Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Odds and Ends

What is it about having everyone home that makes it almost impossible to blog (or even hear myself think)? Don't expect anything earth shattering in today's post.  Just little bits of this and that.

We've had a wonderful Christmas (aside from oldest son Greg not being able to be here). We had a great (and very crowded) Christmas Eve service at church and then had supper with Mike's parents.  Later that night we drove around town looking at lights.  One house even had a display similar to this one. We parked in front of that one for about 10 minutes. We enjoyed it so much, but it made me wonder what their neighbors think about it - all those lights flashing and cars parked along the street would have to be annoying.

The kids let us sleep in until after 7:00 on Christmas morning, which is a sure sign that they're nearly grown. It's a little sad, but I don't mind the extra sleep. I made a pecan coffee cake for breakfast that was delicious and simple to make. I'll try and remember to share the recipe with you soon. That evening we had supper with my parents and overate yet again. My mom had a variety of Christmas goodies that were delicious and I took a cheese ball which we devoured in about 20 minutes (another recipe I'll have to share sometime).

We might head out today for the kids to spend their gift cards.  Hopefully the stores aren't quite as busy as they were the day after Christmas.  I also need to replenish the grocery supply around here.  I got an Amazon gift card and I ordered a Kindle.  I can't wait for it to get here!  I already have lots of Kindle books on my computer that I haven't found the time to read.  For some reason I just never really like reading them on the computer.

I finally returned to my workout schedule this morning in an attempt to counteract all the sugar I've consumed in the last week. I ate way too much fudge, but it's so irresistible.  Good thing I only make it once a year.  I should probably put myself on some sort of sugar fast, but I seriously doubt that I would actually follow it if I did.

I'm trying to decide if I want to start taking down the Christmas decorations today, or if I want to wait.  Some of my acebook friends had their Christmas decorations all put away the day after Christmas.  I never do it that early because it seems like I don't really have time to enjoy the decorations until the day after.  Hubs and I are taking a short trip for New Year's (alone!!), and I know I want it done before that.  I would hate to come home to lots of work (aside from all the laundry that comes with taking a trip).  And speaking of New Year's... How is it that it's already almost 2011??  That seems impossible!

So there's my boring and overly wordy account of our Christmas celebrations.  I know you were on the edge of your seat.  :) How was your Christmas? 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Christmas Eve Eve!

It's the eve of Christmas Eve, or as my witty daughter Marcia says, "Christmas Adam." She's a funny thing, isn't she?

It's a cold and gray morning here, and I've been up since before the sun. Not that the sun is making much of an appearance today. As I might have mentioned once or a dozen times, I'm planning on starting a new job in the fall, and I'm in the midst of updating my resume. I've been laying awake trying to make sure that I come across as hardworking and focused rather than indecisive and whacko.

But who wants to spend Christmas Adam thinking about that? I'm already wearing my favorite baking outfit, so I might as well get up and make breakfast.

As any retro homemaker knows, muffins make mornings bright and cheerful.

While they're baking I plug in my kitchen Christmas tree and listen to Swingin' Christmas on Pandora.
Yes, I have a tree in the breakfast area of my kitchen. I have a bay window that faces the street and one year I just decided to put a tree there. I enjoyed it so much I've done it every year since. It's mostly decorated with the ornaments that we have bought for the kids or that they have made over the years.  Notice the cute Diet Coke ornament near the top that my future daughter-in-law bought for me this year. Does she know me or what? :)  I love it!

I've mixed up some spiced tea for the neighbors and I'm going to send the kids around to deliver the packages this afternoon.

It's so nice to have time to putter around the kitchen and visit with all of you. Wishing each of you a very Merry Christmas Adam, Eve, and Christmas Day!

Much love,

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I still have some last minute shopping, wrapping, and mailing to do, but overall Christmas preparations are moving along smoothly. I've managed to do a fairly good job of kicking my inner Scrooge to the curb and not worrying about it despite having a very busy month. Listening to Christmas music and reading a chapter in Luke every night (24 chapters in Luke = December 1st through 24th) helps me keep the grumpy away and puts a smile on my heart.

I got my Christmas cards mailed out early this year. I love sending and receiving Christmas cards! It's so nice to get something in the mail other than bills or advertisements.
We pray for each family that sends us a card.

Here are a few more pictures from around the house.

I hope that your advent season is full of joy!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Ann Kroeker shared this video on her blog yesterday. She and her husband used it as part of their "adventing" (love that term).

Maybe I'm a little hormonal, but it made me cry when the girl on the cell phone stood up and started to sing. I also love the part at the end where they raise their arms. Can you imagine what it must have been like to see it in person?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Decorating for Christmas

Slow and steady wins the race, right? We are decorating a little at a time, and it's actually kind of fun. It's something new every day.

We even decided to use the retro bubble lights this year. I had forgotten how much fun they are to look at.

Is your house already decorated?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ten Things

I love reading lists of what people are thankful for. It always makes me appreciate those things as well. I thought it would be fun to make a list of tangible, non-living things I'm thankful for. Of course, I'm most thankful for my precious family and my wonderful friends, but this list is for non-humans. :)

So without further ado and in no particular order, here's my list!

1. Indoor plumbing - I guess I immersed myself in the Little House Books too much as a girl, because ever since I've been extremely grateful that I don't have to share a tub full of water pulled up in front of the fire with the rest of my family (one at a time of course), or make a midnight trek to the outhouse.

2. Coffee - So many delightful ways to drink it and so tasty! I love to drink it iced in the summer and hot in the winter.

3. Cell phones - You have no idea how happy I am that I can carry my phone around and not worry that I'm going to miss a call from Greg who is currently deployed. I would probably lay down and cry if he called the house and I wasn't home to get it.

4. Dishwasher - I got a new dishwasher in February after being without for ages, and I still love it so much! It makes cooking and washing dishes so much easier.

5. Pasta - Not only is it delicious but it has helped me countless times to stretch a pound of ground beef to feed a big family.

6. Uggs - I wear mine all winter long. They may not be as stylish as a cute pair of boots with heels, but oh, are they comfortable and warm!

7. Ceiling fans - You just can't spend a summer in the south without ceiling fans. Whoever invented them has my undying gratitude. They stay out of the way and make sleeping in a too warm house possible. I wish I had one in the kitchen.

8. My camera - I invested in a nice camera this year, and I have enjoyed it so much.  I still have tons to learn, but I'm already much happier with the pictures I'm taking.

9. The internet - it has made everything so much easier: research, homework, paying bills, keeping in touch with old friends, you name it.

10. The US Postal Service - yes there's lots about it that drives me crazy, but I love opening my mailbox every day. There's always the possibility of a sample, a magazine, or best of all a card or letter. Plus, I love those flat rate boxes for sending care packages. You can really get a lot packed into them.

So what are some non-human things that you are thankful for?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Secret Sisters

Aren't these girls just the cutest things ever? Love their gorgeous voices and pretty red lipstick! And yes, they really are sisters, which makes it even better.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good Morning!

This is my favorite way to spend a chilly Saturday morning - drinking a homemade latte and reading blogs. We've had a nice leisurely breakfast and we're all still in our PJs (except Bobby, who left at an obscene hour in the middle of the night to go hunting).

I should probably get busy though. My mom group be here this afternoon. I've reached the point, like I always do before someone comes over, when I wish I could rip up my carpet and replace it with hardwoods right quick before they get here. Obviously I'm only dreaming, but wouldn't that be nice?

Oh well.  I'm really looking forward to seeing them all and I know they aren't coming over to look at my carpet.  We're going to be packing up care packages for our troops, and that's what really matters.

Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas is Right Around the Corner

We've had a bit of a cold front come through so now I'm ready for Christmas! Not ready as in presents bought, cards ordered, baking done, just ready meaning in the mood for Christmas music, lights, and movies.

You know, usually at this point in the year I am freaking out a little about Christmas. How will I get everything done? What picture(s) am I going to put on the cards? How will I get all the house cleaning and baking done? But this afternoon as I was listening to Christmas Time is Here, I decided that I'm just not going to do it this year (y'all may have to hold me to that). I'm volunteering in the church office every week and working part time...I have a lot on my plate.

I'm going to decorate as much as I want to (I love to decorate) and I'm not going to worry about everything looking perfect. So what if the tree is crooked and one of the strands of lights go out?  I'm going to sit in front of the fire and watch movies with the family if I feel like it instead of making supper from scratch.  It won't hurt anybody if we have sandwiches or even frozen pizza every now and then.  I'm going to bake when I feel like baking, but I'm not going to pressure myself if I don't feel like it.  No one ever collapsed from disappointment when eating a store bought pie instead of homemade.  If I feel like putting on my flannel PJs and fuzzy socks at 4:00 in the afternoon I'm going to do it and not apologize if someone comes to the door.  I'm not going to freak out if I don't get the baseboards dusted, there are cobwebs on the ceiling and a pile of laundry undone.  I'll just light some candles, turn down the lights, shut the laundry room door and say "come on in".  If I don't get the Christmas cards sent out on time, I'm not going to worry about it. I'm sure no one will "unfriend" us over it.

I'm just going to relax and enjoy my family, our traditions and the real reason for the season.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Make A Decision

Unless it's something really big (like what graduate school should I go to), I usually don't have any trouble making decisions. Maybe it's the right-brained person in me, but I can pick a paint color or even a dishwasher without thinking about it twice.  A couple of my children, however, not so much.  They agonize and overthink every little thing.  So, being the nice mama I am, and borrowing heavily from old psychology textbooks, I have come up with a little step-by-step guide to decision making which should appeal to those of you who are left-brained and analytical.

1.  What are your choices?  You have to identify the potential choices before you can go any further.
2.  Research.  This includes both researching the actual product/color/shoe/graduate school...whatever, and yourself.  What are you hoping to get?  A comfortable shoe that goes with your favorite jeans?   A dishwasher that will last for 15 years?  A career that you won't hate?
3.  Consult and brainstorm.  Talk to others and get their opinions and brainstorm possibilities but only for a limited time.  Don't get stalled out at this point. This is the part where you can take a picture of the shoes with your phone and send it your friend.  :)
4.  Pros and Cons.  Make a list of pros and cons, but again don't let it take too long.  Give yourself a deadline if you need to.
5.  Decide and act.  This is the hard part.  Make a decision and act on it.  If you don't decide, that's a decision too.   If you're like me, you'll be deciding on the first thing that caught your eye anyway.

So there you have it my little over thinking darlings.  Happy decision making!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's Slow Cooker Season

And here you thought it was Fall! This is the time of year when my slow cooker goes into full time service. It's a busy mom's best friend!

I can get supper put together in the morning, or even the night before and then it's one less thing to worry about.  If I put it together the night before I can either put a slow cooker  liner bag into a bowl and layer the ingredients in it, or put them into the removable part of my crock pot and put it in the fridge.  If you use the crock, be sure and let it sit out on the counter for a bit so it's not super cold when you turn on your slow cooker.  You don't want to crack anything.

Tonight we had Green Chile-Chicken Enchilada Casserole. My crock pot runs a little hot, so I cooked it about 5 hours instead of the full 6, and it turned out great.

Here are some slow cooker recipes I've posted here in the past:
Crock Pot Chicken with Mushroom Gravy
Curried Split Pea Soup
Tex-Mex Dinner
Crock Pot Lasagna
Au Gratin Ham and Potatoes in the Crock Pot
Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yay for Autumn!

The arrival of Fall puts me in the mood for crisp apples, baking bread, simmering soup, raking leaves, nature walks and sprucing up the house.  I can't wait to pull out the flannel sheets, boots and cardigans!

Come on in and pull up a chair at the kitchen table and tell me your favorite things about Fall.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Last of Summer

I'm enjoying the last remnants of summer around my yard.  We've had a cool front and now the mornings are brisk, but not yet cold, and the afternoon sun gently warms my shoulders.  Perfect outdoor weather!

This is my backyard helper who likes to follow at my heels. :)

I just left this spider to go about her business in her web on the porch.  Maybe I've read Charlotte's Web one too many times.

The last warm, ripe tomatoes.

Morning glory on the back fencce.

The last blooms are beginning to fade.

"There comes a time when autumn asks,
'What have you been doing all summer?'" - unknown

Friday, September 24, 2010

50s Music

I love all sorts of music, but I've been listening to a lot from the 50s lately. This is one of my favorites and it just makes me tap my toes and sing along. It was featured in the Disney movie Cars a few years ago (and is on the soundtrack) so a whole new generation is getting to enjoy it.

Say what you will about the 1950s, there sure was a lot of good music going on.:)

Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lunch Ideas

On days that I work, I have to take my lunch. I can't leave the school to go out to eat even if I wanted to so it's either take something or don't eat. I've been known to make do with a Slim Fast bar and while that's easy to throw in my purse on the way out the door, it's not really my favorite lunch. Mike usually gets dibs on any leftovers (he has a microwave at work) so I have to be a little more creative with my lunch.

Here are some of my favorite quick and easy lunch ideas:
Wraps - I wrap up sandwich fixings or leftovers such as roast chicken in a whole grain tortilla.
Pita sandwiches
Thermos full of soup
raw vegetables and hummus
cold pasta salad
breakfast for lunch (muffins, yogurt, oatmeal)
homemade "lunchable" - crackers, cheese and meat

When you pack a lunch for yourself, what are your favorite things to pack?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicken Curry

I love curry, especially the hot Thai variety!  My family, however, doesn't like it too hot, plus I don't always have the time (or the long list of ingredients) for such recipes.  So I make a quick, easy and mild chicken curry that can be adapted to whatever I have on hand.  It's a really quick one dish week night supper for when we want a change of pace from the same old thing.  I can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Here are the ingredients I used this time. Remember you can change them up. I actually like mine best without any meat, but the troops would revolt if I served it that way.

About 2 cups of chopped, cooked chicken
5 or 6 diced red potatoes. Use more or less depending on how many other ingredients you have.
baby carrots (about half a bag)
sliced fresh mushrooms (I just used a couple for my own bowl - I love mushrooms)
1/2 onion, chopped
a couple of teaspoons of chopped fresh garlic
You could also add celery or chopped bell pepper...lots of possibilities.
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (yes, you can use regular yogurt)
olive oil (a tablespoon or 2)
salt and pepper to taste
curry powder 1 to 2 tablespoons
cilantro leaves and/or diced tomatoes for garnish

Saute the vegetables with the garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes until crisp tender, except the mushrooms.  You'll want to wait until a little later to add them as they don't need as much time to cook.  Add the broth and the chicken and simmer for a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, stir together the curry powder and the yogurt.  Turn heat to low and gently fold in yogurt mixture.  Don't let it boil or the yogurt will curdle instead of being smooth and creamy.  Serve over rice.  If you're really in a hurry, Minute Rice is fine or if you want to be more authentic, serve over basmati or jasmine rice.  Top with cilantro and diced tomatoes.  To add a little heat you can stir in some cayenne pepper with the curry powder.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

We had spinach and mushroom quiche this weekend. I had to make a "mom's taxi" run before it was ready and left my girls to watch the timer and pull it out of the oven for me. I thought it was so cute that they decided to take a picture of it before it was all gone because they thought you all might want to see it.  Maybe I should just turn the blog over to them!

I made this recipe (sort of).  I used sliced  mushrooms instead of bacon and added some garlic and thyme.  I also used half & half instead of heavy cream because that's what I had on hand.  It was delicious and the leftovers were even better, not that there was much left over.  Even my meat and potatoes husband liked it.  We had it for brunch, but it would be great any time of day.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

5 Things To Do With Table Salt

Y'all know I'm all about using what's handy, available and cheap, whether it's in cooking, cleaning, or entertaining. Plain old table salt has so many uses, it's natural and you probably already have some in your pantry.

1. Scour tiles with a mixture of salt and vinegar. They'll be shiny in no time.

2. Remove kitchen odors from your hands. If your hands smell like garlic or onions, make a little paste of vinegar and salt and scrub with it (provided you don't have any cuts on your hands because - ouch!).

3. Clean cast iron. If you have food stuck on your cast iron skillet, don't use soap, just sprinkle with salt, scrub and rinse.

4. Set tie-dye. Before you wash your lovely and artistic creation soak it in a mixture of 2 cups warm water to 1/3 cup salt for about 20 minutes.  We made tie-dye t-shirts at VBS one year and didn't do this before we washed them.  The colors ran and the kids were so disappointed that their shirts didn't stay vibrant and pretty.

5. Sprinkle salt on a lemon half and use it to scrub your copper pots to restore their shine. Rinse thoroughly afterward.

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Favorite Place

My favorite place isn't a luxury hotel or a swanky restaurant. My favorite place is my own house, Casa Loca (Spanish for crazy house) as we like to call it. :)

We laugh at dumb jokes, dance (very badly in my case) in the kitchen, watch corny movies, and hang around in our ratty shorts. We can be cranky and get on each other's nerves and then we make up and hug.  We share our favorite books and then accuse the others of hogging all the cookies.

It's far from perfect, and there's always something that needs cleaning, fixing or painting, but I love it and the people in it.
We've lived here for 8 years this month and our house is full of so many happy memories.  I wouldn't change a thing!