Saturday, June 30, 2007

Jill's Book Bag

Boy did I get a treat yesterday! The girls, Jeff, and I were sitting at the kitchen table having lunch when our doorbell rang. It was the Fedex guy and the girls went to fetch the package. I knew that the package was for me (and so did everyone else) but I tried to stay cool! The girls brought the package to me and I thanked them and set it aside. I wanted to finish my lunch before I started getting all wacky over what was inside the package! You see, Jill over at Who Could Ask For Anything More is hosting a monthly contest called Jill's book bag. I won for the month of June and Jill had emailed me on Wednesday to let me know she'd sent out the package. I could hardly wait for it to arrive and reminded everyone around the house, several times, that I was waiting for this package. When I finally opened it, here's what I found:

I just LOVE the bag! It's so fun and bright and I'm going to love filling it up with things! It was so generous of Jill but she didn't stop there! She also included some goodies in the bag.

She wrote me a sweet note and included The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett, some super cute beverage napkins (for my zinfandel and chocolate), and a really cute Post-It notepad. I've overjoyed and so thankful for these wonderful gifts! Thank you Jill! For anyone else reading, Jill will be doing this monthly so head over to her place and watch for details.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

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Friday, June 29, 2007


Iris is having this cool giveaway over at Sting My Heart and I thought I'd share it with you. She is giving away this beautiful purse and I'd love to win it! I need to win it!

All you have to do is sign Mr. Linky and you'll be entered to win! Thanks to Coach J for tipping me off!

On another note, I am currently reading Tales from the Bed by Jenifer Estess and it is really good. I'll provide a complete review of the book after I've finished it. It's a quick read and I should be finished with it tonight.

Hope you are having a wonderful Friday!

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just Rockin'

I have tried to convince my husband for years that I rock! Now I can stop trying to convince him because Jill has made it official! She has given me the Rockin' Girl Blogger award and all I can say is, shucks, thanks Jill! Just for the record, I think Jill rocks too! I appreciate the fact that anyone reads what I write. There are so many wonderful blogs out there and alot of the ones I read have already been nomianted. I want to try and recognize a few that I've recently come upon and love.

1. Monica over at The Homespun Heart. She has been an inspiration to me in the way that she finds pleasure in the simple things in life. I love her practical tips for making homemade things. She's creative and I know I'd love to hang out with her!

2. Jenny at Up the Hill Gang. Jenny is one of my bestest RL friends. I love this girl! She is funny as all get out, she's creative, strong, and just a fun person to be around. She homeschools and is Presbyterian, just like me! I have learned so much from this gal and can't say enough about what a special person she is. I wish you could all know her in real life. You would love her. She's just that kind of person.

3. Shawna at Scamp's Place. Shawna is such a sweet spirit and recently we have become email prayer accountability partners. I feel like I've known her for years and she looks alot like one of my best friends from high school! She's a TN girl (just like me!) and has a wonderful writing style. She can tell a story and make you feel like you're part of it.

4. Holly at Puddin' and Princess Stories. Holly is a very sweet, down to earth person. I feel very comfortable talking to her and she's given me some great tips on bug control and dieting. She introduced me to the South Beach Diet and even though I'm failing miserably at it, she's been a great source of encouragement! Thanks Holly!

5. Kelli at There's No Place Like Home. Kelli is very creative with simple things. She is a fellow homeschooler. She has opened her home and ideas so that we can all see and it always feels warm and inviting. I can see myself sitting at her table, fresh flowers from her garden adorning the table, having a nice cup of caramel vanilla tea!

There are so many other gals out there that bless me on a daily basis. They've all been nominated but I wanted to mention them so that they know they are special to me. Some of my favorite daily reads are:

Annie from My Life as Annie.

Carrie from My Lil' Corner of the World.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane.

Stacy over at Vader's Mom.

Lauren at Baseballs & Bows.

Amberly at Moments Amid Messes.

Have a great Thursday!

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekend Reflection # 20

It's been a little rough around our house the past two weeks but things have improved so much since the stomach bug came to visit everyone!

Around the House: Things are finally back to normal since hubs and both girls are feeling better. They have all fully recovered from the nasty stomach bug that they passed around. Thankfully, I did not get sick! Caroline had ballet and piano this week and was well enough to go! I finally got the lightening strike mess cleaned up in the backyard. We can walk out there now and Jeff was even able to mow! It took several hours of raking and picking up to get the debris cleared. Next week I'll be preparing to send Jeff off for five days to bagpipe school. He goes to Valley Crucis, NC every year for this. He loves it and learns alot! Valley Crucis is such a beautiful place and would be a great place to relax, if only he could. Instead, he'll spend a week in classes from early morning to evening, learning new bagpipe tunes and honing his skills. It is very challenging for him and he comes home pretty tired at the end of the week. It's all worth it though because it brings him so much enjoyment. Our neighbors enjoy his playing too!

In the Kitchen: I made Chocolate Lover's Cake again this weekend because we were supposed to have some out of town company. They ended up not coming so now I'm stuck with a large, double layer of chocolate goodness with raspberry preserves in the middle! Yum-O! There's no way I'm going to lose weight! Tonight we'll be trying Marlboro Man's Second Favorite Sandwich. Amberly tried it this week so I'm trusting her recommendation (no pressure Amberly!). I have my Whisper mill pulled out and my wheat berries ready so I hope to make several loaves of bread over the next two weeks. I'll freeze some and I'm also thinking of following Monica's lead and dropping off bread baskets to our neighbors. The girls and I did make up a little basket for our new neighbor that moved in next door. Her name is Sunday and she is a very cheerful lady with a kind heart. She has been here about a month and has already invited the girls over to swim in her pool a few times. We had fun with it and put in small pizza crusts, pizza sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, M&Ms, Hershey bars, and three boxes of muffin mix. We also baked a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread and wrapped it separately. The girls delivered the basket and Sunday was delighted to receive it! She had a houseguest and we put enough in the basket to make lunch for them both. I love doing things like this! It was so much fun!

My version of Marlboro Man's Second Favorite Sandwich: (I used steak seasoning and put them on some tasty flavored rolls that I picked up in the Walmart bakery section).

The basket for my neighbor, Sunday. I've never met anyone with her name!

Hobbies: I finished reading Redeeming Love that Shawna so graciously sent me and now hubs is having me read Animal Farm. I'm looking forward to finishing it tonight so that I can start reading the purchase I made on Saturday! Hubs was sweet enough to take me to BAM and purchased Widow of the South for me! What's even better is that it was on sale and I got the hardback for $6.50! How cool is that! I bought some material to make some tote bags too! I haven't started on them yet and I may wait until Jeff is out of town to start those. I love tote bags and they seem simple enough to make. I may use them as Christmas presents or may give them away. I'm not sure yet. I bought two different patterns that kind of capture my eclectic taste. They are so different and I had to chuckle when I looked at them! One is warm and conservative. The other is wild and wacky. I love them though and I know they'll make cute bags.

The girls continue to do well with their instruments. Caroline is learning alot in her piano class. I think she will do well if she will be patient (hard for her!) and apply herself. She tends to have a short attention span unless it comes to the computer. Logan is doing well with the guitar lessons hubs is giving her. She is currently learning Amazing Grace and seems very excited.

Other Stuff: I finally finished up our church directory on Saturday night. I guess I should say Sunday morning at 2am! It was alot of work but I am thankful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity. Shawna and I have decided to become accountability partners and that has been very helpful this past week. We will email each other once a week with specific prayer requests and then the following week we email to update each other on the progress we made. She emails me her list and I pray for her all week and vice versa. I love doing this. I also love knowing that someone is out there praying for me concerning specific things also. Shawna and I don't know each other IRL and that may be the best part! We have become friends via blogging. The blogging community in general has surprised me. It's amazing how many wonderful, sweet souls I have met. I am also continuing to do my study of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. Jenny and Kasi (my non-blogging friend) were supposed to come to the house to do this with me but they both made up excuses, I mean, couldn't work it out to come. I've decided to forgive them for being too busy for me but they don't know what they're missing with all the good desserts I'm cookin' up over here!

I had a great week! I hope you did too! A big THANK YOU to Judi for hosting WR!

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Our Square Foot Garden

I've been meaning to post about our garden for awhile now. This past week, everyone has been sick and that left me little time to post anything. However, everyone is fully recovered and I'm ready to sit down and tell you about our little endeavor.

We first heard about Square Foot Gardening from some friends at church. We had toyed with the idea of having a garden for years but didn't feel confident enough to take on a traditional garden. Jeff stays pretty busy and I was not ready to take on the task of weeding and watering all on my own. Upon recommendation, we purchased Mel Bartholomew's book and took to reading it. I jotted down some notes and a list of things we thought would be useful to our family. We then sat down and drew out a garden diagram to help us visualize what it would look like and how we would go about things. We bought some lumber and Jeff went about the business of tilling our 10x10 space.

Next, he built the frame for the garden.

I told him all of the things he was doing wrong. (LOL, just kidding but that's what it looks like I'm doing!)

We then divided the inside into 4x4 squares (roughly) and got the manure and top soil ready to put in.

Snapped a photo of my favorite man-kitty, Tumnus (I'm easily distracted when it comes to work! LOL!)

Mixed manure and top soil with the tilled up soil.

Sectioned each 4x4 square into 16-1x1 squares.

Planted the seeds and let Caroline go behind us and water.

Labeled everything and put out some moth balls to keep our cats out (They thought we had spent all day building them a giant litter box!)

The only thing we did differently is that we used existing soil mixed with manure and top soil. . We wanted to keep it simple and as cheap as possible so we didn't invest in the products the book recommended for a real, raised square foot garden. It seems to have worked well since we have cucumbers, okra, mesclun, and broccoli coming up. Most of the plants are still very immature and haven't produced veggies yet. As soon as they do, I'll post some pictures. In my opinion, the idea of square foot gardening is wonderful! You can create a weed free, easily maintainable garden with minimal labor. You can also use this method to make raised flower beds for your deck or porch. You can read more about it at the square foot gardening website. Mel has some lovely pictures of his raised flower beds that I would love to have around our house! That'll be a project for next year!

Have a great Friday!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blessings Galore

I think if I win one more thing, I'll explode! I'm quite beside myself right now because of all the generous people I've met in blogland! I never knew blogging would be so much or that I'd forge so many friendships. I've met people from all walks of life and I feel like I know several of you really well. I have felt so blessed and on top of that, several of you have blessed me with goodies through contests you've had. I wanted to take a minute to point out all the people who've blessed me with goodies lately! I really appreciate each of you and each of these things will provide special memories for me!

First, there is Jenn from Knee Deep In Munchkinland. She had a contest that will provide me with a new blog design from Bluebird Blogs! I'm very excited and thankful that Jenn held the contest and pulled my name out of the hat! Thanks Jenn!

Next, there is Jill from Who Could Ask For Anything More. She had a book contest that will provide me with some reading material and a cute little book bag. I'm psyched about it! If you haven't visited Jill's blog, please do. She and her hubby are soooo funny! They'll keep you in stitches! Thanks Jill!

This morning it was Katrina from Callapidder Days. She also had a book contest and I'm the lucky winner of Finding Ruth. I can't wait to get it and get started. Thanks Katrina!

I also can't forget Shawna over at Scamp's Place. She was kind enough to loan me her copy of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I loved it! I can't wait to read more things by this author. I am so thankful that Shawna was gracious enough to loan this one to me and also offer to loan me another one later on. Thanks Shawna!

After two weeks of this nasty stomach virus attacking everyone in the house, except me, and the lightening strike mess, I am thankful to have friends like you who "pick me up" just when I need it!

Have a wonderful Thursday!!


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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

All Dry Now


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Monday, June 18, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

And another one gone, and another one gone....

Can you believe it? Things were just starting to look up around here. After a week of hubs and Caroline having a horrible stomach virus, I thought we were through. But oh no! Here it comes again. Like a bad dream. It's back in full swing and this time Logan is the lucky recipient! Now she's the one laying in the bathroom floor and look what I found a few minutes ago....

How sweet! I'm gonna roll up my sleeves and prepare myself for at least three more days of this stuff. It will be a miracle if it bypasses me, and I hope it does! I hope all of you avoid this nasty bug!

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekend Reflection # 19

Oh the things that I have seen this week! Whew! I'm glad to see this week come to a close and a new one begin. It's been a rough one around our house this week and while I am thankful for each and every day, I'm anxious to get started on this new week!

The week began last Sunday with a wonderful worship service with our church family. The Lord's Day is my favorite day and I love that it is a day devoted entirely to worship, rest, and reflection. We did just that on Sunday and enjoyed every minute of the day. Monday and Tuesday were relatively normal days. Jeff's cousin passed away on Tuesday night. He had been sick since February with lung cancer. Docs told he and his wife on Tuesday that he had no more than two weeks to live. An hour later, he fell asleep and his heart stopped. He has a wife and three grown sons and they are all doing well. They miss him but are glad that he is no longer suffering here on earth.

Caroline had ballet on Tuesday and Jeff had bagpipe practice. Tuesday night he started to feel bad but wasn't quite sure what the problem was. By lunch time on Wednesday, the real fun began! Jeff was so sick that he could only work about half the day. The rest of the day, he was in bed feeling pretty nauseous. I don't think he ate a bite that day. Thursday was pretty much the same. He ate a bowl of soup the entire day and the rest of the time he went from his computer (trying to work) to bed.

Fast forward to 6am on Friday morning. We were awakened by a sound that would make small children run and hide! I sprang out of bed to find Caroline hugging the toilet seat giving it all she had. Thanks to her daddy, she now had the same symptoms that he had. Mind you, he was still sick as a dog. She didn't move from the bathroom all day and even slept there Friday night. Saturday morning was much the same. I was tired from being up and down with Caroline and from sleeping in the hallway floor just outside the bathroom. She spent the entire day in the bathroom floor again. She did manage to get her big sis to read to her because she was so bored from just laying in the floor. She didn't have the energy to get up and do anything! Thanks to her big sis for being a good sport and spending some quality time with her little sis! I think the dog enjoyed the Cat in the Hat books! LOL!

Before the sickness hit our family, we did manage to get out and get the furniture for our covered porch. We searched and searched and ended up getting a set from Walmart. We are happy with it. It does just what we need it to do!

We also had a pretty scary lightening storm this week. Logan happened to be outside when it started and she made a run for the house. Just as she reached the deck stairs, lightening struck a big oak tree in our back yard not far from where she was. She managed to make it up the stairs before a pretty good size limb fell down onto the stairs. We are thankful that she was unharmed and our deck was not destroyed. It was pretty scary and one of the worst lightening storms I have witnessed. I was even more afraid because not too long ago, Shawna's FIL was struck (indirectly) by lightening while standing in his kitchen!

Here's the branch that almost got Logan:

Here's a picture of the tree. Lightening hit the top of the tree and then it went all the way down the tree and blew bark off of it everywhere. Notice the big strips of bark that are missing. There are plenty of big limbs in the top of the tree that are broken and threaten to fall on our deck. We'll have to call someone to remedy that within the next few days!

It left a real mess in the yard. You can also see our new addition! We added the screened porch (where the siding is) and also the uncovered deck to the left of that.

I'm thankful for:

  • God's grace and strength in my life.
  • That Jeff is feeling better.
  • That Caroline ate 5 chicken nuggets for supper tonight! This is the most she has eaten in three days!
  • That Logan was unharmed in the lightening storm.
  • That our home was unharmed in the lightening storm.
  • The peaceful passing of Jeff's cousin, Mickey. His suffering is over and his body is healed. He is spending eternity with our Father in Heaven.
  • That while I deserve the wrath and curse of God for my sin, He has chosen to be my Father and love me, in spite of myself.

I hope your week went well. Through all the sickness that is going on around here, I can't help but be thankful for the position God has given me. As a wife and mother, it is wonderful to be able to serve my family when they are too sick to care for themselves. I love every minute of it and wouldn't trade it for the world!

To read more WR's, visit Judi!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Red-Hot Smokin' Event

Jill over at Who Could Ask For Anything More is hosting a red-hot smokin' monthly event called Jill's Book Bag. Each month, one lucky participant will receive Jill's pick-of-the-month book along with some other goodies, tucked into a red-hot smokin' bag! To get in on the fun, drop what you're doing and get over to her place to read the rules!


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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday--Vacations

Well, I'm late but I'm sure that's no surprise to any of you. That's just the way I'm made :-o) I can never seem to get a post done on time (translation: I can never get it posted when I WANT it to be posted). Such is life. Anyway, today Annie asked us to travel back to our most memorable or favorite vacation. This is only my second TTT and I hate to be a rule breaker but I think I'm gonna have to! I have so many wonderful vacation memories that it's hard to share only one. I hope you'll forgive me.

The most recent vacation that comes to mind is the trip Jeff and I took to NY last December. I had always wanted to visit Manhattan and I was not disappointed. So many things to do and see. Jeff had to go on business and I begged to go along. This vacation was probably the most memorable one to date for a few reasons. This was our first vacation alone. No kids. They stayed behind with Jeff's parents. For 6 days it was just me and Jeff. We saw Queens, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty, The Ed Sullivan Theatre, Rupert Gee's Deli, Soho, Chinatown, Ground Zero, United Nations, took a cruise around Manhattan, rode the subway (ALOT!), Central Park, took my first airplane ride, got lost and Jeff called NYPD and filed a missing persons report (insert record scratching noise).......Yep, you heard me right. Let me back up for a second. We arrived in Newark on Sunday evening. We dropped our things at our hotel in Queens and hit the subway toward Manhattan. Spent that night walking around Times Square together. Monday morning was a work day for Jeff. He was to be in meetings all day. Being the brave soul that I am, I reassured him I would be fine walking around Manhattan alone all day, shopping and stuff. That's exactly what I did too. I rode the subway into Manhattan with him early Monday morning and I started my foot race through Manhattan. About 4pm, I was pretty tired and since I have a wacky thyroid, I decided I'd subway back to Queens and take a nap until he called. 6:30pm rolled around and I started to worry because he hadn't called my cell or the hotel. Shortly after 6:30, the hotel phone rang and I answered. It was Jeff and he was in a state of shock. Turns out he had been calling me since 4:30 but my cell phone (for whatever reason.....PROVIDENCE) wasn't picking up. He had called the hotel but apparently it was just before I got into the room. This poor man had been searching Times Square for me since 4:30 with no success. He called his parents back in TN to get advice and finally decided to call NYPD. He honestly thought someone had kidnapped me, hurt me, and left me laying on a side street somewhere. Well, after he reached me on the phone, he quickly took the subway back to Queens and into my arms. He cried for an hour and couldn't speak more than a few words. If I ever in my life doubted his love for me, that was all erased in that moment. After we returned home and recounted that story to friends, I started thinking that if Jeff loves me that much, how much more does God love me? I am thankful that God providentially orchestrated that whole day from start to finish because not only did I see Jeff's love for me, I saw the love of my Heavenly Father.

Another vacation that comes to mind is our family vacation to Panama City Beach, FL. I think that was in September 2003. It was a long drive but worth every minute. It was beautiful, lots of stuff to do, and not very crowded. We took a two hour cruise on a "pirate ship" and got to see dolphins swimming around the ocean. That was really cool! The kids met a nice little girl from Kentucky and they were pals the whole time we were there. They enjoyed the pool and loved going to Gulf World. Jeff talked me into snorkeling for the first time and it was unbelievable. We went out into the ocean where it was about six feet deep and put our goggles on and man the things I saw! It was beautiful and scary! There were schools of fish swimming everywhere and little crabs walking (and digging themselves down) in the sand. Did you know that we step all over them when we go swimming in the ocean? They just kind of laid there until I got off them! LOL! We stayed in a hotel right on the beach that was cheap (about $60 a night) but had a nice pool, was clean, and even had a little kitchen in it! Because we homeschool, we always take our vacations the week after Labor Day so we miss all the crowds and this proved to be to our benefit. Low rates + no crowds = great vacation!!! That's a vacation we still talk about to this day!

This is what I enjoyed every evening...the beautiful sunset of Panama City Beach:

This is Caroline and her new KY friend:

I'll stop with these two vacations but I have alot of the same childhood memories that many of you have. It seems like when I was a kid, our family went to Myrtle Beach, SC every summer. Along the way, we'd play slug bug (my fav because I could hit my brother!) and the alphabet game (look around trying to find things that started with each letter of the alphabet). Being a kid was fun and I had a great time but it doesn't even begin to compare to the joy and fun I experience on vacations with my own husband and children!

Thanks to Annie for hosting Time Travel Tuesdays! To join the fun, visit her blog!

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday Seven #1

I saw this over at Carrie's and thought it would be a good way for me to take time out to think about and share with you seven things I am grateful for this week. I am grateful for so many things and I pray this will help me to really remember, specifically, seven special things each week. To read more about the history of Sunday Seven, go here.

  1. I am grateful for my husband who works very hard to provide for our family. He works harder than I give him credit for sometimes and I really appreciate that about him. He's intelligent, funny, lively, and just a good ole' boy. I think my life would be very dull without him to keep things interesting.
  2. I am grateful for my daughters. They are wonderful children with many gifts between them. I am grateful for Logan's willingness to do anything we ask of her. She is shy yet fun to be around. She is giving and obedient. She is a hard worker and there's nothing she wouldn't do for her family. I love that lately she's been attentive to her younger sis and has tried to help her understand math concepts and memorize math facts. Caroline is entertaining and witty. She keeps us on our toes. She loves to please her daddy. She is becoming a very good reader. If there were a local comedy show for kids, Caroline would be perfect for it. She keeps us laughing so there is never a dull moment.
  3. I am grateful for Jeff's family. My FIL and MIL have been there for us every second of our married lives and would do anything they could for us. My FIL has worked very hard helping us around our house for the past few months while my MIL took time to teach the girls to embroider last week. This allowed me a day to rest and get other things done. My BIL has also worked very hard helping us around our house lately. Since he's not in the best of health, we are even more grateful that he has dedicated himself to helping us.
  4. I am grateful that my mom came for a quick visit last weekend. She had safe travels both coming down and going home. We were able to get out a little bit and window shop, which she loves to do.
  5. I am grateful for the home God has blessed us with. I love being at home and I love that we are making it ours.
  6. I am grateful for the wonderful local homeschool support in our area. I've been struggling with some decisions in our math curriculum for Caroline for next year. I had about twelve people from our local homeschool group email me and give me their opinions and comparisons of a few possibilities. This helped so much! It will save me the internet research I would have had to do since they provided reviews of these things in their emails.
  7. I am grateful for the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on my behalf and has fully paid for all my sins. He has called me to Himself and I belong to Him. He is faithful, even when I am not.

Hosted by Sunday Seven.

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Weekend Reflection # 18

Time for another run down of a week in the life of us! I know you are all excited but please, try to contain yourself!

Monday: This is becoming a habit. I'll let you guess what I did first thing Monday morning....go ahead. YOU GUESSED IT! Another cat had to go to the vet. Tell me again why we "saved" all these poor kitties? Oh, right, because we love animals. Ok, back to the cat story. This time it was a different cat, my favorite cat, Mr. Tumnus. We call him Tum. He came home Sunday night with a banged up leg and couldn't put any weight on it. Jeff and I ran him down to the vet and were told that it was just bruised and swollen. The poor thing got two shots and we came home with two more shots of antibiotics. Thankfully, this vet is an older gentleman (just turned 80) and runs his business out of his house. He provides low cost care and is funny as all get out! He only charged us $15 for everything! That included his exam of Tumnus, a shot of an antibiotic, a shot of pain medication, and two shots for us to bring home. I love this man! In case anyone forgot, our dog had an allergic reaction to shrimp and it was $95 to fix her up.....different vet, closer to home, it seemed more serious and we needed immediate attention for our doggie.

Tuesday: Ballet for Caroline and then the girls and I were able to go to Bible study. Jeff has bagpipe practice every Tuesday night so it was just us girls.

Wednesday: Both girls went to my MIL's house after lunch. She was working with them on some embroidery projects because we want them to learn. I don't know anything about embroidery so she was kind enough to work with the girls for about six hours. Hopefully they will be able to start their own projects soon. Jeff is taking private bagpipe lessons and will do this each week on Wednesday nights. The man is a bagpipe freak!

Our deck also got finished! All we have to do now is lay outdoor carpet in the covered part and clean things up a bit. We are already enjoying it although the heat has been NUTS!!! It's been in the upper 80s and low 90s for a few weeks. We finally did get a few days of rain and we really needed it. It hadn't rained in over a month here! Our grass looks terrible! Wednesday night, Jeff and I watched Deja Vu'. It was pretty good, which is saying alot since we are not huge Denzel fans.

Thursday: Ballet and piano for Caroline. Jeff worked really late and didn't get home until around 10pm. The girls and I made pizza and enjoyed eating it on the deck.

Friday: Logan went to babysit all day and came home around 6pm. I took a nice long nap in the evening and was just lazy! Made an awesome meatloaf for supper and then took it easy the rest of the evening. Jeff and I watched The Painted Veil and by the time we got to bed, it was almost 3am. Oh, Caroline insisted that I tell you she removed two splinters from her hand on this day. She's scared of needles and does not like it when I hold her down and prick the skin in order to remove a splinter :-) It is a huge deal to her that she was able to remove these all by herself. How's that for exciting! LOL!

Saturday: Caroline and I took off to do some "shopping" (which translates into looking around!). We were hoping to make a trip to the Amish store about an hour from our house to buy some dried fruit, spices, lecithin, and some homemade sweet breads. We didn't make it. We had a few stops beforehand and I just couldn't bring myself to drive any further. Hopefully I'll get to the Amish store next week. They have wonderful dried pineapples that are very cheap! I love to get several bags of them for snacks. This is probably my favorite snack!

My BIL, FIL, and hubby laid the outdoor carpet on the deck. Now we are all ready for new furniture! That will come soon my friends! The girls and I intend to start doing some of our schooling out there before the heat runs us back inside. Made another yummy dish tonight. It is called Mile-High Salsa Pie and was pretty tasty. I'll include the recipe below. The only thing I would change is that I would use black beans in place of the kidney beans. I didn't have black beans to use this time but it tasted good with the kidney beans. I simply served chips and queso with it since it was a heavy dish. Yummy!

Shawna made my day by sending me Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers! I was so excited to go to the mailbox and find it! Thanks Shawna! I can't wait to start reading it, which will hopefully be next week after I finish Even Now by Karen Kingsbury.

Mile-High Salsa Pie (An Old El Paso recipe)

1 lb. ground beef or chicken breast (we used beef)

1 Old El Paso Soft Taco Bake dinner kit

1 cup water

1 can (16oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 jar (16oz) Old El Paso Salsa (any salsa will do)

1 cup (4oz)shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used 8oz because we LOVE cheese)

1.Heat oven to 400. Brown beef in skillet; drain. Stir in seasoning mix, water, and half the cheese sauce (from the dinner kit). Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans and remaining cheese sauce; heat until hot.

2. In ungreased 2-quart (8x8) casserole dish, place 1 tortilla. Layer with 1/2 of the salsa, beef mixture, then cheese. Repeat layers, using up ingredients and ending with cheese.

3. Cover and bake 17-22 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes.

Makes 6 servings

I hope you had a good week. I look forward to reading about your week so head over to Judi's place to join in!

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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Score One For Kraft

Kraft foods may have just redeemed themselves. Don't get me wrong, I like Kraft products. I buy Kraft products. I eat Kraft products. However, I don't use Kraft recipes very often. They just don't have enough "flava" for our family, namely, my hubby. He likes lots of flavor in the foods he eats. The more things taste like beef, the more he likes them! Last night when he asked what we were having for supper and I announced salisbury steak, his facial expression said it all. I knew what was coming next....the ole' "I'm not really in the mood for that" statement. That's his way of gently nudging me to make something else, so I went to the kitchen and pulled out my trusty cooking magazines. I decided I would use a meatloaf recipe from the Kraft magazine I had. It sounded pretty good and I had never made meatloaf with these ingredients before. In this house, we love us some meatloaf. Well, we all love it with the exception of my picky 8 year old, who I refuse to cook special meals for! I make traditional meatloaf alot, or I used to, until I found a nice BBQ meatloaf recipe that was the bomb!! Anyway, this Kraft recipe was different and I wanted different.

An hour and fifteen minutes later we sat down to dinner and I was sure hungry! Now, when I use a new recipe, I always wait for the family to take a bite and swallow it before I say anything. I can gauge their like or dislike of the item this way. I'm happy to say that everyone liked it, although I think I liked it best. I was happy, thrilled, elated, you get the picture. FINALLY, a Kraft recipe I can add to my recipe book! It's a keeper and I am already thinking about how good leftovers will be after church on Sunday! I knew I had to share this recipe with you because if you love meatloaf with flavor, then you'll love this meatloaf!

Favorite Meatloaf

1 cup finely chopped onions

1/4 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Reduced Fat Dressing (I didn't have this so I used Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Dressing)

2 lb. extra lean ground beef

3/4 cup ketchup, divided

1 pkg. Stove Top Stuffing Mix (chicken)

1 cup water

2 egg whites

1/2 cup Kraft sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook onions in italian dressing in nonstick skillet on medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Combine meat, 1/4 cup ketchup, stuffing mix, water, egg whites, and onions; mix well. Place meat mixture in 13x9 inch baking dish; shape into oval loaf. Spread with remaining ketchup. Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour or until cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese; bake 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 8 servings.

(Courtesy of Kraft Food & Family magazine 5th anniversary edition)

How funny, while typing the recipe up, I realize I didn't add the cup of water! So, you can use the water or not! I imagine if I had used the water it would have made the stuffing mix soft but I liked the crunchy texture it had. Also, the Sun Dried Tomato dressing is wonderful if you like zesty type stuff. It's not quite as zesty as italian (IMO) but it's really tasty. (Remember, I am pretty much a Ranch or Raspberry Vinaigrette kinda gal so it was a stretch for me to try this new one). I believe the stuffing mix and the onions cooked in the dressing is what made this recipe so tasty. I can't wait to have a crowd over so that I can fix this. It is sure to be a hit.

Score one for Kraft....


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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I Love About My New Deck

We've been super busy for the past few weeks trying to finish up the construction on our new deck as well as other small projects around the house. We are now finished with the hard part and only have decorating left to do. So, in celebration of being able to use the new deck, here are thirteen things I love about it!

  1. IT"S DONE!!!! What could be better than this! No more building to do!
  2. It's big enough for large crowds to gather on! We love having our church family over and we've had the problem of limited seating until now!
  3. I have two sections. One is covered and screened in and the other is open. Man, the choices!!!
  4. I get to buy new furniture for the covered section! Jill recently bought some cute furniture that I love!
  5. Birthday parties! This will be perfect for the girls to have guests over on their birthdays!
  6. No more tools laying around!
  7. Chili Pepper Lights....My hubby is obsessed with getting chili pepper lights! I hope I'll be able to find some soon!
  8. No more mosquitos, bees, or flies can bother us since we can opt to sit in the covered area!
  9. I can sit while I admire my little garden! The garden is to the left of the deck so now I don't have to walk all the way out there to see what's popped up! I can look while I enjoy a big glass of diet Sunkist!
  10. Tiki torches! Love these and now we can actually have some and enjoy them since we have a place to put them!
  11. Great place for a Bible study! If only I could get Jenny and Kasi to make their way over here! LOL!
  12. A new environment for learning! The girls and I are really excited that we'll be able to sit out on the deck while doing their lessons!
  13. My FIL and BIL can finally rest! They need it! They've worked really, really hard on this project and I'm ready to see them relax for awhile! Thanks guys!

For more TT's, go here.


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Monday, June 4, 2007

I'm So Excited, And I Just Can't Hide It!!!!!

I'm so excited that I just can't contain myself about this! In case you haven't heard, Nan is hosting Apronpalooza this week and it is going to be a blast! I have found myself browsing through vintage aprons every time I've been in an antique store lately. I love aprons and I love wearing one when I cook. Nothing that I have even comes close to some of the aprons Nan has given us a peek at! They are gorgeous!

She will be posting three contests PER DAY all week. I'm telling you, if you like to cook and you love aprons, you'd better jump over to her blog and enter! This is a wonderful contest and I love that apron makers have been so generous with their donations for this contest! All of the sponsors have beautiful items and any woman (ME, ME, ME!!!) would be fortunate to win one of their aprons!

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Menu Plan Monday June 4-10

I haven't posted a menu in a few weeks because I've been lazy! We've had company this weekend and we are trying to finish up a few things on our deck this week. Because of all of that, it's been a little distracting and I'm going to wing it this week. I'm hoping to use what I have on hand and then grocery shop this weekend! My cousin, Missy, always makes fun of me for posting my menu. She says she doesn't have enough time to do that. I've found that I have to start taking time to do it EVERY week. I know I spend more money on groceries when I don't have things mapped out. Therefore, I must do better. Even though this menu will be somewhat thrown together, I will do better next week! BTW, this is a picture of my cousin (I hope it embarrasses her!) who always gives me a hard time. She is also the one who snatched my purse at the mall this weekend! Don't worry, you know what they say about paybacks! You'd better watch yourself Missy! LOL!

Monday: Lasagna, salad, garlic bread. I have to take a cat to the vet this morning so I need a low maintenance supper tonight! It seems that I am always taking a sick animal to the vet! This time, one of the cats came home with a lame leg. Not sure if it's broken or what but he won't put any weight on it and he can't climb stairs very well. Sheesh!

Tuesday: Sloppy joes, tater tots, beans. This is Bible study night so again, I need something that is easy and fast to make.

Wednesday: Hamburger Steaks with Onion Gravy, Savory Grilled Potatoes (Thanks Carrie!)

Thursday: Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans

Friday: NY Strip, baked potatoes, salad

Saturday: Eat Out

Sunday: Soup beans, Cornbread, Fish

Check out more menus at Laura's!

As a side note, I just have to poke fun at my hubby. He was catching up on reading my blog the other day and ventured over to Carrie's place (I didn't know it at the time). When I sat down to my computer in the evening, I noticed that there were several recipes on my printer. I pulled them off and noticed that they sounded familiar. Turns out, they were from Carrie's menu last week! He's so funny! I asked him if he had been "stalking" Carrie's recipes and he quickly admitted that he had! I appreciate his help in finding recipes and I think this was his way of telling me he wanted to eat something different this week! LOL! Thanks for the recipes Carrie!

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Weekend Reflection # 17

We had a very nice week last week. Since there was a holiday mixed in the week, it gave us an extra "day off" to enjoy each other and do fun stuff! We took full advantage of it too!

Sunday: We enjoyed worship and then grabbed a quick bite for lunch. Jeff had to take off since the band was playing for an early Memorial Day function. Logan wanted to spend the day with her dad so Caroline and I decided we'd stay home and lounge. After the Memorial Day function, Jeff and a few other bagpipers were off to play a wedding. He and Logan rolled in near midnight but they had lots of fun. Caroline and I enjoyed watching the 1968 version of Yours, Mine, and Ours.

Monday: Since it was Memorial Day, Jeff had the day off and he drove, with a friend, to Linville, NC. That's only about an hour from us and it's also where the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are held each year in July. The guys were going up to take the owner of Everything Scottish out to lunch. They had a fun time and Jeff got home early enough for us to invite his parents and brother over to grill out. We enjoyed burgers, cowboy beans, chips and salsa, salad, and some kind of brownie concoction I whipped up. When it started to get dark, we fired up the tiki torches and Jeff wooed us on the guitar with some old country songs. We had fun talking about the music we listened to growing up. We had fun remembering some songs by John Conlee (Rose Colored Glasses), Mac Davis, Don Williams, Conway Twitty, Porter Wagner, and a few other people I'd never heard of. We sat out on the deck until around midnight and then everyone went home. It was very relaxing.

Tuesday: Caroline had ballet class and that was the most we did all day really. Jeff didn't have bagpipe practice so he was home all evening! We made shrimp scampi for supper and ate out on the deck. Our dog started to get very sick and she was really itchy. We started looking and noticed she had all of these raised marks on her belly. She's a mini-schnauzer and normally a very happy go lucky kinda dog. We had all her hair shaved off for the summer so she wouldn't burn up. I'm thinking now that this was a mistake. Turns out, she it so itchy because she has poison ivy! Yep, you read that right. My dog has poison ivy! She must have ingested some of it and that was making her upchuck. She was feeling just terrible and looked pitiful.

Wednesday: Took the dog to the vet because she was still throwing up when I got out of bed. About an hour and $95 later, she is feeling much better. The vet gave her two shots and sent her home with two meds. She only threw up once today so that's a good thing! After talking to the vet, we determined that instead of poison ivy, it could have as easily been an allergic reaction to the shrimp tales she ate out of the yard. Seems that it is possible for a dog to have a shellfish allergy! Go figure. There's no real way of knowing whether it was poison ivy or a shellfish allergy. I'm just happy that she's not throwing up anymore!

Thursday: Pretty normal day. Caroline had piano and ballet class today. Ran some errands and found some scrapbooking stuff on sale at Michael's. I found a scrapbook and some supplies for my sister-in-law. She and my brother are expecting a baby girl in July.

Friday: Caroline and I took off and went to the mall for awhile. We had fun looking around and we had lunch in the food court. While we were eating, someone came up behind me and picked my pocketbook up out of the seat beside me. When I turned around to confront them, I found my cousin laughing as hard as she could! We don't see her much because she lives about 1 1/2 hours away. It was nice to run into her although I must say that I was ready to tackle her before I realized it was her that picked up my purse! LOL! My BIL and FIL worked more on our deck. They were able to get the gutter up and the soffit as well. It's looking nice! We are waiting for the vinyl siding to come in and once it's up, the screened in part is going to look like a million bucks! Friday night we had a quiet night. We stayed in and made pizza and watched a movie. Oh, and did I mention that Jenny and Kasi (who doesn't blog) bailed on me again so we didn't get to do our Bible study today?!!! Looks like I'm gonna have to go pick these gals up myself! LOL! Maybe they're trying to tell me something!

Saturday: I worked for several hours on getting our church directory ready to print. Besides the fact that my eyes are crossed from looking at the Excel file for so long, I am almost finished! Yay! This has been a bit of a challenge but Jeff and I have managed to pull it together....we think! LOL! My day got even better when I received an email from Jen informing me that I'd won the free blog design from the contest she was having! Another big Yay! I am still shocked but very happy that I will be blessed with one of Susie's designs! I really like her work and can't wait to see what she comes up with for me! My hubby did my current design and I love it. However, because he custom did it, it doesn't work like most other designs. I don't know how to explain all the technical stuff but basically it's harder for me to add things to my sidebars, etc. without breaking the design. He worked very hard on this for me and I really appreciate it. I think it'll be easier for me to use a design that does work with blogger so that I will not have to bug him every time I want to change something. I feel like a nag (he'd argue that I am! LOL!). Thanks honey! I really do appreciate all the things you do to please me!

Jeff also put up a new light in our hallway today. We finally got rid of the 80s fixture that was hanging in there! Oh boy, was it ugly! My mom is on her way down to visit us for a night or two also. She should arrive around 7pm tonight. We were unable to attend a feast with our church family this evening since mom is coming down. When children in our church are born, the parents usually hold a feast at their home a few months afterwards in celebration of the birth of that child. It is a wonderful time of celebration, fellowship, and thanksgiving to God for the blessing of children. We are sad to have to miss this feast but are thankful we'll be able to spend some time with my mom. It's rare that she is able to come down and stay overnight so we enjoy it when she is able to. .

That's about the sum of what's been going on around our house this week. I hope you've had a great week and have been able to accomplish many things. Hop on over to Judi's to see more WR's.


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