Friday, January 21, 2011

Oh, for the love of pop rocks...(and some sewing too)

This has been a lovely Friday. 

I did some sewing this morning,
trying to finish up our friend J's banner for her new room. 

Choices, choices, choices...
I decided we own way too many buttons. 
The man and I had this little heart full of 'em but,
we narrowed it down to these...

We made our final decision and hit the gas.

Voila!  We're done!
(except say, for some decorative stitching
'cuz it looks like it's missing something, hmm?)

Then, we ate some lunch.

And the highlight of my day...

Oh yes, pop rocks, my friend.

We ate some, laughing all the while at the way they popped in our mouths.
We joked and I told the man he sounded like a "Fry Daddy".
Then, remembering that he is only four,
I had to explain exactly what that was.
My mom owned one of these back in the day and the name always tickled me.
What's the story there?  With the name, I mean.
Who came up with this name exactly?
And what were they thinking when they named it?
giggles.  more giggles.

Next thing we knew,
we were feeding them to Dan, the rat terrier.
Imagine this, because I was laughing too hard
to get the camera and get these images photographed.
We laughed so hard, it was ridiculous!
How old am I, you ask?
I'll never tell.

Nonetheless, it's been a great Friday.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Back to the same old, just a little different

It was hard getting back into the routine this morning.  Last week, K got out of school early on Thursday and Friday.  Then, no school Monday for the holiday and Tuesday was a teacher work day.  It seemed like forever since we'd been to school but, secretly, I was excited to get them and myself out of the house! 

C and I laid in bed way too long this morning and that made for a rushed take off.  The man was in a foul mood because I didn't have time to make his usual...pancakes.  Plus, he didn't like the khaki pants I'd picked out.  Not to mention, I was fighting a kitchen envasion of ants!  So unlike her, K fluttered about accomplishing her tasks and even packed her own lunch -WOW-, her usual...dazed and confused.

We got to preschool and this is where things really went awry, for me at least.  My best preschool friend, J, and her daughter were not there.  I knew this was coming.  They are moving to New York, near the Great Lakes.  Her husband had already made the move and now, it was time for them to go too.  I knew they'd be leaving early this morning to make the final trip.  I just wasn't prepared for it.  Thought I was.  We'd said our good-byes last Thursday.  It shouldn't have felt like this.

The man is the only man amongst a class of what was three girls - now two.  Now best friend-less, one of the other little girls walked up and said, "Will you be my best friend?"  The man didn't answer, he doesn't do well with the girly stuff and his best defense is to ignore them.  J and I always used to laugh at what a "man" he is, even at four years old...Yeah, lady, whatever you say and away he'd walk.  Poor little girl, I too, felt like someone had dropped a bomb.  I felt the ping.

I did my usual...groceries, errands, etc.  Still, things were just so off kilter.  We finally arrived home and I went to take care of the chickens.  The man called for me, saying he was hungry.  So, I made, guess what?!  PANCAKES!  A double batch, so he'd have some leftovers for breakfast, and I'd get off easy tomorrow morning.  I put away and straightened up and then, sat down to write my oh-so-missed friend, J.  Distress.  (I hope she writes back soon!!!)

I told her we'd have to come visit over the summer, she agreed.  K thinks the world of her daughter and the man wants to see New York and the Great Lakes.  So, we're planning a little trip. 

The older I get, the more I feel the pull to travel, to take my children here and there and show them a small piece of this world.  This is another of those opportunities that I didn't have growing up.  We went to the beach every summer, traveled to nearby states for vacation, traveled to play sports but, never too far away. 

The thought of a trip excites me but, it doesn't cover the sadness of losing my friend.  Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for them.  Excited that they'll be somewhere new.  Excited that they'll be reunited as a family.  Excited that it's sooo beautiful there.  I will nurse this little empty place in my heart.  I will make cute things and gleefully put them in the mail, thrilled to surprise them.  Farewell friends, I miss you!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The night is young...


Love the shirt...

Cute bow...


Nothin' but fun!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Primping or Prepping?

primp (n.) [primp] (primped, primping, primps)
- to groom yourself, somebody, or something in a fussy way

prep (n.) [prepped, prepping, preps]
- preparation for an activity

 Today was a half day for K.  Threw me off a bit, not so much that I couldn't get back on.  I flitted from room to room straightening up.  It's the day before the big day.  I am used to be somewhat obsessive when it came to events and such.

primp - At one time, I wanted everything completely perfect...clean sheets on all the beds, carpets cleaned, dogs bathed, everything in it's place, every square foot polished and spotless.

I have since moved on from that notion. 

prep - Understanding that children don't notice dirt, they're just too busy (OK, unless the dirt is really bad) and if adults do, they should realize that maybe something happened during the course of the day that prevented everything from getting done.

While stating this, there is a little part of it that still lingers inside, that makes me want to clean like some kind of freakish animal.

Today, I find myself busy, relaxed though.  While in the basement, I stopped and sat down for a minute at the puzzle table, delighted when I put a few pieces in. 

Content that I was assisting our general population, I, then,  grasped the reality that time waits for no one and proceeded with my chores.

I even stopped this morning to watch a dust particle glide by.  These small gifts catch my eye, a bright smile graces my face and I feel as if I'm glowing of joy.

Yesterday, I couldn't have been happier to receive a card from my friend P in MN.  I had been wondering how she was doing.  She wrote...

Dear MK, -
First of all I would like to wish you and your family - including your mom - a very blessed and healthy new year.

I also wanted to thank you again for all your prayers and words of encouragement - they really did help me a lot as I (we) faced the diagnosis and thought and finally the actual surgery.  I am feeling stronger every day.

I also used your words of encouragement to get through this past week when my father passed away after a cancer diagnosis and hospice care.  I know that my dad is with God and is no longer suffering.  So again "thank you" you really helped me through a rough time. 

Love P

I picked up a card yesterday, so I sat down last night to write her.  I reminded her to delight in the small things...a front row parking space, a ray of golden sunshine, the sweet song of a bird outside the window.  These minute God-given gifts are, sometimes, the only thing that get me through days when it feels as if the world is on my case, gleefully bouncing up and down on my shoulders, trying harder and harder to bring me down.  Instead, I give thanks to my God for these tiny miracles.

"...and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God."  Ecclesiastes 3:13

Happy Friday all!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recipes from My Christmas Cake Tradition

I make these cakes for Christmas gifts every year.  And after Christmas, there are so many requests for the recipes.  So, instead of emailing and writing them time and again, I am posting them here.

My apologies for the chaotic photo.  I admit, it's awful.
 I didn't have a lot of time on my hands when I took it but,
everyone wants to know about the wine.  It's found most
anywhere...Food Lion, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Martin's, etc.
Square bottle, most always on the right side of the wine aisle.
First up,

Blackeberry Wine Cake
 1 box white cake mix
1 box blackberry jello
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup oil
1 cup Manischewitz Blackberry Wine

Combine cake mix and jello.  Add eggs, oil and wine, mix until batter is smooth.  Pour batter into a greased bundt pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes and invert onto a platter.  While cake is warm, poke holes in the top and sides using a meat fork (or whatever's handy.)

Blackberry Wine Glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup Manischewitz Blackberry Wine

Whisk sugar and wine together until smooth.   Slowly pour over warm cake, allowing glaze to soak in.  Be patient, don't worry if there's a pool of glaze on your platter, eventually it will soak into the cake.  You can serve this warm or cool.  It can also be frozen.

Now, for the

Five-Flavored Pound Cake
3/4 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco
3 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. butter extract
1 tsp. almond extract

Cream margarine and Crisco in mixer.  Add 1 cup of sugar at a time, beating well after.  Add 1 egg at a time, also beating after.  Sift flour and baking powder, add to mixture - alternating with milk.  Add extracts and mix well.  Bake in greased and floured tube pan at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours (I had to add a couple minutes to mine, use your own judgment.)  Let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto platter.  This also can be frozen.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

A tribute to K, ten at last

Today was my K's tenth birthday.  We didn't have a big celebration, just gifts and after church, a 3 hour Just Dance 2 marathon. 

Nana brought over ice cream cake. Yum!  And we made cupcakes for school tomorrow.

The big party's next weekend - the all-girl-drive-you-nuts-birthday-sleepover with grandparents included!  I tried to get out of it this year, but commercial parties are just so expensive and if you read my last post, you know that won't be happening.

I really am old-fashioned.  For instance, why do you have to give a goody bag to each kid as she leaves? 

1.  Was it not enough that they spent the night at your house?  trashing it all the while
2.  Fed them meals?  plus snacks and drinks?
3.  Not to mention cake and ice cream?
4.  And popcorn in fancy containers?  popcorn littering the living room furniture and floor.
5.  Entertained them with nail polish, movies, board games, music?  while the electric bill sky-rocketed from every single light being on "because we need them all on MOM."   Sure you do.

Shouldn't these party-goers just appreciate your gracious hospitality and the fact that you're insane by pick-up time?

When my brother and I were kids, we had parties that lasted a couple of hours or so.  Then everyone went home, happy they'd come over to play and gotten to eat birthday cake and ice cream.  If there was a sleepover, it was two or three girls tops.  We will have a total of 8 girls here next weekend!

Everything is such a production these days.  Don't get me wrong, I love entertaining, but geez, sometimes the cost of all this hoopla is downright outrageous.  So, with my newest sewing skills, K and I've made a few of these as gifts and for ourselves...

One for the man because he would feel left out without one.  One for K because she saw the man's and didn't know that I was going to surprise her with a HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner.  And we're getting ready to make a couple more for some other special girls. Virginia Cavalier colors, ya know.  Yep, that's how we roll here.  Ha, unless you're a spineless Tech fan!  Sorry, that'd be C.  We had to explain to K the other day, that UVa is a school for medical doctors and lawyers and such.  They don't have a veterinary medicine program, but Tech does.  Ugh, the thought, makes me shudder!

No, the banner's nothing spectacular but, you have to understand, I bought a sewing machine mid-Decemberish and up until that time, I've never used a sewing machine.  Didn't even know how to turn one on!  Well, not now, baby!  I'm becoming a sewing enthusiast.  So, I'm not that great at it yet, but I'm learning.  K and I couldn't be more excited to be taking sewing classes!

It all started here.  I saw this post and thought, I want to make that!  Christmas was nearing and in my husband's family, the kids draw names.  It just so happened that K got the baby of the family.  So, it was our destiny to create one of these softie dolls!  K and I went to Joann Fabrics.  We selected our materials when the lady cutting the fabric asked what we were making.  Typical small talk for the surroundings we were in.  So, I went into this spiel about the doll and I laughed when I said, I really have no idea how to sew, this will be interesting.  It was then, that she said, "You need to go over and talk to April."  April, the store manager of the Viking Sewing Gallery, mesmerized me with the 3-month old Husqvarna-Viking trade-in, she'd just gotten in.  A "starter" machine, for the beginner, that came with three 2-hour classes that you could repeat as often as you wanted.  If that wasn't me, I didn't know what was!  So, in 30 or 45 minutes, she showed me how to use it.  I brought it home, set up a sewing table in the basement and we went to work.  Three dolls later, we had perfected it.  OK, almost.

When we exchanged gifts, K opened the present for her baby cousin, the biggest smile shot across that baby's face and my eyes began to tear.  I can see that moment and that smile as vividly now as if it were just hours ago.  It just so happened that my sister-in-law had been searching for a "homemade" doll and thought the price of somewhere around $40 was a little steep.  There we were soaking up a twinkling instant of pure delight just seeing this child's face light up.  It was beautiful!

And as always, I've gotten off the subject.  Back to the reason we're here today...

I am excited that K is learning to sew.  I'm excited that I'm learning to sew!  I didn't have that opportunity when I was younger, my mom was a divorced mother of two trying to make ends meet.  There was no time for sewing, except for the common button repair.  So, I'm proud to see her make a simple banner.  Proud that she is interested in learning to paint and for her new love of Bob Ross' shows.  Proud that she has a love for reading, that she checks out a library book and within hours is finished.  Proud that she gets excellent grades.  Proud of her playing soccer.  It's exciting to see her bloom into this extraordinary girl, talented, bright and full of promise.  I hope that we can continue to offer her opportunity after opportunity to learn something new, that she may one day become a well-rounded, diverse individual with a love of many things.  I hope to nurture her, to encourage growth and development, and teach her to thrive as a strong Christian in this crazy world.  I hope her cup runneth over with family and friends who love her.  I wish her all of the happiness in the world and may you always see your glass as half full.  To this marvelously beautiful, remarkable, timid ten year old girl that I can miraculously call my own, I LOVE YOU K!  (You're now a decade old!  Sounds old, huh?)

~ Thanks to my friend, D for sharing her collage idea.  It's the perfect icing on the cake. ~

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Frugal Movement...

...or as Jayme puts it, the "Pink Chicken Revolution".

It's seems like an eternity since I last posted.
I'm not promising I'm back for everyday posting,
it's never been my thing.
I've missed everyone though, 
following their blogs, commenting here and there.
This post will seem long and I apologize for that but,
here goes...

Tonight, everyone was in bed early and it was just me,
sitting on the couch with the iPod, checking email, etc.
(I've gotten quite used to that, not getting on "the" computer.  It consumes me)
when I decided to see what was happening in the world of my blog friends.

I began reading this and this.
These people in blog space remind me of why I'm here.
I read their words and they are mine.
Their passions, their troubles.
I am compelled to read their stories.

Well, this post in particular struck a nerve.
I too have become more frugal.
Ewww, something about that word has never worked for me.

Anyway, we turned our cable off back some time ago
(No, not because we couldn't afford anything, I'll explain)
and haven't really missed it since.
I have to say though, I hesitated to make the phone call. 
Even put it off for weeks! Something about it just scared the pants off of me.
Afraid I'd feel disconnected.
Now, it feels somewhat liberating.

I recently found that I am in love with thrift store finds.
Not antiques or even home decor.  Clothes.  And you're thinking, ugh!
Well, just last week, I went to a place in town and found this fabulous purple turtleneck.
I know, I know.  A turtleneck, right?  Trust me, it's a cute turtleneck.
Realize, I am a t-shirt and jeans kinda girl. Comfortable is my middle name.
It was $3.75!
 I absolutely adore it though!
It looks great with this cute little scarf I have,
I can't get enough of it!

There's just something about saving money that gets me excited!
Why pay thirty bucks for a new shirt when you can find it already broken in for six or less?!
Does this make sense to anyone but me?

The Today show recently did a segment comparing name brand products to generics.
They found that in most cases the generic brand did
the same or better than the name brand.
So, in a one income family, why not save a dollar or two
towards the summer vacation?  Or whatever you have your eye set on?

I also changed our phone plan.
No caller i.d.
No call waiting.
No voicemail.  ever heard of an answering machine?
$5 at Wal-Mart if you don't have one.
No unlimited long distance calling.
No three-way calling.
No call intercept.
Basic phone service = $20/month.
Are we nuts? 
If our cell phones had better reception here,
we'd junk the landline all together.

Let me get this straight for you all.
We have no credit cards.
I take that back, we have a few store cards - Kohl's, etc.
Paid off, every month - if anything's put on them. rare.
Our only loan is for our car.
Granted, we don't own our home.  A blessing and a curse.
We owe no one nothin'!
Do you know what that feels like?
It's freedom of the utmost high.

YES, my choice was to stay at home and raise my children.
C and I decided when K was born, it was the best thing for us.
Which at times, has also felt like a blessing and a curse.
Ended up, she was a screamer and I hated staying home.
This time around, I am finding myself.
It may have taken a good long while and a lot of uphill battles but,
I am finally becoming settled and comfortable.

I too, was afraid of what people would think of me.
Would they look at me differently because I shopped at a discount food store?
Would they think less of me for shopping at a thrift shop?
Would they cock their head when I said we don't have "real" TV.
Just 9 channels from our television, which now sports
a fantastically attractive bunny ear antenna?
Mostly PBS, which is better for the kids, I might add.

I have since gotten over these fears, of what people might think and to my surprise,
I am finding there are so many more people like me
that surround me on an everyday basis.
At school, at church, my friends and family.
I'm not alone in this boat.
Everyday people, who too, want to live debt-free.
It's liberating!  It's freedom, happiness, like you've never known.

I can't say that the first time I set foot in a thrift shop, I wasn't feeling uneasy.
Walking swiftly to the door, afraid to look around, afraid someone might see me.
Yeah, I was used to donating things but, that felt different.

Now, I have this fearless heir.  It's made me a stronger, more courageous person.
It's helped me in my walk with the Lord, to be always faithful and trusting.
Knowing that He has a plan.

"But the person who trusts in the LORD will be blessed.  The LORD will show him that he can be trusted.  He will be strong, like a tree planted near water that sends its roots by a stream.  It is not afraid when the days are hot, its leaves are always green.  It does not worry in a year when no rain comes;it always produces fruit."  Jeremiah 17:7-8

So, kudos to you, Jayme, for going against the current.
I am with you.  We're all with you!  He is with you.