Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday

I swore I'd never do it.

I thought I'd be on the news.

But at 4:30 a.m., there I was, standing bleary, but wide eyed at our local Walmart. It was per my die-hard husband's request that I obliged, but only with the promise of extra strong coffee and enough bail-out money in the account should anyone shove me or something at that wicked hour.

We circled the store, amazed at the calculation and prowess of the Seasoned Shoppers. It seemed that they somehow knew we were rookies without a plan (as evidenced by the MAP we were given upon arrival). We were feeling a little overwhelmed and perhaps a little inadequate when all of a sudden, something instinctive surfaced within me. I asked Mark to follow me as I handed him the buggy and took all the back roads to get to the 700 mile long line for something that I can't mention.

Then, all of our unique gifts came into play. I stood there, in the endless line, deciding upon our next important move (think chess) while Mark went and flawlessly carried out the mission. By 6:30 a.m. we were sitting at Cracker Barrel recounting the morning while the angels were singing at our $250 savings. Amen.

Consider this chick converted. I was blind and now I see. Did I love having every person within a 200 mile radius packed into one store, violating every fire-code there is? NO. Am I am person who deeply values personal space? YES. But, when I look at the savings, the awesome-awesome savings, I can deal with the possibility of perishing or bad breath for 2 hours once a year.

Black Friday no longer black-balled,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All the rest

I am sitting here throwing back some Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreos (thanks to Linda's shout out of these most blessed of all things) and I started thinking about how this ol' internet has done wonders for bringing out the inner-foodie in me. The cuisine in this household prior to the world wide web and Food Network was lackluster to say the least. But now....oh now....I've reached new heights in my mediocrity.

I can barely think of making something before consulting and I can't even speak of how much I idolize The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Incidentally, never have I made anything from either of these two places that I didn't completely adore. In fact, I'm changing up my side-dishes a bit for Thanksgiving this year, and I realized that many of my recipes are coming from either of these two sites.

To prove this, I give you my menu:

Deviled Eggs - Mark and the fam love these things.

Apples and fruit dip

Veggies and Ranch dip


Stuffing - remember, we're born and bred Yankees around here.

Stuffing balls - this is some crazed family tradition on my Mom's side that everyone raves about. But me? Not so much. However, this is coming from somebody that thinks Whoppers are the most disgusting candy ever made, so I'm willing to be the weird one. It won't be the last time I'm called that, for sure.

Mashed Potatoes with the Works

Whiskey Glazed Sweet Potatoes - I know, I know, the recipe calls for carrots, but I want to try sweet potatoes with it. It's purely experimental, so we shall see. Plus, if it bombs, we can medicate with the leftover alcohol. Just kidding. Kinda.

Green Bean Casserole - I have tried and tried to change up this archaic recipe, but it usually causes full-scale revolt, so this year, I am leaving well enough alone. Durkee onion, here I come (gagging, but nevertheless....).

Gail's 7-layer salad - Oh my word. PLEASE try this. I don't know who Gail is, but she rocks a 7 layer salad, y'all. (One thing I do different, though, is spinach in place of iceberg, and black beans instead of pinto...just personal preference)

Cranberry Sauce - I grew up with the canned stuff, and I still like that, oddly enough, but this...this, is worth forsaking my roots. The only change I make is that I add orange juice (just cut back on the water) instead of an orange. The peel can make it a little bitter.

No Knead Rolls - Julianna and I will work on these tomorrow.

2 pumpkin pies - using a pumpkin puree that Julianna and I made in mid-October. Cross your fingers.

2 pecan pies

1 apple pie - sinfully delicious recipe that my Grandma used to make. Seriously, it should be outlawed because of all the calories, but so should calorie counting on Thanksgiving, so there.

All of these will have homemade whipped cream to go with it.

Lots of sodas, cokes, pop or whatever you call them, iced/sweet tea, and Mulled Cider (a.k.a. Wassail....makes the house smell good AND tastes awesome).

See what I mean? That's alot of links, people! I love me some internet food. :) Hope you all have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving. I am certainly counting YOU as one of my blessings.

Much love,

P.S. I can't tell you how much your comments in the last post ministered to me. Thank you, sweet friends.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fanning the Flame

As I'm sitting here trying to fan this teeny little hot ash into a flame in our fireplace, I am getting frustrated. I have been here for about 45 minutes working to get the remnants of last night's roaring fire to burn brightly again so that I can have some desperately needed warmth on this frigid Saturday before Thanksgiving.

I've tried just about every kind of kindling that I can think of; paper, pine straw, extremely dried out branches and a good dose of prayer with some matches, but nothing is making this fire really ignite. I've blown on that little ash and on the lit pine straw until I am, quite literally, dizzy, but it keeps dying out after only a minute or so.

What in the world am I doing wrong? I am half tempted to just give up and walk away because it seems useless, but my stubbornness won't let me. I know that this little ash is capable of creating a massive fire, and I also know that if my pyro hubby were to walk in here and blow on this same little ash, we would all have to stand back because of the heat.

And then I start to cry.

Not because I am some big wimp who can't take not being able to get a measly fire started (after all there is gasoline in the shed if I really wanted to prove my fire making ability....and don't put it past me). It's because I just cannot escape how this is a perfect analogy of my walk with my Father lately.

It seems that no matter what I do, I can't fan my little ember into a badly needed flame. I'm stale, I'm weary, I'm distracted, I'm overwhelmed, I'm miserable and I'm weak. Among other things. I'm trying to give those over, but I have a tendency to snatch them back and roll in it a little more.

Do I believe I will come up out of this pit? Do I know that my little ash has tons of hope attached to it? You betcha. Remember, I'm stubborn and thankfully, so is my Father's love. I know where He wants me, I just have to get there, one puff of air at a time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lotsa Life

Yesterday was one of the busiest days I've had in awhile, but poignant in so many ways. Yesterday I celebrated friendship, the birthday of an 83 year old matriarch, and a beautiful wedding of two people who are young and in love. At around 11 p.m., I also celebrated the comfy warmth of my blessed bed, but that's beside the point.

My day started off with brunch at a really yummy restaurant with some really sweet friends. Annie (far left) came in from Nashville to see the Reba concert with Robyn (far right) on Friday night. And since we all think Annie is awesome, Sophie, Lora Lynn (+Willa), and I met up with the Reba-stalkin' duo to throw back some delicious food and to chat about every random thing under the Alabama sun. I had such a great time with these girls who can make you laugh your head off one minute and amaze you with their passion or strength the next. I snapped this picture right before I had to run (almost literally) out the door.

I had to run because I was l-a-t-e. I was supposed go home, get changed and pick up the Crew to head to my Grandma's little place because yesterday was her 83rd birthday.

It ended up that there would be no way for us to pull that off and get to the wedding on time, so my Mom and the kids went on while Mark and I headed to the church. It all turned out much better when it was all said and done because we were able to stop in to see her by ourselves after the ceremony.

My Grandma has this sweet little room-mate and between the two of them, we stay in stitches. By the time you are in your 80's, I guess you are done caring about the apropos things in life, which is an attribute that makes Mark and I adore spending time with the elderly. Sadly, I forgot to take my camera into the home when I went in. It might have had something to do with the fact that it felt like 60 below zero outside, so I was more concerned with avoiding frostbite than being a shutterbug. BIG bummer.

Earlier in the afternoon, though (and when the temps were much more bearable), we arrived at one of the most beautiful little churches in our area. It was made even more picturesque with the brilliant foliage that surrounded it. Take all of that and mix it with a crisp, sort-of-overcast Autumn day and you've got a set-up for a lovely wedding.

And a lovely wedding it was, indeed. There isn't much in this world that compares to young love. There is so much to be learned, so much to grow into, and so much prove when you make a giant step like marriage at an age when you should only be concerned with college and impending careers.

But sometimes, against the grain of society, God brings two people together before all of that is completely figured out....

And sometimes.....

....dare I say, many times, it all turns out a thousand fold more beautiful than the best laid plans of another.

Married at 19 to that guy in the last shot,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fiction Readers Anonymous

Guess what I've been doing? Reading. Reading what, you ask? Books. Real, live books. I haven't chilled out with a good work of fiction in at least a year, but last weekend, I decided to make a nest on my bed and dig in. ~Oh the forgotten bliss~ It was the last 2 books in the Annie's People series by Beverly Lewis and they were really good. Yes, I said "they", hence the reason I never read fiction: As soon as I get into a story, you can hang it up on me being worth a flip until I'm done...and Lord help us all if it's a series. I'm talking full-boar binge.

It's incredible the lengths that I will go to in order to not put the book down. I eat with it, bathe with it, and of course, it's the first thing I wake up to and the last thing I fall asleep with at night. I can even flip pages with my toes when absolutely forced to use my otherwise occupied hands. The worst part is that you can usually find me closetly heartbroken when I've read the last word. It's that bad, people.

Obsessive, you say? Yep. Analyze it, and you will probably come up with the solid truth that I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl, but you'd better stop up your ears if you make that statement too loudly because I can assure you, you'll get a booming agreement from my family. I try to be mindful of my "issues", which is why I have to go an entire year between my reading stints (this doesn't apply to non-fiction, by the way).

However, we are coming up on the holidays, when I will have some blessed down time (read: NO school! Holla!) and I would like something to read. It's all need to call in an intervention or anything, I can totally handle it this time around, I promise. SO. What's a must-read in your opinion? OR, if you share my fiction issues and have to s-l-o-w-l-y back away from the books, tell me. Perhaps we can come up with a 12 step program together or something.

Hi, my name is,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Go Carrie, Go Carrie...

Hey! I've got to hurry with this, but I wanted to come over here to ask you to click this link to vote for Carrie from The Gremlin Wrangler for Funniest Homeschool Blog. It will seriously take you less than 10 seconds. I have no motivation here except I want her win...but I guess I could motivate you by offering free Starbucks or something....

Nah. That would be cheating. Sorry. How 'bout this....Go vote because methinks this is an election we can WIN!! :D

Alright, gotta run. OH! If any of you have been nominated for something over at the Homeschool Blog Awards, let me know in the comments and you'll have my vote, too.


P.S. You don't have to have a blog to vote...

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm an idiot

Just so you know... I am in the fetal position barely able to breathe because I've screwed up my template. This was not intentional and I am praying with everything in me that the amazing Trista has saved my beloved template.....

Back to rocking,

BIG FAT SHOUT OUT to the Awesome Trista over at Pumpkin Patch Creations!!! She did my design 2 months ago.... I can breathe again. Go check her out because OBVIOUSLY she's amazing!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Talking Turkey

Ok, let's move on to something a little less grim, shall we? Thanksgiving is only a mere 3 weeks away, and THAT is sweet music to my gluttonous ears. I can't begin to tell you of my affection for this holiday with all it's yummy goodness.

Mark and I have always hosted Thanksgiving in our home from the first year on after we were married. I'll never forget, as long as I draw breath, when I had 5 hungry sailors who couldn't go home to their Mama's cooking, and one vegetarian girlfriend, who all decided that GAYLE needed to make a turkey and all the fixings.

Have I ever told you how insufficient I was in the kitchen for the first few years of our marriage? Let me just put it to you this way, the folks at Golden Corral totally knew us by name in Virginia Beach. And I STILL have a scar from my first feeble attempts at making a chicken breast. Plain, with no sides, thankyouverymuch.

Then there was the time that I thought I'd go all FANCY and make chicken enchiladas (notice it was only our fine feathered friends that I'd even try), but instead of using a few drops of pepper sauce as the recipe called for, I chopped up half the jar of the hottest, yellow peppers on the planet, seeds and all. My SWEET, smitten Mark acted like he wasn't internally engulfed in flames for as long as he could.... He probably still has a part of his tongue that's been permanently seared, God love him.

Anyway, they wanted ME to make the most important meal of the year, and there was no getting out of it. One of them went to the store and bought a bird that would have dented steel with it's massiveness, and plopped that bugger right down on my counter, hoping for a miracle, I guess.

I had no choice but to go Head to Severed Head with this thing, so I did what any newly married young girl would do, I winged it (and who could avoid a pun like that?). But guess what? It totally worked! Mind you, these were the days without internet, so I couldn't simply "Google it". I just figured that it would need something to seal in the juices, so I rubbed that bad boy down with butter and then gave it a drizzle of oil before putting it in the oven at the temperature that the directions read. I did, however, neglect to take out the...ahem...extra parts that are stuffed in it's "cavities". But who's keeping track?

I remembered my Grandmother basting her bird several times during the cooking process as I was growing up, so I had Mark run to the grocery store in front of our apartment, to get one of those "squirty do-hickeys". Funny, but he knew exactly what I'd meant. So I basted that bird every single hour on the hour until the little red button popped up. The meat actually rested before Mark carved it, not because we knew to do that, but because we were both so freaked out about it that we just stared at the thing forever.

Eventually we all gathered around with our Walmart china and dug into the Stove Top stuffing, canned cranberry sauce, and that blessed bird. I want you to know, that was one of the moistest turkeys any of those boys ever put into their mouths, by the sheer grace of God. It was nothing but dumb luck that I did all the right things that day to make that turkey turn out the way it did. And I haven't strayed from the original way of doing things with my turkey from that point until now (well, except I stuff it...and I remove the parts). I've added a few spices and things, but, that's it.

So tell me, do you make your own turkey on Thanksgiving, and if so, what's your way of doing things? Soon, we'll talk Sides....because that's a whole 'nother Paradise.

2:27 a.m.

Let me just say right out of the gate, regarding our election; My feelings are strong, my convictions run deep, and my heart is absolutely broken.

Not over the man, and certainly not over the color of his skin (let me scream that in the ear of anyone who even wants to go there), rather, it is broken over the deep, dark place that we, as a nation, have headed morally.

I had to teach my Kindergarteners about the origins of Thanksgiving yesterday. I taught them of all the unimaginable hardship that these Pilgrims had to endure just so they could get to a place where they could serve their Father, my Father, in freedom. America was founded on deep conviction and immense desire to bring God His due glory, and look at how He's blessed us for generations because of it.

Yet, in the last 40+ years, we have done everything we can to shove Him down and to push Him out. We've taken Him out of our schools, out of our judicial system, and it's even in the works to take Him off our money (and those are just a very few instances). America has made it clear that they don't have any need for the God on which this nation was founded. But God is just, and there isn't a single time in the Word, that I'm aware of, when He doesn't eventually remove His Holy hand of blessing and protection over those that are bent on evil. Why should we be any different? There's some change for you.

BUT, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. He is our Shepherd and we will fear no evil because His rod and his staff, they comfort us. He is just and we are His.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Let me tell you a little sumpthin about me: I'm not into politics. In fact, I kind of hate them. More specifically, I hate the continual back and forth maliciousness, the lies, and the mind-games that go along with them. But that's just my personal preference.


This election has my attention. Perhaps it's age or a softening to the aformentioned unpleasantries.... OR maybe it's that I believe that we are at a crucial time in our country's history. It is my opinion that, spiritually, we are at a crossroads. Not necessarily between two candidates, per se, as much as in the moral direction that we, as Americans, are decidedly going to take.

The bottom line is that we need to let EACH of our voices be heard tomorrow. I know that the lines will be long and that it may seem useless to some of us, and maybe you even triple h-a-t-e politics as much as I do, but I BEG you, go to the polls tomorrow. Your voice does count.

Have mercy, Oh Lord.