Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On Baking Therapy

I've had this basic muffin recipe for several years. The other night I was feeling like breakfast for dinner so I started a quiche. I don't know why but I simply cannot eat quiche without something sweet. I was all out of the usual suspects when it occurred to me I had a bag of apples slowly going the way of the cross in my crisper bin. Apple cinnamon muffins it is! Now let me warn you, these contain no nutritional value. They are just sweet and serve to calm my nerves. Baking brings order to my very chaotic life:)

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
  • preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • lightly grease muffin tins or line with cupcake papers
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (I used buttermilk but sometimes I use sour cream)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 TBSP of real butter
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon (I just eyeballed it)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 peeled, chopped apple

Mix first four dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar together. Fold into dry mixture. Add eggs and milk and blend. Add remaining spices and fruit. Stir until just blended. Fill muffin cups almost to top. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until fork comes out clean. Enjoy!

Like I said this is a basic muffin recipe. You can delete and add spices and fruit to your liking. I like to make them with blueberries when they are in season.

Weebles Wobble but they won't fall down...unless boiled in hot water!

When I was a little girl my parent's bought their first home: a gorgeous, rambling, Victorian, fixer-upper. I loved, loved, loved, that house. I have fantastic memories of playing hiding seek with my siblings, which was quite a challenge with all the nooks and crannies that house held. I remember sliding across wooden floors, basking in a sunshine filled room (there were literally two walls of windows), and eating in the breakfast nook off the kitchen. I also remember opening the pantry on any given occasion to small bugs colonizing our dry goods. My parent's referred to them as weebles. I'm unclear on their scientific name. I remember eating more than one bowl of cereal half way before realizing there were weebles drowning in my bowl. Ahhh, childhood.

Needless to say I was more than a little chagrined last night when I had slaved over from scratch beef stroganoff over whole grain brown rice, only to discover there were more black flecks than usual in the rice. Never mind I reasoned, I did use the pepper grinder. Until I saw legs, yes, I am pretty sure those are legs. By this time my apparent scrutiny of my stroganoff had brought the curiosity out in the rest of the family. "What are you doing , Mom?" my son asked as he shoveled his second helping of stroganoff in his mouth. (I had only begun to eat, as the movie The Christmas Story so truthfully proclaims "my mother hasn't had a hot meal in years".) Then my very squeamish husband began to ask questions while at the same time reassuring everyone it was just the flecks in the rice. Until our son loudly proclaimed, "It's got legs! It's not rice. It's got legs!" At this point my darling husband got up to insect, excuse the Freudian slip, I mean inspect the bag of very expensive uncooked organic all natural rice. At first nothing, until he dumped the entire bag on the counter top. "Um, everybody stop eating," he said calmly. "Is it bugs?" I inquired. "Yeah, it's definitely bugs. They're still moving around in here."

So we all scrapped our plates, put on our coats, and headed for taco night at our favorite Mexican restaurant. "You know this only serves to confirm my aversion to cooking," I calmly informed my husband. "Yeah, I know. Thanks for all the meals."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yes, this is what 36 looks like

Dear Twenty Somethings...or for that matter Dear Teenagers:
Yes, this is what 36 1/2 years of living looks like. Do not look at me like I have two heads or just dropped the F bomb in class. I am becoming accustomed to your raised eyebrows and dropped jaws when someone who is still young enough to ask others how old they are pops the deadly question. I am resigned to the fallout that occurs to all other college students within hearing. Thirty six is great, I hear forty is even better. All my pieces and parts still work as good as yours, some even work better, although out of politeness I shall not name them here. I did not have my babies when I was still a baby myself, 36 explains the nine and seven year old, don't you think? Please don't ask me to get out my driver's licence. Really? Have you ever heard of anyone lying to make themselves older???!!!! Thirty-six is just that, a number. You are as young as the body God gave you and the sense you have to treat her gently. So remember me on the eve of YOUR thirtieth birthday. Don't buy black balloons. Thirty is no occasion for tears or fears. Thirty is wonderful. It's like getting all the perks of being twenty but without being quite so, ahem, stupid.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For me...

I would be a liar if I said I wasn't more than a little disappointed with my feeling of isolation writing this blog. One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is reading other blogs that inspire me. I always try and leave comments or small encouragements. Perhaps it is the fact that I am such a "words" person, nevertheless, the lack of comments on this blog have left me feeling a little lonely out here in cyber space. Is there some way to check to see who if anyone is even reading this blog? I'm still trying to learn my way around blogger domain.

I try and give myself the pep talk, you know the one that says: "It takes time to establish a community anywhere. Give it time."


"You are not writing here for the approval of others. This is your own record of your own journey. This is a gift for yourself and your kids one day."

Still, it's disappointing. I like feedback. I like comments. I like feeling as if I'm not speaking to the wind.

All right, pity party aside. I wanted to be sure and record what's happening in our little corner of the world. We finally got the snow we have been hoping for all winter long. We live in the Appalachian mountains, but far enough south that snow is a rarity. We have watched longingly as different cold fronts have moved across the nation, hoping, just hoping they might drift a little farther south and kiss us with snow. Today was the day. We woke up to a soft dusting and gentle snow falling. The kiddos are so overjoyed and have been sledding, building snowmen and generally frolicking. Thank you kind winter for this gift.

A fun project

Here is the collage piece I put together for my Mom's birthday. Art is kinda weird for me. There is always the idea in my head first. Sometimes they just randomly come to me, and other times I am inspired by something I see. In this case I was inspired by Atlanta artist Paula Joerling who was featured in an old issue of ME's Home Companion magazine (sorry I'm unsure of the issue). There was a picture I had clipped of small dresses Joerling had created from book pages, sewing materials, and then dipped in beeswax. I wanted to incorporate this element into an entire piece using the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary". Although my mom is far from contrary, her nickname for years has been Merry Martha and something in the merry/mary-ness of it all, it evoked this project in my head. The garden to me, being the children and grandchildren she has been so careful in tending.

I made photo copies of some poems that reminded me of my mother from very old poetry books I have. Then I set about cutting dress patterns from the paper and sewing them together. I then added some vintage trimmings I had in my sewing supplies. The lace is beautiful but not enough for a real dress so I was so excited to find somewhere to use it. Finally I dipped the whole sculptural piece in melted candle wax. I think I went a little overboard on the dipping. Next time I do one of these dresses I won't dip it quite so fervently!

And voila here is the finished project. Sorry I did not take any pics before I framed the entire thing, so the quality through the glass isn't the best, but you get the general idea.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Give, release, and breathe

It's that time of year again. The time when the holidays have left us, and a new year has begun. This is the perfect time to clean out your closet or other areas in your home that may be a wee bit cluttered. I like to clean out my closet about two times a year. The general rule I use is: if I haven't worn it in 6 months give it away. Sometimes I make exceptions for classics or sentimental favorites...but otherwise it goes on to someone else who might actually use it! The six month rule works for me because a) I don't have so many clothes in the first place and b)I keep only the current season clothes in my closet. I've been working on it some this afternoon, actually cleaned out my dresser as well, and so far I have two bags of items to donate. Now I can breathe and release. Let's exhale together, shall we?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inspiration, failure, and other musings

I have been inspired by this blog from the Pleasures of Homemaking and this one from Happy Foody to create more meals from what we have on hand and waste less. I hate waste. I try and compost and recycle and it still seems we waste. The worst for me is when you buy fresh produce and then because of poor planning it rots in the refrigerator before you can finish it. I certainly do not have money to burn and am resolved to do better in the fresh department. Anyhoo... along these lines I created a Shepherds pie of sorts last night. It was not on the schedule of meals I had planned out before shopping but carpe diem and all that.
We had on hand...a mass amount of leftovers from KFC lovingly sent home with us from the in laws. The chicken, for all intensive purposes had been dutifully consumed, it was just all the sides hoarding space in my icebox. I also had half of a red onion not used from last week and a pea/carrot combo. I sauteed the chopped onion in a little butter and then added some ground beef. Then I dumped in the peas and carrots, some green beans, and a wee bit of KFC gravy. For good measure I threw in a can of cream of mushroom soup - which any good southerner will tell you we always keep on hand. I sliced KFC biscuits in half and lined the bottom of the pan with them. Then I poured the meat/veggie mixture over the bicuits. For the grand finale I topped it all with the leftover KFC mashed potatoes. My crew kept asking what was for dinner and I kept saying SURPRISE CASSEROLE! My son announced before dinner he was NOT eating any of it and Ewwwwww... and then he proceeded to eat two bowls at dinner. Not the healthiest recipe on the planet but resourceful n'est pas?

This morning I tried incorporating some more leftovers into breakfast. I had some steel cut oatmeal from yesterday's breakfast leftover. I found a recipe for scones using cooked oatmeal and whole wheat flour. However the scones never perked up much in the baking process. I think perhaps my baking powder has lost its potency or I added too much flour as the recipe got rave reviews from others. I still have a wee bit of oatmeal left. I might try a batch using yucky self rising flour just to see what happens...maybe throw in some dried cranberries...ohhhh my I'm getting hungry.

Other less edible inspirations include the marvelous stories and drawings found at tollipop. I'm like a kid opening a present every time I see she has posted a new one. If you haven't popped over to her blog you really should. Tres amusing.

Here on the home front I have been busy straightening the nest before chaos returns like the cyclone it is to our peaceful sleepy home. I start back on Thursday as a full time student. I am working desperately to complete my degree in Early Childhood Education. My nerves are all a twitter as I have to go before the Board this semester. I know it will be fine it's just the act of doing one more thing that seems daunting. I felt this same mix of dread and anxiety just thinking about returning to school. Alas I must summon my best little engine that could..."I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."

Projects here include covering the beast of a man chair my husband dragged home (love you babe!). I will concede, the chair is delightfully comfortable, but that does little to detract from the horrendous eye sore that it is. I made a slip cover for it, and the accompanying ottoman from some grey fabric I had purchased on clearance years ago and had never done anything with. The result is a hulking, grey, slip covered mass now instead of the aforementioned behemoth. Not much better, only slightly so. It really has to do with the lines of the chair (yes, honey I am obsessed with the lines of everything...dancers and furniture). But it is a small price to pay for his cute little bootie to be all snuggled up in it every night. I love having him around more!

Other projects include creating chair cushions for the kid's dining chairs, a case to keep my new phone in, and an art piece for my mom's birthday this week. For me, creating art always starts in my head. I have these ideas, it's just getting the visual to translate from what I see in my mind's eye to an actual piece of art. The project I am working on for my mom, I am not quite sure how to put all the elements together yet. Today I will hopefully work it all out. Below is a pic of the phone case. I moved all of my sewing supplies after Christmas and I could not find my embroidery thread, so I just improvised. It is soft and will due, again not exactly as I had envisioned. I have a thing for birds...

Hope your nest is feathered and full today!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Word for the Year

Several of the blogs I read have been discussing choosing a "word" that is the theme for this year. In years past I have noticed such themes as love, and straight (as in make my paths straight). I didn't choose those words, they just seemed to be recurring themes in certain seasons of my life. This year I think the word is refreshing.

This verse just really spoke to me for 2009: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you." Acts 3:19

After recently reading the book The Shack , this verse really takes on a richer meaning for me. If you've read that book perhaps you understand what I am talking about. Just the essence of sin being those things that keep us separated from really experiencing a loving relationship with our Creator. Sometimes we do not view our own misconceptions of God as sin, but when they keep us from fully experiencing Him, that is truly what they are. Repentance then, is recognizing those things and choosing to let them go. We are powerless in and of ourselves to change but when we acknowledge the truth of our brokenness and yield it to God, He is more than able.

So this idea of letting go of my hang ups and then experiencing a refreshing, well that is just beautiful to me. That's what I want in 2009.

"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

99 Things You Should Know About Me Before You Die

I was reading livinglearningandlovingsimply when I ran across this. Thought it was a fun get to know you. Feel free to play along. The items in the list in bold are some of the exciting and not-so-exciting things I have done.
  1. Started your own blog
  2. Slept under the stars
  3. Played in a band.
  4. Visited Hawaii
  5. Watched a meteor shower
  6. Given more than you can afford to charity
  7. Been to Disneyland/world
  8. Climbed a mountain ( that was actually how I got over my fear of heights)
  9. Held a praying mantis
  10. Sang a solo ( shocking, I know - lots of times as a child in church)
  11. Bungee jumped
  12. Visited Paris (oh how my heart longs to go)
  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (art is subjective right?)
  15. Adopted a child (Compassion International, but I'd love to add to the fam in residence)
  16. Had food poisoning (Gag, more than once)
  17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
  18. Grown your own vegetables (every year)
  19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (again, I wish!)
  20. Slept on an overnight train (This is a family dream...maybe to Portland one day?)
  21. Had a pillow fight
  22. Hitch hiked
  23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (in a former life)
  24. Built a snow fort (my kids love this!)
  25. Held a lamb
  26. Gone skinny dipping (college)
  27. Run a Marathon
  28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (can we squeeze that in with the France thing?)
  29. Seen a total eclipse
  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
  31. Hit a home run (I've hit the ball, just never that far)
  32. Been on a cruise
  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (kelly is taking me on that trip)
  35. Seen an Amish community
  36. Taught yourself a new language (un petite peu)
  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
  39. Gone rock climbing (I've repelled down rocks)
  40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
  41. Sung karaoke (God help us all)
  42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
  43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
  44. Visited Africa (one day)
  45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
  46. Been transported in an ambulance
  47. Had your portrait painted
  48. Gone deep sea fishing
  49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
  50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (rub it in already!)
  51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
  52. Kissed in the rain
  53. Played in the mud
  54. Gone to a drive-in theater (another family favorite)
  55. Been in a movie
  56. Visited the Great Wall of China (Yes, please)
  57. Started a business
  58. Taken a martial arts class
  59. Visited Russia
  60. Served at a soup kitchen
  61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (not cookies, but I've sold the heck out of cubscout popcorn!)
  62. Gone whale watching
  63. Gotten flowers for no reason (I have the best hubby)
  64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
  65. Gone sky diving
  66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
  67. Bounced a check (it was a sad, sad day)
  68. Flown in a helicopter (and two seater plan with my Grand Daddy)
  69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (the dolls my Grandmother made me)
  70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
  71. Eaten Caviar
  72. Pieced a quilt (I have dillusions- one day)
  73. Stood in Times Square
  74. Toured the Everglades
  75. Been fired from a job
  76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
  77. Broken a bone
  78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (my father would kill me)
  79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (another life long dream)
  80. Published a book
  81. Visited the Vatican
  82. Bought a brand new car (HAHAHAHAHA)
  83. Walked in Jerusalem
  84. Had your picture in the newspaper (Keep America Beautiful Baby!)
  85. Read the entire Bible
  86. Visited the White House (I've tapped at the White House...ok I tapped danced on the tour!)
  87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (I grew up in the rural South)
  88. Had chickenpox
  89. Saved someone’s life
  90. Sat on a jury
  91. Met someone famous
  92. Joined a book club
  93. Lost a loved one
  94. Had a baby (natural childbirth Baby, hear me roar!)
  95. Seen the Alamo in person (Pee Wee's big adventure doesn't count..."This is Pablo!")
  96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
  97. Been involved in a law suit
  98. Owned a cell phone (progress is forced upon me;)
  99. Been stung by a bee (so many red wasps, I ran a fever and was in bed for a day or so)

My new favorite thing...

My hubby gave me the most wonderful present for our anniversary this year. I am now the proud owner of a pair of wrap boots from TOMS shoes. Are you familiar with TOMS shoes? They are a casual, earth friendly shoe and for every shoe you purchase, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. Read more about TOMS here. They also come in other colors like the sassy red pair, pictured above. Here I am sporting my new pair of shoes.

As you can probably tell by the name, these boots actually wrap around the leg. That way they fit each person perfectly...which for me is a plus since as you can see, I have scrawny little legs. Plus they are super comfy. I love, love, love mine! And I love that someone else who REALLY needs a pair of shoes now has a pair. You can't go wrong with TOMS.

This is a really great blog about a trip TOM's volunteers took to give out shoes to children. The pictures alone are priceless! So what are you waiting for? Order some TOM shoes today! And if you live in our area stop by Bettyejanes and check out the TOMS shoes there!

Soup's On!

I love it when I discover a new recipe that I want to make over and over. This is my new favorite recipe. It is warm, yummy, goodness in a bowl. I discovered this recipe when I purchased this book. I needed to plan some meals ahead for those busy months I would be in school. I have been very pleased overall with how all the recipes we have tried have tasted. However, THIS recipe is my most favorite.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 T. oil for sauteing
  • 2 lbs chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 5 oz. can RO*TEL tomatoes
  • 1 - 14oz. beef broth
  • 1 - 14oz chicken broth
  • 1 - 10oz can tomato soup
  • 1 1/2 cans of water (use soup can)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce

Toppings (optional)

  • grated cheese
  • corn tortillas cut in strips and fried in hot oil or corn tortilla chips
  • avocado
  • sour cream
  • diced tomatoes
  • chopped fresh cilantro

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 35 minutes.

Yummmmmmmmmmmm! Enjoy.

Who knew laundry could be so sexy?

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2.3-4

What's this you ask? Well, my friends let me tell you. This is the sight of three, count em, THREE empty laundry baskets. I have never seen them this way as I am wholly incapable of having all the laundry clean and put away at any given time. In fact, I would argue, I am one of the worst laundresses on the planet. I had no idea of my inadequacies until I went away to college and my roommate enlightened me in the ways of wash. Who knew there was more to it than cramming things in the machine at random, selecting cold water, and dumping in some soap?

But I digress, the reason I have this beautiful picture of THREE, count em THREE, empty laundry baskets is in thanks to my husband. My darling husband, the servant of all servants, used his time off to magically make all the dirty clothes disappear. He was not asked, cajoled, or even threatened. He just saw the need and did it for the family. Talk about taking one for the team.

So thank you dear husband for leading through serving. I will follow you wherever we may go!

Monday, January 5, 2009


Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why its called the present.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Today the little birdies left the nest to return to school. In classic T fashion, I heard the clomping of small scuffed boots at 5 am this morning shuffling into the bathroom. I groaned as I threw on my robe and went in to check on her. What I discovered was a girl experimenting with hair options, already fully dressed. "It's still three more hours until school starts!" I whined. "I know," she replied confidently. "Get back in bed!" I demanded. She hoped in boots and all and to my relief fell back asleep for a couple more precious hours. J managed to fall out of bed all night - which on a side note it must be some sort of miracle that Daddio was able to lift him from that position each time without hurting himself! I wondered after the last thud if this wasn't some new way to amuse himself...I rather think it is. And even though he was up and dressing when T's alarm finally woke the dead, I found it rather curious his own alarm never went off, especially since I personally double checked it last night per his request. I think the little saboteur was busier than the shoe elves last night.
The house is eerily calm and quiet. I am enjoying hearing her breathe. I find myself inexplicably dreading the return of mayhem to my life when I start school once more next week. And then I mentally scold myself, "fun sucker, enjoy the quiet, peace of this moment...tomorrow has enough worry of it's own".

Saturday, January 3, 2009

She has a certain joie de vivre!

"Joy is not in things; it is in us."
Richard Wagner

I glanced out the kitchen window to the sight of my daughter joyfully jumping her guts out while singing a little diddy of her own at the top of her lungs. The only verse I caught was:

"I wanna be like Abraham Lincoln. What were they thinking!???"

Golly, I love that kid something fierce:)

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Little About Me

Hello, I'm new to the neighborhood. And as the newest girl on the block I thought it only fair to share a little about myself.

What I'm doing right now: Cooking dinner and reading new blogs with a warm cup of joe and the fire roaring. I am savoring the smell of the last of the zucchini from our garden this summer.

Things I enjoy: Decorating my nest, nurturing my kiddos, learning, reading, organic gardening, eating healthy, creating/crafting, laughing with my hubby.

Revelation of the new year: That I am more than just a wee aversion to intimacy in ANY relationship.

New Years Resolution: To get closer to those care about this year.

Guilty Pleasures: Touring others homes via the Internet, reading Stephanie Plum novels, and the occasional glass of wine:)

If you were my best friend you would know: I say quirky things like "fresh" when I mean back talk or mix up sayings like "too many kings and not enough Indians".

If you stopped by on any given morning unannounced: You would find the dishes from the night before still sitting in my sink.

Websites I have under my favorites:

You should know: I'm very Irish...or as most people say deeply loyal and defiantly stubborn!

Well that is just an introduction. I hope you'll stick around and we can find something in common.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bonjour Petite Amies

Happy New Year all. We have spent the day unwinding from a late night and doing my most favoritess of things...absolutely nothing. All this down time lends itself well to day dreaming and creativity. T was up first and had already composed and illustrated an entire book by the time I awoke. It is entitled, If You Were In My World. My favorite page says: "Instead of a schoolbus, there would be a unicorn with wings". Ahhh, girls and their dreams:)
I spent the day catching up on favorite blogs, clipping inspiration from a year's worth of Home Companion magazines, and dreaming up projects of my own. After reading this post on soulemama's blog I was inspired to drag out some of my favorite aprons and create a spot for them. I am tres content with the results. Tres jolie, n'est pas?

When we took down the Christmas decorations in the living room I decided it was time to freshen up some of the wee vignettes. Below is the mantle a la New Year. These are a few of my favorite things, central to room to produce maximum happiness.

I love birds.

And this is the revised piano top. The portrait is oil pastel of my mother as a child.

Much to my good friend Jocy's delight I am sure, I finally finished reading The Shack. There has been so much buzz about this book and I was just not impressed when I first sat down to read. However, once I got into the book I was mesmerized and could not stop reading. Now I understand what all the hooplah is about. If you have not read it, you really should. Just be sure and read the prologue before beginning. It makes much more sense if you do:)
And finally mon petite amies I would like to leave you with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
Eleanor Roosevelt
Dream beautiful things this year!