Monday, December 29, 2008

What do you think of this title?

People have asked if it makes me feel old to know that I will be a great aunt. It really doesn't. It makes me think my brother is old, though, since he's becoming a grandfather! Though, Phil is the same age as he is & our kids aren't even teens yet. I know great aunts are like way down the list on relatives that get a title when new babies come. Aunts are just, well, aunts. I've been Aunt Lori far longer than I've been Mom, Mama, Mommy, or MOTHER! When you get to be a great aunt, you don't get a new name. You're still just Aunt.....

I've decided that, since this baby only has ONE paternal blood-related aunt, that I should get a special title. After watching Prince Caspian, from The Chronicles of Narnia, and hearing the titles of the Kings and Queens of Narnia, I have chosen my royal title. I shall herefore and forevermore be known to little Bean as (drum roll please):

Aunt Lori, the Great!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Little Secret!

I have some news to share. Here's a hint:


Don't worry, that isn't inside of ME! It's our new GREAT nephew or niece/cousin! My nephew & niece-in-law, Nils & Katie, are expecting their first baby in late July! We were asked not to share the news until ALL the soon to be grandparents were told in person. That involved waiting for the "kids" to take a trip to Missouri. They are back, so I am feeling at liberty to share this!

Nils is the oldest grandchild of all of his grandparents (including steps), and, of course, the oldest child of his parents. This will be the first great grandchild for all of his grandparents. I am not sure if Katie is the oldest grandchild or not, but this will be the first grandchild on both Nils' and Katie's sides of the family. A very exciting event, indeed!

I don't know if they realize that in our family we have 2 special birthdays towards the end of July: My Grammie, Elsie Lindgren Berggren Anderson, was born on July 20, 1906. She went to be with the Lord in 1996, just a few months before our second special birthday: our Bethany was born on July 25, 1996. Before Grammie died, she said, "Lori is having a baby boy on my birthday!" She was wrong on both counts, but it made me SURE we were having a boy! We think it would be just too cool if the baby comes on July 25th!

To find more about our new baby, currently being called "Bean" (this seems to be the new term for babies early in utero---it is always fun when my friend whose last name is "Green" is pregnant---Green Bean, then she has a Green Baby), visit their website: http://nilsandkatieplusone.blogspot.com/ I thought the title was a really clever play on the popular show "John and Kate plus 8!"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This may be my shortest ever blog post! I want to wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas. Enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy the food and festivities. Most of all, enjoy the blessing of knowing that a tiny baby came to earth over 2000 years ago who was all God and all man. He came to teach, to love, and to serve. But His greatest gift to us was His death and resurrection at Calvary. We, in our best efforts, are nothing before Him. We can never be perfect or flawless on our own, yet that is what He requires. It's only when we accept that HE is perfect and on the cross carried all of the punishment we deserved, that we can know that we will stand face to face with our Lord one day. As the old hymn goes, "Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?"

I pray that you will have a BLESSED Christmas rejoicing in this greatest Gift of all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The BEST Christmas show ever!

After our adventure of getting stuck on the roller coaster on Saturday, we rode a few more rides and then went to see a Christmas show. I had made the girls go into one of the buildings (a huge restaurant hall/area) where they were singing holiday songs, some Christmas, some wintery, the music you hear on the radio or in kids' shows this time of year. The ladies who sang and danced had the most muscular enormous legs I've ever seen! They were obviously this way from years of dancing, and they were good dancers. But, the Christmas show we went to see was a REAL CHRISTmas show. There was a "nominal fee" we had to pay to get in. They never printed anywhere what the cost was, just that a "nominal fee" would be charged. We were a bit miffed that we'd have to pay for a show when we already paid for the park.

Wow. I don't think I can describe this show well enough, but I will say it was worth far more than the "nominal fee" (which was only $3 a person). There is one theater in our Six Flags that is a real indoor theater with a huge stage, red velvet curtains on the sides, theatrical lighting, etc. The set was made to look like a hillside in Bethlehem. Then, in the background were the buildings in Bethlehem where lights twinkled in windows as if candle were flickering. The first character was the narator. He looked like what I picture an old Jewish shepherd in that time period to look like. He sang. BOY, did he sing! The song was "Night of Miracles" (an original score, I think) that had some traditional carols intermingled. We knew there would be live animals, so it wasn't a surprise that when Mary & Joseph came in, they had a real donkey. A bit later there were sheep. These were sheep trained to respond to the dropping of food or something. They came out of different entrances and went right to the food! A bit later a little girl, who could not have been more than 5, if that old, sang Away in a Manger. We were just awed that this tiny person could sing in front of all these people about our dear Savior's birth! And she was GOOD! Natalie pointed out that the adult, who must have been playing this girl's mom, was holding a baby donkey! A REAL LIVE BABY DONKEY!

This play had angels flying, lights flashing as the angels approached the shepherds, and a whole flock of shepherds listening! About the only thing we are pretty sure that wasn't authentic looking is the baby Jesus. We couldn't see that closely, but Natalie pointed out that they walked away from the manger at one point to sing, so she's pretty sure they didn't have a real baby. She also said, "How could a baby sleep with all that racket going on?" LOL!

The best part was near the end. We were sitting very close to the back. Phil has a thing about liking to be in the BACK of an auditorium for a "good view." We heard a very strange loud noise. I honestly thought it was an adult with mental disabilities who was angry and throwing a fit. Turns out Phil thought the same thing. I find it odd that this particular sound triggered that thought, but it did. I didn't look, thinking it was a person making the noise. The rest of my family looked, then poked me to turn around. It was a CAMEL! They had to duck the camel's head into the door and he was none too happy! That thing was HUGE!!! I have never seen a camel. I thought maybe I had at the zoo, but I now think I have never ever seen one. Correction, HAD never seen one. Remember how we were sitting in the BACK? They brought the camel in through the back so we saw it UP CLOSE and personal. Or almost personal. We wondered where the 3rd wise man was when only 2 walked in with gifts to bear. The 3rd one was on top of the camel! (Yes, I know the Bible doesn't tell us there were 3 wise men OR that they rode camels---we had a pastor teach about that one Christmas---but it's still what's stuck in our heads! AND yes, I know that they didn't show up at the manger, but hey, it was a 30 minute production!)

The play was done with such taste, such elegance where it called for elegance, and simplicity where it called for simplicity. It captured the essence of what must have happened that glorious night. When the play was over, the entire audience rose to their feet in applause. When the little girl who sang came for her bow, I am sure we all roared with our applause!

If you live in or near the San Antonio area and would like to audition----wait, that's the game show closing. If you live near SA & plan to go to the Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, it is WELL WORTH IT to pay the $3 more to see this production.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We're STUCK!!!

This evening we ventured out to enjoy "Holiday in the Park" at Fiesta Texas (6 flags). It was daylight when we arrived, but even without all of the lights on, the halls were decked with boughs of holly and a whole lot more! One section of the park was closed off, but the rest of the park was bedazzled with glitter, lights, greenery, and just all kinds of Christmas FUN STUFF! We typically have the same "route" every time at this park. As usual, we started at the Road Runner. It's the "small" roller coaster, but is a far cry from the "Rollschucoaster" in kiddy land. It's listed under "Thrill" rides and is one of those, "Don't go on this if you have back problems or are having a baby" kind of rides. The girls know it so well that they smile at the camera as we zip past it. You know, those cameras they station so that they'll have a look of total fear or total excitement. Our girls make goofy faces at it going 60 mph or something!

The four of us got into our seats and enjoyed our first ever COOL ride on a roller coaster. It definitely beat going in 95-100 degree weather! We passed our last big curve and were heading into the loading dock when the ride abruptly stopped. It normally stops in that spot, but not quite that harshly. Then it meanders around a curve into the loading area. The only problem was after that stop, it didn't meander. We sat there for a few minutes then this lady (in the yellow & blue) spoke over the intercom, "Can you hear me? If you can, raise your hands." We could and we did. "We are having technical difficulties. Please remain calm and stay seated facing forward," were are directions, as if we were going to jump ship or something! Seriously, even though it was up high, because of where it was, there were wide walking areas on both sides of the cars. I think my biggest concern was for the boys in the front of the car. They had asked us for the time earlier & asked if we thought they'd be done by 5:30. We said, "Oh, yes, you have plenty of time." It was only around 5 at the time and we were near the entrance. Little did we know exiting would not be as fast! I felt better when I saw some young ladies yelling across to them, so they knew the boys were stuck on the ride. Here are some pictures of the experience. Bethany put on a bored face just for this picture. It was a scrapbook moment. You can see behind Natalie's hair the line of people waiting to ride the Road Runner. Ahead of us was the turn where we would be sent into that little wooden "house" looking building.

It really wasn't a bad experience, but what a great story to be able to tell, "One time we got STUCK ON A ROLLER COASTER RIDE! It just quit running with us on it stranded hundreds of feet in the air!" LOL! AND I got to call my mom from the roller coaster. I've never done THAT before!



Friday, December 12, 2008

It's all over but the crying.

There is no crying involved, it just sounded good. THe end of semester "hoopla" at our homeschool co-op marks the end of a semester. Imagine that! It means for about 6 weeks I don't have to help plan lessons for American Girls, haul half my kitchen to the church, deal with one child who can't WAIT to get to co-op, except for one class which she seems to really not like, despite the fact she really likes the teacher, and trying to get the other child out of bed on Tuesday because she'd like to be home doing crafts. It also means we can HOMEschool for a while with, hopefully, limited interruptions. I don't know when I will have a day at home. I mean, totally, completely, without having to leave the house, at home.

I do love our co-op, but the break is wonderful.

Natalie danced tonight in the program, and I am attempting to upload a video to my blog. I've never done this, so not sure it will work, but I'm trying!

Resolution

After reviewing the situation, I thought I better think it out again. Wait, that's a song from Oliver! You can see the scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVeJwXUg98Q We THINK that it is better to pay the fine than to tell them the ticket is not true, because we also had an expired registration sticker, which is noted on this ticket. We had just recently realized BOTH cars' stickers had expired. I do not recall getting the paperwork for those. Then again, this past year is such a blur that they could have arrived and been tossed out accidentally. The irony is that I was GOING TO THE TAX OFFICE when I found the ticket. I guess I will save taking on City Hall for another day. But, I will ask them why it is illegal to park in front of your own house for more than 24 hours. Sometimes on the weekends we do leave it there that long.

And, in case you wondered, it is illegal to park against the traffic (even on a neighborhood cul-de-sac), that is facing the wrong way. It's also a code violation to have a mattress outside for more than a certain number of days (like 3 days max). I know this because our neighbors had one out and were going to take it to someone's house (and I THINK it was in the back yard) and they got ticketed! I still say the police have FAR better things to do than slap down code violations over cars parked the wrong way and mattresses!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A ticket for WHAT???

I am about to "take on city hall" so to speak. We went out to the van today & found a "parking violation" on it. The violation? "Using a public street for storage for more than 24 hours." In other words, it is illegal to park in front of your house, even though our driveway will only hold one vehicle. And everyone else in the neighborhood has cars on the street. Okay, so even if that IS a parking violation, here's the kicker: It said "greater than 24 hours." That van was in the DRIVEWAY all weekend b/c Phil fixed the brakes on it. The Buick was in the street. Oh, yes, they were facing the right way, too. That's another violation if you park facing the wrong way. In your own neighborhood. On a culdesac where no one comes. In front of your own house. Anyway, the van was parked on the street from approximately 6:30 or 7 p.m. last night until 1:30 p.m. today. The policeman obviously made the assumption that it was there more than 24 hours. The other note: dirty windows. WHAT? I just cleaned the windows on the front & rear. I did not just clean the windows on the sides in the back. All other windows were clean. And what does that have to do with a PARKING VIOLATION? We live in San Antonio where it's dusty & our cars are parked under trees. Trees have pollen. Pollen falls. Trees have birds. Birds poop. He didn't say "bird poop on car." Maybe because I'd CLEANED IT OFF THE WINDOWS---those "DIRTY" windows.

So, now I get to spend a day downtown, probably have to pay for parking to go try to prove that I did NOT have the van parked there for 24 hours, and find out where in the world we are supposed to park a 2nd car in a one car driveway. This is just how I wanted to spend a day. I was FINALLY going to have a day at home. I thought we might actually do some homeschooling AT HOME this week. Thank you Mr. Policeman for a Very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Prayer request for my aunt and Phil's uncles

If anyone happens to be reading my blog, would you please pray for my Aunt Olivia? Her husband of over 60 years died tonight. It wasn't too long ago they found out he had cancer. This week he went into the hospital & they said he would not recover. They were in the process of finding out about hospice care.

Aunt Olivia was only 14 when she married her husband, who was 21. She has health problems, too, which will make this time even more difficult. They have 3 married kids, and 6 grandchildren who will miss Uncle Gene greatly.

My mom is the only remaining "inlaw" in my dad's family. All 3 of his sisters are now widows. I am planning on Mom keeping her position for quite some time!

We are waiting on funeral info. With my dad in recovery for his leg, I offered to drive them to Waco for the funeral in our van so he can keep his leg elevated. Our last day of homeschool co-op is Tuesday, and I also have an out of the blue paying job on Tuesday morning, so we'll see if the funeral ends up being that day or another one.

This week, the same day we found out that Uncle Gene was declining, we also learned that Phil's Uncle Gilbert had emergency surgery in Arizona. His wife, Dorothy, is recovering from a fall that fractured her arm, but it can't be casted. Their daughter Vicky is there taking care of her mom, and now her dad as well. Please pray for all of them in these days. Gilbert is the oldest child of the 8 in my mother in law's family.

We also found out that Uncle Don, the baby of the family, got bad news about his cancer (for which he has undergone multiple treatments). His counts were up (a bad thing). He is now on a waiting list for a trial treatment here in San Antonio. Please pray for Don and his wife Dawn.

Thank you!

When is THIS Mom's retreat?

I'm ready for a retreat. Not a church retreat or a ladies retreat. Just a single, solitary retreat somewhere without an oven or dishwasher, where gluten free food is catered right to my door and dishes are promptly carried off to wash somewhere else, and there are NO kids, NO washing machines, NO shopping that HAS to be done, NO bills to pay (or figure out HOW to pay), NO kids, did I mention NO KIDS??? And there will be a large whirlpool tub awaiting my arrival. And chocolates on my pillow. And a lovely table area for me to do some crafts just for fun! And ample time to work on my Bible Study. And no kids. Then, I'd like to return to a clean house, doubled in size, where I can actually PUT things away (it's quite difficult to put things away when there is no space). AND I'd like to find cheerful children who are grateful for all they have and don't complain or whine or scream over something as simple as taking a bath (heaven forbid we should ask them to bathe 2 nights in a row). Then, I'd like to open my checkbook, and freely write checks to pay every bill early and have plenty left over to give to many people in need.

Really, is this asking too much?

At the Car Wash.....

Our cars stay filthy and really need a trip to the car wash. They live under trees (both over the driveway and over the street where they are parked) and birds live in both trees. Yes, you can imagine what that does to one's car. Add a bit of pollen, some dried leaves stuck in various openings, and acorns, and it's just not a pretty picture! However, before going to the car wash, I think I will share with you two lessons learned by two different friends.

Last night one of my friends decided to drive her car through the car wash. It was dark. It was cold. It was late at night. It should have been a simple task. You sit, you watch, you wait, you drive away. That is, it's simple, unless, unbeknownst to you, your sun roof has a leak. It would become more complicated if the sunroof were leaking just above the driver. Remember, it was cold. Yes, cold water started coming in through the sun roof (it was closed, I'm guessing!). My friend reached up to somehow catch or block this rain, but this caused the water to run down her arm onto both the front and back of her top. She finally found a cup to hold up to catch what might still be coming in, but she was soaked in water before that point. Did I mention it was cold? She said she & her girls gasped in unison when they saw the water coming in, then burst into uncontrolled laughter. Lesson 1: Never enter the car wash with a sun roof that could potentially have a leak.

Next lesson. About a month or two ago another friend decided to go through a drive through car wash. She must have opened her door to push the right buttons on the little machine that talks to you and tells you how to drive into a car wash. She pulled up and sat back to enjoy a relaxing few moments alone in the car wash. It was relaxing, that is, until the first round of water came by. She felt some water coming into the car. It was then she realized that her door was not really shut well! She held onto the door, pulling it tightly, in fear that the monster wash might rip the door off and take her with it! She sat holding and pulling through the initial rinse, the soap, the scour, the power rinse, and whatever other stages she might have chosen back at that little box that tells you what to do where you have to open your door a little bit to reach. It did end, and she did make it out of there alive. Lesson 2: When you go to the little box with the buttons, be sure to pull up close enough to just have to open your WINDOW, then shut it tightly before following the light that says, "Pull forward."

Or, you could just do the poor man's car wash to rid your car of bird droppings. This involves pulling up to the gas tanks, even if you don't need to put gasoline in the car. Then you begin washing your car off with the window cleaner scrubber and squeegee. This takes a some real talent as you have to do an initial soak, followed by scrubbing, then dip again into the now filthy liquid in that little black holder so you can add a rinse off. Next you squeegee any remaining "crumbs". Then you must rinse again, because you now have tiny droppings in the corners of the windows and crevices of the car. This technique COULD lead to some really weird looking soap marks on your car. That's what I've heard. Um, yeah, that's it. Uh, huh. The neighbor's car must have looked like that. This must be lesson 3: Just have your husband or kids wash the car. You will avoid all 3 incidents listed above.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Baby is TEN!

I SHOULD have a picture of our beautiful 10 year old daughter on her birthday. We always have the camera with us. Well, we USUALLY do. Since I was in charge of pies, pies and more pies, I thought Phil would grab the camera. I even thought I saw it in his hand when he got in the van, so I didn't ask about it. I should have! I think my dad took some pictures, but he hasn't sent them to us yet. So...I guess these pictures will have to do.

Natalie came into this world the day after Thanksgiving, November 27th, 1998. She wasn't due for three more weeks. She's always been in a hurry! She was the skinniest baby we'd ever seen, but as this picture of her around 3 months shows, she didn't take long to catch up!



She's always been our fun loving child. She's the one who keeps us laughing, when she isn't causing our hair to turn gray way too rapidly. EVERYTHING must be done NOW and she MUST know all the details. In her mind, that is. My dad has been called Boss-Boss, my dear niece, Boss Junior, so Natalie is Baby Boss!



Natalie has long had an affection for most animals. Pigs were her first obsession. She then switched to loving dogs. You know how some people start to look like their pets? We don't have one, but I think she's taken to the neighbors' dogs.



Natalie loves to help cook, or really bake. She has come to several Pampered Chef shows and helped me. Here she is one year in full gear.


Natalie is a beautiful girl whose heart becomes sweeter each year. When she isn't being competitive (I would not put it past her to run for some kind of office one day, just so she could win), she is VERY helpful. She has to take on the role of Big Sister at times because of Bethany's Asperger Syndrome and social delays. Natalie has been working towards being a teenager for a long time, it seems! When I joke with her that I'll let her drive somewhere this time, she gladly accepts! LOL! Hopefully we'll have some birthday pictures to share with you soon. She definitely gives us another reason to be thankful each day of the year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to my 2 or 3 readers! LOL!

Some of my friends have been reading my running commentary on preparing for a gluten free Thanksgiving. Here is a glimpse of what it takes for me to enjoy Thanksgiving the way that everyone else does (food wise). I am in charge of pies every year, so I have some regular stuff to make as well.

*Make Bread from scratch to make stuffing
*Cut bread into cubes & dry out in oven
*Make gluten free pie crust (4)
*Make cream of mushroom soup from scratch (canned isn't gf)
*Make fried onion rings like the yummy ones in the can for green bean casserole
*Make pecan tassies with gf flour
*make apple & pumpkin pies gf
*Make regular apple, pecan, pumpkin & Lemon pies (Natalie requested Lemon for her Birthday Pie)
*Make gf dinner rolls from scratch (they shriveled as the cooled; very odd)
*Make dressing using dried cubes
*Realize at 10:30 pm on Wed. night that you forgot part of the ingredients in the gf apple pie.
*Decide it's too late to make green bean casserole b/c you spent the past 2 days making all this other food. It can be mixed together in the morning.

That's all for pies, rolls & dressing! Mom makes the turkey & gravy (gf for me), mashed potatoes & that yummy gluten-filled dressing that I can't eat any more. She is so good & always checks the turkey to be sure it's GF for me. MIL makes a fruit salad. I can eat that! Her sweet potatoes have flour in them, so I can't eat those. I really don't care much for sweet potatoes, so that's okay. My SIL often brings these yummy cheese puffs that I now can't eat. I have made them gf & they are still pretty good that way! Not on the menu this year. SIL's mom brings peach cobbler. I'm not sure what else folks are taking.

The pecan pie isn't for T-day, but for my dad AFTER everyone leaves. I owed him one! He cracks all the pecans & I do the baking.

I hope your day is stress free & full of blessings! We have so much for which to give thanks to the Lord!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Food, glorious food!

This summer we saw a stage production of the musical "Oliver!" based on the Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist. We've since obtained a DVD of the full-length movie. I remember seeing it when I was young and it is fun introducing these classics to my children. The music and dancing is fun. The story, is, of course, full of very sad pieces of history. My children are stuck with a teacher for a mom even when we watch movies!

One of the songs we love from this musical is "Food, Glorious Food." We actually noticed a different version of this song in one of the Ice Age movies! With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, I've got food on my brain. Oh, who am I kidding. Being a Pampered Chef consultant and having to eat "special" food with no gluten, food is always on my mind! I thought I'd share a few of my favorite recipes for this time of year. Enjoy!

Pecan Tassies (The Pampered Chef)

This one makes up wonderfully as a Gluten Free Recipe! Just substitute in any GF flour blend. I've even made it with Bob's Red Mill mix, which has bean flours in it (I don't like it in most foods), and it was delicious. Even my gluten eating friends & family couldn't tell it was Gluten free!


Ingredients:

Tart Shells

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

Filling

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecan halves, finely chopped

Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. For tart shells, beat butter and cream cheese in Classic Batter Bowl until well blended. Add flour; mix until a soft dough forms.
  2. Using Small Scoop, shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls of dough into ungreased cups of Deluxe Mini-Muffin Pan. Dip Mini-Tart Shaper in flour; press into dough with even pressure until dough rises slightly above rim of pan.
  3. For filling, place butter in Small Batter Bowl; microwave on HIGH 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Finely chop pecans using Food Chopper; add to batter bowl and mix well.
  4. Using Small Scoop, fill each tart shell with level scoop of filling (do not overfill). Bake 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven; cool in pan 3 minutes. Remove from pan to Stackable Cooling Rack; cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
Yield: 24 tarts

This next one is one I made when I'd only been a Pampered Chef consultant a few months & my dad, who doesn't like pumpkin pie, liked this.


The Pampered Chef Pumpkin Lattice Pastry


1 package (15 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon pecan halves, divided

1 egg

2 tablespoons sugar

1 can (15 ounces) solid pack pumpkin

1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided

1 package (3.4 ounces) cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling

1 teaspoon Pantry Cinnamon Plus Spice Blend

Additional pecan halves (optional)


1.Preheat oven to 375ºF. Let pie crusts stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Lightly sprinkle Large Round Stone with flour. Gently unfold one pie crust onto center of baking stone. Lightly brush with water using Pastry Brush. Using Food Chopper, finely chop 1/4 cup of the pecans; sprinkle evenly over crust. Unfold second crust and place over first crust, matching edges and pressing to seal. Using Baker's Roller, roll crusts out together to edge of baking stone. Fold edges of crust 1/2 inch toward center, forming an even border; press to seal seam.


2.Using smooth end of pastry tool, form a decorative fluted edge; prick entire surface of crust. In Small Batter Bowl, lightly beat egg and brush over crust. Place sugar in Flour/Sugar Shaker; sprinkle evenly over crust. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to Stackable Cooling Rack. Cool 15 minutes. Carefully slide crust onto Round Platter; cool completely.


3.Meanwhile, for filling, combine pumpkin, half of the whipped topping, pudding mix and spice blend in Classic Batter Bowl; whisk until smooth using Stainless Steel Whisk (mixture will be thick). Using Large Spreader, spread filling evenly over crust.


4.Attach closed star tip to Easy Accent Decorator; fill with remaining whipped topping. Pipe 3 horizontal rows of topping across surface of filling, followed by 3 diagonal rows, forming a lattice pattern. Pipe a decorative border along edge of filling. Using Deluxe Cheese Grater, grate remaining pecans over topping. If desired, arrange additional pecan halves around edge of pastry. Cut into wedges using Chef's Knife. Serve using Slice 'N Serve®.

Yield: 12 servings or 20 sample servings

Nutrients per serving: Calories 290, Total Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 8 g, Cholesterol 25 mg, Carbohydrate 34 g, Protein 3 g, Sodium 250 mg, Fiber 2 g

Cook's Tip: Pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for the Cinnamon Plus™ Spice Blend, if desired.


I know many people have a chocolate sheet cake (or sheath cake) recipe that is the "best" but MY MOM'S is THE BEST! LOL! Note how this can be changed up for Christmas.


Mammaw’s Chocolate Sheet Cake


For a GF version, I use a mix of half sweet rice flour & half corn starch or tapioca starch. All white starches with a powdery feel (not gritty).


Sift: 2c. sugar, 2 c. flour, 1 t. baking soda, and 2 t. cinnamon in a large bowl.

Put: ¼ # margarine (1 stick), ½ c. shortening, 4 T cocoa and 1 c. water into a pan. Melt margarine and cocoa. Bring to a rapid boil over low to medium heat (not high, it will burn), stirring frequently. This will take a while. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix.

Add: ½ c. buttermilk (OR mix 1 T. lemon juice plus milk to make ½ c. let this sit for awhile or put in micro for 20 sec. to sour), 2 beaten eggs and 1 t. vanilla.

Grease a cookie sheet (jelly roll pan, one with edges) 11”x16”. Pour in batter. Bake at 400° for 20 min.

Meanwhile make frosting:

Fudge Icing:

Over low heat bring to a boil:

¼ # margarine (1 stick)

4 T. cocoa

6 T. milk (1/3 c)

Add: 1 box (1#--3 ¾ c. ) powdered sugar, 1 t. vanilla and ½ c. nuts (optional) (for a variety at Christmas you can omit nuts & after pouring on icing sprinkle w/ crushed candy canes)

Mix well. Pour on cake while still warm. (Most cakes say wait til it cools, but this one is different).




Sunday, November 16, 2008

BRRRRRRRRRR!


Baby, it's cold outside! Just had to share this exciting news! No snow, but it's fun to pretend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Praise God for extended warranties!

We have a new battery tonight & it only cost us the gas money for Phil to come from work to get us & take us back to install a new battery. It was still under warranty! YEA!!! We are thanking God for that!

I've got a new tire & a new battery. Surely that's all we need to have replaced right now!

Until later!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Tuesday

Fair warning: My friends & family who voted for our new president-elect may not see some of the humor in this. Just sayin'. I'm saying it lightheartedly, and hope you take it that way!

In my little online group called the "Travelin' Dork Sisters" (we all like to make cards and/or scrapbook pages or other paper things with stamps; we also all happen to be dorky and proud of that! LOL!), we have found that Tuesday is, well, Tuesday. My dork sisters know what I mean. Tuesday is Murphy's law day. If anything can go wrong, it will. Take last Tuesday, Nov. 4th, 2008, for example. MY candidate lost the presidential election. Yep, it was a Tuesday.

This Tuesday had a series of unfortunate events leading up to today's events. Sort of. About 2 weeks ago we had to replace a tire on the van. Cha-ching (that's the sound of an old cash register ringing up our total bill). We had a tire on the Buick Regal (our 1995 Regal, which is less than regal these days---much like the prince & the pauper, it has now switched places with royalty to live amongst the commoners) that had been in need of replacement for some time. One of my friends saw me driving the car one day with the tire extremely low on air & told me I needed to get it fixed. When I still had not done so a couple of weeks later she said if I didn't take it she was going to take it in to get it done! That's a good friend! On Friday last week, Natalie & I experienced a lumpy bumpy ride like nothing we'd ever felt. She had a drink holder with several sodas in it and they were sloshing like we were on the high seas. I had to drive it once on Sunday. Yesterday we chugged our way to Wal-Mart to have it replaced. Cha-ching.

Today is Tuesday. That is our homeschool co-op day. You may remember that I was the nut mom for our Girl Scout troop. Today was "money due" day. That meant being sure to find the moms, get the money, count the money, add all the money, double check the money, etc. Thankfully the GS leader has done a LOT of work with this nut sale, and she willingly took care of the last few bits of money that needed to be turned in. Phew! I was also in charge of the GS lesson today----making cupcakes from scratch, trying new foods, and learning to set a table properly. I was adding checks & cash by hand (remember back in the old days before calculators?) WHILE doing these lessons. Well, not the cupcake making. We did THAT BEFORE class because there is one kitchen & there is a class in there the same time as GS, AND we found out another class needed the oven. OY! So, I was adding money, teaching a class, and getting cupcakes out of the oven at the same time. I also missed a class I needed to co-teach (thanks to the other teachers for going forth without me!). During that time, my friend, who had been concerned about my tire, was told that SHE had a flat tire. So, she had to take it in to have her tire fixed. Except, when they were fixing that one tire, they found that her front 2 tires were bald on the inside, so she had to get THOSE replaced. Cha-ching for her, or should I say for THEM.

After this we took the Girl Scouts to a nursing home for Veterans Day. The cadettes (the older girls) were doing the flag ceremony. It was such a beautiful event. The girls presented the flag, then we all said the pledge (I almost laughed when the girl said to stand for the pledge b/c so many can't stand; thankfully the lady there said "or sit if you can't stand"). There were some readings by one of the workers there (coordinator of some type) and the VFW president. Then our girls handed out cards & thanked the veterans for their service. We sang some patriotic songs. The piano player is 92 and legally blind. I talked to her after the service & it was so wonderful to hear her talk and hear her play. She played music from all the branches but Coast Guard (because they didn't know the CG song). People stood when their branch song was played, whether they were in that branch or the spouse/family of that branch. When they listed the vets, they told what they did, and it was so cool to see the women that had worked as WAC's during WW2! There were also women who'd been in the Red Cross & USO. The lady speaking said, "I know why you volunteered there. It's where you met all those young good looking servicemen." Even in their 80's & 90's this gave the ladies a giggle!

Near the end, the girls were asked to take some time to visit with the person to whom they'd given the card. Even the Juniors who had tagged along, and 2 boy scouts (their mom is the cadette leader) got to hand out cards and visit with someone. Bethany was reluctant to do ANYTHING, so one of the other girls who seems much older, but is really just 1 1/2 years older, took her under her wing. This girl's younger sister & Natalie are "BFF's" (best friends forever), so both my girls spend time at their house. It meant so much to me for her to do this for Bethany & not show any signs of "having to help her" at all. When she talked to the veteran, she pulled Bethany up there & told the man, "This is Bethany. She's a little shy." I had heard the man Natalie talked to speaking earlier & realized he was very clear headed (his mind), and saw her with him. She's been around "old people" (to her) in their 70's & probably 80's from being around her grandparents a lot, but usually they are well-bodied folks with clear minds. Natalie did a great job talking to the people. As we left one lady said to her, "You are a sweet little girl." We teased our Natalie on the way out about being called "sweet," but she can be VERY sweet and gentle.

During the event, at one point the VFW man got choked up, which made me get choked up. At least until someone who couldn't hear yelled out, "I can't hear a thing he's saying!" Then the coordinator lady got choked up reading something, and I got teary. But, what did me in is when I saw the girl who was with Bethany talking to this old man and hugging him, then she was crying & crying because it was so special. She's not a girl who cries a lot. In fact, I have NEVER seen her cry. I was already teary about her helping Bethany & when I saw her cry, I just couldn't help but cry. She said he started crying & told her he wasn't sad, just moved. He said, "You've made me smile from cheek to cheek," and he gave her a sweet kiss on the cheek. Later we learned that he almost died not long ago, which made this even more sweet. Then they passed out cookies to the residents and visited with more of them. I heard some of the girls say how much they enjoyed doing this. I think they saw how special it was to these people and they wanted to help. I was so proud of our girls.

Well, all the warm fuzzies came to an end and Tuesday reared its head again (the nerve!) when we got outside. My friend had new tires. I have a new tire. Surely we would just get in the car & go home. Nope. My car would not start. We found someone with jumper cables & tried charging it. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Nil. So, we loaded up the girls & me into her car and headed over here. Mind you, this didn't happen near our house, but a good 25 minute drive away. We left the car parked at the nursing home. OH! I forgot the best part. Have you ever looked at the engine in a 95 Buick Regal? The battery isn't on top. It is hidden beneath the washer fluid reservoir. It's dark out & 3 women could not find the battery. We've all jumped cars before & know what a battery looks like. I called Phil & found out that you don't attach it to the battery, but a separate little connector thingy (I'm NOT the mechanic in the family).

When we got home, my friend was telling Phil about it & we all agree the engine design stinks. Then she told him all that happened with her car & said, "What's up with all this happening?" I joked about it all happening since Obama was elected. She wryly replied, "It's an Obama Nation." You have to say that really fast to see the humor.

She took the girls to her house to spend the night. We thought I'd be getting up early to deal with the battery in the a.m., but he wants to wait til after work. So, she has the girls & I am here. It must mean Tuesday is almost over.

All joking aside, when we got in the car, she had K-LOVE on, which plays Christian music (nationwide & on the web). There was a song on called, "Blessed be the Name" and the words playing were:
Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I'm gonna say
Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be your name,
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be your glorious name.

Even on Tuesday, even when Murphy's law is in full swing, even when you just paid for a tire & now have to pay for a battery & you really were hoping to pay for some other things, even then we can say Blessed be the Name of the Lord. He's still on His throne. Now if He'll toss a little juice into my car, that would be icing on the cake!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Are we there yet?

We left San Antonio at 10:30 this morning to get to Lost Maples state natural area. It's less than a 2 hour drive according to mapquest. We were finally in the park & had our pass at 3:00! It was a VERY long day. We didn't get home til nearly 10 pm. I'll upload a couple of pics, but will save more info & pics for another day.







Friday, November 7, 2008

Isn't this cute?

Okay, so now I'm falling into the trap. I have to have a CUTE blog. Others have CUTE blogs. So I went to www.thecutestblogontheblock.com and found this one. Now I need to go find something cute for my craft blog!

My parents came to help clean today. Dad made a path through the garage. Mom & the girls spent the entire day in their room & as much as they dug through, it is STILL a huge mess. The living room is full of MORE boxes. We need to put in some used Entertainment Center shelves that Mom Garrison got for us, then unload all this onto the shelves.

Somehow, as I took everything off the shelves, including the TV, which is large, bulky & heavy (well, not really large, but for me to lift it was!). Somehow in doing so I broke the feed from the cable into the TV, so now Phil will have to figure out how to make that work. He does have the DVD player hooked back up to the TV & he & Natalie are watching the Tinkerbell movie. I wasn't impressed by the opening lines, but I need to see more to see what I think. One of our friends told us about the Red Box video rentals---it's one night, but only costs $1, so we tried it. We'll take this one back tomorrow. There is a machine at our convenience store at the front of our neighborhood, so it is, well, convenient! Bethany is spending the night with a friend, so she'll get to watch this another time. I want to get the American Girl Kit Kittredge movie next. We studied the Kit books last year at co-op, so it will be fun to see. Plus, the girl who plays Ruthie used to be our neighbor! We didn't know them other than to wave & say hi, but Phil had talked to her dad when they were moving to California to pursue her acting career. I guess it has paid off!

Tomorrow we'll head to Lost Maples to see REAL FALL COLORS!!! I can hardly wait! We finally have a touch of color on the Ornamental Pear Trees, which is nice, but not the rich colors of maples. I've never gone in the fall, so I'm excited! We were due to go when I was nearly due with Natalie, but it rained that weekend and we never got to go.

Off to fairy land now! Maybe I can find some fairy dust to sprinkle on my house to make it grow & get organized!

Hello

I really don't have anything new to blog about, but for the 3 readers I have, I thought I'd post something! LOL!

Today I went to the ENT. He looked up my nose & said it looks like the septoplasty I had done 9 years ago is still in good shape, but he is ordering a CT scan for me. I'll go back on the 20th for a follow-up. I wonder if they'll find anything in my head this time. I'm missing my brain, so it may show a big black void.

I dropped off some catalogs for a gal to do a Catalog show. I have 2 live shows this month! Yea! I love doing the Pampered Chef shows, but haven't been able to do tons b/c of illness & such this year.

My parents are coming over to help us clean & organize. Dad will work in the garage, Mom will help the girls with their clothes & mounds of STUFF in their room, and I will make a dent in the living room.

We are working on a plan for Natalie's birthday party. We have really outgrown parties at our house b/c the kids are so big now. We wanted to do bowling, but that cost $79.99 per lane, with 6 kids max! Not gonna happen this year. She handled it really well, which shows a lot of maturity on her part. In the past that would have caused her to throw a fit. We've asked my mom if we can go there, but it is in New Braunfels, which is about a 30 minute drive from my house. My niece may be in town & I might coordinate with her to do Arbonne facials on the girls (and let the moms see the products! See, Becky, I'm trying!).

Bethany told me tonight, when I told her about some Girl Scout activities, that she really doesn't want to do any of them. She said, "It's just too much. I just want to stay home & do stuff here." Then she said later, "I really liked being a Junior better. The sleepovers are okay, but all we do during cadettes is talk." I told her it may be b/c she's younger than most the girls. She said, "Yeah, and they are like mini-adults." That was kind of an odd assessment, I thought! But, she's not ready to grow up & wants to still be a kid. I guess that's okay & it's pretty normal for a child with Asperger Syndrome.

Gotta get to bed so I can be alert when we clean tomorrow....uh, I mean, later today!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why are you downcast?

Psalm 42

1For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and 6 my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?"

10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalm 43

1 Vindicate me, O God,
and plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
rescue me from deceitful and wicked men.

2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?

3 Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.

4 Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.


King David. Now THERE was a ruler I could have voted for! Well, in retrospect I could have voted for him. In his LATTER years I could have voted for him. In his early adult years, not so much. He was an adulterer, a man of many wives, a murderer, and refused to see his own evil until confronted. Yet, he is remembered as a man after God's own heart.


David has his "fair share" of enemies. He knew what it was like to live among men and women who did not have a heart for God, a heart for the Truth, a heart for what is right. And he knew what it was to be disappointed. Look at the words above in
GREEN. He was downcast! He was saddened by what he saw around him.

I feel like David tonight. Well, not the part about adultery & murder, and goodness knows one husband is enough! LOL! But, I know the downcast feeling. And look at those words in BLUE. Plead my cause against an ungodly nation! Wow. Can anyone relate to this?

My candidate didn't win tonight's election. I really had hoped against hope that it would be a surprise victory. If you look at the electoral votes, it looks like a landslide victory. Yet, if you look at the popular vote, last I saw the tally was 48% to 52%. That's a very narrow margin. We are a country divided. I don't know Mr. Obama personally. I certainly will not be the one to call him "deceitful and wicked" without seeing him in action. But, I will say that my definition of deceitful & wicked and God's are quite different. In my human form, deceitful and wicked renders images of adulterers & murderers (hmmm, seems I mentioned that before). In GOD's eyes, according to His Word, not mine, we are ALL deceitful & wicked. We have ALL fallen short of His glory. So, in God's eyes, in my own flesh, without His help, I am deceitful and wicked, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are deceitful and wicked, and YES, in GOD's eyes Mr. Obama is deceitful and wicked. What I DO know is that God has a standard & I can't meet it on my own. I DO know that it is ONLY through HIS Word that any of us know what HE says is right & wrong. I can't meet His standards. Only with Jesus as my Savior working through me as the Holy Spirit can I even begin to do anything pleasing to Him.

I also DO know that according to my Bible, there are things that are an abomination to the Lord. One of those things is murdering innocent babies before they have a chance to live. I am unwaveringly pro-life and anti-abortion. I realize this is probably an unpopular thing to be, but I'm really not too concerned with winning the popular vote (even if I did, I'd need an electoral college to REALLY elect me). Another issue that God's Word is VERY clear about is sodomy. If God destroyed an entire city because men had traded natural desires for women in exchange for unnatural lusts for each other, there is little doubt in my mind that God's plan is for marriage to be between a man and a woman. I also believe that God gives parents the right to raise their kids and educate them in the best way they choose to do so.

Why is my soul downcast like David's tonight? Because I see in our president-elect a man who says a woman can choose to "abort" her baby if she wants to. He does not say "pro-abortion" but chooses the term "pro-choice." The truth is, if you think abortion is wrong, yet you say it's okay for a woman to have one, you are condoning it. If I said, "I think killing people with green eyes is wrong, but if someone wants to do it, that's his choice." If you view abortion as murder, then you cannot condone it in anyway. In my understanding, Mr. Obama has said in a debate that he thinks a woman should have that choice. I do not view that as him valuing the life of the child.

I will not go into detail about my 2nd point, that according to God's Word, marriage is to be between ONE man and ONE woman. Adultery, fornication, and homosexuality all fall outside of that guideline. We've all sinned, and many of us who are now Christians have likely sinned in this area. I believe that it is a slippery slope when we start promoting as normal what God calls sin.

Third, parental rights is near & dear to my heart, as is education. I am a teacher. I have taught in public schools, in private schools, in tutoring situations, to missionary kids, and am currently teaching my own children as we have chosen to educate them at home. I will expound on this another time, but I will say anyone who says we need to get ALL 3 year olds into early childhood education scares me. Perhaps it should be AVAILABLE to anyone, and not just lower income families. However, I pray it will not become mandatory. My kids are past that age, but to force parents to part with a 3 year old when they do not WANT to do so is a crime. This is a point I heard Obama make more than one time.

Yes, my soul is downcast, it is disturbed within me. But, like David, I know the solution. It is not to put my hope in men or women. It is not to be downtrodden because our president elect has views that differ so greatly from God's Word. The solution is to put my hope in HIM, my Savior and my God. He is still on His Throne. He has a purpose & a plan. Praise to Him who sets rulers over nations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Commentators

I watched local news at noon & tonight at 5. It actually went for an hour, then CBS news was on at 6. I could only take a few minutes of Katie Courick. I have no idea if I spelled her name correctly, so forgive me if I misspelled it. I admire her strength in becoming a young widow with 2 girls to raise. I think she has really made a name for herself in reaching the level of journalism she has. However, some of her commentating is more like free political advertising. I told some friends I was so tired of the commentators on TV that I even turned off FOX news! It's bad when an ultra conservative turns off Fox! LOL!

Anyway, it reminded me of this joke I heard from my friend Janet (Brewer) Brown many years ago. I'm ad libbing as I can't recall EXACTLY how it went, but I have the main idea. Also, I updated the name in it. A prize winning Idaho potato married his sweetheart, a champion Russet. They had an offspring, Sweet Potato. Sweet Potato grew up & fell in love with Matt Lauer. Her parents said she was of blue ribbon stock, and in no way could she marry Matt Lauer. She was distraught and wanted to know WHY they felt this way. Dad explained, "I am a prize winning Idaho potato. Your mother is a champion Russet Potato. Matt Lauer, well, he's just a Common Tater." Bwahahahahaha!!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day of Prayer

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

Many are calling for today to be a day of prayer. Perhaps, if nothing else, this election has caused people to really evaluate what they believe & support. There is a great rift in our nation. We see the words of Scripture where Christ said that believing in Him would turn brother against brother and father against son. There is no RIGHTEOUS candidate. Only Christ Himself is righteous. But, God is big enough to work through whomever is chosen to be president of the USA. We need to pray for our land, for our citizens, for our children-----those born, and those yet to be born who are alive in their mothers' wombs.

No matter what happens, God is sovereign.

And, if memory serves me correctly, Texas can always secede from the nation and be a Republic again. tee-hee!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!!! Happy Reformation Day!!

Yes, I am a day late & a dollar short as always, but the BEST things about 10/31 have nothing to do with costumes & candy. 72 years ago on October 31st, a lady was struggling in childbirth. She had adopted a son and tried to adopt 2 more children, but they were taken back to the county where their birth mother lived per the new law. This lady, who had been unable to conceive a child, thought she was having an emotional breakdown. She went to the doctor and found out she was PREGNANT! Then, when it was time to deliver the baby, complications arose. She was in labor for much longer than was safe in those days. I suspect the baby was too far into the birth canal to perform a Caesarian birth. In a day when no one was allowed in the delivery room but the doctors and nurses (well, the patient, too), the doctor had allowed both the lady's mother and husband to come in. They were there to say goodbye to this woman, as it was suspected she was dying. The baby was surely dead after such a long time. The only way to save the lady's life was to reach in with forceps and pull the stillborn child out. They did pull out a baby girl, bruised, but very much alive! The lady recovered and went on to have 2 more children by birth. The lady was my Grammie and the baby was my mom. She's all grown up & has grandchildren who are grown. I think the doctors didn't know how big our God is!

Happy Birthday Mom!

This is another special day as it is the day in history when Martin Luther tacked his Theses to the door of a monastery (or church? memory is fading), calling for reform in the church and a return to Biblical Truth. At this hour I can't tell you much more than that! I can tell you that God is still a Mighty Fortress, as Luther penned so long ago. I can also tell you that God's Word is still alive, long after the men of that day have come & gone. So Happy Reformation Day!

Dressed to the Nines

What a fun show of costumes we had just in our own group of friends tonight who went trick or treating together. None of us like the scary costumes, or witches & ghosts, and we found we were obviously in the minority as most kids were dressed in very scary stuff. Adults were dressed up, too. Even in the store today I saw several women I HOPE were dressed up. I was kind of surprised at how dressing up for Halloween means wearing very short skirts, low cut tops and funky hose with high heels. Even the outfits for kids these days seem to push the "skimpy" look (there are other words I could use, but I will refrain). On our street, there are very few young kids, and only a handful of teens. There are little girls at the end of the street, and then across the street from them, and all these girls (including ours) are about the same ages, which is really nice. The kidless crew apparently turns Halloween into a street party. I intentionally had the kids do their trick or treating FIRST on that end of the street, as I was not sure what condition the adults might be in by the time we were nearing the end. As you can guess, this is NOT my favorite holiday at ALL. Apart from the dressing up, spending time with friends & candy that my kids share with me, I could totally do without this "event."

Our little group was quite fun. To start with Bethany was Cleopatra complete with black hair. It's not a wig, but her REAL hair sprayed black! And, yes, it really is warm enough to be dressed like this here! Where did fall go?


Next we had Nan Louise Carrington, a genuine Southern Belle (you might know her as Natalie). Gotta love the fish face picture!

Then the whole gang arrived & we got some cute shots. The little bitty one is 7, though she is tiny and about the size of a 5 year old. She is Phil's "pet" among all the girls. I think he would adopt her if her parents said it was okay! He saw her tonight, of course, then saw her picture & said, "She's so cute in that outfit. Of course, she's cute in anything." She comes from a beautiful family, but on the outside and most importantly, on the inside. Here, in addition to Cleopatra & Nan, we have a pirate, a Roman lady, a hippy, a genie, and Bob, the skeleton. Wonder if my skeleton is that pretty. LOL!


Finally, we have a lovely lady named Jackie. Her last name is O'Lantern, I do believe. ALL I did this year was cut the top off with my WONDERFUL Santuko Knife from Pampered Chef (shameless plug for the BEST Kitchen Tools in the world!). The girls dug out the seeds, carved the pumpkin, drew the features, and added the embellishments. Natalie---uh, I mean Nan---is the one who named her. In fact, we had no sooner put the pumpkin in the trunk when I heard Natalie asking, "What should we name her?" Who knew she could tell the difference in a male & female pumpkin! Without further adieu, here is the fair maiden Jackie.



Now, it is time to crawl into bed & crash! Good night!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How do YOU choose your candidates?

I love to learn about how people think. This year with a HUGE presidential election (I've heard we had more early voters the first & second days than the entire election vote last time!), it's on everyone's minds. So, how do YOU decide which candidate you will choose? Do you vote straight party? Do you look mainly at financial issues? Moral issues? Healthcare? Education? Military? Schooling? Do you find voters' guides to see how candidates answer questions? Do you base decisions on the debates?

I expect to find people with polar opposite views on most issues to choose different candidates, but when those with very similar ways of life and beliefs choose different candidates, it intrigues me. What causes one to choose one candidate & the other to choose a different candidate?

Feel free to share your thoughts here!

Monday, October 27, 2008

To Infinity and BEYOND!!!

We took a trip last week. We didn't ACTUALLY go to infinity, or beyond. But it was a trip. It's a trip we take often, but we had different company.

Our Girl Scout Juniors took a trip to Austin, Lake LBJ, and the Fredericksburg/Johnson City areas. The girls & I went to my Mom-in-law's house on Wednesday. We shopped for food for the girls to cook Thursday night and Friday morning. They WAY overplanned the meals & I WAY overbought food, but that's another post for another day. On Thursday, we drove to Austin and met up with the others at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (www.wildflower.org). It was a nice place for the girls to work on their blossoms & butterflies badge (I think that's the name). Then we caravanned up to Grandma Ruth's house. We were also working on a nighttime badge, so we took a nature walk at night, listened to a cd of night sounds, and did some crafts for both those badges. The girls cooked, working towards a special cooking badge, and ate WAY too much food. We got them into their beds. Then we got them BACK into their beds. Then I shushed them & got them BACK into their beds. Then another mom came in and had to shush them, FIND them, and get them BACK into their beds. Then, they got quiet. Until she left the room. I shushed them that time & I THINK that was the end. I put on my earplugs after that!

No one was ready to get up on Friday, but we managed to rise & cook breakfast. We drove to the Wildseed Farm near Fredericksburg (http://wildseedfarm.com/). The girls saw more wildflowers and got to go into a butterfly house! I'll share some photos when I get them uploaded. From there we drove to the LBJ State Park (about 10 minutes down the road) to visit the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farm (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/lyndon_b_johnson/) What fun that was! It is a working farm with people dressed in the clothing of 1915. Our tour guide was GREAT. She talked to the girls at a level they could understand without "dumbing down" anything for them. We got to see how they lived, how they cooked, where they lived, and even saw the animals on the farm! There was a calf still nursing. That was so sweet to see. Then we saw a BIG PIG! She wasn't Wilbur, but she was SOME PIG!

We drove to the Visitor Center to check out the Gift Shop (the highlight of each stop we made). I had fun reading letters from citizens to then President Lyndon Johnson, while he was running for the next term. Most were letters of complaint over some of the funniest things! I think the favorite was from a person who got stuck in traffic in DC because a road was shut down for Ladybird Johnson to plant a tree! I wish I could have a copy of those letters. They were quite humorous.

From there, most the moms & girls went back home. My friend Kathy & her girls stayed Friday & Saturday nights and the girls had more fun than I think they could handle. When we got home Natalie said, "I want to go back to Grandma's!"

Apart from a flat tire that had to be replaced today, all else was well. Now a new week has begun & I think I am already behind. Good night!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The cutest Pregnancy Announcement!

NO! I am not pregnant! Phew, you can get back up off the floor now. My friend Stephanie is expecting her 4th baby. Bless her heart, this is her 6th pregnancy, but she lost 2 of them during pregnancy. So, it's always exciting to hear when she is pregnant and things are going well! I just wanted to share a link to her blog so you can see this clever announcement. She said she got it from another friend. I don't plan on using that type thing anytime soon. Unless I discover a great Gluten Free Bun recipe & get published. LOL!

http://greenclan.blogspot.com/2008/10/drastic-attempt-to-regain-my-readers.html

Gone Phishing?

I'm not sure EXACTLY what phishing is, but I know it has to do with e-mail & website scams. I THINK that's what you call what happened to me last week. Someone was able to access my yahoo account and sent out a message to all my contacts saying I was stuck in England, had been robbed, had no cell phone, and needed money. The whole letter was so poorly composed that even if it had been about something remotely connected to my life the readers would have known it was not I who had written the letter. Yes, I did just say, "It was not I." And, yes, in real life I say, 'It wasn't me." But I figure in a sentence about proper composure I needed to say it correctly. LOL!

I could not get into my yahoo e-mail or groups. These clever souls changed my password. Today I finally found where I could change my password, which is far too easy, IMO, to do. Turns out there was an additional e-mail listed that is NOT one of mine. I deleted it, then changed my password AGAIN.

I'm still waiting to hear from Yahoo. I did have a generic e-mail in my yahoo e-mail telling me to change my password. I had given them my main e-mail address so they could e-mail me the info I needed. Obviously, the computer that "reads" the e-mail on yahoo's end didn't read my e-mail saying I couldn't get INTO my e-mail.

I am safe in the U.S., but wouldn't a trip to England be nice? If I go, I'll let you know!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The "D" word and the "E" word

When I went to the doctor the other day, she had my bloodwork results in. My bad cholesterol is high & my good cholesterol is low. To cure the bad one, I have to do the "D" word. And for the good one, the "E" word. Do you know these two words? Diet & Exercise! I REALLY need to exercise to stay healthy. I've never HAD to go on a weight loss diet in my life. The only times I've really had to be careful were when I was pregnant with Natalie & after she was born. Then with the Celiac diagnosis, I had to alter my diet drastically, but not for losing weight. In fact, I've gained 40 lbs. on this diet. I gained 30 of those in 7 months. Then I gained another 10 when I had to take some steroids for an allergy. I've gained & lost a few pounds over that, too. I have looked at low carb diets, but in reality, what helped me stop gaining so much with Natalie, and what is best for the cholesterol problem, as far as diet goes, is primarily watching my fat intake. Phil said, "No more ice cream" to which I replied, "Oh, they make sugar free fat free ice cream now!" He rolled his eyes. I snickered.

Meanwhile, I am supposed to get 2000 calories into Bethany per day. The doctor wants us to buy some protein drink, but it's $36. I want to see if they have samples. I don't want to pay $36 for a huge container of something she won't drink. She LOVES Carnation Instant Breakfast, so I'm buying it in the biggest container our grocer carries. I need to go to Sam's with someone and see if they carry it in bigger containers for a better price per serving. I'm trying to get her to drink whole milk. She prefers low fat. Go figure! Mixed with the Breakfast Mix, she'll drink it, so that's a start. I told her she can drink as much of that as she'd like.

I think we are now in the Sprat home. Do you know the Sprats? Jack and his wife?

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so between the two of them
They licked the platter clean!

I'm open to yummy gluten free low fat recipes!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Here is my first post from my new CRAFT blog! You can find my new blog at www.chefmamacrafts.blogspot.com

I've decided to take the plunge & start a SECOND blog for my crafts. I've decided that we need additional income that can be done from home, in addition to my Pampered Chef business. With my unpredictable health and homeschooling two very active girls with special needs (my full-time job), My "alone time" when I can work is often at strange hours when I can't be calling my Pampered Chef customers or cooking for people. I am STILL a Pampered Chef consultant. That is my first part-time job and WAY more lucrative than selling crafts. Did you know you can make about $100 for 3-4 hours of work involving a bunch of friends laughing and eating and shopping----and it's LEGAL??? LOL! If you want to know more about THAT, I'm more than happy to fill you in.

My NEW 2nd part-time job is selling my crafts! In this blog, I'll share some of the pieces I am selling, and also just some that I'm making for fun or to encourage people. I have two main areas of items to show you: Papercrafts (primarily cards, though I WANT to scrapbook!) and Sewn items, starting with clothes for 18" dolls (such as American Girl, Life of Faith and Springfield, none of which I am affiliated with). The girls are old enough to help cut out patterns and are helping me design items and choose which ones to make first.

I'll post in my 2nd ever post the first doll outfit I've created!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Diagnosis De Jour

Yes, I have a NEW diagnosis for the day. My throat & top of my mouth have been sore & itchy for a week or more. I assumed it was from allergies. Well, they could be irritating this, but the cause is THRUSH! I had this one other time about 4 years ago. This time is way worse. I have open sores that are "ulcerated" according to the dr. She prescribed something & said the numerous antibiotics I've had along with steroids (inhaler for asthma) cause this. She said it's the same thing as diaper rash, so I told the girls I have diaper rash in my mouth! GROSS!

Just when I thought I was having all the fun I could take, I just got another dose of hilarity!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another family loss

Yesterday one of our cousin's died. Maxine was the wife of my father-in-law's first cousin Jerry. Jerry and Bill were much more like brothers than cousins. Jerry's mother died shortly after Jerry was born, and Bill's mom took care of him. To see pictures of Bill and Jerry in their youth, it is nearly impossible to tell them apart. So, earlier this year Jerry lost his "brother."

Maxine was diagnosed with cancer not long after Bill. She went through chemo treatments, but her body was just too weak to survive this beast called cancer. She was in hospice care for a very short time before passing away.

About 7 or 8 years ago Jerry & Maxine's son Milton died of cancer. He was in his early 40's, about the age I am now. He lived with cancer for a few years and would appear to be getting well, go into remission, then get hit again.

This family has seen more than their share of cancer. Jerry's other son, Mike, along with his wife and daughter, and Milton's wife and children (grown now) are the surviving family members. It's a very difficult time & we ask for your prayers for the West family. Thank you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gettin' Crafty

My computer has been acting crafty, in the true sense of the word. I had this post all typed up & then when I tried to edit & look for something, it all disappeared. Crafty, I tell ya'!

I just wanted to share yet another venture that I am going to try out. I've loved to do crafts as long as I can remember. I loved making paper chains and paper snowflakes when I was little. I was sewing by 5th grade (on a machine, I'd been using a toy machine before that). I crocheted in 4th grade (what was supposed to be a Granny Square turned into an oval shawl! LOL!). I sewed my own wedding dress and with the help of our moms & friends, we hand sewed all the lace and sequins to the dress. This is not a "passing fancy" thing with me, but a cheaper form of therapy than, well, therapy!

My mom would add that I am very good at STARTING crafts & not finishing them. I think the craft that I am mostly enjoying now is one that allows me to finish an actual project: Rubber Stamping! I mainly make cards, which are easy to complete. I'd like to do scrapbook pages, but I think I'm afraid I won't finish them, so I just don't start. Yes, I have been labeled as a "frustrated perfectionist."

When I first started really enjoying stamping, I would host Stampin' Up parties and get free stamps, ink, etc., like a Pampered Chef host would get. I also found ways to buy things 1/2 price at the craft stores or to trade something with someone else. Even in my crafting, I've learned to be a bargain hunter. It is rare for me to pay full price for anything, and when I do, I cringe! With my Pampered Chef business not doing as well as it had been, I decided I could not buy any stamping supplies until I sold some other ones. So I started selling on ebay, Splitcoaststampers, and I still have some sets on webstore at : http://webstore.com/~Chefmama

This week I was asked by someone who saw some cards I listed on ebay if I would make a set of 40 cards for her to buy! How cool is that! Getting to do something else I love & make money! I've been carefully studying what does & doesn't sell well on ebay so I don't list things that won't sell. I've been there, done that, too many times. I never imagined someone approaching me to make cards! So, I am now officially a cardmaker for profit!

I'm also WANTING to make doll clothes to fit 18" dolls like American Girl Dolls, Life of Faith Dolls, etc. I've not seen a big selection of those at affordable prices.

I am STILL doing Pampered Chef. I have several shows for November and I am so excited! Stones will be on sale & it should be a stellar month! That money for Christmas should come in handy!

If any of you happen to be in the market for cards or doll clothes, be sure to contact me! Actually, I can do other stamped crafts as well, like treat boxes. I'll share some samples of cards I've made so you know what I'm talking about. Have a great weekend!