Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Family Affairs

Last week I finished my first 'Christmas Gift' book, Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim by David Sedaris.  Brian bought this one for me.  He and Bri know how much I love to read about families that are 'as' or 'more' dysfunctional than we are at times. LOL!

This book is a collection of articles that humorist David Sedaris has written about his immediate family.  I was hooked from the very beginning when Mr. Sedaris recounts a 'Snow Day' from his childhood.  After suffering through a morning with housebound children, his mother sends David and his sisters out to play in the snow.  She then proceeds to lock the door so that they can't get back in!  After several attempts to gain reentry, they decide to get her attention one way or another...and, boy, do they ever!

But, as in any family, there were also stories that were hard for me to read.  Perhaps the most difficult for me personally was the account of a dinner party in Paris.  When Mr. Sedaris begins to recount an experience he had that day with a man with a rubber arm, his partner, Hugh, questions and denounces in front of the guests that it must have been a plastic arm.  I know that I have been guilty of questioning Jim in front of guests about something that didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things and only ended up making everyone around us uncomfortable. 

Yet, my favorite account was of David going to visit his newborn niece, the daughter of his younger brother who he 'lovingly' refers to as The Rooster.  I could just imagine in my mind's eye this rough and tough man's man who spews forth obscenities at the drop of a hat, bent over his daughter's crib cooing over her with words that would make a preacher's ears glow red!

This book contains some language and adult subject matter.  As I said before, some of the chapters were hard for me to read...and for various reasons.  But all in all, I enjoyed most of the stories compiled in this book. 

And as to whether or not we are more dysfunctional than the Sedaris family...well, I will leave that to my children to determine.  Who knows, they may even make a lot of money by recounting stories of us some day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekend Links 1/27/12

I'm sharing some links to the blog posts that touched me this week.  Hope you have time this weekend to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy them yourself!

  • For the days when your blog or your life feels small - Lisa-Jo over at The Gypsy Mama shares encouragement for those of who sometimes wonder if anyone is listening.  I am occasionally surprised when someone I didn't even know was reading makes a comment about my blog.  More often, I just sit and wonder if anyone ever reads it at all! 
  • Organizing magazine tear sheets - Angie at Echoes of Laughter shares her tip for keeping up with all those ideas you gather from magazines without being overrun with paper.  I do something similar, in that I tear out the ideas/pictures that I like and place them in 'general' folders. (Ie. a recipe folder or a decorating folder)  Every few months, I go through those pages and discard the ones that no longer appeal to me, then I place the rest in my idea binders.  You should see the binder for the dream home we hope to build one day!
  • Thanksgiving in my heart - just in case you missed our daughter, Meagan's latest blog post.  I know that this journey of grief is hard to follow sometimes...but this is a post filled with hope and faith.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aye, Matey!

Tis the fearsome pirate...
Bubble Beard!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This One Is For Aunt Sharon

Since you were not able to see the grandchildren open their gifts from you and Uncle Paul with your own eyes...I took pictures. I hope you enjoy them as much as they enjoyed their puzzles!

PS...I almost kept Brooke's calendar for myself! LOL!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato...Soup!

Wednesday night Bible study has started again making it a great night for using the Crock Pot.  Jim doesn't have to scramble up food for himself and the kids, and I don't have to rush home with take out.  Win - Win, I say!

I found a great recipe over at Michelle's blog, 5 Dinners 1 Hour, last week.  You can subscribe to her 'Make 5' monthly meal plan in her sidebar...or be like me and just follow her blog for great recipe ideas a few times a month. 

This recipe for Slow Cooked Baked Potato Soup really hit the spot...for our schedules and our stomachs!  Since I did all of the preparations the morning of and she has hers stored in the refrigerator ready to go, I altered the recipe a little to fit my circumstances.

Slow Cooked Baked Potato Soup
In your slow cooker, combine:
32 ounce bag frozen, cubed hash brown potatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
32 ounces chicken broth
1 cup water

Meanwhile, in a small bowl with a lid, combine:
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons flour

Store milk & flour mixture in refrigerator, until ready to use.

Cook potatoes on low for 6-8 hours.

30 minutes before serving, turn slow cooker to high and add milk/flour mixture.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits and green onions.

I hope you enjoy the soup as much as we did!  Oh, and if you have any great Crock Pot recipe ideas for me...PLEASE SHARE!  My menfolk are getting tired of soups! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Closet Calamity

As the chaos that was 2011 was coming to an end, Jim and I verbalized one wish to each other in regards to 2012...we wanted to get the house cleaned out and organized!

And just to make sure that we got the point, the day before we left to visit his parents for New Years -- THIS HAPPENED!
Total Closet Failure!
Two of the four closet shelving units came crashing to the floor sometime between us coming in from work and going to bed that night.

The week following our return home, Jim was able to reinstall one of the racks with new hardware...but the largest section was not going back the way it had come down. 

I spent some time cleaning in there the weekend that Mother was in for a visit and I finished it up a week later...so this past weekend we installed in the master bedroom closet what was originally purchased to be my new housewares closet system. 

Plus, while tearing down that old travel trailer weekend before last, Jim found a salvageable shelf to use too.  Score!
The view from the bathroom...that shelf with Jim's shoes on it came from the old travel trailer.
These shelves didn't come crashing down in the Closet Calamity of 2011...but, this side needed straightening up too.  Thanks to Bri and Meagan, my clothes have been lovingly sorted and my accessories put in order.
My side of the closet...by Bri and Meagan
And this is the Closet Maid system that I had purchased for use in the laundry room closet.  Oh, how I have fallen in L.O.V.E. with Closet Maid.  Jim says that the only way these shelves are coming down again is if the whole wall craters.  He was converted to the Closet Maid system as soon as he opened the package of hardware and saw REAL anchor bolts for its installation!
The shared closet...part His and part Hers. 
This is the new Closet Maid system...and I LOVE it!

Oh, the joy that comes from an organized closet!!
The view from the home office/sitting room/adult retreat.
Let's see how long we can keep our bench cleared off and actually use it for it's original purpose --  a place to sit and put on our shoes!
By way of full disclosure: we received no compensation from Closet Maid in the restoration of our master closet. But, if Closet Maid should happen to read this and desire to send me a new system for my laundry room closet...that would be totally acceptable to me! LOL!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekend Links 1/20/12

If you have some extra time this weekend, I think you might enjoy perusing some of these wonderful blog posts.

  • Seven Ways To Keep Your Home Strong - Ann Voskamp writes about making our homes into houses of prayer.
  • Homekeeping & Happy Homes - Boy, do I ever need this reminder from Serena that homes are not meant to be magazine perfect all of the time.  Sometimes I feel like everyone in the blogosphere has it all together, except me. 
  • Meet My Sister - This week on the Living Proof blog, Beth Moore introduced us to her sister.  In this first part of Gay's testimony I am powerfuly reminded of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ...especially in the life of a family.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So Many Things To Do And So Little Time

We are three weeks into 2012...I am a little over a week into my year of 'No Excuses'...and I a beginning to wonder if there is enough time to do all of the things that I want to do!

I shared some of my daily goals with y'all last week.  On top of those, I have a list of things that I want to do in 2012.

Things like:
  • take a photography class to finally learn how to use my digital camera.  I LOVE viewing Kristen's 'Click Class' posts and REALLY want to take her class.  Sigh!  If I could just find time in my schedule to travel to Colorado and join in the fun!  I keep looking on the Internet for something similar here in Houston (we are America's fourth largest city after all)...but so far, nada.
  • get crafty again.  Once upon a time, in another life, when I didn't work outside the home...I loved woodworking.  And pre-children, I enjoyed cross-stitching.  I want to get back to doing creative things.  Especially when I read Angela's posts over at Button Bird Designs
  • make time for special relationships - this includes the time I want to spend with the grandchildren, but also time with friends and family.  I would love to have a family reunion with my dad's side of the family this year...and my mom's side next year...and extended time with Jim's family...and so forth and so on.  Regularly scheduled lunches and dinners with friends that I haven't seen in FOREVER...or since last month.  Wink!
  • Jim turns the big 5-0 this year, and since I am pretty sure he NEVER reads my blog I'll go ahead and say it now...I want to throw a big bash to celebrate this man who stole my heart 30+ years ago and still takes my breath away every single day.  (Lest you are feeling a little queasy right now, sometimes it's because he makes me so mad I cannot speak...ha!)
  • read for fun more - for Christmas I asked the kids to just buy me a good book (something they read and liked or something that caught their eye)...so now, in addition to what I already had on my nightstand, I have four VERY different books lined up and ready to go!
  • attend women's Bible study - the first one started last night and it felt good to be back...but that means one night a week that I am not at home.  Thank goodness for the Crock Pot!
  • TRAVEL!!!  Oh, how I love to travel!  A return trip to NYC is already on the calendar for February.  Grandmas Gone Wild, baby!  And the week at the lake house has been scheduled for July...along with a trip to West Memphis for our nephew's graduation this spring.  And of course, the annual trip to the deer lease for Thanksgiving...and New Year's in NE Arkansas.  But I would also like to go see my friend, August, in Las Vegas this year too.  (It has been too long!!!)  And I never made it to Atlanta to see my niece, Naiz, cheer last year...so, I would like to do that.  And, of course, I would love to go watch my Hogs play football this fall. 
As you can see, my eyes are bigger than my calendar...and much bigger than my wallet!  So, I have to be purposeful in making sure that I use my time wisely and not overbook myself.   And yet, I also want to be intentional and make time for things that are important and that I enjoy...or else I'll look back on December the 31st and regret the things I didn't make time for!

How about you?  Any plans for 2012 that you are looking forward to?  Any things you didn't do in 2011 that you are determined to make happen in 2012?  I would love to hear!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Might Be A Redneck If...

...your favorite Christmas present was a HOT pink handgun from your Honey!

Just sayin'!!

I'm kidding with you, Bri!
I just wanted to post this picture of your Annie Oakley impersonation!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sometimes The Oldies Are Still Goodies

Last night I made an old family favorite that hadn't seen the outside of my recipe box in YEARS!  How is it that we forget to cook meals we once loved?  Perhaps we just got burned out on them at one time...I know that is true of the Sausage Kale Soup these days.  Since all of the kids seem to request it, we have eaten it a LOT!  The only common denominator in our household is Jim and I...so we are TIRED of eating it!

But, anywho...back to last night's dinner.

I was a little bit creative with the original recipe since I am trying to use up as many of the items in my pantry and freezer as I possibly can before I shop again.  I am allowing myself to stop at the store every few days, but, I am only allowing myself to pick up two items that are not staples to round out a meal.  Call me crazy.  I guess I just like a challenge when there really doesn't have to be one!

So, here is my latest version of an old family favorite:

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders, boiled and cubed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can chicken stock
flour tortillas
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Combine chicken, cream cheese, cream of chicken soup and 1/2 can of chicken stock in medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Spray a 9" X 13" baking dish with Pam.  Layer tortillas on bottom of casserole dish.  Top with chicken/cheese mixture and add another layer of tortillas.  Pour about a quarter cup of additional stock (or water, if no stock is available) into the mixing bowl, thinning any leftover soup mixture.  Pour over the top of the tortillas to keep them soft during backing.  Top with shredded Mozzarella.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until bubbly.

This recipe came from my Aunt Camille, who is an extraordinary cook.  She rolls her mixture into the tortillas making individual enchiladas...but since I get home after 6, I found the ten to fifteen minutes saved by layering it like a casserole was worth it!  It was still delicious...plus the boys don't have to be as 'polite' in their serving sizes!  They can take a whole corner without the other complaining that 'he got more then me!' 

Also, I normally begin with a whole chicken...but we had chicken tenders left over from the 'Chicken Enchilada Soup in the Slow Cooker' that I made last week.  (If you click on that link you will be taken to Tiffany's page at Eat At Home.  It's really delicious!)

So, how about you?  Any old recipes you may need to dust off and reintroduce to your meal plan line up?

Monday, January 16, 2012

They're Creepy And They're Kooky

"...mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky.."
(although I do look a little scary at that angle!)
No, not us...

"The Addams Family", of course.

The girls and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Hobby Center last Friday night to see The Addams Family Musical from Broadway Across America.
Bri loves Lurch!
It was a blast!  We laughed out loud...a lot!!!  I have noticed that it is when we really have no expectations of a production other than just taking in a show that we enjoy it the most. 
Do our girls fit right in or what?
What does that say about our family?

The girls and I enjoyed an evening of  'girl time'...including dinner at Pappasitos and lots of conversation.  The play was wonderful and the seats (not our normal ones since I waited so late to buy tickets) were the front row of the gallery.  The usher even showed us a convenient side door which made us feel like celebrities with our own private entrance.

I would have loved to have seen this show on Broadway with Brooke Shields playing Morticia...but this one was still great!  My favorite quote of the evening came from Morticia when Wednesday asked them to act like a normal family for one night..."What is normal for the spider is a calamity for the fly."  Just goes to prove my theory that there is no such thing as a 'Normal Family'!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scar Tissue

It always seems to take me by total surprise...the RRRIIIPP that occurs when a band aid is removed from old wounds.

It seems to come out of the blue really.  A comment from a friend.  A question from a relative.  Or maybe even a statement made by a total stranger.

But along with the revealing comes pain.  That is always the same.

A couple of weeks back, my sister ripped off the bandage from a very old wound with a question that took my breath away.  I couldn't even form a response for several moments...it seemed like an eternity at the time.

I was stunned...and surprised...because I thought I had found healing in that area.  It sent me reeling, begging the Father to reveal the truth to me. 

I struggled for almost two weeks...wrestling over the reason for the intense pain. 

And then on Thursday night, as my mind was overwhelmed with the pain and my body couldn't find sleep; I felt an answer come in the wellspring of my heart.  "It is true that some of this pain is from a deep wounding that hasn't completely healed, but most of it is now a scar.  Just as I still bear the scars of the cross, you still bear the scars of this."

I soon feel asleep as I thanked the Lord for His willingness to bear the scars of Golgotha for me and as I asked Him to bring deep healing to the wounds as only He can.

Then on Friday morning, as I read through the day's Scriptures, I came across this:
"(Jesus)...healed their diseased bodies, healed their hurt and bruised lives."  Matthew 9 from the Message

I felt the Lord telling me that not only do the open wounds hurt when they are uncovered, but sometimes when we stare at our scars...all we can see is the ugliness and remember the pain that caused them.  That was what I had been doing since my sister's question.  I had been staring at the scars and feeling again the pain that accompanied them. 

And then I read this quote from a friend's Facebook page:
Never be ashamed of the scars that life has left you with.  A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed, you endured the pain, and God has healed you.

As I allowed my eyes to take in the whole picture, the ragged edges of the scar became less noticeable and I was reminded that the scar was not only a testimony to the goodness of God, but also was part of what made me into the person that I am today.

Do I wish this wounding had never happened?  You bet!  But this is where I have to choose to walk by faith and not by sight.  Trusting that this wounding hurt Him as much as it did me...and that He is able to redeem it and make it (and me) into something beautiful indeed!

 I've edited this post to include Michelle's "Hear It On Sunday.  Use It On Monday" link.  Visit her webpage to see what other's around the blogosphere are sharing.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

No More Excuses

"If it matters, you make the time.
If it doesn't, you make excuses."

Ann Voskamp @ A Holy Experience

I read those words from Ann's blog just a few days before heading off to northeast Arkansas for Christmas with the larger Goode family.  I was still in holiday mode though, with no real goals or ideas for the New Year in mind. 

And yet, they continued to twirl and whirl through my thoughts. 

I didn't even have to try to memorize the quote, it just stuck.  Something deep within grabbed hold of it and wouldn't let it go.

After spending the New Year's weekend with Jim's family, we headed back to Texas where we had a few days to get ready for my mom's visit.  Another Christmas celebration and a Cotton Bowl Watch Party later, and it was time to say goodbye.

So, in total, I have had about six days so far to think about my goals for 2012.  We have several BIG events that will crowd my calendar this fall...someone turns 50, a new grand baby should be arriving the next day and that's just the beginning!

Outside of those long range plans, the following are the things that I want to make time for in 2012:
  • Read through the Bible in a year - My friend, August, brought this one to the forefront for me when she set up a closed group on Facebook to help encourage each other in this area. 
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day - I'm not there yet, but it is on my To-Do list every day and I managed more days than not last week.  Unfortunately, it has been the total opposite this week! 
  • Weekly Meal Plans - This is a time consuming job that I don't necessarily like...BUT it saves me so much time during the week to already know what's for dinner.  And the stress it relieves is worth the time and frustration I feel at the time.  The only meals I plan are breakfast and supper.  For breakfast, I choose two things that I can switch out every other day.  For supper, I look at our calendar to see how many nights we are home.  I then plan that many meals minus one...because I know we are going to either have a night out OR have left overs at least once a week.
  • Eat breakfast every morning - Like exercise, I'm not there yet...but I'm doing much better since I took the early morning guess work out of it.
  • Spend more time with the grandchildren - My ideal would be to spend time with one grandchild on an individual basis every month with at least three group outings spread out through the year.  I know that doesn't seem like a lot of time, but remember that I still have children at home too.  Of course, this doesn't include family gatherings or holidays.
  • Remember to count my blessing - I know it sounds rather lame, but for now that item is actually on my To Do List!  I know that it should be easy to count 1,000 gifts...but I have neglected the discipline of taking the time to notice and record His Grace Gifts to me.  My goal right now is to record at least one a day. By December 31, 2012 I want to at least have 365 entries. 

There are several more items that I am trying to do 'most' days...from the boring things like setting up the coffee pot before I go to bed (boring but oh, so appreciated on a cold morning!) to the wise things like taking my vitamins (which I have always been terrible about doing). 

I know, I should probably take it slower and only add one thing at a time.  But I have given myself the space to focus on one thing (right now it is the morning Scripture reading) while keeping the other important matters on my mind.  Even in the Scripture reading, I missed most of the first week.  But it is excellence that I am striving for, not perfection.

How about you.  Have you made any changes for 2012?  Goals?  Resolutions?  A game plan?  I would love to hear all about it!

(I hope to be able to share more of this journey with you soon.  We had very heavy rains here last week and it did a number on our home Internet.  Don't get me wrong, I would rather have the rain than Internet these days...but, it is hard to post during my lunch break at work as we are, thankfully, busy again.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"Tis The Season

I bet you thought I was never coming back, didn't you?

Well, to be honest, I was beginning to wonder myself.

Not that I didn't want to drop in and tell you all about our holidays...but because I just haven't been able to find the time.

You see, we just finished our last family 'Christmas' gathering.

After posting all those holiday pictures, we headed to northeast Arkansas to spend some time with Jim's family. We ate, opened presents, watched some football, ate some more, played games, watched more football. It was a short trip, but we enjoyed the time with his parents and his brother's family. We rang in the New Year with a very competitive game of Catchphrase and still managed to make it to church later that morning. Good thing there was no Sunday School or I would have been yawning! We made it home Monday night just in time to watch Oklahoma State play in the Fiesta Bowl.

Then my mom drove in on Thursday evening, we had the three grandchildren all day Friday (actually Bri did, but at our house), we opened gifts with Mother that evening and then watched the Cotton Bowl. She and Bri helped me with a home improvement project on Saturday before we sat down to watch the Houston Texans in their first ever playoff game. I didn't get to see much of it as Mother wanted to go out to visit Desi's grave site. We made it home in time for warmed up Sausage Kale Soup and (you guessed it) another football game - New Orleans vs. Detroit. She left after breakfast this morning and should be arriving home soon.

Well, I had planned to share a few things with you that have been on my heart and mind this holiday season...but I think I've probably overstayed my welcome already today...so, I will see you in another day or so!

Hope your 2012 is filled with Blessings and Joy!