Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in Review.

The Christmas season kicked off with a girls Christmas shopping day in Rogers, AR, and that day started with avisit to P.F. Chang's. My first ever.

Christmas eve rolled around with a load of snow, a big snowball fight, and some very rough football!

This is the view from my Mother-in-law's front door. It was a wonderful Christmas.

On Christmas day we headed to Cap's grandmother's house about an hour from his Mom's. In the back seat with me is our niece. We girls were loaded under all the presents and food and quilts, as you can see. The lucky boys were chillin in the front seat with all the leg room.

This picture was taken right before my nap. I'm a car sleeper or a car sicker. There's no in between for me.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I love Christmas. I love it every year. I love to buy gifts and I love to wrap them. I especially love to give them. I always endeavor to find just the right gift for the person that I shop for. It's not about marking a name off a list for me. For me, it's about knowing my loved ones so well that I can spot their gift months in advance. The problem is keeping my mouth shut about it. That's always the problem. When I was a little girl about 5 years old, I think, my dad woke me up in the middle of the night to take me potty (not that I had any bed-wetting problems). I sat on the potty with my eyes half closed and said with my sleepy excitement "Daddy, we got you some shirts for Father's Day today." I think he said something along the lines of "You're not supposed to tell me, Amy Lynn." I'm pretty sure he was holding back a chuckle as he said it though, if I know my dad.
With my Mom, it's different. I always want to get her, not just something she would like but, that one thing she's been wishing for, for months. So she's usually involved in picking out her gift. Now and then it's a big surprise, but mostly we've discussed it. This year is one of those surprise years, I'd tell you what I got her, but she doesn't get to open it for a couple of more weeks. So I'll have to torture myself a bit longer and not even tell you! Believe me, it's very hard. She's been in England since just before Thanksgiving but comes home in January! I can't wait to see the thousands of pictures she must have taken.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Missing Camera

I've had all my clothes chosen for the last couple of weeks, some of them I hadn't worn for the first little while because I was unsure if they would work with the outside temperature, and if I needed to exchange an item I didn't want to have already worn it. As it is, I have 3 dressy blouses, 1 long sleeved top, a turtleneck, a blazer, and a hoodie. I've set aside two pair of jeans and a pair of black dress slacks. I've been sticking to one pair of black shoes (the ballet flats) and I've worn my tennis shoes once. Yesterday I was required to wear all black or black and white so I had to wear a shirt that wasn't on my list of approved items, but it wasn't my pleasure, I did wear my pearls though, and that was my pleasure.
I have lost my camera... since Thanksgiving I guess. It's been about that long that I've been looking for it and I used it to take pics and videos on Thanksgiving. I have been hoping to take some pictures of the outfits that I will be wearing in the coming months but until I find my camera...
I worked my last day at the chocolate store yesterday, it was fun but I'm glad to have my time to myself again. Just in time to celebrate Christmas at a leisurely pace.
Monday night I finished up my gift wrapping and was thinking about how in just a few days my step-son will be opening these gifts! It was that moment that I really felt the Christmas spirit! I love to gift shop and have a wonderful time doing that but this year I didn't have that warm and rosy glow that Christmas usually sparks. I've got it now. I think it's the gift wrapping, I just love to do that.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photos are coming, I promise!

I've been down with a wicked (inner) ear infection for the last 3 days and was close to chopping it off! I took loads of Echinacia & Goldenseal though (and still am) and that has made a big difference in my life! I have been able to go to work each day, after long nights of thinking I'll never get out of bed again! Today was the 3rd, and best, day so far. I took off my bed sheets and threw them in the washer right before this happened and I haven't yet put the fresh set on! I've been sleeping in a quilt and now that will have to be washed too. I was so out of energy that when I thought of making my bed, I just crawled into my quilt instead. Lazy bones.
So, when I finally make my bed, I'll also take some pictures of my clothing.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's a Work in Progress

So, I guess things don't just happen over night then? I was really hoping to slash through my closet and dump a bunch of junk. I found out that I am much more attached to a lot of my clothes than I realized... so I've made one pass and I took out about 35 items (of my own thank you). I'll make another pass in a week or so and see what shakes down. In the mean time I am evaluating another option. The option of putting all this extra in a tote for the next year, surely by then my current pieces will be thread bare. So I'll go shopping in my own closet for a few more items to replace my Raggedy-Ann blouses. The idea here is that it's rather dumb to ditch your clothes and then have to buy 3 or even 5 more shirts in a year. Does it sound like I'm making excuses? It feels like it sounds like I am.

Cap chose about 35 of his own shirts and pants (mostly shirts) to send off too. We have two huge shopping bags full of clothes. Our closet looks a little better. Only a little.

As for my wardrobe, I have only settled on 3 tops. I can't decide what the fourth should be and if I should have at least 2 long-sleeved or sweater type shirts. Ya know, cause we're heading into winter here and looking at degrees below zero at some points. Might get chilly under my coat right? Help me! Shoes too, I have no idea what to do about them. I've been wearing out a pair of "ballet" flats for the fall but I don't think they'll do for winter. So what will. I have a couple pair of boots but they have heels and I don't think they'd be great either. So, 1 sneakers, 1 church shoes, and what about the everyday stuff? Keep the ballet flats? Use my old worn out Mary-Jane's? I can't think of another option.

As soon as I settle on the other two shirts I'll post some pictures of my choices.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Day of Thanksgiving

Tonight I'm preparing some Thanksgiving food in advance. I have plenty of time to be ready, I just want to see how it does in the freezer for a day or so. Cap and I have decided to buy a deep freezer for our Christmas gift and one thing I'd like to do with it is start making up some meals that can be frozen and then popped into the oven. That's what really got me to thinking about making my Thanksgiving dishes a little early.
I'm making sweet potatoes,

and cranberry sauce, I'll probably make some cranberry muffins too, but I want to use the left over cranberry sauce for that. I did last year and they turned out delicious, we'll see if I have the same luck this year, huh?

This is my mom's famous chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal cookies recipe but I dipped them in chocolate. Here they are, All ready to go!

I have so much to be thankful for, not just this Thanksgiving but everyday. I'd like to tell you a little bit about that.
The first thing I am so grateful for is God. Always, always, God. I'm thankful for what He is, for what He does, for the wonderful blessings that He pours out on each of us and our families. I give my thanks and gratitude from the very bottom of my heart. God has kept us supplied with wonderful Christian friends, a great church with a fantastic pastor, bibles that teach us how to love one another, and by that a marriage that I am honored to be half of.
Second on my list is, my family. From my husband & step-son to my mom, and right down to each and every little niece and nephew! I am so glad to be a part of my family and my husband's family. I believe there is something to be treasured inside each person and it usually isn't hard to figure out what that special thing is! I love you, my family. I am also thankful for all the new babies born into our family this year. A combined total of 9 new babies in 2010 for my side and my captain's side! Perfect and precious. I could even list all of their names with out having to think about it!
The next category that I am giving thanks for is our home. Our nice warm beds, the running water, and a good roof over our heads. God has blessed us with a beautiful home that we are so honored to live in. Every day I look around and am so grateful for each little nook and cranny, not to mention all the extras. We are so thankful for this home and for the neighbor God has blessed us with who knows how to keep our cars in running condition!
Last and not least is our country, our freedom, our safety, and our bounty. Thank you God for this sweet land of liberty.

There are many other people and things that we are blessed to have in our lives. I hesitate to continue my list because I'm starting to feel braggadocios! I'm so honored to have been given so much in life and I thank God for all of it. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Please comment and tell me what you're thankful for this year.

PS Check back to find out more about my clothing project - for lack of something better to call it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Sacrifice?

Is it really much of a sacrifice though? We'll have to see.

The night of the women's rally at church, that I blogged about here, I had a thought. I thought about all the clothes hanging in my closet that I never wear, I thought about all the clothes that I do wear, and about the clothes that so many don't have.

Our nation is one of great affluence and excess, we all know. The problem is that we do nothing about our indulgence, even when we hear or read of the poverty that many nations face. So I decided to make a change in my life, To challenge myself for 1 year. I will chose a few items of clothing (the exact number hasn't yet been settled upon) and wear only those clothes for the next year.
I think I will start with 5 tops, 3 pants, 1 skirt, 1 dress shoe, one tennis shoe, 1 seasonal for daily wear, 7 undies, 1 pj set, 1 hoodie, 1 winter coat, 1 scarf, 1 set of gloves, my wedding ring, and no other jewelry. This still is so much more than minimum. I will keep 5 (or 10?) other tops that I already own and donate the rest of my clothing to Project Rescue or some other local organization. Things will come up I am sure, that will require some thought and decision. I am sure there will be Christmas gifts or birthday gifts that will be clothing. I will have to give some thought to what to do about that, before it happens. I want this to be a sacrifice, I want to feel it. After 6 months I may re-evaluate and give up more items (go down to 3 shirts from 5 or something). We'll wait and see. For the season change I might exchange one pair of jeans for a pair of shorts, I can't decide if that should be allowed or not.
It's time to start picking my clothes and bagging up the rest.
I want to start this Thanksgiving Day, it seems appropriate. The captain has said he'd like to do it with me. Obviously uniforms for work have to be excluded, I don't wear one but my Captain America does. I'll post pics of the items I decide to wear for the next 12 months, just for the fun of it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Time To Kill/Project Rescue

First of all, I haven't had any extra time at all! I spent yesterday (Tuesday) taking my mom to the airport in Kansas City, then I spent the night with Captain America... but not at his barracks. No.
I got home this morning in time to take a quick shower, throw on my pretty granny dress, Skype with my momma who landed safely in Europe (but never called to say so), and head out to the mall. I sampled peanut brittle there today. See's Candy has the best peanut brittle. That isn't all I sampled though... I also had a Bordeaux, sugar free dark chocolate almond clusters, a regular almond cluster, and a couple of other things that I just can't put my finger on. It's my job, I have to know what I'm selling here people, okay?

Now, the real reason I'm still up is so that I can tell you about a fashion show and clothing re-sale shop that was held at my church James River Assembly of God in Ozark, MO. The women of the church were asked to donate their new or gently used clothing for an indoor sale that would happen the night of our women's rally. The proceeds of the sale, and any clothing that wasn't purchased, would then be donated to an organization called Project Rescue. The mission is to rescue women and children who have been sold into sexual slavery in India and Nepal. Project Rescue provides medical care and safe houses to rescued victims as well as a safe place for the children of sex workers during their mother's working hours, which keeps the children out of brothels. I have barely scratched the surface here but I hope to learn more about their mission and figure out how I can help raise awareness. Please visit their website and if you feel compelled to help. One of the greatest ways to do so is to send a donation. Start with a $20 and see if you even miss it. Go out to dinner once less this month, it'll be so worth it. Read the touching story of how it all began. Most of all, pray for these women and children as well as the people who are helping them. There are many resources on the Project Rescue website, I encourage you to look over them and find out how you can raise awareness in your own family, church, school, workplace, and community.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Christmas Season...

...has now begun!
Today (after I go to sleep and then wake up at a slightly later than respectable hour) I will begin work my 1st day at my holiday job. It's See's Candy! I know that this means my time will be taken up by things other than blogging (and you know how dedicated I am, right?) so hopefully I will make up for quantity with quality.
I do have some things I'm interested in posting about in the near future. My weekend is a busy one but hopefully the beginning of the week will provide some time to organize my thoughts before I toss them out here in a jumbled mess.
Teaser: This has to do with my church, India, and clothing... all at once.

Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Camera Has Been Repaired!

By my snot-nosed-little-sinking-brother, God bless him! The repair took a matter of 2 seconds and was exactly the same method I had used in my own attempt to set it back to rights. Humph! He noted that I should be offering some hint of gratitude so, eventually, I thanked him. I am very happy that he was able to fix it, my frustration lies in the agony I felt over the loss of it as well as the time I spent trying to make it functional again. Nevertheless, I am very relieved that the camera story has a happy ending, or rather, a new beginning. I will continue to take my pictures and dream of a day when people read my blog.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Camera

My camera is broken, at least more than I am capable of repairing. My plan is to see if anyone at Best Buy can help me out but... my captain thinks I broke it intentionally so that I can have a much nicer (read: much more expensive) camera. It's a really good thought. So I admitted my guilt and I think it worked. I'm not a wasteful person though so I'll still find out if mine can be repaired. Maybe someday I'll get a real camera.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Today there was a commercial shot at my house! There was a camera man, a key grip (I think), and even a director, they were so great!
The whole deal is that my Mom's friend was hired to try out a product, then choose her favorite recipe and make that for the commercial. After they filmed the process she was then interviewed about her experience with the product. The only problem was that she needed to use her own kitchen for the site, and that was in the middle of a re-model... do you see where this is leading? To my house!

Here's the fun:

This is the camera man, Scott and the lady I called the Key grip, Nakita. I'll research her official title and make sure that's correct. In the photo below they had just begun setting the scene and getting all the lights right. Oh, and that gal in blue is the star of the show, Tricia!

Here's Rob the director with Tricia.

Rob and Nakita dealing with some details. Getting things just right.

Finally, here she is making' pizza! That was some really great pizza!

What an exciting and interesting experience that was! My kitchen is famous now, but without those lights, it'll never be the same.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Salsa Verde

I made a green sauce the other day for chicken enchiladas. This would be called Enchiladas Rancheros in my local Restaurante Mexicano, I believe. I'll show ya how it's done.

Here's what you'll need:
1 lb of chicken breast
1 lb of tomatillos ( toe - ma - tee - ohs, this looks like a green tomato but has this dryish peely skin around it) I've cut one in half so you can see the inside too.
1 or 2 Serrano peppers (watch out they're spicy)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
6 oz of white American cheese or to your taste
About half of a bunch of cilantro
A medium to large onion
A few cloves of garlic
12 corn tortillas In a large-ish sauce pan bring water to a boil, add in the tomatillos (whole please or you'll have lots of retained liquid), add 1/3 of the onion and about 2 cloves garlic (I chopped mine). The idea is not to over cook the tomatillos. Cook them just until they turn from bright green to a sort of "army" green color.
At this point reserve half of the remaining onion and toss the rest of the ingredients together in your Mexican clay pot/bowl and add less than a cup of chicken or vegetable stock. You can add more later if you wish to thin the sauce. If you don't have your very own Mexican clay pot, you can use any old bowl you have in your kitchen. Since my hubby took our blender with him to the Air Force Base I blended my sauce in batches with the Magic Bullet. You can see how it will turn out in the bowl to the left. Once you have your sauce ready you can begin cooking the chicken. I dice up the previously set aside onion and get that cooking for a bit. I like my onions good at cooked. Well done even. I diced my chicken up pretty small but that takes some time. If you're in a rush you can chop it in larger chunks or cook it whole and pull it apart later. Any way you like to do it is fine. I added the cheese just as the chicken was finished cooking.
After the chicken is ready, form an assembly line near your stove. You'll need a small skillet to heat the corn tortillas in, dishes to plate your finished enchiladas onto, and plenty of elbow room. A second set of hands would come in handy too. I cook my tortillas one at a time in a small skillet, this keeps me on top the my game. Here's what I do: heat a tortilla, scoop some sauce onto a small plate nearby, toss the hot tortilla onto the sauce and scoop a little more on top. Throw another 'tilla into the pan to heat while you fill the first tortilla with some chicken and then roll it up. Gently slide the enchilada onto a warm serving plate and begin again. Add a little more sauce to the top for extra scrumptious-ness.

I took mine to bible study so I put them all together in a casserole dish. They get a little soggy but they still taste great! Feel free to garnish with shredded lettuce and sour cream or an extra dash of cheese. Any way you serve it, it'll be so good!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Air Force Reserves ~ Drill Weekend

My husband is in the Air Force Reserves and right now he's on active duty. That means he works for the Air Force full time rather than just one weekend a month plus 2 weeks in a year. He's active duty while he's training for his military job, he spent 10 weeks in Florida and will train another 9 months at Whiteman AFB here in Missouri. That's only about a couple of hours from where we live. Although he is on active duty and working full time for the Reserves, he still has to attend his drill weekends as usual. He came home from Florida and had leave for 7 days starting the Thursday before last, this weekend is drill weekend.
Yesterday it was hard for me to let him walk out the door. I don't know why. When he left for weeks and weeks in Florida, it really wasn't that hard. I knew I'd miss him but that he'd be back and the time would fly. It wasn't like he was shipping out for months. This time I guess it just felt like he was to close to home to be missing. What I really wanted was to stomp my feet and shake my fists and make him stay. Most jobs, let alone military jobs, don't really work that way. So I came along. I'm hiding under his desk in the lab where he works right now. No, not really, actually I've been hanging out at his hotel all day waiting for him to come back. Even if I have had to loaf around all day, eat a nice hot breakfast, take long hot showers, wash my hair twice, read books, play around online, eat out for lunch, and, worst of all, swim in the pool and sit in the hot tub. It's really been a miserable day. I think I'll come along and suffer next time too.
I love drill weekend!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christmas Baking

I like to plan ahead. You might think I'm bored, but it's always been this way. I do the same thing for birthdays too.

For my Christmas baking I like to keep things unique, yet simple. The result usually leans more towards simple... This year I plan to make 3 or 4 treats and a few quick breads. I suppose there might be some gingerbread men and a gingerbread house somewhere in the mix too.

Here's my plan:
Peanut Clusters (new for me)
Long Pretzel Sticks dipped in chocolate & rolled in chopped nuts or m&ms. (also new for me)
My mom's cookies (everyone's favorite)
Banana Bread (another favorite)
Cranberry nut bread (MY favorite)
Apple/Caramel Cinnamon Rolls (something new)

I'll post the recipes as I get to making them or direct you to the place I got it from (like The Pioneer Woman).

Christmastime's a Comin'!

We have about 13 weeks left before Christmas and for those of us that get paid about twice a month, that's 6 more paydays! If you don't have your Christmas savings started, then you better get on it! If you save $250 each payday from now until Christmas you'll have $1,500!

Let me break it down for you:
$250 x 6 = $1,500
$200 x 6 = $1,200
$150 x 6 = $900
$100 x 6 = $600
$ 50 x 6 = $300

Of course only you can say how much you've already put aside for Christmas or how much you'll need to spend.

When I made my Christmas list (last night) I wrote down the name of each person I plan to buy gifts for. To the left of the person's name I made a column for the approximate amount of money that I would like to spend (or that I usually spend). We typically spend about $50 on each parent (or parent set) but sometimes (usually) that goes over. It isn't that we try to make it so "dollar specific", but just that we like to go crazy and have to get a grip. Our limits aren't set in stone but if we decide to go over, we discuss it first. For our siblings we try to stay around $25, but some of them have children so I try to budget for little extras there as well. To the right of each name I jotted down some ideas that I've been thinking of (since last Christmas, sometimes). This handy little list can slip right into your purse or pocket so that when you pull it out you'll have your names, items, and spending bracket. At the bottom you can tally up the money you plan to spend and you'll know exactly how much you'll need.

My husband and I often do a joint gift, one year we bought a digital camera, another year we each got a nice watch, sometimes we'll just do shopping money for new clothes, this year we're hoping for a deep freeze!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I am a Christian

Being a Christian is so ingrained in my life that I consider it more of a "given" than something to point out. I believe that someone should be able to understand that I am a Christian by having a conversation with me or by observing my lifestyle and choices. Because of this I often (boldly) assume that everyone around me believes like I do. I guess it's part of giving people the benefit of a doubt, or seeing the best in them, I don't know. It is my great desire to wear my Christianity on the outside of myself so that there is never a doubt about what I believe or what I stand for. If, for example, you want to know my political persuasions, I will tell you that I lean in a certain direction based on my own values and morals. If you want to talk about abortion I will tell you that it rips my heart out to think people have them willingly. If you tell me you want to have an affair then I will urge you to fall in love with your husband. If you tell me your husband is abusive I will encourage you to find help, not to stay in a dangerous situation. If you're considering divorce, I urge you to reconsider. People who grow apart can grow back together, if they want to. Many times divorce is the lazy way out. These are many opinions that I generally keep to myself. It is not my desire to offend or to push someone away by my strong beliefs. I usually will not offer my opinions or beliefs unless I'm asked to, unless I feel I must. If I feel that I must share something, and then I resist, I believe that is a sin. I believe that the best Christian witness is the life of a Christian who lives what he or she believes. Words are just words until you make them your life.
It is my honor to call myself a follower of Christ. It is my honor to live my life so that it is worthy of the calling I have received. I am a Christian and I am proud to be.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Coconut Oil

Have I ever told you about the benefits of coconut oil? Well I'm not going to, not here anyway. Let me direct you to my other blog, Café de Santé.

This is a blog that my mother and I have just started, in order to answer the many questions that we receive about food as related to health, or health as related to food, and questions about natural remedies. We believe that everything natural was made by God with a purpose. Sometimes the purpose is for healing, sometimes for preventing, even sometimes just for enjoying.

Thanks for reading about the miracle of Coconut Oil! I hope you dare to try it and I hope you fall in love.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Charming Charlie

Charming Charlie is a great store that we have in our Battlefield Mall.
My girl friends have been talking about it lately but, since I'm not much of a shopper, I didn't just run right out to see it. I have told people about the store though because I really like what I've heard about their set-up. They have their products arranged by colors, so if you're looking for something in red... there's a spot for that! Well, as I walked into the mall (heading for a certain coffee spot who's name is on my travel mug) I noticed the store and had to get a peek. Here's what I found.

They have accessories in every color, all throughout the store. They have clothing, shoes, and bags to match!

There's a section for gold,

Another for purple.

More space for purple and even some blue. That isn't all though, they have yellow, green, blacks, pearls, pinks, even animal prints and an "army-type" section. Something for everyone I tell ya.

I will definitely be spending some birthday money in here this year, I found a pretty little handbag I'd sure like to carry...and I loved the chandeliers they have all over the shop. It's all very glitz and glam.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coconut Chicken

Today I made Coconut Chicken for lunch with Broccoli, Fried Apples, and Ezekiel bread. I'll tell you how it all went down.

Chicken Breast
Ezekiel Bread
2 or 3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (per skillet)
1 Tablespoon of coconut flakes per chicken serving
1/8 teaspoon apple pie spice (per apple)
Dash of Himalayan salt for bread and apples.
Just a smidgen of Stevia

For the stevia, I like the KAL brand but I hear the liquid stevia is pretty good too. Did I just say "I like" and "stevia" in the same sentence? I think we're making more than lunch here folks, smells like progress.

I started with a cast iron skillet that was hot with coconut oil. I fry broccoli, I like it well done and crispy. Let this cook a couple of minutes while you set up the next pan. It'll cook a lot longer while you're making the rest. Toss it around a couple of times, you'll know when it's done.

In another skillet, flash fry in coconut oil some coconut flakes, then add chicken medallions. I coat the chicken pieces with the coconut flakes while it cooks and let it cook thoroughly. Once the chicken is fully cooked remove it to a separate plate.

While the broccoli is cooking and after the chicken has been removed slice or dice an apple (per person) into the same pan, toss with a dash of stevia and some apple pie spice (or cinnamon) until the apple bits are browned. Just before removing the apples, drizzle them with a tablespoon or two of water. This will pull the flavors up from the bottom of the pan and make a type of reduction, or sauce, to be served with the apples. You can pour a bit of cream over the apples for added decadence.

Want to know how I make my Ezekiel Bread?
Oh, you do! Ok, pull your slices from the freezer and every good boy or girl keeps it there. "Butter" both sides of your frozen bread with coconut oil (or even real butter). It will, of course, freeze onto the bread, it's perfect. Now, toss the bread into the apple skillet and grill as if you're making a grilled cheese sandwhich. Let the bread get slightly browned and crunchy. I throw a little salt over mine, sometimes even cinnamon or apple pie spice and a dusting of stevia. It's better than cinnamon toast Ladies and Gents! Or you can fry it up with coconut oil, salt it, and call it super-groovy. Because it is, no matter how you have it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ode to Grampa Harry, though it's neither lyrical nor poetic.

My beloved Grampa Harry passed away from this world, just last week. Grampa was known by a few names; and though most every one called him Harry, we grandchildren made up our own names for him. All on our own, it seems, and each set of grand kids had their own, I noticed when I was little. I remember one set of cousins always called him "Papa" but that never seemed to fit him, not to me. To some of the other's he was Grandpa Smith (I decided not to use his real last name here), but that seemed to stodgy, to me. I know that my cousin's daughter calls him "Papa Airy" which seems like such a perfect name for some one so special. I think she sounds a little English when she says it, dropping the "H" sound like she does. Our name was always Grampa, and I never really thought of it until I tried to spell it. Grandpa didn't look the way I feel when I speak his name. I wondered what it was for a couple of years but didn't really look into it much. While I was in high school my friend laughed at the way I said his name, "Grand Pa" she enunciated for me. Then it hit me, he was not "Grand Pa', not to me, and not to my brother or sister. He was our Grampa, and Grandma is our Gramma. A little emphasis on that first "a", and there you have it.
I was there for the days before he died, and the visitation was, traditionally, the night before his funeral. In the daytime, before the visitation, my family member gathered all around at Gramma's for closeness and lunch. My cousins, My brother and his wife, and I talked about our memories of Grampa and what a funny and playful guy he always was. We talked about his gentleness that never seemed to leave him, and always lent him patience. He would join us at play, even if it meant setting aside his coffee and paper. We found that he made time to take each of use to work with him more than once, and sometimes especially, just by ourselves. One of my cousins remembers a lakeside picnic lunch break, and another remembers his office as a frequent spot to visit. I remember most the long drive that was canopied by trees, with a cool breeze, the kind that only happens in a well shaded forest. It felt like a fairy tale, a place where dreams could come true. I remember it most as Autumn, but I know we were there while the trees were green as well. I remember many visits to Grampa's work. He was a very important man, it always seemed. He really was, as it turned out, to an entire city of people, but to me he was my Grampa. That was more than anything, it was worth everything.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Trees I Planted and The Neighbor Boys

Remember the tree I said I'd pray over? I never did pray over it, and it died. So I went to Lowe's and got two more (because another one died too). The two new trees sat out on my sidewalk for at least a week before I took them to the back patio, where they sat for a few more days, begging to be planted. I was trying to work up the motivation to do it, but I had just planted 12 hostas and about 8 other little shrubs, I was really feeling sorry for myself and for all the ditch diggers in the world.
On a seemingly un-related subject, I facebooked my neighbor the other day to find out if one of her 4 sons would like to come play with my dog for a little bit, he's really been missing my step-son, terribly. I told her that I'd pay them with popsicles and she said one, or all, of them would be happy to come over to take him for a walk. So, after school yesterday, the boys came over, grabbed up little Jackson, got their popsicle payment, and headed down the street. Quite awhile later (much more than my popsicles' worth), they came bounding back into the house, through the kitchen (where Jackson stopped for a drink and I re-supplied them with popsicles) and on out the back door. One by one, almost all of the 10 boys in our neighborhood were knocking on my door hoping to join the party that was quickly developing in the backyard. The boys sat around, ran around, jumped around, and goofed around. Eventually though, as typical boys, they spied my shovel leaned up against the back of the house... suddenly 7 to 10 boys had the urge to dig! I sensed disaster and immediately put a damper on that idea.
Then I realized what a great opportunity I had just been given! These boys could dig up my dead trees, it isn't like the trees could be more dead, and they could help me plant my new trees! Oh the fun they had! Taking turns digging, reluctantly because each boy was sure that he was the greatest digger and should really be the one digging the whole hole, the two trees were removed from the ground and replaced with bright, lively, and green trees! I told them about making sure the trees were in the ground as deep as they needed to be, and we talked about tamping the dirt around the base of the tress. They loved getting the wet dirt and grime on their hands, and I loved getting my trees planted!
After the digging and planting, the boys talked about how last Summer we planted watermelon and, although they didn't get big enough to have the watermelon party we'd hoped for, we still were able to watch the plants grow from seedlings. They assured me that they would love to be here when the time comes to plant my vegetable garden and that when my step-son returns we should have another water hose party with ice cream sandwiches (like last Summer). It was in that moment that I realized something. All the time I put into making great memories for my step-son, like gardening (the watermelon plant was his own choosing), making a camp fire with the friends and neighbor boys, having water fights, supplying ice cream sandwiches for all his friends (once or twice a Summer), or gathering around the kitchen table to play Uno, all this had built wonderful childhood memories for every boy in our neighborhood. Through my little window I saw a really big picture, an amazing and beautiful picture.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Little Girls! (and I don't mean that in the Ms. Hannigan way!)

I got to babysit for my bff tonight. This was a first for us, we usually get together and try to soak up as much time as we can in each other's company. Tonight, however, she had a date, in my town! So she rang my phone as asked if I would hang out with her darling daughters, they are ages 2 and 4.
I had the most wonderful evening with them. They ate my cooking, which is rare for most adults even! We played with Lincoln Logs, then Play-Doh for a very long time! After we finished with our play time, we had a bed time snack. The the littlest one washed the snack dishes very well while her big sister sat at my desk and played with some toys. Just before my dear friend came back, the girls and I cozied up to read a book. The highlight of the night? They loved my Ezekiel Bread! I had to make more and fight them for a bite!

That's not all though, last week I got to hang out with my nieces and nephew! We spent time jumping on their trampoline, how I have missed that activity! The girls read books from their mom and dad's bookshelf, showed us how adept they are at surfing the internet, and watched movies that Grandma brought! Their brother was the sweetest little guy, all day! The best movie award goes to... Shirley Temple's Heidi! They loved it! My youngest niece wants her name to be Shirley Temple!

I really love my nephews, but I just adore doing girl things with little girls!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Silver Dollar City

I didn't tell you about our Silver Dollar City trip.

This is the School of Culinary Arts that was added a few years ago. For a $10 bill you can join in the fun and sample the goods.

Another newer addition (though not the new-est) is this area for younger kids. This roller coaster is gentle enough that the more timid of your babes will still get to ride. Mom or Dad can ride too.

The Silver Dollar Saloon has my favorite show! The show changes with the seasons and always brings a laugh.

The General Store has fun stuff to see and to buy. A lite snack of just-sliced cheese with a bit of jerky can keep ya going another hour and can be found here too.

After the day is over and the rides have all closed there's a show in the amphitheater. There's music, dancing, comedy, and food. A great way to end the day and rest your feet before heading home, or to your hotel, or even your tent!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Seaside, FL

I've been awake since 6:00! If you've noticed that I post after midnight but usually before 4 or 5 am, then you know how odd it is that I'm waking at this time of day, instead of tucking myself in. Here's why; we were expecting a visit from the Tooth Fairy last night! My lil' guy was so excited that he just couldn't make himself go to sleep. He was up and down I don't know how many times trying to give the Tooth Fairy opportunity to sneak in and make the big switch! To prove that I wasn't the TF I had to hop into bed a few hours early... this is the stunning result!

I have so much to tell you! My family and I returned last week from 9 days in Florida. Just the very edge of Florida, just far enough to count. I took millions of pictures but left most of them on my captian's laptop, which he has, in Florida. There are a few that I can show you though, of a little town that we'll always love to visit, called Seaside.

See? Seaside. They have the best everything in Seaside. It's true.

The best little park, with the best walk down either side. The best benches, best tables, even people doing yoga in the grass.

They have the best shops.

The best, and I mean best, little market store that I've ever walked my boots into. I'll take one of everything please.

The best farmer's market. This is a booth for a restaurant in Ft Walton Beach called Ali Baba Grill Cafe, I googled it for you there. Behind that bottled water is a pan of Baklava, did I try some? No. Am I still crying? Yes.

The best places to eat or drink.

The best sandy path that leads to the ocean.

Even the best beach with the best ocean salt water. Ever.

People, this doesn't even come close.

Go to Seaside, you'll thank me

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Let's see, updates updates...

Okay, Captain America is home from GA and we are adjusting to the idea of shipping him back out the door in a few days. We have had what will be a little more than three weeks on Monday.

He'll be going to Florida this time and after the first couple of days I'll be stalking along behind him... on my way to hang with his fam at the beach.

I had really hoped to be pregnant by the time he left, I guess it'll have to happen in Florida.

I really miss my little brother's family! Must. Go. Visit. Soon.

I found some place to buy raw milk. Google it and think "cream". Total yum, and soo healthy, um, for your cat, that is. It is illegal to sell raw milk, for human consumption.

Speaking of cats, I got a kitten. I was hoping it would prove to be a girl, but it was a boy. Anyway, if it had been a girl I might have begged the cap to let me keep it. Since it was a boy though, I wasn't very concerned. I thought I could re-home it easily on craigslist, or even wal-mart, yeah, didn't happen. He went to the pound. Yep, all because nobody wanted a sweet little kitten. I'm pretty sick about it. Poor kitty. I believe he's cute enough that he found a home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Little Tree

Gotta tell ya about this.

I did much work today. Much too much work I think!

See this tree? Well a few weeks ago I bought about 14 of these, two are getting very close to dead and so I decided to get someone to dig my holes for me and then I could do the rest.

Did you hear me say 14? Let's just say un-digging a hole is not as easy as it looks. I did eight trees, (the captain helped with the other 6 the next day and he was done in no time) one of them was a possible waste of my strength and energy since it's looking very dead at this point. I'm going to pray over it, and it'll probably turn out to be the biggest one.

Even before the digging though, I went to Lowe's and bought 7 bags of this top soil and 7 bags of manure, and 2 bags of potting soil. They told me 1/2 soil & 1/2 manure for each tree. So I switched my cart for a double decker shelf on wheels looking thing, and loaded all 16 of my 40 lb bags up onto it, then I dragged it down the aisle until I saw a super turbo trolley thing, this was like a lumber hauling cart, just what I needed! So I re-loaded all the bags of, well, crap, onto the new cart from heaven and hauled it right up to the check out. The lady was mortified to see me. I guess she had assumed that I was asking about the amount of dirt I needed because I was buying the trees. So I explained to her that I already had my trees at home and now wanted to plant them, in dirt. She humbly said that a guy could have "quick loaded" them right into my car and pointed out pallets and pallets of the same stuff I had just spent 15 minutes tossing back and forth. My eyes crossed. Then I went home and made 16 trips back and forth across my yard, 40 lbs was about my max at that point, delivering the bags to the approximate area that I thought I'd need them.

By then the sun was high and burning my neck, but I was not ready to give up. All I could think about was that poor tree, dying in the heat with shrivled roots and no one to care for it. Must. Plant. Trees. Nothing else mattered, until that brown little guy was in the ground, after that, it was all about me again, those other green giants could wait!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Strawberry Banana Cupcakes

These are the cupcakes I told you about long ago! V8 and fresh strawberries make the major difference in these cupcakes from a box! As you can see, this is your average cake mix. I replaced the water with the V8 Fusion and added about 4 lg strawberries.

The batter was such a yummy looking pink and it smelled so good! I'm a typical over-stirrer and so I really tried to watch that this time because I wanted to see what kind of difference the ingredience really would make.

I used a regular (or not so typical since I seem to make it up as I go along)buttercream frosting, since it's my favorite and because I love the way it pipes on and looks so pretty. The batter turned out beautifully though lost a lot of the pink hue, I suppose I should have tried it with egg whites only so the yellow of the yolk didn't take over the light pink... I'll try that again and let you knowhow it goes.

Although I did not see my mother-in-law, this was in honor of her birthday.

That brings up a question I have in my mind now and then. I've been saying my "mother-in-law" when it's really my father-in-law's wife, and not actually my husband's mother?

I just wish she could have tried one!