Friday, November 25, 2011

Let's Go Razorbacks!

Today is 'The Battle For The Golden Boot"! 
Arkansas Versus LSU
We will be fighting it out deep in Death Valley...but I BELIEVE!!!
Woo Pig, Soiee!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Birthday To My Thanksgiving Baby

She wasn't born on Thanksgiving...but her birthday has landed on it for the fourth time now.  We will be gathering with family to celebrate the blessings that the Lord has poured out on us this past year.  And we will say an extra 'Thank you' for her.

We love you, Kelli!  Hope your birthday is a blessing!
Mom & Dad

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Things That Make Me Smile

In no particular order...just photos that make me smile.

Brooke in her new dance wear that Pappaw and Nonna got her for her birthday.  I love seeing her poses!
A bird sitting on the mailbox outside my doctor's office after my last visit.
Looks good enough for a Spring postcard, huh?

The 'Texas Smile' Cactus
I don't know if you can see it very well or not, but in the middle of this prickly pear someone painted a blue smiley face.  Earlier this year the road was closed for some bridge work and when we were able to travel this way again, there was the smile.  And it still makes me smile every day when I pass it!
Our dogs, Allie and Hoss, sunning with me on a beautiful autumn afternoon.  If we had known that Hoss was going to come along eventually, we probably would have named them Salt and Pepper...because they are never apart!
Hope you were encouraged to smile today too!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Easiest Rolls EVER!

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago...when I didn't work in an office most days but stayed home with my children...I loved to bake.  But, as much as loved it...I just couldn't do bread...or rolls.  Still can't!  My husband will tell you that I have a missing bread gene.  I burn the frozen garlic toast.  My 'homemade' biscuits are inedible unless they come from the Pillsbury Doughboy!  

But, these Refrigerator Spoon Rolls are Foolproof!  I tell you, anyone can make them!  I have had this recipe for so long that I have no idea where it originated.   The texture of the rolls is closer to a sourdough consistency than a yeast roll...but they are delcious smothered in butter or just all by themselves!
Refrigerator Spoon Rolls

2 packages of dry yeast
2 cups of warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups self-rising flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water.
It will look like this.
Add all other ingredients and stir until well mixed.
The finished dough.
Place in an airtight container and store in refrigerator until ready to bake. 

As needed, spoon into greased muffin tin, filling halfway.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Don't use too small of a container as dough will continue to grow a little after mixing. 

I need to take a picture of the finished product.  I keep forgetting.  I would rather eat them than photograph them! 

Hope you and yours are enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wonderful Wednesdays

A "shout out" to my Wednesday Bible Study Group.  We began in July with Cindi Wood's study, Frazzled Female and decided to keep going through the fall with Victoriously Frazzled.  We ended our studies this past Wednesday with lunch at Texas Land & Cattle where we laughed and talked of how our lives have changed since we started this journey just four short months ago.   We spoke of our 'one thing' that we wanted to take from this time together...and then we made plans to return after the holidays.
Vivian, Brenda, Jenifer and Fonda
We haven't decided what the next study will be...but I, for one, can hardly wait!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guess Who Came For A Visit?

Look who rode home with me last Friday!
Maddux with his chocolate milkshake face.

Brooke posing with her cherry slush.
Their Daddy was taking their Mommy out for her birthday.  It isn't until the 24th, but she will be in Arkansas with us while he has to stay home and work.  So, the kiddoes came out to visit Nonna and Pappaw for the night.

The first thing on their 'to do' list was to go with Pappaw... see the new calf.  We have discovered that he is a bull and his name is Jed.  (I will let Brianne tell you why his name is Jed.)

The kids were enthralled with all the cows.  Until they got too close that is!

Next on the list was to ride the four wheelers.
Maddux still hasn't quite gotten the hang of the 4-wheeler with the pedal.

...but look at the smile on Brooke's face! 
This was her first time to ride by herself and she was absolutely beaming!

Maddux decided to hang out on the Ranger while Brooke was riding.

And then Brooke wanted a picture with Pib.

And all of that happened in the first fifteen minutes after we arrived.  Needless to say, when their Mommy picked them up the next day...Nonna took a nap and still slept good on Saturday night!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brooke Turns 4

I know I mentioned Brooke's 4th Birthday last month, but I wanted to share a few pictures from her party.

She had a blast blowing out the candles...
...and even got to lick the icing from the Hello Kitty's on her cake!

The Goode and Ham clans all gathered to celebrate.  See, we are a party all by ourselves!

Then it was present time!!!!  Her favorite part of the day.  She had requested all clothes for her birthday this year.  She is turning into quite the fashion plate.
I had to share this one.  Her Aunt Sarah bought her My Little Ponies, but she wrapped them in a very special bag.  Can't start them to young on their designer clothing, I guess!
After all the presents were opened and she had said her 'thank yous', she celebrated by throwing the tissue paper in the air.  I think that means she had a great day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Weekend Getaway

During October, I snuck off for a little weekend getaway with some of my dearest friends.
We chose to sneak away to L'auberge Du Lac in Lake Charles.

We chose Lake Charles because it is so convenient to the Houston area.

See?  Just 132 miles.  We can do that in just under three hours from our house!
I went with the rest of the Grandmas Gone Wild crew...Stacy and Robin.  (I apologize for the crazy eyed look...but this was the only picture of all three of us!
We also let the guys tag I was able to take my Best Friend along as well.

It was a relaxing weekend filled with pool time for the girls, golf for the guys and lots of chill time.

I actually made it out to the man made beach one morning for some quiet time!
This was the view from my beach chair!  Okay, it is not the same as the view from the hotel balcony in Santa Monica... the view of the Gulf of Mexico on South Padre Island...or even the one from the house on Lake Conroe...but it was still a view of the water.

And of course, when you travel with friends you always have to eat!

We tried out many of the hotel restaurants and on our last night, we went to Porter's favorite restaurant, Steamboat Bill's.  It must not be a big is voted #1 for Seafood after all.  Plus there were articles from Southern Living, Coastal Living and USA Today declaring it's wonders.  I had the boiled shrimp and they were DELICIOUS!  More flavorful than most of the places you visit.

All in all, it was a wonderfully relaxing weekend spent with some of my favorite people.  And I can hardly wait to do it again!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Weekend At The Biltmore Estate

From the book cover:
Falling in Love Could Cost Her Everything
From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled - by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman.  When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chose as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid.  After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.

But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage.  They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations...and their hearts.

My thoughts:
This book has been on my 'To Read' list since last September when I visited with my friend, Jeanene, in South Carolina.  She took me to Asheville, NC to tour the Biltmore Estate...and while we were there, she mentioned this book that her sister-in-law had just read.  I have looked for it each time I visited Barnes and Noble, and it finally showed up on the shelf a few weeks back.  I must say, as I read the accounts of the estate I could envision so beautifully the Tapestry Gallery with it's many conversation areas; the wall of windows that floods the basement servant's area with light; the laundry room with its many drying racks; and my favorite, the overflowing library that literally took my breath away with it's beauty.  (I might have even shed a tear at its glory!)

Though this is a Christian romance title, it is not 'heavy handed' with the religious aspect like I sometimes find them to be.  The faith of the main characters, while obvious, was described in personal relationship with the Lord rather than public displays of religion.  The novel dealt with a few tough topics without going into details, which I like in a book.  I don't need to read every detail of an injustice to feel its effect.  I do have to warn you though that the description from the book jacket is not exactly accurate.  Tillie has been serving at Biltmore for some time when we meet her at the beginning of the book.  In fact, she has moved up to become Head Parlormaid.  And Mack (who begins as Useful Man and then moves up to Footman) doesn't make the scene until Tillie has been chosen to try out for the position of Lady's Maid to the new Mrs. Vanderbilt along with Lucy, the Head Chambermaid.  And the part about being 'entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage' is better described as 'uncovering'. 

I can't imagine a life in which servants stream to and fro constantly cleaning and cooking and dressing the guests of a large home.  Nor can I imagine being a 'lady's maid' as a life calling that is seen as a huge accomplishment.  However, I felt for Tillie as she struggled between fulfilling her mother's dream for which she had worked so hard over the years and following her own heart to a destiny that many considered a step backwards. 

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and will probably read another of Deeanne Gist's novels.  Perhaps it was the familiarity of the setting that drew me in...but I don't think so.  I think it was just a well crafted story! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Bittersweet Shout Out

I received a phone call from Brianne this morning with the news that she got the job she applied for at PacSun!  She has experienced a few bumps in the road lately that mean she needs a job while finishing school next year.  And she really enjoyed working retail, plus it gives her a much more flexible schedule than office work.

My first words were, "Yay!  Congratulations!"  Followed closely by, "But that means you won't be able to be with us in Arkansas for Thanksgiving."  After all, when you are hired to work a seasonal job for Christmas you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT miss Black Friday...which begins at 9 PM on Thanksgiving Day at the Outlet Mall where she will be working. 

So, it is with bittersweet emotions that I send this shout out to our 'Baby Girl'. 

:-) Congratulations on getting the job you wanted...
but I sure am going to miss you at the Thanksgiving table!  :-( 

Love you, Bri!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

I have a confession to make.  It may sound un-American to most of you but...I'm not a big fan of pumpkin.  There, I've said it!  What a relief!

I try to like the tastes of fall, I really do.  The other day I even bought Pumpkin Spice Coffee Mate for my morning cup of coffee...but I wasn't able to finish the cup without pouring in a little Half-N-Half to cut the flavor.  And if I had my ruthers, I would take a huge slice of sweet potato pie over pumpkin at Thanksgiving dinner every time.

But...last month I found this recipe over at Tiffany's blog, Eat At Home and I want to share the delicious goodness with you.  (Plus I REALLY don't want to forget it once the fall season ends!)

Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
15 ounce can of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, beat the pumpkin, sugar and vegetable oil.  Add eggs and mix well.  In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Slowly add to pumpkin mixture (or you will be covered in a cloud of flour, trust me on this one).  Beat until well blended.  Bake for 20 - 30 minutes.  Cool cake completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
5 tablespoons butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3 - 4 teaspoons milk

Beat butter and cream cheese together.  Add vanilla and blend until smooth.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.  Add the milk one teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches spreading consistency.

This cake is not too sweet, but absolutely delicious!  I have made it twice in the past month and the boys love it.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall Sunflowers

Some days a girl just needs to add a little beauty to her surroundings. 
At Home
At the Office

Treat yourself to something that makes you smile...just because!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thursday Night Lights And The Heart Of A Mom

Thursday night lights.

A chill in the air.

Surrounded by a sprinkling of maroon and white.

The field is lit by the Texas sun setting to the west.

I shield my eyes in search of the only one this Mama's eyes want to see...#66.
We arrive at the stadium with three minutes to spare...yet the game has already begun.

I am disappointed.

Don't they understand the significance?

I'm not quite ready for this season to end.

It is the end of his JV years.

While I sit in the stands, snapping pictures like madwoman...not wanting to forget a single moment...his dad snacks on his usual -- nachos with chili and cheese.

"Are women the only ones that are nostalgic?", I ask, knowing the answer before I ask it.

"It's not like it's his last game, Fonda.  Next year is Varsity."

I know My Hero is only speaking the truth.  But in this Mama's heart, it is the end of another season of life. 

Next year comes the pressure of making the playoffs.

Next year's team carries the hopes of a small town on its shoulders.

Next year means our baby boy is a Senior...and our high school football days are seriously numbered.

So, I settle into the stands with my thoughts and my camera...and I record these moments through a lens and treasure them in my heart.  Because I don't want to forget a single thing.

Breaking the huddle.
Head to head on the 'O' line.
Holding that line.
The last play of his JV years.
Good game!
That Bulldog Spirit.
One Dog.
One Pack.
Walking off the field with Coach McNeil.
Discussing the game with Dad & Josh.
That was a nasty looking mark on his forehead.
Sideline picture with his sister.

Two of his biggest fans.
All smiles after a great win!

Waller Bulldogs  - 33
Magnolia West Mustangs - 14

And, yes, he is intentionally going for the Clay Matthews look.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nice Surprises

Jim and Bri have been bantering back and forth over the past month guessing as to whether or not Lady January was expecting.  Our herd of three were taken to the vet in early October for vaccinations, worming and a general check up.  Jim began noticing signs after their return, but wasn't sure.  Then on Wednesday evening he made the declaration that we were expecting a calf.

Imagine his surprise when he walked into the pasture on Thursday afternoon to see this.

 A freshly born calf!  I raced to the truck to grab my camera and by the time I made it back, Mama was nudging it up for it's first walk.
 It was so cute on it's wobbly little legs!
 She then moved it to the back corner to soak up some sunshine. 

For some reason, Lady Jan loves to birth babies on the afternoon of the coldest nights of the year.  Last night we saw temperatures bumping the freezing mark and I was a little worried about our newest family member. 

But when I walked out to check on it this morning, I found it lying in the hay.
Mama wasn't too happy with me out there taking pictures, even with my long range lens...but this calf just looked too cute to pass up! 

So, Jim was right about our expecting a new baby on the farm.  We're just beginning to wonder why the vet didn't mention it!!!