Monday, November 30, 2009

Mini Post Monday

It has been a full week here at our house!  I could make this week's minis go on and on, but I tried to narrow it down to the best highlights, so here goes!
  • Jerry took the boys to the TCU football game this Saturday.  We signed the boys up for "Bleacher Creatures" so they got a free TCU shirt and got to run the length of the field when the players first went onto the field.  They had so much fun! 
  • Speaking of sports, are you excited about college basketball season starting soon?  My boys are!  We especially enjoy cheering for the Kansas Jayhawks.  We're starting Andrew off right!
  • After running out of lights with the top of our tree still unlit, I was finally able to get to the store for more lights and get our tree decorated.  The kids had such fun decorating the tree this year, and you should all be proud of me - I've left the kids paper ornaments up in the prominent spots they gave them, and I haven't tried to spread out the clusters of ornaments where they clumped them all together!
  • Speaking of ornaments, this is my very favorite one from my tree!  It is hand-painted glass.  Isn't it beautiful?
  • In the spirit of "I like the packaging better than the toy" that most children have, it apparently only takes the bag the Christmas tree is stored in to keep three boys highly entertained for a full morning!
  • Does anything look wrong in the picture below?  Jerry started the demo on one of our bathrooms. I've heard all these horror stories about how hard it is to remove old tile.  Well, it turns out that although it is messy, if you have a couple hours, a hammer, and some pent up rage, it is no problem at all!  Hopefully, in a few months we'll have a totally new bathroom!

I hope you have a great week!

Yes, It's True

The last book I read was The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.  So there.  I don't want to talk about it anymore.  And stop showing off Johanna.

And no I STILL HAVEN'T FINISHED listening to Atlas Shrugged.

...I stink.

Real bad.

I'm gonna go take a shower and then maybe I'll have remembered all those books I've read this year and got knocked unconscious (sometime, I forget) and totally lost my book reading memory.  And I won't stink.  Mostly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Our Thanksgiving

I love having fresh flowers in my house, and I thought Thanksgiving was a good reason to get some!  Aren't they lovely? 

We had a nice Thanksgiving this year, even if we couldn't make many of our favorite Thanksgiving foods.  In a way, it was such a blessing.  Instead of spending all day in a hot kitchen, I played with my children.  Instead of being stuffed to the point of needing to unbutton my pants after dinner (Oh, don't act like you have never been there!), I ate a wonderful and satisfying meal with my family and friends and spent the rest of the evening playing a game, drinking coffee, and laughing a lot!

This year I brined my turkey.  We are high class here, brining the turkey in a good ol' Thermos cooler.

I decided to keep the brine simple since it was my first one.  I just used water, salt, onion, garlic, green peppercorns, and thyme.  I was really happy with the way it turned out, and I think I'll be doing a brined bird again.

With the turkey, I served mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted carrots, and roasted asparagus.  A friend who ate with us brought cranberry sauce and pumpkin custard.  It was such a wonderful meal.  It was rich and comforting without being heavy.  I've posted before about roasting my asparagus, but I've never roasted carrots before.  I used the recipe that was on the Pioneer Woman blog last week, and these carrots were super.  You should definitely make them!

For all the culinary delights of the meal, the best one was also the most simple.  To top the pumpkin custard, I planned to make some whipped cream.  At the last minute, I decided to sweeten the cream with pure maple syrup instead of plain sugar.  The maple cream was amazing.  We all enjoyed it on the custard, but where it really shined was in coffee!  Somehow, these two simple and pure ingredients, when whipped together and added to coffee, turn the coffee rich, decadent, and amazingly creamy. 

Finally, I thought I'd share a picture of my table.  I am not the most creative when it comes to decorating a table, but I thought it ended up looking nice.

Two Dishes

One word:  Tasty.  Or maybe two: yummy, tasty.  Okay, three words: surprisingly yummy, tasty.  Wait let me adjust that a bit: shockingly yummy, tasty.  Oh, four words: shockingly tasty and yummy.  There, I think that does it.  We will have this again.  I'll probably slice the sprouts into three instead of just half so Del will like them better, but these are darned good.

I don't know if I have lived in the dark ages or what but all these years I've just bought cans of the canned cranberry sauce.  I always buy the jellied stuff for the girls and the...other kind for Del.  So anyway, well last year, I forget why, but I was inspired to make my own.  Last year I made Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Red Zinfandel.  It was a hit.  Very good but rich...maybe a little too rich.  This year, Del and I discovered a port wine and have really grown fond of it, to the point where we're not even buying any other wine.  So when I found this recipe for Tangerine and Port Cranberry Sauce I thought this was the stuff for us.  And I was right.  It wasn't too overpowering or rich.  The flavor of the port is delicious.  Even my mom liked it quite a bit and she can't stand any kind of wine.  She had two helpings to go with her Thanksgiving dinner.  I highly recommend it.  It's the best cranberry sauce that has ever entered this house!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Tremendous family, full of love,

Hearts woven together by God above.

Antics of children ringing in my ears,

Noises of laughter, life, and cheer.

Knowledge that God has truly blessed me,

Sharing experiences, making a memory.

Gentle touches from the ones I love,

Irresistible kisses and a comforting hug.

Valuable treasures not found in any store,

Inspire me to be better than ever before.

Nothing is lacking in my family,

God above, for all this I thank thee.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Experiments

Every time I open my refrigerator I stop and thank God for the bounty that exists there.  And I'm not exaggerating.  It is brimming with items for our Thanksgiving and even other yummy stuff like kimchi and see the Dr. Pepper laying down over there?  YUMMY.  We're usually pretty darn traditional for Thanksgiving: turkey, stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes and a vegetable platter.  This year we're doing something a little different.  Can you see it?

See it down there on top of the thing of carrots?

Why, I do believe I spy BRUSSELS SPROUTS!!!!!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Dozen - Thanksgiving Style

1. Are you sticking to traditional Thanksgiving foods this year, or are you being culinarily adventurous?

  • I'm being adventurous, but not because I want to try this new recipe I found or that new recipe I found.  I have to follow allergy guidelines now, so some things like pie crust is out.  I am brining my turkey for the first time, which isn't something I have to do for allergies, so I guess that is adventurous.
2. Tell me something concrete that you're thankful for. (Something you can literally touch, see, etc., not a concept like "hope.")

  • A pantry and fridge full of food.  So many people don't have that, and during the holidays, it must be especially hard.
3. You knew the flip side was coming: Share about something intangible that you're thankful for.

  • Laughter.  I love, love, love listening to my children laugh.  When the whole family is going, it reminds me why I am doing the whole family thing.  A little laughter compensates for a lot of tears.
4. Share one vivid Thanksgiving memory. It doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, just something that remains etched in your memory.

  • Our first year married, my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for his parents and my brother and his wife.  We lived in a small tri-plex with a small kitchen.  For a tri-plex, the kitchen was actually good sized, but for hosting Thanksgiving, it was small.  Our kitchen table held two with food, or four without comfortably, but that year, we made Thanksgiving dinner in that kitchen (with a turkey that was still a little bit frozen), and squeezed six around that tiny table.  The placemats overlapped and our knees touched, and the dishes from the cooking were piled four deep covering all the counter space and more, but it was a great time.  We had so much fun.  I'll never forget that Thanksgiving.
5. What is one thing that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to happen this Thanksgiving because it always does, year after year?

  • I will eat too much, we will get the Christmas decorations down from the attic, and there will be football on all day long.
6. Do your pets get any left-overs?
  • Nope.
7. Does your family pray before the big meal? If so, do you join hands while seated, stand, repeat a formal prayer or offer a spontaneous prayer? Who does the praying?
  • Yes.  There will be a heartfelt, spontaneous prayer by whichever male has seniority.  This year it will be my husband.  We usually sit and hold hands.
8. Will you be watching football in the afternoon? If not, what will you be doing?
  • Well, I won't, but my family will.  I usually read, knit, or sleep.
9. There are two distinct camps of people on this issue: How do you feel about oysters in the dressing/stuffing?
  • Huh?  Never heard of it.  Sounds disgusting.
10. Do you consider yourself informed about the first Thanksgiving?
  • Yes, thanks to homeschooling my kids!
11. Which variety of pie will you be enjoying?

  • If there's pecan, it is always my first choice.  This year it will be pumpkin custard because of the no pie crust thing.
12. Do you feel for the turkey?? (This is a humorous throw back question related to the 12th question in another Random Dozen!)

  • I guess I wasn't doing Random Dozen when that last question was given, but no, not really.  He was born to grace a table, and  he will fill his job well, I'm sure.
To read more Random Dozen posts, head over to Linda's blog by clicking on the Random Dozen icon above!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mini Post Monday

I'm so sorry I missed last Monday's Mini Post.  Our family was so very busy doing incredibly important things that there was truly no way humanly possible to pull it off.  What?  You don't believe that?  Oh, well, give me a minute and I'll come up with another, more believable excuse.  Hold on...I'll come up with it...
  • Although Orange Cream Cappuccino sounds like a yummy treat, do not under any circumstances allow those folks at Hills Bros. trick you into buying some of their mix.  It is not a yummy treat.  It is evil, vile, and nasty.  If you don't believe me, I have a can of it (minus one serving) I could send to you for proof.
  • I haven't had coffee yet this's too early to try to tpye this out without coffee...
  • I'm the mean mom who scheduled her baby's one year check up, complete with shots, on his actual birthday.  At least he got cool bandaids! 
  • And yes, he is trying to put on his socks and shoes here.  He is one of those people that cannot stand to see an object be somewhere it doesn't belong.  Shoes and socks don't belong on the floor without feet, and he cannot rest until those shoes and socks have feet in them.  I completly do NOT relate.
  • Jerry turned 35 this last week.  Here he is showing off the can of beets he got for his birthday.  We are really generous with presents in this house! 
  • I still haven't nailed down my Thanksgiving menu, but I plan to acomplish that today.  There.  If I put it in print, it will happen, right?  On the flipside, I did find a couple of great patterns for handmade Christmas ornaments.  I cannot wait to make some!
  • Isn't my mom pretty?
  • We got to go on our first official Cub Scouts outing recently.  We toured our local Scout campgrounds and got to learn about its history and see all the fun stuff in store for us there!  The pack was so great to include Ethan as if he were actually a Tiger, too. It made the sting of watching his brother get to do something really cool that he isn't old enough for bearable.

(Aaron is the fourth from the right and Ethan is the second from the right - the only one not in a Tiger shirt!)
  • Isn't my baby pretty?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yummy Brussels Sprouts

Okay, I know what most of you are thinking, "Yummy and Brussels sprouts cannot exist in the same sentence!" and I have to admit that I used to think the same thing.  Most people think that Brussels sprouts are God's cruel joke on man via the vegetable kingdom, but I'm here to tell you that when they are prepared the right way, Brussels Sprouts can be yummy.  I promise.  Really!

So you need to start by getting some Brussels sprouts, between 1/2 and 1 pound.  Look for smallish ones.  Wash and trim any funny looking spots from the ends.  If you buy them on the "Reduced for Quick Sale" rack like me, you'll have to do a little extra trimming, but once you're done no one will know!  Well, unless you post it on your blog.  Then your readers will know, but for me that's only like three people, so we're still good here.

Go ahead and melt 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil with 1-2 Tbsp. butter in a cast iron skillet.  I know that's a lot, but you're worth it.  You can diet next week!  When it is hot, add 2 cloves of garlic that have been given a rough chop.  Now is not the time to try to save time and put it through your garlic press.  I know you want to, but really, don't.  You need to be able to remove it later with a slotted spoon, and if you pulverize it in the press, you won't be able to do it and the recipe will be totally ruined.  Okay?  Plus, you'll thank me later when you get a burst of intense roasted garlic flavor while eating.  Mmmmmm....

Anyway, while the garlic browns, remove your baby from the drawer he likes to pull out with all the glass pots and lids a few times and pray fervently that your husband will be home from work soon. I'll pray with you, cause I know how it is.

Once the garlic is lightly browned, remove it to a small bowl, turn the heat down to medium-low, and with a slotted spoon and add the sprouts, cut side down, to the pan.  On top of the sprouts, sprinkle 2 Tbsp. of pine nuts (other chopped nuts will work, too), and a generous amount of coarse salt.  Let these cook like this for 15 minutes until the bottoms of the sprouts are nicely browned. 

If, like me, you had a doofus for a carpenter building your house, rotate your pan every now and then so the butter/oil mix doesn't pool down at one side of the pan and leave the other side's sprouts loveless.  It would be cruel to them and to the person who has to eat those sprouts. ::ahem::

When they are beautiful, remove those sprouts with tongs to a serving plate, or if you're ghetto like me, just toss them aside on anything that will keep them until the next step is done.  Then add your garlic, along with a touch more of butter, back to the pan to let the pine nuts get a nice golden brown to them. (See note on your worth and diet plans above.)  At this point, it is important to breathe in deeply, because nothing smells quite like roasting garlic with pine nuts.  Yum!

(No picture here intentionally.  Please see paragraph below for reason. Thank you for your cooperation.)

This is the time that you quickly plug in your camera battery charger, cursing politely that your camera is flashing that red "low battery" light at you, and pray that it gets enough charge in it to finish photographing the recipe since you've put all the sprouts you have in the one pan and cannot make it again soon.  Go ahead.  I'll pray with you, cause I know how it is.

After a minute, your pine nuts will be a lovely brown color and taste great.  If you followed the directions and put your Brussels sprouts in a serving dish, pour the garlic, nut, butter mixture over them and serve.  If you're ghetto like me, turn off the flame, dump the sprouts back in the pan, and give them a little shake to mix everything up.  You're done!  Taste them - aren't they good this way?

Friday, November 20, 2009

TV Fast

I thought that I'd give an update on my thoughts now that my four week TV fast is coming to an end.  First of all, I cannot believe that it has actually been four weeks since I watched TV last!  The time went really quickly, and for the most part I didn't miss the TV at all.  There were times that I did, however.  Here's my breakdown:

The Good:
  • I did more reading, which is something I have been meaning to do for a while.  This does have a bit of a bad component, though...see below.
  • I realized that there were times that I was watching out of habit even thought I didn't really need or want anything to watch.
  • I realized that most of the reason that I felt like my kids didn't nap long enough was because they would be ready to get up when I was in the middle of a show they shouldn't watch.  Without the TV, I was ready for them to be up and around me again, which was a really good feeling.
  • I learned to be okay with the times of quiet in my house.  I think I was using the TV as a noise maker at times, and really?  My house is noisy enough, thankyouverymuch.
  • I knew I was watching too much TV, but now I know exactly which shows to delete from my DVR.  I decided that the shows that I didn't think about at all during the four weeks need to go, and some of the ones that I rarely thought of will go, too.  The rest I will keep without guilt.
The Bad:
  • I really missed having the TV for the chores that are no fun to do otherwise, such as folding laundry, ironing, and entering receipts into the computer.  These chores just haven't gotten done much since my fast began because the thought of doing them without a distraction is not a nice one.
  • Nursing Andrew right before he goes to bed is more difficult without the TV.  Jerry and I would usually watch a show together while he nursed.  A show without commercials is 40 minutes long, about the same length of time as Andrew nurses, so the timing is perfect.  Otherwise we sit there, unable to talk because it disturbs Andrew and struggling to read in dim light.
  • I found that I tend to find some sort of escape mechanism no matter what.  Without the TV, I just switched to books (the lesser of two evils for sure) and over-read when I should have been doing something more productive.  Just a look at the way my "read" column has lengthened on the side blog will prove my point.
I am sure I could come up with other items for both the good and bad lists if I tried, but these are the ones that stand out to me.  Overall, it was a great experience and I'm glad I did it.  I think I'll watch less TV because of it, but I don't think I'll unplug it and put it away!

Hot Chocolate

Thanks for the idea Johanna.  We're giving them as favors for our neighborhood tea tomorrow and at the ladies coffee at church.

I used 4 cups of chocolate chips and added vanilla extract after all the chocolate had melted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cutest When She Sleeps

I'm ready for a break from two-year-old-insanity.  Isn't she lovely though.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know...

...sort of. 

I snatched this from Marie's...note on Facebook.  I might be a little bored.

Things you have done during your lifetime:

( )Gone on a blind date (umm…scary!)
(X) Skipped school
(X) Watched someone die (my grandpa)
(X) Been to Canada
(X) Been to Mexico
(X) Been to Florida
( ) Been to Hawaii
(X) Been on a plane
( ) Been on a helicopter
(X) Been lost (at Disney World)
(X) Gone to Washington, DC
(X) Swam in the ocean
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
(X) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Sang Karaoke (The good Lord will strike me dead before that happens)
( ) Paid for a meal with coins only
(X) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch (just recently in fact)
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't (oh my word, how many times)
( ) Made prank phone calls (but I’ve TPd a friends house, among other things like Easter eggs and birthday balloons…does that count?)
( ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans (and never will)
(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X) Danced in the rain
( ) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating (another unfortunate event)
(X) Gone to the movies
(X) Been deep sea fishing
(X) Driven across the United States (all at once? I’ve been from coast to coast but on different legs)
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
( ) Gone snowmobiling
(X) Lived in more than one country
(X) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish (but I didn’t make a wish)
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser (did you know you can watch it live on their webcam? I just recently watched it with Ella. It was totally cool!!)
( ) Seen the Statue of Liberty
( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
( ) Been on a cruise
( ) Traveled by train
(X) Traveled by motorcycle
(X) Been horse back riding
( ) Ridden on a San Francisco CABLE CAR
(X) Been to Disneyland
(X) Truly believe in the power of prayer
( ) Been in a rain forest
( ) Seen whales in the ocean
( ) Been to Niagara Falls
(X) Ridden on an elephant
( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
(X) Been water-skiing (I have a picture with me being dragged…never mind, just chalk it up as another one of those pesky unfortunate events that keep happening)
(X) Been snow-skiing
( ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
(X) Been to a Major League Baseball game (go Rangers!)
( ) Been to a National Football League game (not for the money they want)

That's all folks.  Thank you for playing along.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One Year

Tears of joy filled my eyes,
The day I learned of your life.
Your tiny form within me hidden,
Bringing peace to my heart of strife.

Wonder, beauty, and hope,
Your life still a mystery as you grew.
You crowded out my pain of loss,
As God mended and made my heart new.

For nine months God knit you,
And formed your every part.
While you were fearfully and wonderfully made,
You found the forever spot in my heart.

And then you came - What a happy day!
My anticipation fulfilled with your birth.
So wrinkled and small - perfection.
Ecstasy. Exhaustion. Fascination. Mirth.

A year has passed in the blink of an eye.
The endless night and tired day
Silently gave way to smiles, cuddles,
Rolling, crawling, and now walking away.

Out of my arms toward a life of your own,
Amazement laced with sorrow - bittersweet.
Yet I acknowledge that God has a plan,
And pray that in Him you'll one day be complete.

My heart is yours forever,
Whatever you do, wherever you go.
You are a blessing and my reward.
Dearest Andrew, I love you so!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How About a Flower Boost

Yesterday morning we took a field trip to a lady's house whose whole yard is a lovely garden.  She's got all kinds of flowers and plants.  She wrote a book and we've read it and consulted it for our own garden.  She's very nice.

Hmmm, she told me the name but I can't remember.  Darn. {Mom says celocia}


She even gave us cuttings for this but because it doesn't have a common name, only a Latin one, we can't remember what it's called.  Hopefully we can get the cuttings to root because this was our favorite. {Okay, she wrote Mom an email and said it's turnera alata}

Chinese Hat plant; totally cool!!


Once again, dunno, but the flying bee is the best!

Purple Clematis

I really enjoy taking pictures of flowers. They are so much more cooperative than humans.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mini Post Monday

  • This week's edition is going to focus on the mini side of things.  Cause I'm tired and I had a week that was too busy to even jot down tiny details.
  • Andrew turns one this week.  I think I'm going to cry.
  • I have been two weeks without the TV and you know, I don't miss it that much.  I have missed it a couple times, though.  One was an afternoon when I'd had a particularly miserable morning.  I wanted nothing more than to lay on the couch and lose myself in a meaningless show when the kids went down for nap.   The other was two evenings that Jerry and I were both tired and we just wanted to relax with a show while Andrew nursed then go for an early bedtime ourselves.  I don't think I'll keep a "no TV" stance past my original deadline, but I'll certainly watch much, much less.
  • Jerry is just two papers away from finishing his master's degree.  Can we get a collective WOO-HOO here?
  • We survived another round of LDA (allergy treatment).  I quit fighting the kids about eating the nasty food during our three day shot-time diet.  I have just accepted that Ethan doesn't eat for the second two of those three days.  He won't die, but he did lose a bit of weight...I have a full post about this somewhere.
  • I am making these and these for Christmas this year for my friends.  Don't those look yummy?

Sunday, November 8, 2009


It's rough with super little ones.  It'll be nice when all the kids are old enough to really enjoy it.  We went to Lake Louisa State Park.  It was okay.  Kinda dull...but we had fun anyway.  We went hiking.

Del used the mei tai also.  It was comfortable.  I wore her on my front for a little while, too. 

I just thought this was a really cute picture of Sarah.

Speaking of Sarah, she was the only one who could catch a fish!!  Teeny little bluegill.

This is Lake Hammond.  One of the annoying things about the place was the extremely limited access to the lakes.  The dock we were on here was the only place you could fish from on the entire lake.

Grasshoppers abound.

Butterflies abound also.

Anna making spit at me.

Rachel having fun at the lake beach and Ella contemplating life at the campsite.

That's the beach at Lake Louisa...only you couldn't swim.

Grama and Anna bonding

Ella getting tickled by her dad and grandpa.

The biggest, weirdest ant I've ever seen.  It was about an inch long.  {Added to say: Mom did some research and it turns out it's not an ant at all, it's a wasp called a velvet ant or cow killer wasp...nice.  Good thing we didn't step on it; apparently the sting is quite painful}

Water lilies are some of my favorite flowers.