake mix on top of batter
Sprinkle nuts on top of cake mix
Drizzle butter evenly over cake mix and nuts

Bake (one cake at a time) in center of oven. In a glass pan leave at 350 for 1 hour. You may need to bake a little longer – don’t let pecans burn – lay a sheet of foil over the top if necessary after the top reaches a pretty brown shade.

Serve with freshly whipped cream. Refrigerate leftovers if there are any. It's good for breakfast too - just don't tell my kids...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Death By TALL Cake

I've had a few requests for the recipe(s) I used for the chocolate tall cake I made for my 40th birthday party. Don't 'comment' me on how counter productive this is to weight loss. If you only eat it on your 40th birthday it's not an issue.

For a 4-layer (and I don’t mean two layers sliced in half…) TALL cake and 24 cupcakes:

Use 2 Duncan Hines (the best in my opinion…) Moist Deluxe Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mixes.

Add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to each mix, prepare just like the box says and bake in prepared* 8-inch cake pans. I only have 3 8-inch cake pans, so I had to mix and bake these two mixes one at a time – getting the cupcakes from the second batch (just in case something happens to one of the first cakes - like being overcome by a chocolate attack.)

*Grease pans, cut a parchment paper circle to fit the bottom of each pan, grease the paper circle and then lightly flour each pan. Avoid using dark cake pans or lightweight aluminum pans. Choose instead the heavy aluminum pans with the rolled edge. You can get these in the cake decorating section of a department store – Wilton brand is trustworthy.

After the cakes have baked, you’ll want to remove them from the baking pans fairly quickly – you don’t want the moisture to condensate and collect in the bottom of the pan creating a soggy bottom. Nobody likes a soggy bottom…

Once the cakes have all cooled and you’ve carefully peeled off the parchment paper, you’ll need to trim the rounded top of the cakes to be fairly level. There’s a special tool you can get for this, but I just use a long serrated bread knife. Have a glass of cold milk standing by…cuz you’ll be rewarded for your patience in not eating one of the layers from the first batch.) DON’T over trim… This is a tall cake – if it looks fairly flat that’s good – quit trimming and nibbling, trimming and nibbling, trimming and nibbling…

At this point I like to freeze the cake overnight. This makes it much easier to ice and my mom says it deepens the flavor a little. Just lightly wrap each layer in parchment paper or waxed paper, put them in gallon size zip top bags, release the extra air and put them flat in a freezer. When you take them out, gently brush the crumbs off.

Now you’re ready to ice or frost it. I’m not really sure of the difference between icing and frosting… maybe frosting isn’t as “neat and tidy” looking. I have a suspicion it’s just one of those “language” things.

I used two different frostings/icings. (Recipes at the end) Between the layers and on the top is a chocolate whipped cream and the side is frosted with a chocolate buttercream. Also – get some Heath candy bars and pound them into small chunks and sprinkle the crushed bits between the layers on top of the chocolate whipped cream. You could buy the Heath bits in the chocolate chip aisle – but they don’t have the chocolate coating like the bars do. Use the bars.

When I put my cake together I didn’t want the candy bars right on top of the chocolate whipped cream. First I covered the top of the layer already on the cake plate and sprinkled on the bar bits. Then I put a light layer of chocolate whipped cream on the BOTTOM of the layer that went on next. This sandwiches the candy bar bits between chocolate whipped cream. Decadent, no? Just aim carefully. Sticking out your tongue may help get the layer centered.

You’ll need something to stabilize a cake this tall – I used 5 bamboo ka-bob skewers. Just push them through the cake after you get all the layers stacked. You can trim them with kitchen shears to the height you need. Don’t put one in the direct center and when you photograph your finished cut cake you won’t see a skewer in the middle. Plus someone will get a fun surprise in his or her piece!

For the sides, I used the chocolate buttercream frosting (Recipe at the end). I used two batches – the first to seal in the crumbs and the second a little thicker.

Refrigerate the frosted/iced cake about 30 minutes between the two “coats” of icing. I had to remove a shelf and most of the contents of my refrigerator to do so. Of course, after you’re done icing it you’ll need to refrigerate it too - Especially if you use the whipped cream filling.

To “decorate” the top of this cake I used chocolate curls. These are pretty easy to make – just buy a bar of good quality milk chocolate (or dark if that’s what you like.) I prefer the Cadbury milk chocolate bars. Hershey Symphony will do in a pinch. Incidentally – the same is true for my chocolate covered strawberries. Cadbury all the way… Anyway – just use a potato peeler to slowly and carefully cut the curls from room temp or slightly warmer chocolate. Move the curls with toothpicks so you don’t break them.

I also piped some of the whipped chocolate cream around the top and bottom edges with a large star tip. You could use the chocolate butter cream, but I like the contrast of the whipped cream.

You really have to capitalize on the gargantuan height of this cake by exploiting it with a tall cake plate and the tallest candles you can find, assuming you’re using candles. I got these candles at Target in the party section – but I’ve seen tall thin tapers in lots of places. This is NOT the time to use those short stubby things you buy in the grocery store next to the rock hard Scooby Doo and Barbie decorations.

Because this cake is so TALL you’ll have more servings – double actually, since each slice is like two average cakes tall. This is something to remember when choosing a plate to serve it on…this one hangs off a standard dessert plate. If you’re guests won’t mind the top of their cake looking a little messy, you can just cut the slices in half. Make the separation between the bottom of the second layer and the whipped cream filling on top of the third layer.

If you want to avoid hurt feelings, just give them the whole giant slice (preferred method. :0) Of course – if you’re just eating it by yourself by the light of the open refrigerator door, there’s no need to worry about the size of your plates (but maybe the size of your backside...)

You will note that this recipe isn’t in the “weight loss” sub category. You figure it out…

Chocolate Cream Filling
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1 ½ cups cold whipping cream
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In a small mixer bowl, combine sugar and cocoa. Add whipping cream and vanilla; beat on low speed of electric mixer until blended. Beat on medium speed until stiff. (Yields about 3 cups filling.)

One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting
6 Tablespoons butter softened
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup Hershey’s Cocoa or Hershey’s European Style Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt

In small mixer bowl, beat butter. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Blend in vanilla.
(Yields about 2 cups frosting. I used 2 batches)

Monday, November 3, 2008

It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Marketing

I happened to be in Wal-Mart night before last, and what do you think I heard over the in-store sound system?? Yup. Christmas music.

Now, ordinarily this wouldn’t bother me at all, I’ve enjoyed Christmas music, just for the pure joy of listening, not choral rehearsals, as early as late September or early October. But I see this as a marketing ploy from the big box store. “Wha-oh… is that Christmas music I hear???! Better get to spending…time is running out! Only two more billing cycles left!”

This will be our first Christmas sans Santa. I LOVE doing the surprises every year and seeing the "shock and awe" of the whole thing - but time is short and I want my kids to be clear about their beliefs and not confuse them any more. I've even toyed with the idea of quitting Christmas altogether. I know, I know... How does a woman that's been known to put up seven Christmas trees quit altogether? I LOVE the season and the baking and decorations, the music and the rest of it. Oh - and the presents... But, it’s not biblical... 'cept for what we've imposed upon it.

Now, I wonder why God didn't tell us the exact date that Jesus was born... (or died and rose again) Do you s’pose He thought we couldn't handle it??

I've "done Santa" (settle down, it's not that kind of blog...) a little different than some, perhaps. First – I’ve never allowed him to be on my main Christmas tree. Only if it was something else wearing his suit – like Snoopy or an alligator or flamingo for instance. I bought a book long before any of them were born called "The Real Santa Claus" and I read it to them every year. It goes back to the beginning of how the tradition of Santa got started (with the priest that wanted to bless his friends anon. and dropped gold down the hole in the roof that let the smoke out from the fire (the "chimbley" my Gramma would say...) and some fell into the socks belonging to the three daughters that were hanging there to dry. (The socks were hanging - not the daughters - I thought it easier to explain that rather than figure a re-write...) of this poor man.

In a nutshell, whenever anonymous gifts were left for poor folks, they all wondered who (or whom...I should phone a friend and ask...but I’m lazy) had left them. Until one day, this priest, Nicholas, (or maybe he was a bishop) passed away, and the gifts stopped coming.

Anyway - the bright people figured it out and started leaving secret gifts of their own; carrying on the tradition that Nicholas had started.

So I tell my kids this, but still have them write letters and leave out the very best cookies. (No ulterior motive there...) They're pretty bright kids, though, and they've got the whole thing worked out it in their minds. But now and then I hear one of them say, "well, it's OK if you can't afford it - I'll just ask Santa..."

OK. That's not worked out. How do you handle such a situation? Ditch the whole charade?

The way my parents did it (still - not that kind of blog...) was to bring me to the "other side" and let me be a part of the surprises and secrets. I got to help fill the stockings of others in the family and stay up late with one parent or the other creating the "magic". And then later, stay up late alone, and open all my presents and re-wrap them. But that’s another post…

So this year, when I'm out shopping with one child at a time, I might mention, "this would be good for So-n-so's stocking, don't you think?" And we've got our own little secrets going now. I think they’re really enjoying the “giving” side of the holiday rather than just the “getting” side.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll miss the old guy. But he won’t be gone completely. We’ll read the legend, keep our secrets, and still leave out the very best cookies… But the focus will be a lot more on Jesus. The real reason we overspend in December. (???)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

On The 12th Day of Sara...

This was a first. The first time I've ever seen this on my elliptical machine at the gym. I've been gearing up for it for a bit now, but it's a slight blow to enter another decade "all of the sudden". This is why I highly recommend celebrating ones birthday for as long as possible... Lessens the "blow" a bit.

Originally it looked like there would only be 11 days of birthday celebration, but as luck would have it, we were gone from the house all day on my actual birthday and the local florist was unable to deliver. I didn't hear the message on my machine until late that night so I called them the next morning and just after I returned from grocery shopping and the gym the florist delivery guy came to my open front door as I unloaded groceries. He handed me this

and my day immediately brightened. It was OFFICIALLY the 12th Day of Sara! I LOVE pink roses - they're my favorite color of rose when we're talking about one color roses. I opened the card and it was a happy birthday wish from my "Secret Sister". I'm going to guess that it was my church Secret Sister - but then could be my homeschool Secret Sister. If you have some inside information, I'd appreciate knowing which.

So then the delivery guy says, "OK - I'll be right back with the other one." HUH? The other one? Wow - can the first day of your 41st year get any better?

Yup. He came back to the door with THIS...

This time the card was happy birthday wishes from "my favorite Aunts". No mistaking who those two are... My twin Aunts that I got to spend a big chunk of my summer with in Missouri. (I know - I know... I still need to post photos of our summer vacation...)

Well now I'm completely gobsmacked and overwhelmed - but at the same time, totally blessed cuz I have a decorating direction for the Breast Cancer Awareness themed Women In Touch dinner slash meeting I'm hosting at church the following evening. Thanks, Lord for this blessing!

Let's step back a little further so you can see the progression... First there was the little "surprise - it's only about you" evening that my darling husband had me plan, (that was the 1st day of Sara - 10 days before my birthday,) then a few days later (on the 6th day of Sara) I took the kids to Sea World, San Antonio, for homeschool education days. Imagine my surprise when they had this special sign up for me.

OK - not really... but still...

We had a very quick but tiring day walking from exhibit to exhibit in the morning. The kids were very well behaved, which is always a treat, but I suspect it was because we had a "tag along" friend with us. Works for me...

After Sea World, we cashed in my "free birthday burger" coupon at Red Robin. If you're not signed up for this you should be... The burgers there are "super-duper-cooper" (Michaela speak) yummy, the fries are bottomless, and they will do any burger with a Boca Burger or Garden Burger patty for you. It's one of those places my entire (vegetarian) family can find something they like - even if they only eat the fries and drink the freckled lemonade...

The one sacrifice you make when cashing in a "free birthday burger" coupon is enduring the restaurant staff "singing" birthday wishes to you. Actually - it wasn't that bad, and even delivered with some humor, which I always appreciate.

One interesting side note which I found quite disturbing and disgusting, (but fortunately had my camera phone with me to record the occasion...) was this woman in the stall next to me in the restroom. You can't see well in this photo, but those are her keys, sunglasses and phone on the FLOOR between her shoes. On the PUBLIC BATHROOM floor, I said! In the potentially drippiest part of the floor at that. Can you say "EWWWWW!"?? Thankfully, I'd already eaten.

After a few more errands in "the Big City", as my covert bloggy friends put it, we high-tailed it home in record time. Why the rush? We were having a "mom's night out" and there's no way I can miss that.

I met a few dear homeschooling mom's at the local theatre (see that culture there) and we saw The Women. It was eh - not too bad, had some pretty funny parts. My mom, who came along, said the 1939 original is very worth watching and funnier. Wonder if Netflix has that one?...

Then on to a late dinner at Chili's and more laughter with my friends. Unfortunately, I ended up missing the season opener of Grey's Anatomy because DH missed the memo, text message, e-mail and voicemail reminding him to record it for me...

Then on the 8th Day of Sara, my babies' daddy and I attended a dance" at a real live ranch. This might not seem like a big deal to most, but we don't DANCE. Or at least, we didn't used to. So this was a huge leap out of the comfort zone for us. It made it much easier that the dancing was within our parameters of "acceptable", meaning husbands and wives only dancing with each other - and nobody was dancin "inappropriately". But we had fun and it was like we were back in our dating days again. We are thankful for grandparents nearby that kids can sleep over with. (So much for no inappropriate dancing...wink, wink).

There was a little "happy-birthdaying" here too. Our host and I share the same day, and our hostess provided the yummiest magic cookie bars set aflame.

The morning after is what I'd been looking forward to for a long time. It was the 9th Day of Sara and an official party in my honor would commence in a few hours. First my dear hubbs and I dropped kids with other grandparents and headed to the theatre (see that culture again...?) to see Fireproof. We really enjoyed it and maybe I'll do a whole other blog post about it later. We recommend it to all couples. And singles too, why not?

Then on to my party.

My Perfect Friend was hostess for the perfect party. It was a beautiful fall themed tea with such yummy food and pampering in her beautiful welcoming home. The table was perfectly set for 15 with great hand stitched and machine embroidered leaf placemats and fall colored linens. My favorite was the white pumpkin centerpiece and the little handmade paper baskets of chocolates at each place setting. She used a portion of her luncheon plate and punch cup collection to serve us. First was the most wonderful butternut squash soup. I'm so glad she made it. It was on my list of "recipes I wanna try" last fall, but now I KNOW a great recipe and can just repeat it :0) There were also very delicious egg salad sandwiches on buttery croissants, miniature pumpkin muffins, various chocolate dipped cookies, dried cranberries and nuts, and a vegetable tray. All topped off with Esther Bolick's Orange Marmalade Cake of Mitford book fame. I thought it was simply fabulous! The sour cream frosting was just the perfect touch for the dense cake crowned with homemade (yes...she does this herself...) orange marmalade.

It was great to be surrounded by my friends and be the pampered princess for the day. Complete with paper crown and genuine gigantic pearls.

Following the wonderful late afternoon festivities, a few of us were hanging around talking (and maybe partaking in just a touch more of that butternut squash soup...) when I mentioned that I'd missed my guilty pleasure of Grey's the Thursday before. Well, my Perfect Friend had actually "accidentally" recorded it on her DVR and offered to have me and another dear friend watch out in her guest house before heading home, just asking us to turn out the lights on our way out, as she was worn out and headed down for the count. But let the record show that ever the hostess, she brought the rest of the birthday cake out for us to enjoy while we watched (the disappointing) season premier.

And that brings us up to the 10th Day of Sara... It was looking very much like my sweet hubbs was going to be out of town on my actual birthday. So of course we needed to have an official birthday dinner out at the best Mexican restaurant in town. It wouldn't have been my first pick, but it's the affordable(er) pick right now. And the kids always like it. What could be greater on mom's birthday than a big funny hat and free dessert?

Nothing says "fabulous" quite like a potentially lice infested sombrero.

When my "actual" birthday arrived (officially the 11th Day of Sara) we had a very busy schedule. I of course started my day by checking my e-mail and found reference to a very sweet tribute from a churchmate. I will confirm that I have been compared to Streisand before - but not on a political level. (Just wanted to be clear...) Thanks, PS, for the kind words.

Next we had Co-Op classes with our homeschool association, then lunch at the park with our same homeschooling friends, and then chess club (again, with our HS buds.) While we were at the park, my friend Grateful grabbed my camera to commemorate this obvious senior moment. Everyone nearby decided this must be what happens when you're an "old lady", you crochet...

Bring it girls... I can take it. (Although - it does look like I should shop for some Barbara Bush pearls...)

DH did end up out of town, but he was only going to be gone until about midnight. Well, I couldn't let this day go by and not celebrate! So I invited everyone that wanted to come over to do so. Four ladies took me up on my offer and we just sat around talking about "life". It was a great evening, complete with ice cream and underbaked brownies. Nobody sang Happy Birthday though... maybe they just forgot. ;0)

As birthdays go, I'd say this was probably my best ever. I know it's taken me forever to get this post up and I'm sorry about that. Life gets in the way sometimes. I haven't even written my thank yous yet - How does one possibly thank a dear friend for recycled elephant dung greeting cards - especially after being warned that they might still be a little wet??? (upon clarrification we found out she meant the glue...) Be assured - it was one of my most favorite gifts. How it could ever be topped, I've no idea.

In case you were wondering, no, I didn't make my weight loss goal, but I'm still working on that. Look for more motivational posts soon. Who knows... Maybe I'll be even MORE fabulous at 41! Could it be possible???

Stay tuned...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bloggy Makeover

My friend Ruth suggested that my Blog was a little blah looking the other day...

Blah? I loved the black - thought it looked sleek, thought it looked slimming. But - I'm willing to mix it up a little. Hey - did you notice I added a little music last week? If you don't like it, scroll down to the bottom and choose a different song (from MY favorites) or hit the stop button.

Some of my other blogging friends have been using, so I gave it a shot too. I need to do a little tweaking here and there with font colors etc., but it should be fun to play with.

Whaddaya think? Does this background make my blog look fat?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Who?

When we moved to Texas nearly four years ago I noticed something about the couples "our age" at our new church... nearly all of us (all four couples of us) had birthdays in September or October - except for my babie's daddy with his July birthday. That was a pretty strange coincidence and I've wanted to commemorate it ever since.

This year, in honor of at least two of us turning 40, I decided to have a BirthdayS party. I invited the other three couples from church and one other couple that attended with us for awhile, but then moved closer to "the big city" and started attending there. There were going to be ten of us adults celebrating our aging together with some fun games, a gift exchange (or fight...however you choose to look at it) and lots and lots of cake.

Well things happen, and one of the couples had to cancel due to their oldest having some outpatient surgery, and I suppose that crossed wires for another couple that figured we'd just cancel since we'd be one couple short. A third couple I never did hear back from (look for an educational post in the near future on the importance of the "R" part of the RSVP...) but our friends that moved near "the big city" were still coming - so we determined to have fun anyway and have to share less cake!
Rewind 11 months.

I've been giving my darling husband (note he's not just my babie's daddy here...) periodic updates as to the eminent arrival of the 40th anniversary of the day of my birth. I've been doing this ever so conveniently every couple of weeks since the 39th anniversary of the day of my birth. I'm nothing if not considerate... He knows that my birthday ranks up there with Christmas as holidays go - at least in my book - and I wanted him to have plenty of stress free time to rent a hall, have the invitations printed, get the limo booked or flowers shipped in so that he could enjoy the festivities (and therefore the rest of our married days) along with me.

Well he's nothing if not simple. And I mean that in the most loving way - if there's a simple way to do things that's the way he'll take - whether that means grabbing a close dish towel to wipe the floor instead of a paper towel that's several feet away, washing the darks and lights together, or wrapping all the presents in one box to save paper and tape. (These are merely examples...)

Fast forward to our party on the verge of flopping.

Dear hubby sees this as the perfect opportunity to have me bake my cake and blow out the candles too. So about a week or so before our party, he calls on the assistance of my "perfect friend" to help him spread the word that the focus is being redirected from 10 individual birthdays down to just one... Mine.

My sweet hubby kept all this information from me and let me believe that only one couple was coming. I'm flitting around the kitchen pulling stuff in and out of the oven and I look up and see two more couples in my kitchen doorway holding trays of appetizers and gift bags!

It was a complete surprise and we had such a fun evening. The only challenge of the evening was trying to figure out how to get the cake cut and onto the dessert plates that were about six inches too short...

After a yummy barrage of appetizers, four flavors of ice cream and tall cake, we did a gift exchange game and then played a round of boys against girls Cranium. DH never enjoys "boys against girls" because his team never wins... until last night. The boys had the victory - those homeschooling dads are quite savvy. Personally - I felt it would have been more fitting to let the (ten days from her) birthday girl be on the winning team...
And so the birthday festivities have started. Bring it on - I can take it. I'm not afraid of the big 4-oh in the least - I embrace it and welcome it. If age is all in your mind then adolescence must be just around the corner!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

But you're my Sis-in-law... Family harmony dictates that you should...
I'm tryin'... really I am, to get back in the bloggy swing of things.

Some people just feel the need to force your hand (to type) sometimes... Thanks Sis. You know what it takes, huh?

I'm just pleased that even though I've hardly posted a thing in the last month that someone still checks up on me now and then.

Now I need to nominate at least 7 blogs that I love - and I run in such a tight bloggy circle that I might only be nominating a generation or two away from where this originated - so forgive me in advance.

Here are the rules:

1) The winner can put the logo on their blog.
2) Link the person you received your award from.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Put links of those on yours.
5) Leave a message on the blogs of the girls or boys you’ve nominated.

Here are my nominees in no particular order:

Now off you go... Check them out.

I only did 7 links - there are a lot more blogs that I love - but just gotta draw the line. Hey - I've not got a great posting history right now - cut me a tiny bit of slack. I'm still working on that "summer vacation" post for ya...

Hopefully, later today I'll have a serious post about that morning 7 years ago that has seemingly changed our world forever. But school starts soon... like 4 hours soon... and I might focus on my (three) futures rather than the past.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I've Been Intimate With My Neighbor...

(Boy! when she returns to bloggin' she really returns...)
I know, I know... It was a cheap shot. But I'm feeling so far behind on this "blog" which is completely unnecessary since it's MY personal "journal" of sorts and nothing else. Nobody really reads it anyway, right?

The "intimacy" with my neighbor was pointed out to me by my perfect friend at the gym the other morning. We were chatting about the events of the previous day as we did the hamster bit on the elliptical machines when she made the observation.

It just so happens that my gynecologist is my across-the-street neighbor. Don't think that THAT doesn't start some interesting driveway conversations. I'm just glad she's good at facial recognition.

I don't particularly relish these visits - but probably not for the reason that you'd think. It's the weigh in part that I don't enjoy. I'll do anything I can to shave off an ounce or two - including exfoliating and shaving. Plucking the eyebrows doesn't hurt either. I carefully plan the outfit I'll wear - always of the lightest weight clothing and shoes that slip off easily prior to stepping aboard the scale of denial.

The news wasn't good. Oh - the "you-know-what" came back fine... I meant the immediate news on the scale. It was better than my last visit 6 months earlier - 11 pounds better - but not what I wanted it to be. I was hoping to be at my "goal" after this year - but I'm only halfway there. And, truth be known, I'm slightly above "halfway" now.

It seems I did OK on our 6 week vacation, but since arriving home I gained 8 pounds. What's THAT about? So I'm back in the gym a minimum of 3 days a week (which feels good) and I'm workin' it off again.

The Lord did give me a special bit of encouragement this last week though. We started school here last Monday (yes... Labor Day... You can get away with that if you're homeschooling...) and I spent the last several minutes before going to bed Sunday night talking (read: pleading) with God to give us a good day, a good week, a good year... but at the very least a good morning. I weighed myself (never a good idea) and went to bed. I had been drinking a lot of water that day and woke at 5 a.m. to do my impression of a racehorse... When I got up again at 6:30 I was down a full 4.8 pounds. Thank you God! That was just the encouragement I needed to start my day.

We did have a very good first day of school - a very good week in fact. Today we start our second very good week! Prayers are still appreciated on that front.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Riding the 8 Ball

08/08/08. How many weddings do you think will take place today? Did the brides pick today for ''luck'' or just in an attempt to assist the groom in remembering the date? My young sis in law (still two years older than me...) was married for the third time on 7/7/07. I still say they should have flown to Vegas and been hitched by an Elvis. We we're married on 7/8/90. At the time I thought it was terribly clever.

The olympics also begin this evening. I can't put my finger on it exactly - but I'm just not that excited about the games this time around. Maybe it's just the lack of commercial exposure I've had in the last nearly six weeks, being away from television and the internet. I'm just not hyped about it perhaps.

So what am I doing on this monumental date??? I'm trapped in a minivan, stuffed to the gills with junque necessary for life away from home, with my three cherubs, my darling husband, and our quiet little mutt snoring softly in my lap.

I send you these greetings from I-44 west, mile marker 10.8. They make it easy for you to let the tow truck know where you are here - marking every two tenths of a mile. Missouri's tax dollars at work...

With any luck, I'll be in my own bed by 3 a.m. (or so)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick Word

Still livin' easy here in MO.

Daddy arrived Saturday morning - was dropped off here by a company plane on the way to Osh Kosh for the big air show.

The kids have been so excited to see him. He only took four phone calls from work today. Things are a little dicey I guess - with his boss being canned last week and them putting him back on salary with promises of overtime still. He's just slightly on eggshells.

Tomorrow morning we leave early for a visit to the "local" osteo doc to likely have Zachary get his brace off and be released back to a normal life. You should see the hysterical photos of him swimming around with his left arm in the air like some sort of fleshy periscope... give him an inch...

After the doc appointment we're headed back to Branson and Silver Dollar City again. We have to do one of those silly time share lecture things, but we'll get free hotel for two nights if we endure it.

We should be back here either late Thursday night or early evening Friday - haven't decided yet. After that we'll have another week here before heading home. I've been told that some have asked if we're ever coming back! LOL! Of COURSE I'm coming back... My scrappy stuff is back there!!! :0)

My gramma and one of my aunts head back to California Sunday morning. It should be a busy weekend here. My cousin from NYC is supposed to be in for a couple of days. We haven't seen my KC cousins yet - dunno if we will or not. Why is it that I feel so much guilt about not visiting family if I get this close (three hour drive) to them??? But they never feel the same guilt over visiting us - in fact they NEVER have.

Still T-Tapping. Only three inches lost this last week for a total of 15. I have been enjoying my vacation's like being on a cruise...

More frightfully interesting information later...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Minus One Foot

Or twelve inches... That T-Tapp stuff really does work! I've been Tapping since Sunday the 13th - doing the 15 minute Basic Plus workout every day but last Saturday, and I'm down 12 inches overall.

There's a storm rolling in here or I'd tell you more - but I'm pretty excited.

Oh - and I'm still eating like I'm on vacation...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

This Is Only A Test...

I'm testing my ability to make blog posts from my cell phone out here in the sticks.

Next I'll try sending a photo maybe...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Let's Just Ignore...

that weight loss ticker for a bit... In case you didn't notice - it says "hasn't been updated in 80 days - please update". Well... I haven't had the heart to move it UP and back down again... besides - all my passwords and sign in ID junque is at home... AND I deserve a free pass for the month of July...

First is Independence Day with it's hot dogs, potato salad, chips and ice cream.

My dog, Oscar, had his 3rd birthday on July 5. I had another hot dog in his honor.

Next is my wedding anniversary on the 8th. We've been happily married for 10 years now - not too bad for 18 total (giggle snort). This was our first year ever apart on our anniversary. So I had to go the "comfort food" route. He promises to make it up to me when he gets that outta count some calories too...

Then we spent 3 days at Silver Dollar City and funnel cake is the staple diet there...along with frozen lemonades. Not my fault.

My dad and husband both celebrate their birthdays on the 10th. Celebration = food, whether we're together or not.

My sister cats had their 3rd birthday on the 13th. I wasn't thinking of them - but did eat badly in their honor.

Then my son had an 11th birthday yesterday - had to make him the lemonade cheesecake pie he requested. Again, not my fault. I did make a sugar/fat free (`cept for the graham cracker crust and cool whip with chocolate shavings on top...) chocolate pie too. The leftovers are quite good for breakfast...

My twin aunts celebrate their (muffle muffle) birthday on Saturday. Twin doses of cake and ice cream will be had following a grilled dinner.

There is some good news here... I HAVE been doing my T-Tapp workouts every day (since Sunday) and already I have a measurable difference in the right direction. I'm also exercising in the water - I hate touching the muddy bottom, so I have to tread all the time - and if we go out in the boat I must tighten and hold everything in an attempt not to end up bruised by my own flailing body parts.

So let's just ignore that little ticker until i get home with my scale again...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Notes From MO

Not a lot of time to update you here - I'm borrowing the wireless for a few minutes on my dad's laptop.

We've (the kiddos, the dog and me - just in case you're thinking now would be a good time to stop by and steal all our junque...) been on vacation for the last two weeks!

We're kickin' our heels up at the old "homestead" in the Ozarks of MO. My grandparents have had this place on the lake since the very early 60's and it's probably the first place I ever swam. (And now that I think about it, it's the last place I swam too...)

I've set up housekeeping in one of my twin aunt's single wide trailer. That in and of itself was quite a feat... Apparently, whomever stayed here last wasn't much for housekeeping. The place reeked of mold and mildew, accented with just a hint of dried dog doo and a nostril slamming dose of dust. Of course, there were the signs of life left behind by winter's rodent guests as well as the fresh carcases of the ants that have been camping out here for who knows how long. I'm just thankful that my other aunt (the one that's down here most every weekend keeping an eye on things from her place next door) had the place fumigated a couple of days before we arrived to bed down.

It took a couple of days of cleaning, but we finally got the place livable again - can't complain tho, when the rent is so low :0) I do believe I heard my owner aunt say something about "changing the locks". Seems that my cousin's wife didn't want to stay here any more since the place didn't smell right to her... I need to stop here.

Last week we spent three nights in a condo in Branson. We is now the twin aunts, my three kids, and my cousin's two kids (both within months of being the same age as Mack - they split wedding duties at my other cousin's wedding last fall...) We had a ball eating and playing our way through Silver Dollar City in the on and off rain.

We'll be heading back to SDC for a few days when Daddy joins us - but I can't tell you when that will be, cuz I don't want you to go rob our junque out from under us...

There's a whole bunch more to tell - like how Zack totally soaked his cast at "Splash Harbor" (who knew... thanks *great* aunt, for the permission while mom was away...) and how it was replaced with a brace that he'll wear until the 29th. How the fireworks were pretty lame - not the usual lake viewing pleasure. How the kids are riding their bikes all the time and just loving it. How the dog has found a way out of the fenced yard and runs away down to gramma's house on the corner at every opportunity. How a trip to Walmart is a major excursion since it's a 30 minute drive instead of 3 minutes from home. How I'm learning how to plan better menus and grocery lists... How we're doing "summer-home school" and just "loving" it (not all of us - but it is motivating to have the lake just a short walk away when we're done... How the two youngest have turned into fish and the oldest is quite the angler now. (All he's asked for for his 11th b-day in 12 hours is fishing tackle and a trip to Bass Pro...) How I somehow seem to be gaining weight - could it possibly be all these huge family meals??? How I've started exercising again and I'm being faithful to my T-Tapp boot camp. How my cell phone totally crashed and erased everything on it - contacts, pix, ring tones, scheduler - everything! And how annoyed I was with Sprint (oddly #3 for WORST customer service...) when I called to see how to get my ringtones back and the guy said "how many" and I said "8 or 10" and he said, "that's too many - we can credit you with 3" and I said, "but I just bought them 6 months ago" and he said, "they re-download them and call back when they show up on your bill next month and tell them to look up my notes for this date and next time take care of your phone!!" and I said "EXCUSE ME???? It was never MY plan for the phone to short out and erase all my stuff... I was told it was a manufacturing defect!" (I hate Sprint...)

But... there's not time to tell you all that stuff - and this puter is pretty annoying - it keeps jumping my cursor all over the place and screwing up my typing.

Just wanted to say "hi" and that I'm still here... and miss bloggin' at ya... and I promise pix when I can get back to my own puter... but it will be awhile...
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