Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Must Be Going Crazy!

Style crazy, that is. I mean, this is the backwoods country girl who, when a teenager, if I even recognized style, I ran the other way! Maybe it's because of the beautiful dresses I wrote about last Monday, but I have this incredible (and totally unprecedented) hankering for a pair of cowboy boots to wear with a few of those dresses. I say "hankering" because I grew up in Alabama, but it's really bordering on obsession, folks. I mean, what is with me? Maybe a pair something like this:
NOT this:

NOT this:

No, but that first one is calling my name! Amazon even has them.The whole world's gone country, right?
Also linked to Works for Me Wednesday

According to Hubby and Kids

The Ten Best Made at Home Dinners According to the Hubby and the Kids:
It's amazing how many of these dinners are favorites of both the hubby and the kids! Here goes:
10. Sandwiches--Besides me, the whole family prefers simple meals. I often try to jazz up these meals by cutting the sandwiches in cool shapes for the kiddos or frying an egg to add to the hubby's grilled cheese. They appreciate these touches (I think), but really, they are fine with just a pb & j or a simple meat, cheese, and mayo!
9.Tuna Casserole--I always think of this one as just a very regular meal, but the hubby loves it and the kids eat it (almost) without complaining, so it counts as a great one around here. I made this one with my own cream base: 2T butter melted and 2T flour added. Then add 2 cups of milk (or Silk in my case) and 9 oz of shredded cheese. The hubby likes lots of sauce, so I usually add a little water to this as well. Then just add your choice of noodles, frozen peas, and 3 cans of tuna.
8. Macaroni and cheese and hotdogs--I think this is quite sad, but it's so true. The hubby thanks me when I make boxed mac and cheese and hot dogs! I make a mean homemade mac and cheese which I like a lot better, but if I'm being honest, the hubby and kids would just as well have the box!
7. Grits casserole--I use the recipe on the side of the Jimmy Dean package of grits and boy is it YUM! The only thing I change is that I don't put any cheese on top, I just put the extra cheese in the body of the casserole. This is the oldest's favorite and everyone else eats it just fine. (And it's one of my favorites too!)
6. Green Salad (Okay, just kidding, that would be on my list but it really doesn't show up on theirs!) Tuna Salad--this is just the tuna, chopped pickles, chopped boiled eggs, mayo and mustard plain old tuna salad, but they all like it, so I make it. I usually make deviled eggs to go with it, and those get devoured as well.
5. Cheeseburger pie is kind of my "signature meal." It's a great one to take when you're making a meal for another family because it uses a prepared pie shell in its own foil pan. The kids have to be encouraged to eat this one, but the hubby likes it a lot.
4. Shrimp salad. 1 lb of salad shrimp, 2 cups of cooked white rice, 1/4 cup chopped green pepper, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4-1/3 cup chopped green olives, and 2 T mayo. The hubby could eat the entire batch of this in one sitting, so I have to make it the day I serve it or else hide it from him!
3. Crock pot roast--the kiddos are with me in not being absolutely in love with the veggies that go with this, but the potatoes and the carrots are part of the comfort food for the hubby, and of course, everyone gobbles up the meat.
2. Any kind of baked meat (pork, beef, chicken), frozen green beans/broccoli (cooked with lots of salt and butter), and homemade rolls or bread. The boy cracks us all up by asking for more "chicken" about a hundred times during this meal--no matter which kind of meat it is.
1. Hands down, the number one meal for the hubby and kids is a taco salad. The ingredients for this are slightly flexible, but I get the most brownie points with the hubby if I make sure to include taco meat, bean dip, lots of cheese, and sour cream. I think he really likes it best layered together in a dish so that it's really just a dip, but I usually serve it as a salad.
If there were 11, I would definitely add my homemade pizza in there somewhere.
So there you have it! I am sure that if the hubby and kids were to write this list it might have other things (like frozen pizzas, etc) on it, but this is as honest as I can bear to be!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.
Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tuesday TwisterTwo for TuesdayTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and A Beautiful Mess.
Linked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Lots of Fun Enjoyed This Week

We've had a lot fun this week, but I've also noticed a certain restlessness in the kids. It finally dawned on me that everyone else has started school, and though I was planning to wait until their tutorial starts, the kids are really ready to start now. So I declared today our last official day of summer! Monday we will start with a review that will carry us until September 9th when they start their 3-hour-a-day, 4-day-a-week tutorial. After that we will just be working on homework and extra-curricular at home.
Earlier this week I made a kitchen discovery (one that I'm sure many moms have made before me). The kiddos love for me to change up how they eat their food. They could eat sandwiches every day, but they'd rather have them in a fun way. This week we tried them as peanut butter and honey "nibbles." Lo, and behold, it was if I'd put before them a new and rare delicacy!
Today was cleaning day, but I really wanted to get some baking done, so I asked the oldest to vacuum, and it worked! She vacuumed the dining room, kitchen, and living room, and then took the cleaning to her own kitchen in her room. Wow! I think I've passed into a new stage of parenting. How wonderful to get two things done at once!
As she vacuumed, I made bread (a new recipe from the Sept. edition of Southern Living-Pam's Country Crust Bread) and pizza crust and cookies. After all the cleaning and cooking we all felt like celebrating, so we threw a party for Suzie, who the oldest says turned 14 today. (Who knew?)
The happy birthday girl waiting for her cake.
We sang to Suzie and then enjoyed the cake that the oldest made for Suzie from play dough (I think it was a warm dark chocolate with a hot chocolate lava center! Yum!) And then we all ate a cookie.
It was a good day and I think it was partly because the kids were happy to know that it was the last of its kind. So next week, we begin the schooling!

Also linked with Six Word Saturday (notice the title!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tenth Grade

In tenth grade, we had the opportunity to take driver's ed. It was a good thing for teen's insurance, so I took it. I had been driving almost a year when the school year began and the class was more of a formality to me. It did give me confidence to watch some of my friends, scared to death, grip the wheel and make all kinds of mistakes. (And I'm sure I made my share as well.) If it wasn't our day to drive, the class was just a study hall; if it was our day, we cruised the back roads of our county, going up a nearby mountain and over one-lane bridges and generally giving our driver's ed teacher near heart attacks.
On the day I turned 16, I was called to the office during the day. There I was greeted with a "Happy Birthday" balloon that had a small box tied to its string. When I opened the box, there shining and new, was a key. From there my memories get a little fairy tale like as my mom led me out the front doors of the school and over to the driver's side door of my very own 1993 Saturn SL-1. It was blue with a green tint, and it was beautiful.
Later my parents said they thought I didn't like the car because I was so quiet as I saw it and took it for my first drive. I was quick (then) to tell them that I had loved it at first sight, but the weight of owning a car had settled on my psyche like a thick quilt. I owned a car. Wow.
During those first weeks, I would pull my car into our carport and then sit in it to study. I was that in love with it!
One night as I knelt beside my bed to pray that shining car (parked in our driveway) distracted me. I prayed that God would use that car however he saw fit--that he would take it and do what he wanted with it.
The next night I was allowed to take my cousin out to a movie. She and I, drunk with newfound freedom, were playing the radio loudly as I drove her home. I remember thinking with consternation about the song that was playing. My cousin obviously loved it, but the lyrics were slightly questionable; should I be playing that in this car? And then, as I followed a long line of cars turning left, time slowed down, and we were hit by a large SUV.
No one was hurt; we were traveling at maybe 15 or 20 mph and the other car was going maybe 30, but it was my fault (green light, not an arrow). The car was whisked away and declared totaled. My father nearly doubled what he had originally paid for the car by having it fixed.
From then on, it really was the Lord's car. I gave people rides, did a lot of praying (and sometimes crying) as I drove, and strove as I drove to give him glory for a beautiful gift. (And I gave my dad lots of hugs too!)
I kept that car until our first child was born. When my hubby and I took our first long trip in the car (the baby in the car seat in the back and me in the passenger seat actually leaning forward to allow the car seat to fit) we realized that we would have to get a bigger car. Even with being 10 years old and having been wrecked (okay several more times besides the time when it was new), it still fetched a good price for our trade. I'm sure my Saturn lived a long and happy life!

This post is in conjunction with a history-recording summer-long party over at Mommy's Piggy Tales. We're writing about one memory from a particular year of our lives each Thursday until September 16. Here is my walk down memory lane so far:
Second Grade: Wendy and Me
Third Grade: I'll Never Cheat Again
Fourth Grade: SURE Thing
Fifth Grade: The Pageants
Sixth Grade: Dynamite Lines
Seventh Grade: The Year That...
Eighth Grade: Relationship with Jesus
Ninth Grade: Futile and Pursue
Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Can't Help Bragging On My Mom...

A little more bragging on my mom! Her newest item in her etsy store Granna's Designs are these adorable smocked dresses for 18 inch dolls! 
They are really beautiful! The amazing thing about them (besides the fact that they are hand smocked)

is that she came up with a way for the back to be velcro, 
but to look like it is buttoned and tied. They are great!
And all for only $12 a piece! That's a steal! There are six available, so visit Granna's Designs and snag one today!

Recipes from the Web

Today I'm using an old adage that I learned when I was a teacher in China, "swipe with pride." It really is something teachers use all the time; if you want good ideas, look to others who have had success! I love trying new recipes, and here are some great ones that I have found around the web. I've either just tried these or plan to try them in the next couple of weeks.
No Bake Honey Granola Bites from A Whisk and a Prayer
(the pic is from there too!)
I tried these for breakfast this past weekend. I used the rice krispies that the original recipe called for. They got a thumbs up from the whole fam. I'll definitely try them again. They are great because with both oatmeal and peanut butter, I feel like everyone is getting the nutrition they need (albeit in a very sweet breakfast).
Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins from 1 Sentence Diary
I changed these into muffins and added a 1/2 cup more blueberries. I think they made the best blueberry muffins that I've tried lately--they were very moist and very tasty!
Blueberry Zucchini Bread from Seasons of My Heart
I can't wait to try this one! It has two of my favorite things--hidden veggies and blueberries!
Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers from Kitchen Stewardship
(the pic is from there too!)
These are on the snack list for this week. I love whole wheat and they actually look very do-able! I wouldn't have pictured myself making my own crackers, but everyone in the family loves crackers, and I rarely buy the store-bought kind, so why not?
Homemade Graham Crackers from Mama Hall
I got really excited when I found these. You can make your own graham crackers? Wow!
Seven Ways to Use Sausage
See, I do collect recipes for actual meals, too! I've been saving this because I like the way all of these recipes are listed right there together. When you have extra sausage, here's what to do with it!
Ramen Salad from Annie's Home
I've had this salad at several other people's homes and always liked it (and it got a remark from the hubby too). I need to collect the supplies for it the next time I'm at the grocery store.
Pasole from 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven
With chick peas and hominy, this sounds yummy! I love the fact that the recipe calls for all canned items. This is another recipe I'll collect all the ingredients for at the grocery store.
Oatmeal Jam Bars from Ordinary Inspirations
Yum. Can I just say? Yum! These are made from a cake mix, oatmeal, and any flavor of jam. I truly can't wait to try them!
And lest you think we're only having snacks and goodies this week, here's my (rough) plan for the week:
Monday--shrimp salad and green salad with left over broccoli cheddar muffins
Tuesday--barbecued chicken legs, green salad, some kind of pasta
Wednesday--church picnic
Thursday--grits casserole and green beans
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and Meatless Monday.
Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and A Beautiful Mess.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Breaking from the Norm

Yes, I'm breaking from the norm today, folks. I don't think...okay, I know that I have never talked about fashion here on this blog. That's because I'm no fashion guru. I've needed a wardrobe consultant (really badly) for some time now. I have a style, but it is hit or miss, and on a limited budget as well. Add to that the fact that every time I've had a child, I've managed to go through about ten different sizes in the nursing-getting-your-body-back phase, and well, sometimes you get just plain catastrophe! I dread going shopping because I usually leave with either something I will never wear or completely frustrated because I found nothing at all that fit me.
Well, I think I have now stumbled upon a place that will save some of my closet woes! Enter Shabby Apple, an online dress shop that certainly has sympathies for us mommas!

Shabby Apple features fashionable and fairly priced ($60 and up) dresses for women, teens, and little girls. They have a "style advice" that lets you ask which dresses would fit you best, as well as a "shop by body type" tutorial that will lead you to dresses that will show off what is best about you.
By asking for advice about my body type, I learned that those of us a little less gifted at the top might want to look for dresses with a darker color at the bottom--therefore accentuating and flattering their top half. Never knew that before!
And, to top all of this off, they have several ways to get discounts! You can sign up for their newsletter to get a 10% off coupon. And you can sign your friends up for an email coupon. If your friends decide to buy something with that coupon, Shabby Apple will credit your account with $25. Wow!

So if you would like for me to send you a coupon from Shabby Apple (hint, hint) please leave your email in the comments. I'd love to pass along some of this dress joy!
I don't know about you guys, but there's something about wearing a dress that makes a momma more confident and maybe even more creative. I love the fact that so many of Shabby Apple's dresses could go to the park or on a date. 
Happy dress shopping and happy parenting today!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Loving Him Well = Good for Them

 I think this post is more about what we made our kids endure than the fun things we did with them, but building our marriage is also something we're doing for them! You guys know that quote--"The best thing you can do for your kids is love your spouse well"? Well, these pics will eventually be a life-long chronicle of us living out that quote. We plan to take one every year from now on. It'll be fun to watch the kids get bigger at our feet.
Summer of 2000--I was babysitting at the beach, and the hubby came to visit. On a sunrise walk, he asked me to marry him.
Not all the kids got in this one, but this was September of 2008.
September of 2009
August of 2010

Also linked with Six Word Saturday (notice the title!)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ninth Grade

In ninth grade I was finally no longer just a first-year grunt in the marching band. And I guess I was no longer invisible to those in the band who were older than me. On one trip home from an away game a boy who was a year older than me came to sit by me on the bus. He asked a few polite mundane questions and then he very startlingly came out with this, "Would it be futile to pursue a relationship with you?" Poor thing, I am sure he was scared out of his wits, and as soon as I recovered mine, I had some explaining to do.
I carefully and gently explained that I had just begun to realize how important a real relationship with Jesus was (see last week's post) and I just couldn't handle both boys and Jesus at that point. His face fell and he quickly found an excuse to go back to his original seat.
I felt awful to disappoint him and awful that because it was "futile to pursue a relationship" with me, it was also futile for him to even talk to me. Ugh.
Several things make this a very funny memory for me now. The best one is that, one year later, as I received a 10th grade vocabulary list, lo and behold, there were the words "futile" and "pursue"! The boy had, bless his heart, used his vocabulary words in his proposal to me.
The second is that when I shared this story with my hubby, he informed me that it was quite the joke at his high school to hear girls say that "they were dating Jesus." Most boys just took this as, "I don't like you; go away!" I protested that this wasn't at all what I said, and that my intent was a genuine one--I truly wanted to figure out what being a Christian meant before I figured out relationships with guys. He said, "Oh, sure, I bet you wouldn't have dated that guy anyway." He was right. 
Another important outcome of that conversation on the band bus was a blessing in disguise. Over the next two years I had no invitations for dates, absolutely no more "proposals." At the time I either chalked it up to my awkwardness and my disdain for the current styles or didn't think about it at all. In eleventh grade, when a boy finally began to befriend me, he told me that the boy from the bus had let all the other boys know that what I had said, only he had added his own embellishments. He said that I wouldn't date because I was a Christian. So no other boys were brave enough to face that with me, I guess. Ha! Not dating in those younger high school years was a very good thing for me.

This post is in conjunction with a history-recording summer-long party over at Mommy's Piggy Tales. We're writing about one memory from a particular year of our lives each Thursday until September 16. Here is my walk down memory lane so far:
Second Grade: Wendy and Me
Third Grade: I'll Never Cheat Again
Fourth Grade: SURE Thing
Fifth Grade: The Pageants
Sixth Grade: Dynamite Lines
Seventh Grade: The Year That...
Eighth Grade: Relationship with Jesus

Memory lane is definitely a place I love that brings me great joy! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Your Kids Are Going to Want to See This

Have you seen this video yet? My hubby (master of all the current internet fads) showed it to me last week, and I thought it was worth posting. Does your child spend hours setting up intricate tracks or pushing cars around on the floor? This video shows a few grown men who spent three days and over 60 takes getting this video just right. And really, it's just a lot of play! Maybe it will inspire you to help your child turn their room into something magical today!
Linked to Tuesday Tips and Tuesday's Tip Jar.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A New Week

When my hubby left for work this morning (and boy, was it hard to watch him go after a week with him on vacation!) he said with a grin, "Have an adventure today!" He knows me so well. I do want to treat this job of mothering and housekeeping as a great adventure.
So what does our adventure look like this week? (In case your wondering, the big kids start a "tutorial" on Sept. 9th, and we'll start our home schooling with that, so we're still in the midst of summer schedule here.)
Monday: Vacuum, Do laundry, go to the library and the grocery, make crustless sandwiches and these cinnamon bread crusts for lunch, (they are getting rave reviews right now!) and make this tuna casserole (with adjustments) for dinner. We're trying to use only what we have for the rest of the month, so I'll be trying to be very creative with meals and snacks.
As a little bit of home school "get back into the swing of things" we checked out and read Alphab'art from the library. It's an excellent way to introduce art. There is a wide variety of art featured, and the book is interactive because you find the letter of the alphabet in each work of art. If the oldest is willing, she'll choose one of the paintings to sketch and journal about. And, totally unrelated, for some reason, the big kids are really in to coloring bird pictures (as realistically as possible) from this website. As if all that were not enough, while we were out we picked up panties for the youngest and she's been mostly successful in making it to the potty. Maybe we'll be out of diapers by the end of the week!

Tuesday: The kids got to choose the day's activity, and they have chosen to go to a friend's pool and eat ice cream. Apparently, we will transport the ice cream in the cooler, bring bowls, and eat our ice cream before we swim. We'll have a snacky lunch of cheese and crackers and apples and peanut butter and for dinner, home made pizza using this crust:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 T vegetable oil
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
In mixer dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil, salt, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups AP flour. Beat smooth. Add whole wheat flour to make a soft dough. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Add toppings. Bake 10-15 minutes longer.
Wednesday: We're headed out to a huge used book store on Wed. morning. We'll trade in some books and choose a few to take home. We'll be having home made kid's meals (with a very tiny toy) in the car on the way home and eating baked chicken, green beans, and rice for dinner.
Thursday: No big plans yet--we may try to get together with friends for a play date. Anybody have any ideas? We'll be having that snacky lunch again and having breakfast (eggs, and pancakes) for dinner. We'll try to read and/or study a couple more of the books we checked out from the library. Like Animalia or The Reluctant Dragon.
Friday: Another question mark day for us. We'll probably hang out at home so I can get clothes ready to turn in for the local consignment sale. Dinner will be a fun one: the "meal deal" from BiLo. I paid for buffalo chicken and got corn, fries, and a 2L Coke for free. This is our alternative for eating out this week. : )
Saturday: Busy, busy! The hubby will take the boy and the oldest to soccer practice. I'll take the youngest with me to the Y for dance (woo hoo!). Then the hubby will bring me the oldest and take the boy to the children's discovery museum here in town for a daddy-son date. We have a free child's pass there that expires at the end of the month, so they're motivated to have that outing they've been planning for a while. We'll probably have macaroni and cheese for lunch and tuna salad for dinner.

Oh, and just as a disclaimer:  "A man’s heart plans his way, 
      But the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9
So there you have it, the great adventure! Partly that's humor and partly that is stark, bare-faced truth. I truly believe that this daily life we mommas live is as important as that of any doctor or politician or spy or special forces or missionary to the most dangerous African tribe. Lord, help me to treat this life that way!

Linked with Menu Plan Monday, Preschool Corner, Weekly Wrap-up, Homemaker Monday and Makes My Monday.
Linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Anything Related, Delicious Dishes, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and A Beautiful Mess.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Party Winners!

Winner Number One
$10 gift card for Granna's Designs on etsy!

Winner Number Two
$10 gift card for Granna's Designs on etsy!

Winner Number Three
$10 gift card for Granna's Designs on etsy!

Winner Number Four
$10 gift card for Granna's Designs on etsy!

Winner Number Five
$5 gift card for Chick-fila

Winner Number Six
$5 gift card for Chick-fila

Winner Number Seven
$5 gift card for Target

Winner Number Eight
$5 gift card for Target

Winner Number Nine
$5 gift card for Starbucks

Winner Number Ten
$5 gift card for Starbucks

Whew! That's a lot of winners!
I'll be sending out certificates and cards in the mail this week! Congratulations every one and THANK YOU FOR COMING TO MY FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yes, We Had Fun This Week!

Yeah for vacation!
Fun was had by all and many blogs will come from it, I'm sure! For now, just a sampling of our pictures and our fun.
Hear ye, Hear ye! 
This is the day I'll be ending the Of Such is the Kingdom Happy Birthday party!! What does this mean, you ask? It means that at the end of the day, I'll be tallying up all those who have commented in the last two weeks and choosing 10 winners of various gift cards--2 $5 gift cards from Target, 2 $5 gift cards from Chick-filA, 2 $5 gift cards from Starbucks, and 4 (yes 4!) $10 gift cards to my mom's etsy shop: Granna's Designs!
So if you're a follower, comment away. 
Today's the last day. 
Also linked with Six Word Saturday (notice the title!)