Monday, November 30, 2009

Paperback Wreath

I saw this over at Living with Lindsay and just loved it, so I picked up a crappy paperback at the library book sale to make it with.

I tried to pick a book I would enjoy reading before I ripped it up, but it was just the dumbest book I've seen in a long time.  I won't even tell you what it was in case you're a fan of the author.  She certainly has a lot of books out there!

Little Princess helped by rolling pages and folding the ends to prepare them for the hot glue.  After a while I was letting her use the glue gun because I was tired of burning my own fingers.

Just kidding!

I was burning my fingers while attaching the pages to the wreath until I started using a pencil as Lindsay recommends.  LP did a great job and didn't burn herself.

The wreath now hangs in the library which I think is a very appropriate location.

Marathon Pics

Dh and I had a fun morning driving all around Atlanta to see KT run the Atlanta Marathon while TMax baked another Cranberry Pie and put the turkey in the oven for us!

This is a shot of the very charismatic policeman directing traffic at a major intersection.  The roads were not closed, and he and his helpers had to be very forceful with the drivers to get them to move at the right time and take advantage of the rather small gaps between runners.  As dh remarked, he was working hard for his holiday overtime!

I'm pretty sure this is around 22 miles.  We managed to catch her at 8, 13, 18, 22, and 26.2.  I didn't think we would get to see that much of her.  And we never saw her walking!  WTG, KT!

Oh, yes!  Coming in to the finish line!

She's so proud of herself, and she has every right to be!  She pushed through all that pain that would have made a lesser woman (yours truly) quit.

After the race, we went home to a perfectly cooked turkey, where all we had to do was make the potatoes (mashed and sweet), and get all the food warm and to the table.  It was a beautiful dinner after which we settled in to watch The Ten Commandments, which dh tells me is an Easter tradition, but I remember it from Thanksgivings.  I'm probably remembering wrong, but maybe my family was celebrating Easter on Saturdays at someone else's house.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Prep

Monday, we made our cranberry sauce, sausage and mushroom dressing, and one of our desserts.  The dessert was Cranberry Pie.    It looked more like a coffee cake than a pie and we just had to try it!  I mean, really, we have enough cranberries and sugar to make another one if we like it!

I wish I had a picture.  Cuz we liked it.  We really liked it.  I can't believe we ate the whole thing!

I got the recipe from a blogger that "friended" me on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen site.  You've got to check it out.  If you're looking for a recipe, it's a great site.

Yesterday, Tuesday that is, TMax (Alton Brown's devotee) made the brine for the turkey.  I made a pumpkin pie and another dessert that I discovered through the Tasty Kitchen.  This time it's an Italian nut cake. 

Paula says you can use walnuts or pecans, but I chose to use almonds since that's what I had on hand.  Okay, I have walnuts, too, but I don't like the idea of a walnut cake.  I added a capful of almond extract, too.  (Someday maybe I'll learn to follow a recipe as it is written the first time, but I don't know.  After all these years of cooking it hasn't happened yet, so don't get your hopes up.) expanded so much that I had to cut the top of and turn it over, so it's not as pretty, but let me tell you... the taste is out of this world.  O my merciful heavens!  It was wonderful.  I can't wait to cut it open and eat the whole thing.  With a cup of coffee....To. Die. For.

Today, I think we'll cook the sweet potatoes and roast some garlic for the garlic mashed potatoes tomorrow.  That will leave just turkey, mashed potatoes, and asparagus to prepare tomorrow after the marathon.

KT is totally stoked for her marathon after picking up her race number and goodie bag yesterday.  She's been taking lots of vitamins to ward off the cold that she was getting.  It will be an exciting morning!  I've never been to a marathon before, so this is new for me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

American Heritage Girls Go Camping!

 A few of our girls

Little Princess and I had a beautiful camping trip with the American Heritage Girls this weekend!  One of the most beautiful aspects of the trip was that the campground was not too far away---only an hour out in Friday afternoon traffic and 45 minutes home.

She was a trooper and hung around to help me pitch the tent while her friends were running around playing.  I'm glad we got there while the sun was shining and we were able to do it in the daylight.  Setting up camp after dark is no fun.  Been there; done that.

It was COLD Friday, but we stayed warm, prepared as we were with hats, gloves, and coats.  We also brought a little ceramic heater to warm the inside of the tent before bed.  I'm pretty sure you couldn't safely leave it on all night, and we didn't.  A little warm-up before we crashed was enough---we were actually too hot.  I was careful to keep all body parts under the top sleeping bag (there were several!) lest they freeze, and I had to monitor LP to keep her covered as she tends to roll all over the place.  But we stayed warm and awoke to a gorgeous Saturday!

After a nice warm breakfast, cleanup, and so forth, we packed up to go for a little 3.5 mile hike.  I can't think of the last time I went on a hike this time of year.  As there were no leaves on the trees, we were able to enjoy the sunlight the whole time.  It was a peaceful, glorious walk with friends through the majesty of God's creation. 

I could have walked through those woods all day long!  But we had crafts to do!  The girls had collected pinecones and things to make wreaths out of, so we went back to camp for that activity.

The weather forecast was for rain overnight and Sunday, so I decided that the prudent thing to do was to decamp since we're both still recovering from pneumonia and near-pneumonia.  I simply could not wrap my mind around waking up cold and wet and having to pack up the sleeping bags and strike the tent by myself, all while listening to a wet, whiny, and cold 7 year-old!  I know we both would have been miserable and more sick, so even thought she wasn't happy about it, we (I) did break camp.  We stayed, however, for dinner, s'mores, and songs around the campfire until the fire was almost gone and everyone was about ready for bed.

I felt so vindicated in my decision when I woke up Sunday morning, toasty under my down comforter, and heard the steady downpour of rain!

After Mass and a quick lunch I had to go to a CPR certification class which took all day.  It was a busy weekend for me, but a very good one!

One of the nicest things about the camping trip was that our group took the time to pray together.  Since AHG is a Christ-centered scouting organization, it was not awkward at all.  In fact, it was lovely to pray with our sisters in Christ before meals and before everyone departed to their tents or homes Saturday night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes

From Monday to Friday---not much to say there!  We've spent the week coughing, taking antibiotics, coughing, cleaning house, and coughing some more.

Oh, yes, and the family drama of my dad being in intensive care.  After a couple of days of serious concern and lots of drama, he turned the corner and was released on Wednesday after 6 days in the hospital.  He's home, very weak and tired, but happy to be eating real food again.

Alas, the drama continues.  I don't know why it has to be this way.   The family needs prayers as much as my dad.  Maybe the family needs ICU.

Why can't we all just get along?

Little Princess and I are scheduled to go camping today with the American Heritage Girls.  And there is frost on the ground outside.

Frost.  Brrrrr!

I know the Boy Scouts do it all the time, but we're talking about a bunch of women and their little girls.  I'm not looking forward to being cold or wet.  I'll set up my tent tonight, but I'd really prefer to just sleep in the back of the van.   We might.  We'll see how cold we are.

While I'm away at camp, KT and Hitch will come home from college for Thanksgiving break!  They get a whole week off!  I'll just be glad knowing they're home.  I'll be glad to have extra hands around the house to do some pre-Advent cleaning.

Yes, we're working on our pre-Advent cleaning.  Before I drag out all the decorations I want the house as decluttered and clean as possible.  Well, not too decluttered.  We're mostly cleaning thoroughly---baseboards, cobwebs, scrubbing windows and doors.  Some minor decluttering occurs along the way, but that's not the main focus right now.  I'd like it to be, but we just don't have time for it.  It is, however, something we can tackle during Advent!

Are you ready for Advent?

Nope.  Me neither.

I do have my candles.  I have a box full of candles that I found on clearance that I use when I'm desperate, but I prefer to buy a box at our church from the little bookstore.  Her tapers are much prettier.

Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, I'll get out the Advent decorations---nativities and calendars and whatnot.  And we'll make our own Advent calendar.  I haven't done it for a few years because the little ones have come home with paper chains that sort of fill the need.

Thanks to a good friend of mine, I'm discovering couponing.  It's fascinating, but seriously time-consuming.  I'd love to hear from any of you who do it and find out your tips!  Carol told me to get started at where they publish a list of all the coupons you should be receiving in the paper, plus all the deals at your local store, and even more links to coupons available online.

I've never been a big coupon fan because I'm particular about brands and have always tried to use as much real food as possible.  These days of budget cuts have me thinking a little differently.  I'm still a little selective about the coupons I clip, but if it doesn't offend me and I might actually use it, I clip it.  I'm even clipping some that I wouldn't use, but they would be happy to see at the food pantry.

I'll never be able to buy a shopping cart full of groceries for $5, but I'm saving more than I ever expected.    Let me tell you though:  it's work.  You can't just grab your coupons and go shop.  You have to check the sales and make your list accordingly.  You clip all the coupons and then you have to wait for the item to go on sale.  Ideally, you also shop at multiple stores to get the best deals, but that is just not happening here.  Right now, it is time-consuming enough to make the shopping list and do the shopping, nevermind making my weekly menus!

Looking forward to Thanksgiving with my little family.  I wish we were having extended family visit, but we'll have fun, anyway.  KT has her big marathon on T-day.  Bless her heart.  I can't wait until it's over and she can't either!  We'll be downtown walking around and hoping to see her and cheer her on.


Y'all have a great, warm weekend, and visit Jen for more Quick Takes!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, Monday

What's a good title for Mondays?

Monday Misery because another busy week is starting?

Monday Madness---same reason?

Monday Management because that's what I want to do today: take control of my life?

We'll go with Management today.  Next Monday might be completely different.


The weekend was fairly quiet, unless you count the coughing.  Dh took the boys to the parish clean-up party and I took Little Princess to the doctor because she was still coughing until she gagged.  And I'd had enough.  And Sarah told me to.

Sarah thought she might have bronchitis, but I didn't think so.  In her defense, Sarah wasn't here to hear her cough!  I was a little surprised to hear that LP has pneumonia.  I expected a fever with that.  Or maybe a child who didn't feel like playing with her friends at all.  Dh asked if it was walking pneumonia.  We agreed that running pneumonia might be a better term!  So she's on antibiotics and much, much better yesterday.

The doctor though it might be a good idea for me to be seen, too.  So I signed in and she listened to me as well.  No pneumonia for me, but another prescription.  I did feel pretty lousy all weekend but I could feel the energy coming back last night.

The other news is that my dad is in the hospital in Missouri in ICU.  Evidently, there have been some very scary moments since Thursday.  My sister is there.  My brother is driving out from Virginia.  Being sick, I know that my place is here, but as that changes....well, we'll see.  I hated leaving my family when my mom was dying, but it was clear that I had to.  I can only pray that my dad gets better and that my duty becomes clear.

So, on that note...whenever life is like this, and there is so much happening that is out of my control, I turn to cleaning.  There are few things I can control in my life and cleaning is somewhat therapeutic.  This morning we're starting our pre-Advent housecleaning.  We have 10 available days to clean and declutter the entire house---God willing and the creek don't rise.

Friday, November 13, 2009

7 (?) Quick Takes Friday


I was shocked when I saw Jen's blog this morning and realized it was Friday already.  I have been out of sorts all week, forgetting what day it is.  It doesn't help that I've been under the weather, also, with no energy to do anything.  Especially think.


Yes, I picked up the cough that the kids have.  I suppose there are worse ailments, but this one just doesn't seem to go away.  They've been coughing for a couple of weeks now, or more.  Yesterday I picked up some expectorants to make those coughs more, ah, productive. 


As a consequence of sickness and lethargy our schoolwork has been rather haphazard the past couple of weeks.  Before, because they didn't feel like doing it, and now, because I don't feel like doing it. 

Where are the substitute teachers when you need them?


I have a big AHG training session scheduled for tomorrow morning and I don't think it's going to happen!  I'm afraid I'm a little contagious, but even if I'm not, my voice won't last for 3 hours of non-stop talking!


That seems to be enough thinking for today---see the question mark in the title?  I didn't think I'd last for 7.  I'm going to spend another day curled up in my recliner with a sock.

Y'all have a great Friday.  Go visit Jen for people who have the energy to post Seven Quick Takes instead of just 5.

It's 7:37 and I need a nap.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Think I'm In Love

Two Leaves and a Bud Mountain High Chai

I went to a birthday party on Saturday with the Little Princess at the home of a neighbor.  We've just met although LP has been playing with them and their dog in the front yard for a little while.

They're an Indian family and the mother of the hostess was there making chai tea.  I'd never had it before and I love Indian food, so I tried it and liked it, and twisted her arm for the recipe because I could see that it was more than just a teabag.

Her method involves boiling a couple of cinnamon sticks, a few cardamom seeds, and cloves together before adding the teabags.  Then she adds milk and brings it to a boil and it's done.  You must add sweetener or it won't taste good, evidently!

I've been looking for a suitable substitute for coffee now that cool weather is here, and I found this tea at the health food store yesterday.  I chose it out of all the others because it already has the 3 spices in it, and when I made it this morning it tasted exactly like hers.

Of course, I used cream in mine, not milk.

Just the thing for a cold, rainy morning and a scratchy throat.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pumpkin Biscuits

Our new favorite, I guess.  Last night while Dh and Madden were at the far-away football game, we wanted more squash biscuits.

The only squash on hand was a partial can of pumpkin puree.  In it went with a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice.


Friday, November 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


American Heritage Girls last night.  Big meeting.  Lots of paperwork.  Does the GSA and BSA have this much paperwork?  It's totally foreign to me.


My two youngest have been totally croupy all week.  3 days of no school which is unheard of around these parts.  I usually manage to make them work while lying around so we can count it.  If the state of Georgia can shorten their school year by 3 days, can't I?

Actually, I assume I'll be able to next year.  But think about this:  I have to keep attendance records for my kids and turn them in every month.  I have to check off each day that they spend 4.5 hours in school (and doesn't that tell you that your kids in public school are spending a lot of time sitting around, not learning?).  What happens when they're sick?  Did you ever wonder?

If your school-child misses a few days, do they get tacked on to the end of the year?  Why, no, of course not.  They just have to make up the work.  My kids always get the work done, too; we just pick up where we left off, but I think we're supposed to fill in those missed days somewhere.  Somehow, it just doesn't seem fair.


Leila had a great post yesterday that inspired me to make biscuits with my leftover acorn squash.

Here's my (edited) comment to her:

I just made THE BEST BISCUITS EVER! The dry half of my recipe is

2c flour
1T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c butter

Then I added the acorn squash (1.5 c?  But I had doubled the dry ingredients) and mixed it in. I didn't want to sour my brand-new farm-fresh milk so I used the yogurt I had made the day before and added it just like you said. Again: THE BEST BISCUITS EVER! Light, fluffy, amazing, and that little hint of je ne sais quois!

I just did what Leila said and added a few big spoonfuls of yogurt and mixed it well.  I'm not sure, but I think it's the yogurt that gives that extra-light, fluffy texture as it did with our pancakes.  I don't know if buttermilk gives the same effect because I never have it on hand.  I just add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk as a substitute.

There is nothing like a good biscuit with butter on it.

Deadly, but yummy.  The biscuit, that is.


Playoff football game tonight which I won't be attending.  It's 2.5 hours away from here which is just a leetle bit far with kids who have been sick, and one who is newly sick, and a mom who is getting sick.  Dh is going to support the team and Madden.  He's awesome like that.


I read a book the other day that I thoroughly enjoyed:  When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  It was a children's book that dh brought home from the library when I asked him to pick up the books I had reserved.  I do not remember requesting this book.  Mostly likely I did it because of Melissa's recommendation, something her kids were reading.
Yep.  Just found it on her sidebar in September.

So, I read it, not knowing what it was.  It was a mystery.  Miranda is a 6th grader in New York City who  loses her best friend suddenly as he stops spending time with her and walking home from school with her.  She's helping her single mother prepare for being on the $20,000 Pyramid (with Dick Clark, not Donny Osmond), and she's receiving mysterious notes from a stranger who is coming back to save her friend and himself.  If you are a fan of A Wrinkle in Time, as Miranda is, you'll find this a very interesting book.

Or  your kids will.  I happen to like reading good children's books.  They don't require as much of the old brain.


Cake Wrecks is coming to town on Monday for a book signing!  I'm dying to go.  For the past few weeks Cake Wrecks has been an important part of my daily blog reading.  There are the occasional boring days where they post pictures of simply beautiful cakes---like the ones you see on Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes.  But for the most part, Cake Wrecks is good for a serious belly laugh every day.

I'm sure it will be entertaining, and there will be beautiful cakes there for people to eat.  I know I'm weird, but I want to know what it's like to eat one of those perfect cakes.  Are they as good as they look?


Pioneer Woman is also going to be at the same bookstore, I think, in December.  I might have to go to that one, too, and see if she'll do her Ethel Merman impression.


Visit Jen's blog for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bone Broth

Since we picked up our side of beef last weekend, I have a freezer full of yummy, grass-fed beef.

I also have about 6 bags of bones!  Ewwww.  Kind of gross, but kind of wonderful.

Since one of my kids got sick last week (I forget which one; they're all in different stages of different illnesses now.  Nice, huh?  We can't just have one virus go through the entire family; we have to have 3 or 4!  But I digress...), I immediately felt the urge to make some healthy beef broth... I went to the freezer, careful not to let a frozen roast fall out and break my toes, and dragged out a big ol' bag of leg bones.  I know, you love it.

The first step is to roast the bones in the oven, which I did for an hour or so at 350, turning them once.  The smell is amazing and makes everyone hungry.  After they're nicely roasted, lots of fat has oozed out, which I strained and saved in a mason jar for future use.

Then I tossed the bones into my big stockpot full of water with some carrots, onions, herbs, salt and a little vinegar to help bring out the nutrients.  I let it simmer all day until I remembered the most important part!

I had forgotten to add the heart!

Yep.  Threw it right in there, barely glancing at it to see what it looked like.  I knew it wasn't a kidney or liver, so it had to be the heart.  blech.  But I was taking a page out of Kelly's book, and using it in a way we wouldn't find offensive.

At the end of the day, I strained the broth and poured it into containers for freezing.  The bones and the heart and the veggies all went in the trash.  No one took me up on my offer to try the heart.

I'm looking forward to making my wintry vegetable soup with this wonderful broth instead of using the ultra-pricey, less nutritious stuff in the store.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Soul Cakes

Barbara's yummy, yummy cinnamon doughnuts.

The touch of cinnamon in the dough is heavenly.

I need a doughnut cutter, but TMax did a great job of cutting and shaping.

I didn't think the recipe would make nearly as many as it did, but there were plenty for my doughnut-loving family.  We even had leftovers!

I love how they plumped up from ragged little dough circles into delectable, fat doughnuts!

They're not Alton Brown's but they are, most assuredly, good eats!

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Souls Day

II Machabees 12: 43-46
And making a gathering, [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. 

If you don't mind, I would appreciate your prayers for a beautiful soul who is dying of a brain tumor.  Please pray for M's happy, peaceful death.  

Weekend Roundup

It was a busy weekend here, much busier than I expected.  So busy, in fact, that I didn't get to celebrate the Feast of All Saints the way I wanted to.  I'll just hit the highlights for you....

I was happy to have KT and Hitch home for dinner on Thursday.  We were all together except for Madden who was at school half the night preparing the "spooky stage" for the entire school.  They should let kids camp out sometimes when they have to be there so late.

Friday was spent running many errands, shopping for KT and Hitch before we went to the football game together, prepared for a deluge.  While it was cool, it wasn't too cold and the rain was really just a heavy mist all evening until the game was over.  We won't discuss the outcome of the game or the score...

More errands on Saturday with last minute costume details and food for the family and KT.  Her little cupboards were bare, evidently.

My vacuum cleaner salesman who made his own business cards.

Much to my children's dismay, I am not a huge fan of halloween since I converted and discovered the true meaning of the holiday.  I don't mind dressing up and trick-or-treating, but I don't like how some people take it to extremes.  You know those tacky, overlit Christmas displays?  How about that in reverse?  One house in my neighborhood gets creepier every year as they add more stuff.  This year it passed the "scary graveyard" stage and moved into occult territory.  Yuck.  So, I often end up doing a little (very little) shopping on the big day for costume details.  I refuse to buy costumes, and depending on how inspired I am or how creative their ideas, I might do some sewing.

This year's sewing involved taking in old bridesmaids dresses for Little Princess and her BFF so they could go as "Masquerade People".

Pipster was an "Exploded Scientist".   I love the t-shirt he handpainted.

Sometime early Saturday we discovered that Hitch was sick with a high fever and sore throat, so my busy-ness also included a modicum of nursing.

KT and I did Trick-or-Treat duty in the cold, cold rain with 3 of the slowest trick-or-treaters on the planet.  3 little girls in long dresses, with wet feet, who would rather discuss the relative merits of Hannah Montana and Demi Lovato between houses instead of moving quickly.  Though we tried our best to be good sports, a little nagging did ensue to speed them along.

Pipster kept Hitch company Sunday morning while we all went to Mass for All Saints because he's got a bad, croupy cough that I assume he got from LP and her BFF.

We had  a nice dinner and we made Soul Cakes for dessert.  I made the dough in the afternoon so we could fry them after dinner and eat them warm.  Maybe it's because, except for halloween night, I hadn't had any sugar in 2 months, but I think these really are fantastic doughnuts!  They were so easy to make and tasted phenomenal!  You've got to try them.  Oh, and if you like them, maybe you should just subscribe to Barbara's food blog.  Her other blog is good, too, but not quite as yummy.

Just before bedtime we had a little more All Saints fun by having the kids draw a holy card and run find a costume within 5 minutes.  You'd think that we would have lots of those ready-made and lying around, but they must be  mostly packed away.  This is what they came up with....

St. Therese and St. John the Baptist

St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Catherine of Siena

St. Joseph and Our Lady of Lourdes

Sweet KT, regretfully, had to leave after dinner and miss this.  Hitch stayed for my exemplary nursing skills.  We went to the Dr. this a.m. for a diagnosis of tonsilitis and some antibiotics.  I'll be driving him back to college tomorrow, probably.


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