Friday, October 15, 2010

What's going on at my house

I'm getting ready for my first of FIVE craft fairs this fall. It's been mega busy & some days I'm not sure if I'm coming or going since I also, cook, wash dishes, wash & fold clothes, educate my children, help with Girl Scouts, teach at our homeschool co-op, and drive kids where they need to be.

If you want to see what my house looks like 2 days before the first of 5 craft fairs, go visit my craft blog HERE. Click on the word HERE and it will take you to that blog.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

News Flash: Karis Kiser is here!

For anyone who hasn't seen my facebook or Splitcoaststampers pages, my 2nd great niece was born last night. She's adorable! She looks like a chunky monkey but was only 7 lbs. 13 oz. & 19.5" long. So stinkin' cute!

You can see more pictures of her here:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Friday in Fredericksburg

By the time Phil picked me up on Friday, it was going on 6:00. In Fredericksburg, the shops close down at 5:30 or so. We knew, even before we heard from the mechanic, that this van was going to cost us a bundle, which meant getting money out of an investment account. This is where we became very rational and financially astute (or maybe not : ) ) . My reasoning went like this, "You know, since we only have ONE day to hang out here, I think we should stay an extra night. I mean, if it's going to cost thousands for the van, what's another $100?" Phil thought it was perfectly logical, so I got on the phone & called to find the least expensive without threat of roaches kind of place. We learned that this town's motels are typically booked solid on the weekends from Spring Break through Christmas. Wow. I knew weekends were quite a bit higher priced, but had no idea they were so busy. We ended up choosing Motel 6. No, not romantic, but clean. Sadly, Motel 6 weekend rate was the same price we'd paid for the darling B&B on a week night. I did check to see if our B&B was open the next night, but it was booked. I would have sprung for the extra $$ at that point. At least motels now have a microwave & fridge in room, so we knew we could put our goodies in that we'd picked up along the way.

After eating our amazing breakfast on Friday, we packed up the car and headed down Main Street. There are about 4 blocks of nothing but cute little shops and restaurants. As you can imagine, Phil was over the top excited. (That's sarcasm, in case you wondered). He was so good, though, and kept saying at the stores, "We can go in here if you want to. It's okay. This is your thing, so you pick." Who was this man? ha, ha!

Our first stop was a Christian book store. Now, to this, he asked, "Why? Can't you go to those at home?" I had to explain that not all independent stores are the same. Thankfully, across the street from the book store (which wasn't much to write home about) was the National Museum of the Pacific War. We decided not to do the museums this time, but outside are some displays, so we walked around. Interestingly, EVERY president from Roosevelt to George H.W. Bush was in WWII. I found that pretty amazing based on the years involved in those presidencies. They had a tribute to each of them with a listing of what they did in the war. The museum complex includes the one I mentioned, plus the Admiral Nimitz museum and a War Zone display you can walk through on a guided tour. We decided maybe Phil can go through those last 2 (he went to the first one when it opened last year) while we girls go shopping some day.

Phil enjoyed checking out the war equipment.

Next we parked on the first block of shopping to see what treasures the stores held. We went to an antique store. Now, many ladies love to shop antique stores and gift shops. Since our budget has never allowed such things (and if I go to a gift shop, it's mainly to get ideas of things to make), we aren't really into this stuff. Even so, I thought we'd take a look. It was interesting, but more like a museum trip than shopping. Next stop, "Der Kuchen Laden." My friend, "Miss Iowa" will have to translate that for us. I know for sure it's a Kitchen store! I was in my element. Phil was a tiny bit impressed with the knives. After that he kept trying to turn us towards the front door (so maybe this really was my husband after all), but I would tell him I was going the other way. Here is the funniest part of our trip, I think. Phil uses a kitchen for: A) Getting a glass of tea B) Heating up leftovers and C) well, I think A&B are it. We walked through a section that had cheese slicers & he said, "Let's get a new cheese slicer!" The cheese knife is one thing I never liked from PC. He didn't either. Nor did he like any of the slicers or planers or other knives we've tried. My husband, the non-shopping, non-kitchen, motorcycle riding man picked out our first purchase. IN A KITCHEN SHOP! I got a rosette handle with 2 forms. You'll have to search on google to find out what that is! LOL! Okay, here you go: How to make Rosettes.

Mine has 2 prongs like this, but I bought different forms.
Next we went into a place called "The Candy Bar." Did I mention food was the theme for our weekend? We looked around & opted to come back before the hotel so nothing would melt. We heard about a restaurant with "The best hamburgers in town." Phil had also spotted the Fredericksburg Micro Brewery across the street. Did I mention I hate beer AND it has gluten? I admit, when I could eat gluten I liked beer bread and I have actually bought gf beer to use in my Borracho Beans, but that's it. Mr. German Heritage Weekend decided to let his roots show. We ate at the Brewery & he tried the beer there. I think I mentioned yesterday that he may drink 1 beer a week, if that, so this is not typical for him. Just in case you wondered! LOL! And I drove! Anyway, once I got past the awful smell (did I mention my tummy wasn't feeling good on Wed. & didn't really improve? The smell made me feel worse), it was quite interesting to sit at the front as these huge copper vats are right there where you can see them & see the entire process. At least I felt educated. We found something on the menu I could eat: Nachos! Not the best for a queasy tummy, but it was gf! Phil ate FRIED PICKLES. He won't be eating that in this house, I'm sure. ; )

We wandered down to the Fudge Shop & picked up a bit of that. It was in a little mini-mall which happened to also have a store with the entire line of Vera Bradley bags. Since I also make quilted bags, I wanted to see these. I admit, I was a bit disappointed that none of the ladies said, "Oh, what a cute bag you have! I've never seen that one before!" Then again, it wasn't a VB, but a Loribelle Original. We also saw a full size poodle sleeping on her personalized pillow. She must be a very old dog. She was black with a LOT of gray. She never even moved as we walked by, called her name, and talked to her. I told Phil she was like a giant Bitsy, the poodle I had growing up that we all loved so much. We headed back to the candy store for MORE fudge & some GIANT gummy bears for the girls. I need to take pictures of those. The girls were thrilled when they got them today!

By then it was time to check into the hotel so off we went. We got into the room and found it was extremely clean and even though it was sparse, everything looked new and practical. Practical is good. The lady had thought they had a King size room, but turned out she only had a room with 2 Queen beds. That meant we each got to sleep in our own bed. I think the only time I've done that in the past 21 years is when I went camping with the girls! LOL! No jacuzzi tub. No GF breakfast. No breakfast at all. However, the TV was awfully big & we found some shows to watch.

We later went back downtown to three places: Fromage du Monde (cheese of the world) where we tasted several cheeses & brought home 3 different small pieces; The Peach Basket, a natural food store where I found a chocolate cake mix in a brand I like but had never seen the chocolate variety; then my favorite: CHOCOLAT. I am not sure why, but all of Friday, everywhere we went things smelled weird to me. I don't know if it was the new top I picked up at Wal-Mart the night before (yes, I admit it, I found Wal-Mart in FBG). I don't know if it was the old musty buildings. Maybe it was just that I wasn't feeling super great. This shop, however, was different. I walked in and asked if we could just stay there overnight. My friend Stephanie once said that chocolate is one of my bodily fluids. Yes, it runs through my veins. The smell. Oh, the smell. The rich, decadent, indulgent smell. It filled my entire being. Okay, not really, but doesn't that sound poetic? tee-hee. If you like liqueurs, this place has candy you would like. If you don't like alcohol at all, this place has candy you would like. They have these chocolates that have a tiny bit of a liqueur in the center. Not a cream with the taste, but the actual liquid. They have some with fruit nectar, too, so not all have alcohol in them. You have to put the whole piece in your mouth because the liquid would just run out otherwise. Then, they had truffles & colettes. I'd never heard the term colette and am not sure I'm spelling it right. It's an open chocolate with a piped in filling. I got one with a marscapone cheese & chocolate filling. Phil got one with a peanut butter "philling." Then we got 2 truffles. I don't know what flavors they were, but they were delicious. I SO want to own a chocolate shop now. My dad said, "You'd be the 300 lb. shop owner if you did that!" The girls & I definitely have new ideas to try now.

I forgot, I did go into a quilt shop before we went shopping. It was cute but our stores here have so much more to offer. Very nice ladies in the shop, I must add. We ran by Wal-mart again (I wanted to pick up some tummy medicine & get a bit of fresh produce to add to our leftovers). Then we headed to Motel 6 & called it a night.

Now I am about to take Natalie to bed & call it a night!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Night at Camp David

Maple Cottage at Camp David

August 12th, 2010 my husband Phil & I celebrated our 21st anniversary. For the past 21 years we've typically celebrated by going out to eat & coming home. Once kids came we would send them to their grandparents for the night. Last year we just went out to eat & picked them up from some friends' house. This year we decided to treat ourselves to a night out of town. Phil took off work so we could go away on our actual anniversary date. We worked out kid care (though the girls are older, they aren't old enough to stay home alone yet). We made a reservation. I researched all the shops I wanted to visit. We planned our day & 1/2 away. We packed & headed out of town thinking we were really splurging spending $100 to be out of town for a night. What we didn't know was that this little trip would end up costing us thousands of dollars. I'll get to that later.

Our reservation was made at a little place you might have heard of. We stayed at Camp David! YES, we really, truly did! Didn't you know we were THAT important? Okay, so it really was named Camp David, but it isn't THE Camp David. I highly suspect our current president won't be inviting us for a weekend away. Nor any president for that matter! The name of our Bed & Breakfast in Fredericksburg, Texas is named Camp David. It's a quaint little "village" of cottages just on the edge of the main street. It's close enough to the shopping area to get to easily, but far enough that we had no noise of traffic from tourists. If you'd like to check it out yourself, here is a link: Camp David B&B.

Inside Maple Cottage at Camp David

Our hostess, Molly, was extremely accommodating. First, she found out that I was on a Gluten Free diet. She told me she would make me a meal that was gluten free for breakfast. Next, we were concerned that having 2 vehicles on the property might be too much, as Phil was taking his motorcycle up. No problem she said. It was so "hidden away" that no one would have seen his bike. In general, Molly and her husband have set this up to fit the needs of what most visitors looking for a B&B want: King size bed, Private quarters (separate cottages), Breakfast brought to your room (so you don't need to get up & out of pj's and sit with strangers), whirlpool tub, and some other things my mind has forgotten! LOL! From the pictures, the cottages looked simply adorable. They are described as "dollhouses" and that is just what this was like. Because the pictures look like the furniture and decor is antique, I was concerned that things might be dusty or musty. NOT AT ALL! We were amazed at how sparkling clean this place was! We truly felt pampered beyond belief. I also have decided if I had a whirlpool tub I might not have fibromyalgia issues. hee-hee!

Oh, Molly knew it was our anniversary so she left 2 little bottles of champagne on ice! Since I don't drink much, I let Phil have them both. I did taste it and later taste a bit more wine this weekend and am convinced I am allergic to the sulfites in these. I got an itchy scalp again when I tried wine. TMI, I'm sure!

Breakfast was SO good. I had some berry muffins (gluten free) while Phil had a tart that we think was made with blackberries or dewberries. The recipe is on the site mentioned above. It says Peach Tart. If it's not there, I've got a copy & will share. He said it was the best thing like that he'd ever tasted. We had scrambled eggs on top of hashbrowns with onions. Then we had a dish of fruit: Fredericksburg peaches with strawberries & sliced almonds. She served us the cutest little pitcher of orange juice. It was just lovely! You will discover that food was pretty much the main focus of what we did in this little town as this story progresses.

Yes, I really did take a picture of this!

About those $$ mentioned above. Phil took off on his motorcycle when I left on Thursday morning. He was going to do some riding then we were to meet up in "FBG" around 2. I had to take something to my mom for Bethany that I'd forgotten, so I did that, then headed to FBG. I had turned off the main highway and onto a country highway. I passed a school, then the Kendall County line. About that time I had the thought, looking at the oaks & cedars and not much else, "If I broke down out here, I wouldn't have any idea where to tell people I am." NEVER think things like that. Less than 5 minutes from having that thought, the engine made a funny noise. As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Not funny ha-ha, funny strange." I was able to pull over just in time for the van to die. I checked all the gauges & nothing was showing wrong. The oil light came on when the car died, but not before that. When I got ahold of Phil he told me that was normal for the lights to come on when the car died. I could not restart it at first at all. When I did get it to turn over, it ran really rough, then died. I called Phil & found out he was in a different area. As it turns out, he was only 45 minutes from me, but ended up not coming to where I was. I called our insurance company to find out how to get a tow truck. Found out we have roadside assistance where they will find the truck for us & automatically deduct the part they will pay. NO, we do not have AAA. Yet. I plan to sign up for that ASAP. Kicking myself for not doing it sooner. I tried to describe where I was. I told her I thought I was about 10 miles past the highway & about 15 out of FBG. When the tow truck got there he said I was pretty accurate in those estimates.

My view out both sides of the van. Could you describe where you were (without a GPS) for someone to come rescue you? 5 Oaks on the left & 3 cedars on the right. Buzzards above. Hope I'm still alive. LOL!

While I waited for Mr. Tow Truck (his name was Nick & he's a nice guy with 8 kids between him & his wife's kids!), I texted my friends Kathy & Danette. I knew they'd check texts. I also knew they'd appreciate all the "fun" I was having. Kathy had noticed the engine making that noise & asked if Phil was taking care of it. I thought he was putting it off b/c he didn't have time, but turns out, he knew it was a big problem & knew we couldn't pay for this out of pocket. Anyway, I had to let her know she was definitely right & we SHOULD have had it looked at. She didn't even have to tell Phil that as he knew immediately when I described what happened that the engine was shot. He also said he wished we taken it in earlier. It was quite warm in that van, but at least I was inside. I also had a very large coke with me. This was not such a good thing when I realized there was no bathroom nearby. Anywhere. At. All. While I sat there, Phil headed back to SA to put away his bike & get the Buick, the one whose brakes were out for a month & he JUST fixed last weekend. Praise God he got that done!

Very large Coke: Friend or Foe?

Nick arrived with the tow truck about 2:15-2:30 I think. We got to Doc's auto about 2:45. The secretary, whose real name is Sunshine Every Day (her husband didn't want her to change her name when they got married!), had her 4 year old at work with her. Miley kept me entertained while I waited for Phil, who didn't get there til about 5:15! The next day when we went back, I stayed in the car, but Sunshine & Miley came out to see me. Mom said, "Miley said, "I wonder if Miss Lori is here." It was so cute! I got a hug in from a little red-headed doll who likes to chat!

By the time we got to the B&B it was 6:00. All the local stores were closed. We headed down Main Street to a German restaurant where Phil got a full German meal, complete with some nasty smelling German beer. Yes, that's an editorial. It's my blog, so I can say that beer smells nasty, not to mention it has GLUTEN in it. He had sausage, German Hot Potato Salad & this yummy smelling white bread. I had steak, salad & a baked potato. SO GOOD!

The bed at this B&B was extremely comfortable. Phil is a poor sleeper normally & he slept great on this bed. Unfortunately, my tummy hadn't been feeling great since the day before. I told Kathy, who is half-way done with her chemo now, that I was having more sympathy pains for her (as chemo has not been nice to her tummy). This kept me up much of the night, so I missed a good night's sleep on the nice bed.

We made an executive decision right then to stay an extra night. That story will have to be shared tomorrow or another day. I am fading fast and think I need a good night's sleep in my own bed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

With 2 of my dear friends going through chemo treatment, hair has become a common topic of discussion. I've learned that you can get a wig made from someone else's hair free, but the cost of having one made from your own hair is enormous IF you can find a wigmaker. I've learned that some women prefer to just go without hair & cover their heads with scarves. I've even heard of one woman who shaved her head after chemo and kept it shaved to just make a stand (I am not sure what her stand was). I've thought how cool it must feel in this Texas summer heat to have no hair.

In our house someone got a haircut and is donating her ponytail to Locks of Love (because it was the right length for their requirements). My birthday girl decided recently that after having long hair for years she wanted it cut before her birthday. So I made an appointment, but decided I would actually cut the ponytail at home. I thought it might cost less for just the trim to style it and we're "monetarily challenged" so this seemed best. Plus we have to send it in ourselves.

Here I present to you the before and after. You will quickly see why I don't trim my kids' hair normally. In Africa, though, I cut my husbands and my own thick wavy hair. My thought is I'm not in Africa and haircuts now & then are worth their weight in gold. Enjoy Bethany's new look!

Long hair, long beautiful hair...
Yes, it was past her waist. However, she's not a big person, if that makes any difference.
"Are you ready? Are you sure?" B, "Mom, stop asking me. It makes me think I shouldn't be doing this!"

Um, yeah, about that Mom shouldn't be cutting hair thing. I did warn you!

Okay, so making it even wasn't the goal, apparently.
Thank you Liz! She can do wonders with a pair of scissors & a curling iron! This was on Saturday the 24th right after she got it styled.
Look at her! She's 14!
I had to share this full length picture. She's kind of an 11 year old in a 14 year old body. Well, not so much body, but chronologically she is 14. I suppose she decided to LOOK more like her age today. Those shoes look like something I wore at her age! WHY did platform shoes have to come back into style? Just FYI, these were hand me downs. I didn't buy them. LOL!

This ends our tour of Bethany's hair. Stay tuned for birthday with the family blogging and some "Potty talk." It's not bad, I promise!

Friday, July 2, 2010

3 Quick Stone Tips

  1. MEAT! Put meat in or on a stone. Be sure it has edges as grease will run off. LOVE to rub some seasoning all over a chicken, set it up on the Fluted Pan (bundt style) and roast in the oven. All the fat drips to the bottom of the pan. You can put veggies in the bottom if you want them cooked & juicy!
  2. Frozen Fries: Okay, PC will tell you not to put frozen stuff straight from freezer to stone to oven. I will verify that if you put something really thick & solid frozen, you will hear a heart sickening crack (it also happens if your meat goes dry & you pour cold water into the hot stone in the oven---just sayin'). French fries---the nasty frozen ones from the grocery store--work great on a stone. We spread them out & bake as directed on the package. Then sprinkle with seasoning salt. No, there in not anything healthy about this. It just tastes good and is cheaper than McDonald's.
  3. Roasted Potatoes. My new friend Lovely Mary in Houston makes the most wonderful "simple" but oh, so gourmet tasting foods. She has me hooked on roasting potatoes! I scrub & cut my taters into pieces & either put in a bowl with olive oil, then sprinkle on a bunch of yummy seasonings OR melt a stick of butter in the stone (I use the rectangular baker or Deep Covered Baker---without the cover), pour in potatoes, mix well to coat with butter and add seasonings. I roast these fairly hot (about 425F) for 25-30 minutes or until I jump off my chair smelling them screaming, "Oh, my goodness! I forgot the potatoes!" Good thing is with a stone you SELDOM burn things (um, yeah, you CAN burn things in a stone, trust me).
Hope you are enjoying the confessions of a former PC consultant! LOL!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chef Mama's Tips of the Day

While I may no longer be a Pampered Chef consultant, I am still passionate about food. Just ask any scale. Right now with two friends battling cancer, one in chemo and the other to start soon, I've been looking at healthy food for chemo patients. I'm just diving into this new area of food, so I'll try to share some tips as I find them.

Last week at our friends' house in Houston, where we stay when Kathy has doctor visits or chemo treatments, we discovered that our dear friend Mary, who loves to cook, has no Pampered Chef stones! Wow, I just heard a collective gasp from my readers (all 5 of you!). I decided it was time for me to start sharing some tips about PC stones.

It's late (as always) so I'm going to drop a few tips here, then will try to come back this week & add more. Here are some of the basics:
  • A great way to get your stones seasoned (if they have edges on them, such as the rectangular or deep dish baker) is to cook meat on them. Yes, "BAKING" stones are perfect for meat. You can put a pack of bacon on the stoneware bar pan, put in the oven at about 400F and cook for around 20 minutes (depending on how crisp you like your bacon temp & time can be altered). Roasts, chicken, and fish all cook nicely on the stones.
  • Worried about crossover tastes? We know that PC says NO SOAP on the stones. I know at least 2 reasons for this: It removes the oils that have built up to create the nice seasoned nearly non-stick surface. Also, it leaves a taste of soap on the stone. Since I no longer get a paycheck from PC I will share that I do sometimes use soap on my stones in small amounts after they are VERY well seasoned. However, I wouldn't do that on a normal basis. Unless you like the taste of soap. Then you have other issues I can't help you with. As far as taste goes, most foods don't leave a taste on the stone. IF you think something might, OR if you have excess grease (from aforementioned bacon in the oven, for example), put some baking soda liberally on your stone, add just enough water to make a paste, and scrub the stone with this. Note: this may also remove some of your seasoning, but it doesn't leave a funny taste behind like soap will.
  • Stones can go in the microwave! Did you know that? Often at shows I'd mention a recipe calling for the microwave and a stone. Inevitably I heard this little whisper of, "I didn't know you could put them in the microwave!" Before my diagnosis of Celiac Disease, one of my favorite ways to make cake was this: Mix 1 cake mix, 1 can of fruit pie filling or 16 oz. sour cream, and 3 eggs. Grease Fluted Stone ("Bundt" style pan) (I'll tell you a great thing to use for this is a minute). Pour in cake batter. Microwave on high for 12-14 minutes. Done!
  • Pan-Ease. At shows I would tell people to use Pan-Ease in their stones. There was often a giggle because, at least in Texas where we don't enunciate the way we should, this sounded like "Put some panties in your stone." Pan EASE is simply a mix of equal parts flour, oil, and shortening. You brush this in with a basting brush (I LOVE my PC silicone basting brush). The great things about this, unlike store bought can sprays, are no sticky residue and you can use the products most conducive to your diet. If you like lard, vegetable oil & white flour, go for it! If you prefer unhydrogenated coconut spread, EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and a gluten free starch, that will work, too.
I'll try to get back this week with more stone tips. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Blogger Writing Style

Do you follow many blogs? Have you noticed that the people who blog to a large audience (you know, more than 5 followers) seem to have a rather poetic style, or artistic. Then again, the blogs I read with this style often are written by people designing fabric and patterns, so I suppose they are artistic. And poetic. BTW, that was an example of how they write. Often. Words alone. Make sentences. For effect.

The pictures are also interesting on such blogs. Perhaps a close up at a 38.527 degree angle of a feather on a bird on a fabric the person designed. Or the edge of a wall. Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm." In my case, it's more like, "Huh?"

The words used are the poetic part. Fabric that reminds someone of a willowy breeze in a field softened with hues of lavendar and lilac. Except they write it differently.

Then there are bloggers like me. We're the kind who write like we talk. I talk a lot. I mean, when I talk, I use a lot of words. I'm not an "outgoing person who likes to be the center of attention" kind of talker. You can be that kind person who talks a lot but may not use a lot of words to say something. You might just say a lot of different things. I'm a "let me start at the very beginning, but I'll back up three years earlier and describe in the minutest detail everything that ever happened" kind of person. There is a difference. Think of a news reporter. They have to give you the facts without too many details because of time restraints. That person might talk a LOT using a few amount of words for each account. A newspaper writer might say more in an article than a TV reporter could share, but still must keep the account fairly brief. That reporter could likely fill several pages with a variety of stories. A lot of words, but not all on one topic. Then there is the novel writer. This is a person who uses a LOT of words to describe MOST things.

That's me. While I've never written an actual novel, some have told me my writing is about as long as a novel. I want to share details to give the full effect of what I'm telling you. I could tell you we went to church today. OR I could tell you we slept in because my muscles were aching with fibromyalgia pain. When we got up I hurried the girls to eat before we left. Natalie had a bowl of Lucky Charms and wondered if someone had been eating them out of the box. I had some Kix, which does not say "Gluten Free" on the label, but the contents are gluten free. I don't normally worry about the little tag that says, "Made in a factory that also produces foods made with wheat." So far it has worked for me. Since Bethany is also on the GF diet, I had her try a new gluten free granola bar that I found while Kathy and I were in Houston for her chemo treatment. (if I were telling you this story in person, I would here break off into a discussion about Kathy and chemo and 3 hours later would say, "Oh, I want to finish telling you about church."). Natalie was worried that we would be late because Phil was not ready 30 minutes before church was to start. She wanted to go tell him to hurry, but I told her to just be patient. We finally were all ready to go and loaded into the van.

Okay, I will stop, but if you are a descriptive writer (detailed to the nth degree), you know that I want to continue my story. If you are not, you probably haven't made it this far and by now have deleted yourself from being my follower on my blog.

In my defense, when our pastor was talking about Spiritual Gifts a few weeks ago, he described the way a "teacher" talks. He could have been describing me.

This blog post has no deep meaning or knowledge to pass along. It isn't even a very good lesson from a teacher. It's just some late night ramblings from a mom who needs to get to bed but was distracted by some pretty fun blogs and the writing style of their authors. That's all.

Good night.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What IS cookin' with Chef Mama???

My dad said he's tired of seeing my cinnamon rolls on my blog, so I thought I better post to let you know we are alive here. On May 10th, my friend Kathy had a mastectomy in Houston for breast cancer. Since that week, we've been to Houston weekly until last week. The last time we came home my family headed to my MIL's house, so actually, as of tonight I have finally been in my own bed for a full week. That is I've SLEPT in my own bed. I do get out during the day (though a few naps might have taken place).

There is a lot of info that makes for some interesting blog posting (if you are bored & looking for something mind numbing to read) but I will save that for later.

Here are a few pics of what I call our "While You were Sleeping" events (ie what Kathy's, Danette's and my girls did in various groupings, while Kathy was in the hospital). I'll try to come back with more info at some point.
At the zoo. This one was Sarah's choice & she saw SEVERAL animals she'd never seen in real life. No, I am not pregnant. I just look that way. It's called a Smith Belly.

Annie & a Nanny (goat). At the Health Museum. SMILE!

Houston equals HOT! Swimming at Uncle Greg's House (my brother). This was EVERYONE's choice, even my niece, Becky.

Becky IS pregnant. We just have matching tummies. Becky made the girls kiss baby Karis (ie her tummy) and make a heart for their baby cousin coming in August.

SHOPPING (well, window shopping) at the Galleria. Annie's & Natalie's choice! The girls ice skated first.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ooey-gooey Cinnamon Rolls that I CAN EAT!!!

I love cinnamon rolls. Well, I did, pre-Celiac diagnosis. I grew up eating Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. The orange danish are my faves. I'd eat the store brand rolls just as quickly. The Celiac Disease (CD) made me unable to process all the nutrients (and apparently a lot of other parts) in food so I stayed VERY thin. So I could eat those things like crazy & not gain weight. That is, until I got pregnant the 2nd time. Then the doctor told me I had to watch my fat intake. I was gaining 5 and 10 pounds a MONTH. Early in pregnancy, to boot. I think it was around that time, or after I had my 2nd child, that I discovered a book called Miserly Moms. It's been re-written and probably has more up to date hints in it than mine did, but mine had enough to help me save a bundle of money AND had an amazing Cinnamon Roll Recipe. My niece, who was a teenager at the time, and was born with "Mall Radar," told me these tasted like the ones at the mall. I tried to make them for her whenever I saw her. Then came the Celiac Diagnosis and I've not made them since.

If you've ever had to give up a food you love for the rest of your life, you will no doubt understand my sheer joy in finding a cinnamon roll that tastes like the REAL DEAL but has NO GLUTEN in it! For the past 5 years I have not been able to eat anything with wheat, rye or barley, which all contain gluten, in it. I'm often asked, "Can't you eat just a little bit?" or even better, I'm TOLD by non-medically trained people, "A little bit won't hurt you." My response is, "I'd rather not get a little bit of cancer." When a person has Celiac Disease, it isn't just a matter of gluten upsetting a tummy. Rather, studies have shown that untreated CD WILL lead to Lymphoma. Even a smidgen of bread (one studied showed that a piece even smaller than 1/200th of a piece) can cause the villi in the intestines to start being destroyed. So, NO, I cannot eat just a little bit and stay Lymphoma free.

This means I've had to give up a LOT of foods that most of us take for granted: bread, crackers, cookies, soy sauce, canned soup, and about a million other foods. Don't feel too sorry for me. I've been able to duplicate or find gluten free versions of most of these. There are a handful that have eluded me, or had until I recently made a discovery. I'd read about something called, "Better Batter Mix" which is found HERE. I haven't been willing to fork out the dough (ha, ha, pun intended) for this gluten free flour mix. A few weeks ago I found a "copycat" recipe of the mix at THIS website. I could get most of those ingredients at my local grocer! I mixed up a batch of the copycat recipe and tried something I'd missed for all these years: Cinnamon Rolls. REAL ooey gooey rolled up cinnamon rolls. Most GF batter is like a quick bread batter. Ever tried rolling out banana bread batter? LOL! Then along came the Better Batter Clone recipe and the Better Batter Cinnabon-Clone Recipe. You can find it HERE if you'd like.

OH.......MY......WORD!!!! WOW! These were like the REAL DEAL to me. They rolled up like a real dough. They rose like a real dough. They baked like real rolls. They TASTED LIKE THE REAL THING! I can't remember the last time I was so happy to taste a new food. Finding GF "Graham Style" crackers was HUGE recently, but this topped that. Yum, yum, yum.

Now if I could just find a way to keep these things from adding layers to me. Remember that, "I was SO thin" statement? Yeah, well, I got over that. And in a hurry. Sad, but true. These aren't an every day kind of food, but for those few moments of sheer delight, boy, oh, boy are they worth it!

Hot day in May

What do you do when you are too young to drive, too poor to have your own pool, too bored being inside and too hot outside? You make your own pool using materials from inside to cool off outside & not drive your mom crazy! LOL! The pictures do not reveal the faces of the innocent---or the goofy in this case---but I think you can see how innovative these girls are. You might also imagine what all is dumped on my floor that WAS inside those boxes. Ah, something to keep them busy when they come inside.

Big sister is always the photographer and videographer and she has not failed on her duties today. I'm just hoping she can keep the camera dry with all the splashing going on out there. I'm also hoping the windows on the van are closed because a certain 11 year old belonging to us decided to show me how well the water hose worked, with it pointed right at the van. Ay ay ay!

Summer is here, I do believe. I know for some of you there is still the possibility or even reality of snow this day. Not so much in South Texas. If you come to visit this time of year, bring a swimsuit. We have pools in assorted sizes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

THREE bags in one day!

A THIRD Loribelle Bag finished! Woo-hoo! Tomorrow I'll load them onto Etsy! Check out this one HERE. When my 11 year old saw this one semi-assembled she said, "Who is this one for? Whoever gets this one is so lucky!" LOL! (I'm sure this would have been followed by, "But we don't believe in luck" had her big sister been around). So, it has 11 year old approval.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ANOTHER bag on Loribelle Bags Blog!

Check out my Pretty in Pink Paisley Purse! Click HERE.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Loribelle Bag!

Check out my latest Loribelle Bag! Click HERE.

Autism Awareness Month

April is autism awareness month. Every day is autism awareness day at our house. Our 13 year old has Asperger Syndrome, a high functioning autism. Today we had Girl Scouts (where we have 3 girl "Aspies"; I've dubbed them the 3 Aspieteers), then some of us went to eat ice cream. At one point I looked up to see one of the Aspie girls standing just outside the window & my Aspie girl inside. The one on the outside was pretending to climb the window & mine was inside mimicking her movements. Such fun. LOL!

That girl's mom sent me a link to some funny t-shirts. If you know someone with autism, you might enjoy seeing these, too.

That one just cracks me up!

One I would not wear, but have thought on occasion:
And my all time favorite, but I want it to say "Autistic" instead of special needs:
If you want to see a small scrapbook page I did with autism awareness you can visit my craft blog HERE.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cricut CAKE!

Have you ever seen a crafting product that made your jaw drop? That's a silly question for crafters! We've probably seen a LOT of those! I was going through my Google Reader with blogs listed and clicked on "Everyday Cricut." The funny thing about me even clicking on it is that I don't own a cricut. It's one of those pricey items that never made it into the "I could use this for my business" (thus justifying the price) list. I have a dear friend who lives near me who has told me I can go use hers, but I have yet to do it. I think I'm afraid I might like it too much.

Back to my clicking. I saw the words "Cricut Cake" and thought, "Oh, ANOTHER version of the Cricut. This one must have some kind of cute little feature that makes it called a "Cake." You know how crafters are. Everything must have a cute little name. Then I noticed they were giving one away. For free. Yep! That got my attention! I clicked on the link to find out more about this "yet another" Cricut. That's when I found out when they said CAKE, they meant CAKE.

If you haven't heard about it, let me share this link with you: CRICUT CAKE GIVEAWAY. Why is it called cake? Turns out, it can cut shapes out of food items to put on CAKE! I'm thinking fondant or gum paste must be what it primarily cuts. Can you imagine? How many overnight Chef Duffs will we have?

I posted on Facebook that I have this random desire to be a cake decorator (I bought a Wilton "yearbook" in the 70's in junior high & started teaching myself how to make icing flowers & such). I've never had official classes. I want to do that. Again, one of those that hasn't made it on the list. It's way cheaper than a Cricut! LOL! I think the whole gluten free issue makes it not so much fun to take classes icing cakes I can't even TASTE. It's one reason Pampered Chef became so hard for me. I had to cook & serve food I could not taste to be sure it was made right. I mean, I trust PC recipes, but I couldn't tell guests anything about some of the food. So, my OTHER part of the desire to decorate cakes is to learn to make REALLY tasty and NOT DRY gluten free cake. I have found a way to make most foods taste decent in a GF formula. I've still not made a crescent roll, but that's another story for another day. I would love to be able to make DELICIOUS GF cakes AND decorate them.

I told my daughters this the other day & they both said, "I want to help you!" THey thought the idea of a Cricut Cake was amazing. Natalie would help bake, I know. Bethany would help decorate. I have not decorated a birthday cake in several years b/c she does them all. Actually, they both do. B. is on a GF diet now, too (hoping she'll gain weight), so I'd like her to learn to cook & bake GF. She likes to make food concoctions without recipes. Some are, well, interesting, to say the least. Natalie loves to bake and cook. Here's the only issue I have with the idea of a "bakery:" I don't do mornings. Not well anyway. So we could only REALLY do cakes. The kind you make the day before & they pick up sometime AFTER noon. LOL!

I suspect this Cricut Cake will cost much more than the other Cricuts, so it's not really on my justifiable list either. But if I win the contest, well, I'll start baking cakes faster than you can blink an eyelash!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Beautiful Blossoms

If you live in Texas or know people in Texas, you may know that it is a law that you must take pictures of your kids in the Bluebonnets. I've broken the law for several years as we really didn't have great fields of our beloved state flower. This year, with a cold winter and lots of rain, God has blessed us with fields of waving blue flowers dotted with assorted other beauties.

We stopped at a field (along with a few other families) near my mother-in-law's house on the way home from Easter church service on Sunday. The wind was blowing and the sun was bright, so catching both of our blossoms with open eyes wasn't easy. We did get a few shots, though, and wanted to share these with you.

I cannot remember the fields of flowers having a scent, but WOW, was there ever a sweet smell in the air. Sandi Patty's song "Was it a Morning Like This?" asks about the morning Jesus rose from the grave, "Did the grass sing? Did the earth rejoice to feel You again?" I have to wonder if the bluebonnets were rejoicing with us with their sweet scent that Jesus is Risen!

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'm alive!

Just a quick post for anyone who might be checking into my blog. My mom just told me my last blog post was on 2/19. We've been busy with life, homeschool, trying to get more items made for my Loribelle Bags Business, etc.

I'll try to post a better update soon!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Selling Girl Scout cookies & not eating them

For the record, I just want to say that having my girls sell cookies & not being able to eat a single one because of gluten is really a stinky deal. Stinkier still is that I can't eat the really good stuff, but the stuff I can eat is higher in calories & I've gained MORE weight instead of losing. The rheumatologist told me swimming is good for fibromyalgia, but to lose weight I'd have to "make foam in the pool." Yeah, I don't think I can swim fast enough for that! It's also stinky that Bluebell puts wheat in most of their ice creams, even those that don't need it for any reason.

You know what's not stinky? That God loves me even if I am overweight & that in Heaven there will be no more Celiac Disease! Yea!

That's all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What can you not do online?

A week or so ago my nephew blogged about the incredible amount of resources available on the internet for ministry. You can read his blog HERE. His title was the same as mine. Is English the only language where we ask a rhetorical question in the negative but mean the opposite? Did anyone understand THAT question in English? LOL! I mean that he asked the question, "What can't you do...?" but meant, "look at all the things you CAN do...." My nephew has been in ministry for 6 years, at least professionally for 6 years. He's been in some form of ministry since he trusted Jesus to be His Savior as a teenager. His current position is (and I may say this wrong) Student Pastor and Internet Pastor. I may have totally messed that up, but he is responsible for finding ways to use the Internet for the church's ministry. He actually developed an app for the iPhone so you can watch Trinity Baptist on your phone. I find that kind of Star Trekish in a cool way. I, however, have a Zphone---zero dollars, provided by AT&T without bells & whistles, so I just read about how smart he is.

When I saw his title, I decided to take the question literally. I live with an autistic child. Literal is the norm. Here is a starter list for what you CAN'T do on the internet. I'd LOVE to hear from you about those things you just can't do with the click of a mouse.
You can't:
  • kiss a boo-boo
  • hold a baby
  • cut the umbilical cord when your baby is born
  • hold your sweetheart's hand
  • give a hug
  • taste chocolate (or any other food group)
  • feel the wind or the power of a Kawasaki ZRX zipping down the road (jury is still out on if that's a good thing or not!)
  • wipe your child's tears
  • feel your child squeeze your hand when a doctor is cutting into a wound and it hurts like nothing she's ever felt before
  • touch your parent's face for the last time before they go into the presence of the Lord
  • tickle your child
  • remove a tumor
  • see your autistic child hiding beneath a table because of sensory overload
  • use a cpap to help breathe at night
  • drink a coke
  • feed a plate of food and a drink of water to a Hatian who has lost all but hope in the Lord
  • feel the comfort of your own bed and pillow
  • put in earplugs
My list could go on & on. These aren't all good things, but they are real things that happen and make us grow and change. I am SO thankful for the ways the Lord uses the technology we have (and believe He is the one who gives man the ability to create such things). I am equally thankful for those things we CAN'T do online.

What's your list of what you cannot do online?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

An unexpected sleepover in the hospital

Edited below with pictures & more info.

I'll have to post more from home or after Natalie's asleep. We came to the ER to see about a wound that had not improved since we saw the dr. on Thursday. The dr. said to go to the ER if it got worse. It did. We did. The dr. here lanced it (VERY painful as the local anesthetic did not kill the pain) but wants to keep us overnight to watch it.

Natalie is a tough cookie. She has never winced at getting shots. She seems to frequently be hurting herself (this happens when you are ADHD & don't watch where you are going). But her pain tolerance is high. We KNEW when she started crying that she was in pain. I told her it was okay to scream.

When we first got to the ER it was about 2. Natalie's main concern was that we be OUT OF HERE by 6 for her Girl Scout cookie booth. Funny girl!

I'm going to sign off & let her play on the computer (that Phil graciously brought to me!). She's having a hard time being still & is bored to tears but not sleepy yet! Will update tomorrow.

Edited 2/19: Our trip started with a bump Natalie got a few weeks ago. It started to improve. In this picture you can see it was healing nicely a week after the bump. She & her friend happened to be working on a photography badge for Girl Scouts, so we had a picture of it.

Then, a week later it started looking a bit swollen. Throughout the week it got worse, so we went to the doctor on Thursday. She put Natalie on an antibiotic but said if it got worse over the weekend we needed to get to the ER. I decided I needed to take pictures to be able to compare them (not trusting my brain to remember if it was better or worse!).

This was on Thursday.

As you can see, it got worse, so we went to the ER. This is what it looked like on Sunday (the lancing was done on Saturday):
It seems to be doing better, but is a bit more swollen than I'd like. I'll have to watch it over the weekend & see if we need another trip to the doctor.
Now, I must show you another picture. It seems that the bumps were spreading on her face.

She & her friend both did this. I think her eye wound looked better than they did with these! LOL!