Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pizzelle Participation, Please

What do you mean, you don't know what a pizzelle is? Well, first of all, you're pronouncing it wrong. Pizzelle rhymes with gazelle. Just starts with a "p"!! There you go.

These are one of our family traditions. We ONLY make them at Christmas. Four of my bunch left this AM to visit family in GA, and I sent a batch of these beauties for them to enjoy. Whilst I was makin', I did some picture takin'.

After mixing the heavily butter- and egg-laden batter, you

1. PLOP (the dough into the pizzelle iron, that is)...

2. FLOP (the lid closed; set the timer...these babies burn in a heartbeat)...

3. POP (the lid back open...the one on the left always sticks to the lid...silly pizzelle iron!)...

4. DROP (them gently onto a cooling rack)...

5. STOP eating them! These are going to Georgia. Haven't you already had 3 or 12?? Oops. Sorry. Thought you were one of my childen.

Christmas on a cooling rack!! The iron is similar to a waffle iron. The pizzelles are traditionally anise (black licorice flavor--blech!), but we make them vanilla. We've used that pizzelle iron for more than 20 years. It is well seasoned, but has never been cleaned (per manufacturer's instructions). Still works perfectly every year. There is a different design on each side, resembling a snowflake or doily.



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finished Memory Quilt

Here is James with his memory quilt. What a blessing to have him home for a couple weeks. The quilt will go back with him for his second semester of college. Blankets warm the body, but quilts warm the heart. I hope he enjoys reading the blessings others wrote for him on this new quilt.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

You'll Know Why No Picture

I have the flu. I have never been as miserable as I was all last night, and I've given birth nine times! Gut-clenching pain that went on and on and on...then the stomach emptying . I've been in bed since bedtime last night, except, of course, the multitude of bathroom trips. This came completely out of the blue. I am so tired of being in bed, but here I am. Would appreciate your prayers for a speedy recovery.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed

It might be time to watch Apollo 13 again. Anyway...James's quilt is finished. It is waiting its turn in the washer and dryer. It turned out great. I have not sewn or quilted in such a long time. It is so nice to have this finished. Just wanted to post the update so that those of you who follow my life can sleep well tonight. Photo shoot after it is laundered.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Picture of Frustration

This is the back of my quilt from last night. Houston, we have a problem. The tension was off...w-a-y off. I persevered. I adjusted. I rethreaded. Tonight I finished the outer part of James's quilt. Tomorrow my goal is to quilt the part with the hand-written sentiments. If I can get the binding on as well, all of us girls should all be able to pitch in and hand stitch the binding to the back so he can take it back to college next week.

Good night!


Christmas Quilting

Our last two weeks or so have been so incredibly busy that today is just for relaxing. Part of my "day off" is machine quilting the above quilt. It's James's memory quilt. He is home from college for two weeks, and I hope to send this back with him. My ancient machine (made in the '30's--that's 1930's for you smarties) gave me fits last night. I was very frustrated, but was able to get it going this AM.

Stay tuned for more progress pictures later.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fun Surprise at Chick-Fil-A

Because of this pesky sinus infection, I was wake when Emily came home from work last night. I'm usually fast asleep by then. She came in with red roses. I raised eyebrows (of course) and asked where they came from. She said a customer in drive-thru gave them to her. He told her he gave them to his girlfriend, but she didn't want them. Emily gave half of them to one of her coworkers. Inquiring minds want to know the story behind the rose refusal. As Wesley says in Princess Bride, "Get used to disappointment!"

Here is my beautiful Buttercup with her share of the rejected roses!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cookie Party Pic

Above is a pic from the cookie party I had Tuesday night. One friend had already slipped away before I remembered to take a picture. I invited a great group of ladies over for a make-it-bake-it-take-it cookie party. You can see some of our results in front of the group, on my very messy island. We made three new-to-me recipes.

I had baked round home made sugar cookies that morning. I much prefer the flavor of my home made cookies to store-bought dough. Those were dipped into red, white, or brown chocolate melts and then sprinkled with crushed peppermints (yum, yum) or Christmas color sprinkles. I had already baked and cooled a Devil's food cake for cake balls. We also made a new-to-me recipe from my friend, Rachel. Easy Lemon Crinkle Cookies. They were quite possibly the easiest cookies I've ever made "from scratch". Here is the recipe:

1 lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

Preheat oven to 375. Pour dry cake mix into a large bowl. In separate bowl, mix eggs, oil and extract. Add to cake mix. Mix thoroughly. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls then drop into a bowl of confectioner's sugar. Roll until lightly covered. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 6-9 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.


We had such a great time. I'd do this again next year. The best part? My sweet Susanna cleaned up the big mess after I dropped, exhausted, into bed that night AND she got up early the next AM to empty the clean dishes out of the dishwasher as a surprise. And, BOY was it!

Take time to enjoy having some friends over this holiday season.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Quilty Day is a GOOD Day!!

What's better than spending time with a friend? Spending time with a friend sewing and having a new Xmas table runner ready to quilt when she leaves! My young whippersnapper friend and I made matching table runners in just a couple hours today. Mine is one block longer than hers. I can barely wait to quilt this lovely addition to our family.

These are all Christmas Street prints from Thimbleberries. The second picture is a close-up of one of the blocks.


Friday, November 20, 2009

11-20-09 Bull's Eye

Here is my Bull's Eye quilt so far. There will not be much progress on it for the foreseeable future. Something about a scavenger hunt, girls' Sunday school party, breakfast guests, extra play practice, feeding 20 on Sunday, and I think there is a major cooking holiday coming up, too. At least that's the word on the street.

So...I did the unthinkable and stored away all my parts and pieces for this quilt until my lovely friend can come over and play again. I might call this the potato chip quilt...just one more block...just one more...SO addictive. Each quarter block adds a little more flavor, a little more za-za-za-zing!! How much more can it take? About twice as much since this represents only half of the blocks of the finished quilt. Yes, it will be a feast for the eyes. To think that this is made up primarily of fabrics for which we could see no future.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Memory Quilt #1 of 3, Mostly Pieced

Below is the beginning of my son's memory quilt from high school graduation. If you look back here you can see its humble beginnings. I wasn't sure where to go from the signed blocks. My quilting e-friend, Sam, sent me a pic of her beautiful quilt of the same block where she made half blocks to finish out the design. So I adopted her idea, and below is the result.

Then I had to figure where to go from there. James likes blue, so I added an inner blue border, below. I added it so that the half block row and the inner border combined equalled one of the star blocks in size. That way I had several options of what to do from there.

For starters, I added a border of 4" finished blocks all around, using the same colors as were already used in the center. This was taken at night under fluorescent lighting, so the colors are definitely not true.

I haven't measure it yet, but it is quite large already. I want to make it large enough to use on his bunk at school as a bedspread, so there will need to be some additions. I am going to measure tomorrow or Saturday and see where I need to go from here. It is a challenge to be to keep it masculine in color and fabric design. So far, so good!

11-12-09 Bull's Eye Progress

Diane came over to sew again today. Here is a picture of our progress so far. After just two sewing sessions, we are nearly halfway finished with our blocks. These are just the completely finished ones. We have lots more in various stages of completion. Not too bad for fabrics we were ready to pitch, huh?

Luke made me a new design wall this morning that is far superior to my old one, although it did the trick for a many years. The old one was formerly screwed into a wall in our home. Now I don't have the wall space, so the most important characteristic of the new on is that it must be portable. We went to Lowe's and had several funny moments just being us. We got a sheet of 1/4" plywood and a piece of 3/4" foam insulation board. I had gotten a flannel-backed tablecloth on clearance yesterday for $3. I didn't realize you would be able to see the apples through the back, but oh, well.

Luke stapled the plywood to the insulation, then wrapped the tablecloth with the flannel side out and stapled it in to the plywood on the back. With the insulation board on the front, I can pin blocks in place if necessary. The plywood on the back makes it much better for leaning against a wall or bookshelf. Thanks, Luke! Oh, and yes--the Lowe's guy DOES speak English!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11-11-09 Bull's Eye

I was up at 6 with a horrid headache, so I decided to sew a few half blocks. They take next to no thought, and I had my iPod playing the end of the book of Judges and then Ruth. Naturally I wanted to see what the addition of those blocks would look like, so I added them to my design wall to get the full effect.

Diane, I put half of the half blocks in your stack!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bull's Eye Progress

Had our first sewing session for the Bull's Eye quilt last night. Here is our progress for the night (only two hours). We got a lot of cutting done, of both background squares and circles (which are hand cut). We spent quite a bit of time sorting through fabrics. My friend brought all HER uglies, and coupled with mine, the above is our results. The best part of the night was having time to chat!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bull's Eye Quilt Top Blocks

I commented on my last post that I was making a raw-edged seam allowance quilt top with a friend. This is one of the easiest and most relaxing quilts to be made! I don't want to plagiarize the instructions, but just answer a few questions. The blocks are made by laying a large circle on the square, then stitching a seam allowance with a sewing machine. The back is cut out and the next smaller circle is then centered and sewn, and finally the smallest circle. The circles are to be cut out free hand, too, but I make mine really close to perfectly round. I can't take THAT casual!! After all the blocks are made, you cut them into fourths and mix them up and resew them. Very easy, great stash buster, and even greater when done with a friend.


Friday, October 30, 2009

New Fall Table Runner...'s still in the quilt top stage, but I pieced a new fall table runner for us. I used up all scraps except for the black for the chain running diagonally through the top. Quick and easy. I originally had 6 blocks, but it ended up being too long for our table for twelve. A little frog stitching, and I was all set! It's very large (don't have an exact measurement). My daughter is standing on a chair in the pic, and it's barely off the floor.

I also pieced a few blocks for a quilt I'm going to be piecing with a friend. It's the 21st Century Bull's Eye from Quilts from Aunt Amy by Country Threads. I wanted to make a few blocks to show my friend what it will look like on a small scale. The seam allowances are on the top, so they curl up slightly after washing and add an interesting dimension to the quilt. Another stashbuster!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Self-Filling Pumpkin Muffins

I was surfing and stumbled upon this AMAZING link for pumpkin recipes. The picture is Self-Filling Pumpkin Muffins (last on the list under cakes and cupcakes). I made them exactly like the recipe except that I used mini chocolate chips. Mmm-mmm. We were all self-filling that night!

I highly recommend them. I used one can of pumpkin and doubled the recipe. One recipe is supposed to make 12, but mine made 14. Otherwise they would have spilled over. A definite keeper for us!

We had company the night I made them (my DH cringes when I try out new recipes on company). I told one of the guests he could have a second one. He replied, "I've already had five." So much for me thinking I was being generous!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

All That and a Bag of Donuts

While visiting my family in Ohio at the end of the summer, we found a great place to shop. It was a Mennonite store that sold bulk-packed goods by the pound. One of the items I purchased was a homemade donut mix.

We had a friend over for supper last night. He had mentioned wanting to cut back (actually completely cut out) desserts just this past Sunday. My husband commented towards the end of the meal that he might want to save room for "a little something". I had to inform him that there wasn't any "little something" for which to be saving room.

My daughter hopped up and pulled the donut mix out of the frig (it was just the dry ingredients). She asked if I would make them...right in front of our friend!! Well, I didn't want to be embarrassed if they did not turn out. But I agreed to give them a try. All that needed to be added to the mix was yeast and warm water.

I wish I had taken some pictures...they were flying off the plate. They were so delicious, light, fluffy, and flavorful. I will never be tempted by stop at Krispy Kreme again. I detest frying foods in the house, so that was a major drawback, but the mess just might have been worth it.

A fun and nostalgic aspect for me was that I used my grandma's donut cutter. She passed away 15 years ago. It is a biscuit cutter with a tan wooden knob on top. It has two small holes in the top of the cutter (so air can escape while you're pushing down on the dough). There are two small screws on the inside that you attach the donut hole cutter to, and so we had lots of donut holes, too. Good thing that was the only mix I had!!

Doesn't everything taste better home made?


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Beauties

Our church participated in a local festival yesterday. I didn't go, but here are two of my girls that did. Aren't they beautiful?


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quilt Show and All-Around Good Morning

My delightful eldest daughter and I went to a quilt show in "downtown" Shelby today. We saw lots of pretty quilts, but most importantly we just spent some time together. I appreciate her accompanying me.

Above is one of our favorite quilts. She is holding a NICKEL in the picture. All the stitching was done by hand. All the flowers were pieced. Such tiny work! It was called Weed Free. Isn't it adorable?


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Coupon Craziness

Not sure why the pic is small...the savings sure weren't!! Except for the Air Wick I-motions in the back, everything on the right is from Harris Teeter. My grand total for a bag of frozen chicken tenderloins, 6 Green Giant boxed veggies, 3 lb. bag of rice, Chex Mix, 2 Fiber One muffin mices, French's W sauce, Betty Crocker frosting tub, 3 50 feet Reynolds Wraps, Wacky Mac noodles, 3 large Sweet Sue chicken & dumplings, 2 baking powders, and 2 12-count Pop Tarts...$3.03. Then I got a $3 off my next order catalina!! Whoo-hoo! SCORE!! Fun and amazing trip!

The I-motions were $12.50 each, BOGOF at Food Lion. I had Qs for $6, making them 25 cents each!! The Glade candle was free, and the cheese, frozen chicken, and sour cream were all heavily discounted thanks to the FLIPs.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Look What I Found!!

I found Rachel knitting a cable...all by herself!! I taught her the basics of knitting a while ago (casting on, knitting, and purling). She has self-taught herself everything else involved in knitting. I don't even know how to knit a cable, but she figured it out!! I am so impressed.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stretched Star Project

I had a few questions about the beginnings of this quilt. Before they were signed, I ironed freezer paper onto the back of large pieces of high-thread-count muslin then cut them into 4-1/2" squares. I marked the stitching lines with a blue water-soluble marker before the party so the signers would know where their script boundaries were! I would have hated to cut off a blessing with a seam line. We had a basket for each child's blocks (there were 3 children and 3 different patterns, naturally). The corners (that look like little bow ties when the blocks are assembled) are 2-1/2" squares.

One day after school was finished, the kids and I made up some unsigned squares with words of encouragement and parts of Bible verses to even out the number of squares.

My sewing time is severely limited these days because of school. eating. school. laundry. school. chauffeuring. Are you seeing a pattern here??

Stay tuned for more progress. Does anyone have an idea how to maintain the pattern design while enlarging the quilt to be twin-sized? I want to add more color (not so much more cream). I want to add borders but don't want to spend a lot of time piecing them. I also don't want to just use one single piece of fabric. Any ideas (especially with pictures!) are appreciated.


The Race Is On...

This is one of our first-year square foot garden squares. What is that green orb about halfway up along the left edge?? Could it be??

Let's move in for a closer look. Our first watermelon!! The reason the race is on is because I am not sure this little beauty will have time to ripen before the frost comes. It will be close. I need to check into how one makes a little support net before it breaks off from the sheer weight. Our plants that started as seeds never made it past the primary leaves, so we bought an established plant. Next year, I'll be watching those seedlings myself more closely.
We learned a lot from the garden this year, and look forward to doing better next year. Now that the boxes are built and in place, it will be much easier.


Extra Seating...Finally!

Finally! I started this little project a l-o-n-g time ago. I remember hoping to get it finished before a friend stayed with us for college spring break...this past spring?? This is the hearth for our fireplace. When you have ten in your family and visitors often, you look for any extra seating you can get. This fabric is a thick, upholstery fabric. It was much more difficult to sew than I would have imagined, but it is finished.

I am the proud new owner of a new camera as well, so I hope to get back to blogging more frequently soon.

Drop me a line if you're still reading this!


PS: We do NOT have fires in the's just too warm here most of the time. If we do want a fire, the cushion can easily be removed, however. I love the rich yet warm red color. I looked at a lot of fabrics before I picked that one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Memory Quilt #1 of 3

Again, long time no type. Many changes here at the Parker ranchero. I had guests sign blank quilt blocks for our three graduates at the party several weeks ago. My oldest son leaves tomorrow for college. This is the beginning of his memory quilt. Lots more work to do, but we are in the beginning of our home school year, so time will be fleeting for working on this.

The pattern is called Indian Hatchet or Stretched Star. I think it's a good beginning!!



Monday, August 3, 2009

Senior Moments

Three of my children graduated from our home school this year. We were going to have them go to a studio for some portraits, but a friend took them instead. There were quite a few that turned out well, but the one below is my favorite...

I have seen this same issue addressed on other blogs, but here I go beating the dead horse...if you post a question as a comment, please leave a way to be reached. If you have your account set as "no reply", that means your comment cannot be replied to, which makes things frustrating for those trying to get in touch with you.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Away in PA

Four of my children and I are visiting in PA/OH for another week. My parents and sister live in those respective states. We had a good (although long) drive up (11 hours from NC to OH).

Above is Susanna and my nephew, Owen, outside at his house.

My parents are moving, and we are helping them sort, throw, pack, and stash.

I made an I Spy quilt for a friend here in OH, and gave it to her at a baby shower yesterday...she loved it. I brought fabric and some patterns to cut out for clothes for myself. I cut out one jumper for myself yesterday. I have 3 more to cut out. I hope to sew that ONE (it is a test drive for that particular pattern), and I hope to sew it in the next couple of days.

It's so fun to have spare time to do things I would hardly ever do at home. I have read for over an hour several times since I've been here...complete luxury!!


Monday, July 20, 2009

New & Improved EMILY

Emily got a haircut today. Doesn't she look lovely?


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Roasted Chicken Slow-Cooker Style

My camera battery is not cooperating again! A post without a picture is not very interesting, I know.

Here is the recipe for the chicken in my last post. Do not be put off by its simplicity...this is a real winner.

Roasted Chicken Slow-Cooker Style

1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Remove as much fat and skin from chicken as possible. Rinse and drain. Mix all seasonings with olive oil to make a paste. Spread a little inside chicken. Place chicken on a rack* in crock pot, breast side up, spread with the remainder of the seasoning. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Cut into pieces and serve. Serves 4.


Above is the original recipe. We made two, and it was enough for two complete meals (tastes wonderful reheated...such moist meat!). I didn't have a rack for my slow cooker, so I set each whole chicken on a canning jar ring to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the cooker. It was so tender when I took it out that it just fell off the bone.

Try it tonight. That's an order.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Calgon, Take Me Away!

After dropping off my daughter at work, I had a strong compulsion to go into a store I rarely frequent. They only double coupons up to 50 cents. Seriously--that's my reason. But, in I went. I checked on the price of one item. It was over 3 times the amount I would pay at another store. Then, for some unknown reason, I felt compelled to check the price of chicken breasts. Yes--I know...weird. Well, I saw a four-pound package of chicken breasts. The label said, "regular price $1.99". It was a "mark-down" label. I assumed it meant $1.99 a pound. Since that was not an unreasonable price, I went up to the self check-out and scanned it, intending to buy it either way. To my surprise, it rang up for $1.99 for the four pounds. So I completed the sale and went back for some more...OK--19 more packages. I paid about $34 for eighty pounds of chicken.

Most of the rest of my day was spent boiling, boning, and bagging that chicken. I gave some packages to a friend, but the remainder is waiting quietly in our refrigerator for another date tomorrow. It might only have been 80 pounds, but it seems like a ton.

One of my sons asked me earlier today, "What is for supper?" He could barely see me over the stack of chicken packages on the counter. I wanted to say "fish", but I couldn't do it with a straight face. We had chicken fettucini alfredo. I had fresh fettucini I had to use soon (like today or tomorrow soon).

I tried a new crock pot recipe, and I will post it tomorrow. It tastes a lot like rotisserie chicken. I had purchased two whole chickens on sale at Food Lion before going to the chicken bonanza. Who would have thought??


Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Scrumptiousness

Here is one of my lovely cooking assistants (it takes an army to feed an army). She has two fruit pizzas in hand. This is our first time making them. Emily baked the sugar-cookie crust, I mixed the cream cheese "frosting", and Susanna took over from there. Not being one to just do it the easy way, she had two approaches...concentric circles on our left, and fruit fly, on the right. It just flew all over (in a very specific pattern, of course. Each piece has each kind of fruit in tiny bite-sized pieces. She used mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, strawberries, green grapes, and blueberries. Delish! Thank you, Susanna. We'll enjoy that at supper .

We used a pouch of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix for each crust. Just follow the package directions and bake until golden brown. For the white layer, soften one 8 oz. cream cheese, mix with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. When cookie crust is completely cool, spread with "icing" and then arrange fruit to your heart's desire. Eat and enjoy.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

"Solomon in all his glory...

...was not arrayed like one of these." Luke 12:27. God's beauty is all around us--and so breathtaking in its color and simplicity. I weeded out a flower garden down by our garage a couple days ago. That is where these lilies live. Just about every time I see a lily (we have some in several places on our property), I think of the above verse. It is a quote of something Jesus said while here on earth..."Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." For those who do now know, Solomon was the wisest and richest king in Bible times. He was King David's son.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Camera is Back, and So Am I

Here is the first picture I took after getting my new camera battery. I was "watching" some of my kids at the pool of a friend. I realized that I couldn't use my laptop to do the paper work (hence the laptop and stack of receipts on the picnic table). We are switching over our budget-keeping system since my computer crashed a month or so ago. I like to see where our money went every month.

Other items on the table are so me...I drink a Benefiber stick packet every day. The keys to my trusty 15-passenger van. My iPod Touch (don't leave home without it), the mail of the day stuck in my for free Kashi Bars, samples of same, coupons for more... The odd items are the beach towel and the sunscreen. Yes, the desire to be a good mom came over me, and I joined the 3 children in the pool. They seemed to enjoy that.

So good to have my camera in use again. I'll be posting more frequently, I can feel it in my bones!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nearly Forgot My Password

Wow--it's been so long since I posted that I nearly forgot my password!! The main reason I have not posted is because my camera battery is completely dead. As in deader than a doornail. I have not taken time to find a replacement.

A friend send me the following picture tonight. These are my two "middle" girls. Aren't they beautiful?? You don't have to answer that question. It was a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious.

This has been VBS week at our church. I have been a co-conspirator in the kitchen. We have been serving about 150 each night. Great snacks...we made them all. No store-bought-cookies-from-a-tray from us, no sir-ree. Tonight we served Jell-o jigglers cut into fish shapes (it went with the story) and turkey wraps (tortillas spread with cream cheese, then layered with turkey and lettuce, then rolled up and cut into thirds). It's been so great working with my new best friend, Molly.

Good night!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dress-Up Night for Youth Group

Here is a pic of my children #2-6. Luke is in front. He was a "music providin' man for shindigs" (he's holding a guitar). From L-R in the back, Elisabeth is first-place winner in the sweet tea contest, Benjamin (who won first place) was a scarecrow (he has a crow pinned to his right arm, but it blends into the man's shirt behind him), Emily is the Chick-fil-A cow, and Susanna is "the farmer's wife" in the song Three Blind Mice. Notice her 3 mice tails tucked into the waist of her apron and her carving knife. Needless to say, most steared clear of her that night. She made her apron. Very creative bunch here!


Friday, May 22, 2009

Spending Update

No picture for this post. My camera battery has died, and I have yet to locate a new one.

Some have asked if I've given up couponing. Far from it! My daily life has been so full. I usually tackle one day at a time, but lately several have ganged up on me at once. I have shopped much less than I have in past months.

We celebrated my DH's birthday meals today. He was not feeling well last Sunday when it was really his birthday. I had to go out for meal supplies last night. He managed to pick meals for which we barely had any ingredients on hand (I can't figure out how to reword that sentence, but it looks really wrong and awkward). His meals? Breakfast: Overnight French Toast, bacon, Christmas Fruit Salad. Lunch: Creamy Chicken Chowder, saltine crackers, and Strawberry Pretzel Salad. Supper: Grilled chicken and steak, Time to Spare Spuds (twice-baked potatoes...home made, of course), steamed broccoli, with Mema's (his maternal grandmother) recipe for banana pudding for dessert. Not beans and rice by any stretch of the imagination.

While I was plunking down nearly $100 for groceries last night (I did get a little pork and ground beef for future meals) at the grocery store, I found myself wondering how we were doing this month as far as spending. When I arrived home, I reluctantly dug up every receipt and entered them into Quicken. I found out that our spending per person per day has been a whopping $1.48. That's our all-time low. I was so encouraged by this. My family was rather non-plussed, but I think they are just used to me saving so much. I was happy enough for all ten of us.

The kids had a farm-themed dress-up this past Wednesday at church. I will be getting some pictures from someone on Sunday, so I will post some of them. My daughter borrowed the cow costume from Chick-fil-A and won 3rd place. My son won first place as a scarecrow. It was kind of last-minute, but fun to make. I used 1/4" ribbon and straight-stitched small bunches of raffia onto it. I made one for his neck, shirtfront, each wrist, and each ankle. I used a piece of burlap and made him a "mask" and sewed buttons on for eyes and a red ribbon for the mouth. I sewed some raffia across the top center seam for hair. He wore one of my husband's hats. The crowning touch was a construction paper crow Emily made that we pinned to his arm. He wore a plaid shirt and jeans. He took a hoe to drape his arms over. He looked great!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Music To My Ears

This is my baby, Isaac (please don't tell him I called him that), practicing the trombone ...isn't that beautiful? The trombone is my favorite instrument. It was my favorite even before I met Brother Bru (our church music director, who plays the trombone during congregational singing).

What a blessing this story is...

Several years ago when we were at a local flea market, my son, Luke (not the one pictured), saw a used trombone (the one pictured). We bought it for a song (bad pun) because he thought he might want to learn to play it (but later focused on the violin and cello). So we had this poor, destitute trombone languishing away in our home.

Our friend, Josiah (on the far right in the three amigos picture here) plays the trombone. A couple months ago I texted him to ask if he would take a look at ours the next time he came over (he is at our home several times a week). He responded by asking how old Isaac is. I thought he must have misunderstood my question. You know, the generation gap and all. But I couldn't figure out how "Will you inspect our trombone to see if it plays well enough to sell?" could be misunderstood. Turns out that Josiah was offering to TEACH Isaac the trombone. Oh, glory divine! Music to my ears!! You see, I wouldn't have asked Josiah to teach Isaac. But since he offered...

Now I get to hear rousing renditions of "Hot Cross Buns" and "Go, Tell Aunt Rhody" daily. to my ears!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Award Banquet Pics

A quick post about the youth awards banquet tonight. Here are Luke & Susanna...

Wes and Emily...

Our 4 youth-group-aged children (L to R) Luke, Emily, Susanna, and Benjamin.

My 3 silver vest recipients...Luke, Jordan, and Josiah. Looking good!

My two real girls and my adopted daughter, Alyssa. The girls spent the night at Alyssa's, and her mother did their hair. They look fabulous...absolutely resplendent! Alyssa's and Susanna's team won the trophy for the year! GO team!!

I have a raging headache and must take some Tylenol and go to sleep.



The Amazing Mrs. Smith

This is Emily and her piano teacher, the amazing Mrs. Smith. Emily took beginning piano a long time ago and recently (as in a couple months ago) had the good fortune to start taking private lessons from Mrs. Smith (her real name, BTW). She is an inspiring teacher. Last night was the spring recital. I enjoyed the whole thing, from the sprout that played "I'm a Little Teapot" to two of my "adopted daughters" (who happen to be sisters) that played the finale--an awesome arrangement of "Abide With Me".

Emily played "Spinning Song" and "The Old Rugged Cross". The latter brought tears to my eyes...she played with such emotion. Beautifully done!

Mrs. Smith is moving by the end of the summer at the latest. She will be sorely missed by her devoted students.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Bursting Clematis

Here is my clematis vine...gone crazy!! It's four years old. I brought it from our last house, where it celebrated its first birthday. At that time it was just getting started good!! It is literally bursting with the most beautiful lavender blooms. They are about 6 inches across each.

I hope to get a better picture tomorrow when the sun is not so intense. I got some shots of the whole vine on our rustic wood fence, but the sun is so bright that it whited it out. I'll try for an earlier picture tomorrow.

One of my friends lives in Colorado. She said it snowed 8 inches there today. It is 82 degrees here at my house. Whew!!


Busy Me--Busy as a Bee...or Several

Every time I ask myself, "Could I get any busier?" things have a strange way of becoming just that...busier. I need to remind myself to enjoy the moments before I completely whig out over the stress. Here's a sample of the things that have been going on (and are still ongoing) since my last post...

The snowball of activity started Monday when my 2nd daughter had a 2nd and then immediately a 3rd interview at Chick-fil-A. She was hired and started work Wednesday. After the interview we stopped at Walgreens where I received a call from her driving instructor (from class 3 months ago) asking if she and brother could start their behind-the-wheel driving time Tuesday. That meant 2 more trips a day out of the house. Plus her work trips now. Great timing.

Simultaneously we are doing the "musical chairs" with all the bedroom occupants changing. I am still in the throes of sewing formal vests for 4 guys...2 of my sons and 2 friends. Those have been so tedious and time-consuming...but they do look SWEET! I will be posting pictures from the banquet for sure, so come back after Wednesday night.

Imagine the belongings of 7 children strewn in piles, boxes, and bags all over the house. We've mostly gotten the 2 youngest boys installed in their room, but we didn't do any painting or closet renovations for them...yet. It's the catch and so can't more their stuff because one of the other so and so's stuff is still in their closet/room...rinse and repeat over and over.

In anticipation of my oldest moving back home, we are switching around all the children's bedrooms. My oldest son had a room to himself which will be converted to my oldest daughter's room. Said son will move in with next son. Two youngest boys will share another bedroom (there are only 4 children's bedrooms). The 3 younger girls (17, 14, and 11) will share what was formerly the 3 younger boys' room. Has anyone really read this far? Did I lose you yet? The girls wanted a facelift in their new room, so my wonderful husband is doing major changes in the closet innards, plus "stretching" the closet door opening to accommodate a mirrored door. He installed that last night. Susanna has been busily painting the's about 3/4 finished. New blinds are waiting patiently on the floor, to be installed later. My DH steam cleaned the carpets on Friday night.

We actually went to someone's home for dinner Friday night. How fun was that?? The added time-consumer there was making several dishes to take amongst all the other activities.

My children had friends over that night. Son #3 had a birthday Saturday, so son #2 and friend planned an overnight campout/air soft war (that began after 11 PM on Friday) and had several friends over for that. I got to cook lunch for 15 the next day after they got back from the campout, dirty, sweaty, exhausted, and really excited from all the fun the previous night. Violin recital that night for 2 of the boys. One of my daughters wasn't feeling too well, so I stayed home and SEWED A VEST (my extra activity this whole'd think I was making 100 of those).

Some time on Saturday my 2nd son was called to come in for an interview Tuesday at the same restaurant that my daughter works at...he is really excited about that...just another item on the social calendar for me (but I can hardly believe he has this opportunity--he is just 16).

Sunday at 5 AM I awaken to someone in my bathroom with the light on. Why would one of the children be in there? I had earplugs in, so I didn't hear them come in. It was still very dark out, so I guess the light woke me up. I removed the earplugs to hear an all-too-familiar wretching noise (sorry to the faint-hearted) of my children (yet unknown as to whom) was really ill. I was wondering why said sicko was in MY bathroom. Came to find out mere moments later that the same despised wretching sound was coming from the hall bathroom, next door down from our bedroom. It was the two recital boys. I assumed that they had eaten something at the practice that had been spoiled or whatever. I held to that theory until an hour later when one of the girls started the same routine...but she hadn't been at the practice. This was NOT looking good!! Only one more child bit the dust in that way. I found out that daughter #3's friend (who stayed overnight Friday and was here a good part of the day Saturday) had the same malady, and it had started a couple hours earlier than ours did. The other 3 guests at our house escaped the plague, thankfully.

Needless to say, all these activities occurring simultaneously are wreaking havoc with my peace of mind at times. But at the same time, they are not. I am thankful for a large, busy family and the best husband in the world. He works so hard and so long for our family, and has my undying gratitude.

I keep hoping that after the bedroom moves are finalized, that last vest is sewn, the awards banquet is behind us, driving practice is over, etc., etc., that life will slow down.

But wouldn't I be bored then??