Monday, December 28, 2009

The loot.

My boy was sure happy that Santa brought him his "books-that-have-games-and-books-that-have-words" (Leapfrog Tag Reading System) and his "glower" (Crayola Glow Dome), but wouldn't you know, his favorite item out of everything was in his stocking, a $2 item "Santa" picked up at Michael's. I could have gotten by with just $2 this year, and I think that kid would've been just as thrilled. I bought this liquid/glitter filled baton (in boy colors, of course, of blue and orange) that was an immediate hit. My husband looked at me like, I can't believe you bought our boy a baton, but I just came back with a stare of I-can't-help-it-that-this-Santa-is-so-brilliant-and-knew-it-would-not-be-used-as-a-baton-but-instead-as-a-weapon/scepter/walkingstick/etc. Oh, the things that make our kids the happiest. And sure enough, after it was all said and done, my boy was back to playing with his favorite old wooden blocks most of the day.

Christmas for me is much more about giving and receiving. I love love love to give gifts, but I would be just as happy with no gifts for myself. My husband and I don't give gifts to each other at Christmas, which I really actually love since we never really need anything, and, of course, it saves money as well, but I always receive a few gifts from my mom and my family, and a few of them this year I just had to share. Some highlights of what I got for Christmas:

Oh yes, I totally asked for this one, the first time I've ever requested an "as seen on TV" item! But folks, I love it already!

I was at a cooking class a month or two ago, and our hostess had one and raved about it. Since all of my potholders are kind of sad-looking, and none of them cover my whole hand, I was sold on the idea. Our oven is a convection oven and a bit smaller inside than most standard ovens, and I am always a hair's breadth away from burning the backside of my hands when I am putting some of our larger pans in the oven. My particular Ove Glove doesn't have the silicone grips like in the video though. My mom got it at Walgreen's, much to my husband's delight. He is somewhat of a Walgreen's connoisseur, of which we tease him to no end. I'm thinking I might have to ask for a second one for my birthday, since then I would be able to safely load the turkey in the oven next year with no problems at all. Ha!

I promise not all of my gifts were kitchen-themed, but my mom also gave me this beauty. She was going to wrap it up for Christmas, but I ended up deciding to make a pie to take to our family lunch, so she gave it to me two days early so I could use it. I only have a glass Pyrex pie dish, but I had been wanting a deep dish pie dish with fluted edges (just 'cause they're pretty). She bought me this one, and I love it:

The dish is beautiful in person -- turquoise and brown pottery. It's handmade in Washington, and it is lead-free, dishwasher, oven, and microwave-safe. I love the fact that it was made in the good ol' U.S.A. And on the bottom is etched a recipe for "Apple Crunch Pie", an easy and delicious recipe that I went ahead and used, and the pie ended up being a big hit -- no leftovers.

This next gift from my brother and sister-in-law (who am I kidding, props go completely out to my sister-in-law for this one since I know my bro didn't do the shopping) is also going to get lots of use in the kitchen...

an adorable apron from my favorite designer lady, the uber-talented Anna Maria Horner. Believe it or not, this Anthropologie-lovin' gal only owns half-aprons, so this full apron is going to get a lot of use, especially now that I've honed my domestic goddess skills and cook a lot more often than I used to.

And I plan on ordering this with my Christmas cash:

This lens has a lower aperture than either of my other two lenses, and it's the only affordable one out there for me to try, as the lower the aperture number goes, the pricier the lens. I'm hoping for some awesome pictures with blurrier backgrounds.

A few of my favorite things I gave as gifts were Etsy purchases.

For my sister-in-law, I purchased this:

-- a "Keep Calm and Carry On" necklace from Etsy seller Storytales. Do you know the background story to this famous poster? Pretty cool. And just as appropriate for a mom of three boys under the age of five as it was for a country trying to motivate their citizens during a time of war, don't you agree?

I also purchased two of these, one for my boy and one for a nephew:

-- "I Spy" bags from Etsy seller Giggle Junction. (Check out the astronaut one they have for sale right now -- super cute.)

They are flannel bags, 7"x7", filled with plastic pellets and 20 miniature objects hidden inside. Children can use their hands to shift around the pellets to reveal the hidden objects in the plastic window. There is a laminated card attached with a picture of all the hidden objects. I figure this will also be a handy quiet toy to have when the boy is sitting through the church services with us. Plus, it just earned me some bonus points with my sister-in-law since I bought a quiet toy and not a loud electronic battery-sucking one for her kid.

I was inspired by many of my favorite blogs and all of the bloggers who took the "handmade pledge" this Christmas. I may never be able to fully take a handmade holidays pledge myself (that would require lots of thinking ahead and way less procrastination on my part), especially since I have a feeling that as my boy grows older, his "wish list" might not include much that I could make, but I am going to try to buy more and more from independent artists and less from the big box stores and plastics from China. This is a start, anyways.

So that's it, the "loot" at our house. And this year, just like every other Christmas and birthday, I loaded up every gift the boy got and put him in front of it for a picture, what we always refer to as the "loot picture". My parents did this for us every year, and it has been fun to look back through the pictures of my childhood and remember some of the favorite gifts we received throughout the years. Hopefully my boy will appreciate this as well someday.

I hope your Christmas was filled with fun gifts, too, but mostly the kind of gifts that matter -- like the gift of Jesus, the gift of time with family and friends, and the gift of time off!


Every Christmas, my family goes to the movies. And no "blizzard" was going to stop us this year either!

This year's movie choice was one we could all see, four-year-old included --
Disney's "The Princess and the Frog".

I was a bit skeptical going into it because, in my opinion, Disney lost some of it's magic after the era of "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", and "Lion King". After those movies, the quality seemed to be lacking, and the most recent animated films didn't seem any more impressive than the cartoons you could catch on a typical Saturday morning. Thank goodness I didn't let that keep me from going to see this little gem. It was one of my favorites that I've seen in a long time! Beautiful colors and scenery (New Orleans and the swamps), fantastic jazz music, and great lessons to be learned. My boy had no problem watching a "princess" movie, and we all were laughing out loud throughout. Don't miss this one!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

More decor galore...

...sorry. Just can't help rhyming, especially after just reading "The Cat in the Hat" with my boy.

Here's a peek into my little guy's room. He was very proud of the tree we set up next to his bed, and I really did let him put most of the ornaments on it himself. Most of the ornaments are passed down from my childhood, and we are slowly adding one or two a year to his collection. This year I actually added a glass ornament (brave, I know!) that I found and just could not pass up -- a Peter Pan ornament complete with pirate ship, Cap'n Hook, Peter Pan, and crocodile. I did hang it securely up at the very top, and so far, so good.

Do you spot the train whizzing by up on the shelf? (The picture's kind of dark, so you might have to click on it and make it bigger to see the train.) My husband finally wired it all up properly this week, and the buildings now light up as well. The train speeds by at three different speeds, all around the ceiling, across a little bridge, through one end of the bed and out the other end through the bookcase, around and around and around. It also sounds a very realistic whistle, has a headlight on the front, and even blows tiny puffs of real smoke! Talk about living vicariously through our child -- I would have gone crazy if I had such a cool setup in my room when I was growing up.

And just to prove that you can still buy things for a dime or two...

all year long I collected Christmas books from the thrift store. Most were between 10 cents and $2, and by December, I had about twenty or so collected for us to read, usually one or two a night, all kept in that red wooden bin you can see underneath his tree. Some of the books were practically brand new. In fact, the new hardback copy of "The Polar Express" with the untorn and wrinkle-free book jacket intact still had the Borders sticker on the back reading $18.95. That baby set me back a whopping $1.50. But one of the favorites ended up being a big paperback book that cost me either one dime or two (I can't remember) -- an unused paperback copy of "The Night Before Christmas" complete with two sheets of stickers that had to be placed in just the right spot throughout the book to complete the pictures. My boy was so proud of himself when he got all of those stickers in their rightful spots, and we were able to read through the story together.

...and still to come, The Christmas Story post! And yes, to all those wondering, we did receive a white Christmas -- beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Sleet came first (this is Oklahoma, after all), and then about 5 or 6" of the white stuff. It's been called the Blizzard of 2009, but my husband and I can't help but chuckle every time we hear it called that. We did live in Minnesota, and our little "blizzard" would be a typical winter day up there!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

There is no other reason that we celebrate this blessed day than the birth of the One who came to save us. I pray that you know the love of our Heavenly Father and have a relationship with His Only Son, Jesus Christ. The merriest of Christmases to you and yours from my family.

"Welcome to Our World" -- Chris Rice

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Decorations Galore!

Since it's Christmas Eve and I am not-so-patiently-waiting on the white stuff we've been promised, I thought I'd do a little series of posts about some of the Christmas decorations up around our house. This year is a bit sparse in comparison to years past, mainly due to two small felines I know, but I have some favorite little collections anyway that I thought I would share. (Click on any of the pictures to see them in much bigger detail.)

First, the glittery goodness I've started collecting!

Mine are not the expensive glitter houses, but instead cute ones I've picked up here and there at bargain basement prices (which is even better, right?!). A few of them are from Marshalls and are actually "Country Living" brand (which is funny since that is my favorite magazine). The larger church is from a store in Arizona -- we were there for Christmas a few years ago, and on a random shopping excursion, I picked it up for something crazy like $8 or $9, so I carted it home on the plane with me. The elf and one of the Santas are from a vintage holiday store our city used to have, and the boy and the snowman are a new addition this year from my mom. The styrofoam cup angel is new this year courtesy of my boy and his preschool.

This year I only purchased one new house, but it is the cutest thing. Here is the front:

But check out the surprise in the back -- it looks like a little dollhouse!

I also have two handcarved wooden Santa figures from Russia from years back that I love. I absolutely adore the kind eyes on the bigger Santa, but the colors and details on both figures are exquisite.

Not only is the front of the larger Santa beautiful, but check out the back!

And finally, another purchase from this week that I could not leave at the store. For $10, I picked this beauty up. It's metal and heavily glittered on both sides.

Stay tuned for a few more fun decorating posts including my boy's room (all gussied up as well) and the infamous "Christmas Story" craziness that is my living room. Oh, I am a fanatic about that movie and you'll soon see what I mean...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas-ing it up!

We've been Christmas-ing it up 'round these parts.

Watched "Holiday Inn". Oh, how I would love to be Linda Mason, my favorite little character...

Slept in this morning - 'til 10am! I haven't done that in FOREVER! And bonus: the boy slept in that long as well!

Made marshmallows, batch after batch after batch. (And I'm sure we'll be making a few more batches before the year is over.) Speaking of, you MUST go over to my buddy Courtney's and read her harrowing tale of marshmallow-making. Hilarious. Seriously.

Rode the Christmas Train. It's refreshing to know there are still places in the world that have the right focus for Christmastime.

Watching "Home Alone" tonight, then "Four Christmases" after the boy goes to bed.

And a little bit of sewing has been going on as well!

I whipped up two sets of pajamas for my boy. Every year I try and find him new Christmas pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve, but this year is a little bit harder as he is now between departments -- no longer the adorable toddler department, barely the bigger boys' department, which definitely doesn't have the cuteness factor going on. Everything in there seems to be skateboard or skull-themed, and I'm not ready for all of that quite yet. So I bought flannel uber-cheap at Joann's one day, and finally got around to sewing up two sets yesterday and today. I'm not an apparel sewer, so I was a bit nervous and bought a pattern, but I had no reason to be nervous. Two pieces, that's it. Easy peasy! I even went above and beyond, thankyouverymuch, and finished off all of the seams with a zigzag stitch (since I don't have a serger), and reinforced most seams, and added a ribbon "tag" at the back of both pairs of pants so my little guy would know which side was the front. Go, Mama!

Now that I know how easy they are to whip up (pajama pants, that is), my family might be sporting matchy-matchy goodness every Christmas Eve (starting next year, that is). For the tops I just bought el cheapo t-shirts from the boys' department at Wal-Mart and appliqued on some scraps of leftover fabric. The t-shirts are unbelievably soft for $3.50 each. Can't beat that with a stick.

Here's hoping they don't shrink so bad in the wash, since I didn't preshrink my flannel before I started. This pair will be the Christmas Eve pair for tomorrow night:

And then I made a second pair just for fun. The whale/polar bear print reminded me of some old school Banana Republic t-shirts my brother rocked back in the day...

I figure when they start to look like highwaters on him, I can just cut them off and make them into shorts to make them wear longer.

And now we are just waiting and wishing and hoping for a White Christmas. In Oklahoma, this is considered to be very much a RARITY, but we just might get our wish. So far, the predictions are for 4-9" tomorrow afternoon and evening, which would turn our little corner of the world into a perfect winter wonderland just in time for the big day. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Tis the season to be jolly.

I'm still here.

Sorry, you just can't get rid of me that easily.

But things are a little busy right now, what, with the holidays and all, and I find myself knee-deep in piano playing, marshmallow making, kitty wrangling (out of the Christmas tree), present shopping, party attending, and the general mayhem that seems to surround me wherever I go.

I promise I shall return with a glorious post sometime soon.

Until then, enjoy this picture of Sir Harry, quite pleased with himself and the progress he has made on our poor Christmas tree. As I type this, the entire top of the tree now leans decidedly to the right, another row or two of the lights decided the go out, and more than one ornament is now missing. It's gonna be Charlie Brown-worthy pretty soon, folks.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A little advice.

Take it from me.

Don't let your four-year-old watch TV channels with commercials. Stick with Nick, Jr. (formerly known as "Noggin") or PBS. Skip Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, any of the major networks, etc.

Trust me.

I cannot complain. I have one of the most easygoing kids on the planet. Even when it comes to Christmas. There wasn't really any toy that was on his wish list for Christmas, but since he is getting very interested in reading and writing, I realized a toy that would be perfect for him and planted a few little ideas into his head. Sure enough, it worked, and when I would ask him what he was going to ask Santa for for Christmas, he repeated almost verbatim what I had told him about -- "a book that has games, Mama!".


Because I had already bought this little lovely for a bargain-basement price, wheelin' and dealin' with my coupon skills. Got it half-off the sale price actually, and got several books to go with it also at bargain-basement prices with more coupons. (I paid less than half for all of the items, AND had it all done BEFORE Thanksgiving even! Go me!)

And then one of us screwed up and let him watch a movie we DVR-ed off the TV, something off the Disney Channel that HAD COMMERCIALS.


And thus his love affair with the Crayola Glow Dome was born.

Which he threw in there yesterday when I took him to see the big fat man in the flesh. "Santa, I want a glower" was his exact phrasing.

To quote my own boy, "Wat you say????!!!!", my overconfident-because-this-Santa-already-had-Christmas-in-the-bag-so-to-speak self was thinking. In fact, I was so happy that I wouldn't have to be one of those parents -- you know the ones having to fight over this year's most popular toy like a dumb Zhu-Zhu Pet or something. (Although I am sending out a big high five to my cousin right now, since I know she was one of those poor parents bidding on eBay for the dumb hamster toy.)

Well, no sweat, I thought. The coveted Glow Dome is on sale at Target this week, so I'll just run by there and pick one up. I did my research and checked online to see if it was even available, and according to the website, three stores were supposed to have it in stock.

Fast-forward to this morning, almost two and a half hours after starting out, several phone calls to every store in the city (and not just Target), I finally located one at a Michael's store. There were actually two left when I got there, so I snatched them up (the second will be perfect for a cousin his same age).

And no, they were not near as cheap as from Target.

And yes, I am a bit cranky after the whole experience.

And no, the boy will not be watching any TV channels with commercials between now and December 25th.

Don't let this happen to you, kids. Don't let this happen to you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Even I couldn't escape Black Friday.

Did you get out and brave the crowds yesterday?

One of the most memorable Black Friday's I can remember was when we were up in Minnesota. My friend, Michelle, dragged me around with her, and we had a lot of fun. I distinctly remember how stinkin' cold it was (I'm sure it was probably only around zero or in the low teen's, if that, at 3 or 4 in the morning). There was snow on the ground that Thanksgiving. And I remember sitting in the warm car in the wee hours of the morning with her snoozing baby girl in the carseat while she ran into Menards for something on her list. I can still hear that Menards' jingle in my head to this day, even though we don't have any Menards down here in Okie-Land. Sometimes my husband and I break out into song, singing that jingle just for a laugh between us.

In the last few years, I've been almost scared of Black Friday. The crowds, the chaos, the lines, the parking lots, and having to get up so gosh darn early -- yuck! This year I sent my husband and boy to do the dirty work, since they were venturing out anyway, albeit hours after all the crazies had gotten started. There was only one item on my Black Friday list, and they didn't have to get up early to get it, although they did apparently get the last one in the store in the cobalt blue color I wanted.

a Martha Stewart Collection Cobalt Enameled Cast Iron Round Pot, 2.75 quarts

It was normally $69.99 at Macy's, but on sale for $24.99, one of the "Doorbuster" deals. Compare it to the original Le Creuset brand that sells for around $110 for the same size, and you've got yourself a pretty good deal there. In fact, I might go back later today and get the next size up, 5 quarts, for around $50 (with the Macy's coupon). It runs around $220-250 in the Le Creuset brand! Highway robbery, I tell you.

Now that I've gotten back in touch with my inner domestic diva, I've been cooking a whole lot. As in we don't eat out for the majority of our meals anymore. It's been great for the budget, great for the health, and just fine for the waistline. (My mantra has always been: I would much rather be happy and chunky than starving and skinny.) I've always wanted to buy a fancy dutch oven, but like I said before, those Le Creuset ones are way too pricey. Even the Paula Deen brand one I was eyeballing at Walmart (in the bigger size) is something like 70 or 80 bucks! Thank goodness for Martha Stewart. Who would've thought she'd produce something so much more affordable?

In fact, speaking of cooking, this morning I whipped up a delicious breakfast for us, since my cookbook from Serena arrived last week, and I was itchin' to test it out. She was so sweet not only to send me the cookbook, but she also signed it! How cool is that?! I'm convinced our breakfast tasted that much better since I was using the recipe out of a signed copy. I made the "Apple Puff Pancake".

(Thanks to Flickr for the image.)

You can click here for a write-up about the cookbook that has the recipe at the end of it. So easy, and delicious, especially with real maple syrup (thanks to my husband for picking me up a new bottle of that delicious goodness). We had enough for breakfast for the three of us for both today and tomorrow.

Now to dream up what the first meal in my new piece of cookware is going to be...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bohemian Rhapsody

Thanks for this one goes out to the zany Michelle with her brilliant taste in music videos.

This is for all of you who grew up in the Muppet generation like myself. I know, I know, two days in a row of crazy Muppets, but I mean, really, who doesn't love the Muppets?!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Tale

We learned a valuable little lesson over at our house this Thanksgiving Eve.

Don't clean your oven the day before you're planning to roast a big ol' bird.

You'd think we would have been smarter than this, but nope.

Let me just say, our oven was nasty inside. Doggone, nasty. Caked with burnt offerings on every side. In fact, last Thanksgiving even, I remember being worried about the turkey not smelling so great due to the other stuff that was burning on the sides every time the oven was on. Oh yeah, so I guess that's Confession #1: we're big fat procrastinators. Don't judge.

So anyway, on Tuesday, I asked my husband to pick up some oven cleaner at the store, and he brought home a can of lemon-scented "Easy Off" oven cleaner that was supposed to work overnight. Easy Off did it's job because when we opened the oven door yesterday morning, there was black grime everywhere ready to be wiped off. Mission accomplished.

But did we clean it off that morning? Nope. Since my husband said he would finish it, I kind of just forgot about it since I wasn't using the oven yesterday, and last night, I had to gently nag him a few times to remind him that it needed to be clean before we got up in the wee small hours of the morning to roast the bird. Grudgingly he got up, opened it up, and wiped it down. Finally -- a clean oven! However, the fumes were pretty strong still at that point, and we wanted to make sure it was all completely out of there before firing it up for the turkey this morning, so he turned on the "self-cleaning" mode and let the oven do it's job to finish it up and burn the rest off.

I personally had no experience cleaning an oven (obviously, since I let it get as filthy as possible in there before the thought entered my mind), which I suppose is Confession #2: I've never cleaned an oven before, but it sure didn't seem right when about an hour later the house smelled like all sorts of burning nastiness. (Don't worry, that is apparently quite normal, but even so, a burning house smell was not exactly reassuring since the bird was supposed to go in there around 6am or so for roasting.) We decided to turn it off, and when I tried to unlock the door, it wouldn't budge. Not a problem, my man reassured me. It's locked up because the oven heated itself up so high to self-clean, so it will unlock sometime when it cools down enough. Go to sleep, it will be ready in the morning. Which I did. The third year of turkey roasting experience will do that to you. If this had been the nervewracking virgin year of turkey roasting? Yep, I wouldn't have been able to sleep.

Fast-forward to this morning. I woke up while the world was still dark (5:56am) and heard rustlings in the kitchen. Since my alarm was going to go off at 6am anyway, I shuffled into the kitchen to see what my husband was up to. Once my eyes adjusted to the light, I found the oven apart from the wall, my husband lying on the floor on his back as if he was about to change the oil under the hood, and yeah. Hmm. Okay.

With a smile on his face, he told me how he woke up at 3am to let the dog out to do her business, and he figured, what the heck, I should just get the oven ready now while I'm up. Sure enough, he said, the lock wouldn't open on the oven. And we don't have an oven manual -- the previous owners didn't leave that for us. So he did what any heroic, nerdy, technical-guru husband would do -- he started googling.

In the span of three hours he not only googled our oven, he downloaded and read through the manual (to no avail), and ended up paying $45 online for the help of a technical superhero by the name of "Chad", who apparently was retired from Jenn-Air and had a nighttime gig helping people online. People like my husband, who call at 4am the morning of Thanksgiving, begging someone to please help them out before their wife wakes up to roast a twenty-two pound bird in their oven that is locked up and stinky so as not to disappoint the other twenty or so guests at the Thanksgiving table. People like my husband, who wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of possibly having to call his mother-in-law at 5am and asking if we could drive over with a big bird strapped down in the front seat to use her oven all morning.

Even with the assistance of good ol' "Chad" from, it took them both a while to figure out how to get that dang lock undone on the oven. My husband said it finally unlocked after "Chad" suggesting that he flip the switch to "self-clean" as fast as he could and back off to see if it would unlock. Who wouldda thunk it? Thank the good Lord above it worked, and not only was it fixed right about when I walked in the kitchen at 5:56am, but it was already preheated to 275-degrees. And sparkling clean. And not only was it sparkling clean and preheated to my specifications, but it smelled divine, just like roasted marshmallows. Apparently "Chad" suggested that my husband mix up a little water, sugar, and vanilla, and bake it to remove the burning smell from the house, which, of course, worked like a charm. And pulling out the oven meant my husband was able to find a very nasty paper towel that was the culprit in clogging up the vent, which had never worked very well since we bought the house. So the venting issue was solved as well.

Way to go, baby. Way to go.

So our little tale ends in a happy way. The bird is roasting, and my house is slowly filling with the scent of a delicious-36-hours-brined bird, and I'm thinking it's safe to say there will be twenty-plus people happily filling their stomachs later on today. And my oven is in tip-top condition.

But let my little cautionary tale serve as a warning. And maybe, after reading this little story, you'll savor each bite of that turkey in your mouth just a little bit more.

Happy Turkey Day to you. And a very happy Turkey Day to you, "Chad", wherever you are.


This Thanksgiving I am thankful for...




crafty fun


blogger friends (who are all real friends!)



Peppermint ice cream ;)

Christmas cards already ordered last week and (hopefully) on their way, soon to be stuffed into envelopes and sent out

Christmas shopping that has already been halfway accomplished!


Jesus (not just a token answer, but the most important thing I am thankful for)

my husband's job

gorgeous weather

laundry that is done and put away

saving money



the big, juicy bird roasting in my oven

and so very much more...

Here's wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving. Harry and Sally also wish you a delicious turkey dinner followed by a catnap with the ones you love...

And for your Thanksgiving viewing pleasure...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Popeye would be proud.

Because it is Thanksgiving tomorrow...

and because I love each and every one of you, dear readers...

I thought it would be the perfect time to post one of my new favorite recipes.

Which you must promise me you will make immediately.

The first time I made this, I put in too much orzo pasta. I thought it was bland, too much like a casserole instead of a soup, and just meh. Thankfully I tried it once more last night, and it turned out perfectly.

And oh, is it ever good. I had it for dinner last night. With seconds. And for lunch today. And I'll happily eat it for dinner again tonight. Which is huge in my book, since I'm not usually a fan of leftovers for anything.

Here you go...

(serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed or minced
1 large onion
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your taste)
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess water
1 1/2 cups of orzo (*I only used 1 cup and it was perfection)
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
4 eggs
Juice of 3 lemons
Fresh parsley, chopped (to serve)
Fresh-grated Parmesan (to serve)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Cook the garlic and onion over medium heat until fragrant and slightly translucent. Turn the heat to medium high and add the red pepper flakes, spinach and orzo. Cook for about a minute, then add the broth. Bring to a light simmer, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the orzo is just barely tender. Take the soup off the heat and let it cool down for a moment or two.

Whisk eggs vigorously in a largish bowl, then whisk in the lemon juice. Whisk for a couple minutes; the mixture should be thick, pale yellow, and creamy. Add a small ladleful of the soup broth to the eggs and whisk vigorously. (If you want to be really sure not to curdle the eggs, take a ladle of soup and cool it a bit before tempering the eggs.) Whisk in two more ladles of soup broth, whisking each well and letting them cool. Add the egg mixture to the soup pot, whisking very well. REturn to very low heat, stirring the whole time. Cook carefully over low heat until the soup has thickened slightly. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and Parmesan if desired.

(Thanks to The Kitchn for the recipe and photo.)

Kids, I am telling you, this stuff is delish. Even the four-year-old boy gobbles it up. But then again, he eats anything and everything and is the world's most NOT-picky eater.

And this soup, of course, goes perfectly well with Blue Bell Peppermint ice cream. Which there now may or may not be four half-gallons of in my freezer. Sorry, but it was on sale, and I had coupons.

Now I'm off to turn over that turkey in the brine solution. It's been 18 hours, and it's time for that turkey to get all brined up on the other side for another 18 hours. With a twenty-two pound bird, it is a two-person endeavor, so I'm off to bug my husband...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I know you've missed the random... here you go.


Hmmm....seems like I missed two more days of NaBloPoMo. Oh well.


Today I received the biggest compliment of my musical career. It was the last day of another six-week session of ballet with another elementary school. Once a week for the past six weeks we had two classes come in to the studio for an introduction to ballet, and the second of the two classes was partially filled with deaf education students. They are always my favorite. It is remarkable how they are able to learn and beautifully execute the ballet moves just as well as any of the other students even though they are unable to hear the music to help keep time.

At the end of class all the girls were giving out hugs and goodbyes to the ballet instructor and to myself. The student teacher came up to me and told me that one of the girls who is completely deaf came up to her and signed to her that my piano music was beautiful. The student teacher was a bit puzzled since she knew that the girl couldn't hear the music at all. But the girl told her that she could feel the vibrations through the floor and that it WAS such beautiful music. The student teacher also told me that this little girl isn't prone to handing out compliments, so she knew that it was genuine.

When the student teacher told me this, I could have just melted into a puddle on the floor, right then and there. I will never forget this compliment as long as I live.


There's a twenty-two pound poor naked bird sitting in my fridge, waiting for the brine solution to cool so I can drown it for the next 36 hours. This will be my third year of bird-roasting, thanks to none other than good ol' P-Dub. My house is already smelling divine after boiling the brine solution, and you know, come Thursday, it's really going to be smelling good!

I can hardly wait for Thursday!


And I'm not too proud to tell you that earlier today there were exactly three half-gallons of Blue Bell Peppermint ice cream sitting in my freezer. And I might have to go back to the store tomorrow and pick up at least one more since it is my absolute favorite. I've been limiting myself to one scoop a day, so hopefully it will last a while...

So, if you see me in the next month or two and think, hmm, looks like that girl has been putting on a little weight, well, just keep it to yourself. Ice cream makes me happy, okay? ;)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bah Humbug!

We're enjoying this today as a family, after a long morning and afternoon of hard work around the house and yard, four-year-old included. And you know me, movie-loving gal that I am -- we are going to see this at the IMAX in 3D!!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shhh... vewy, vewy qwiet.

I'm cwafting.

(Thanks to Flickr user dep1982 for the great photo.)

Who cares if I accidentally forgot to post yesterday for NaBloPoMo. I'll just keep on a-trekkin' and try to keep up the pace the rest of the month.

Be back once the glue peels off my hands...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Watch out, Mr. Postman...

Today I've been listening to...

Yo-Yo Ma's "Songs of Joy and Peace". (Ooh, and I am lovin' it.)

...while going absolutely bonkers trying to figure out a gameplan for Christmas cards.

We only send out about a zillion or so, and my little thrifty head is spinning on its axis with ideas of how to get a cool picture on a super cute card for not a lotta cashola. Since I've already got a really great jumpstart on my Christmas shopping (the boy's list is almost all checked off, thankyouverymuch), I am vowing to get these cards done and in the mail by the first week of December.

My mom is headed over first thing in the morning to try and get a shot of our little family before I drop the boy off at school. Oh yeah, trying to cram in a photo session on a sunny day when we have a few minutes to spare EQUALS good times, good times. My poor mom -- I always make her try and take our picture every single year, and since she is a complete amateur, I just make her keep shooting. A professional camera + amateur photographer CAN EQUAL success. Surely out of 50 or so shots, at least one will halfway turn out and with a little iPhoto tweaking, be Christmas card-worthy. And every year, despite the handful of shots with our heads cut off, my mom comes through for us.

So here goes nothin'...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"He AWOSE!!!"

I saw this over on Abby's blog and just had to post it. Way too cute. I need to remember to try this with my son and get him singing on camera before he gets too big. It brings back the memories of many small-town Baptist churches I've played piano in.

Monday, November 16, 2009

So, so fantastic.

Oh kids.

To say I am excited about this movie is a big fat understatement.


We are movie-goers in this house. My husband goes at least once a week to the movies. He also takes the boy to almost every single kid movie that comes out. My boy has been in the movie theater on a regular basis since he was twelve months old. I've started going with my mom some during the weekdays to see some bargain $4 flicks (us and all the senior citizens). It's engrained in us to love movies. We get especially excited about the holiday flicks and always see a movie on Thanksgiving weekend and on Christmas Day. And if it is 3D or on at the IMAX, oh man, that's just icing on the cake.

So bring on MR. FOX!!!! We'll be seeing this Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A prairie girl at heart

Enjoying this today, complete with Melissa Gilbert as "Ma". I suspect all of the country goodness is going to stoke the fire within to get my craft on in the days to come...

**Edited to add that Melissa Gilbert collapsed after the Friday night performance with a ruptured disk (or something like that), so we didn't get to see her, but it was fantastic nonetheless! Made me proud of my prairie heritage and the ancestors I had that braved the new territories...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"PW and Me" (or "Me and PW")

Remember how I told you I met the infamous Ree a couple of weeks ago?

Here's the proof.

Since there were plenty of other stalkers, I mean, devoted followers, in line behind me, we didn't get to exchange life stories as I had hoped. But she did start out with a funny comment to me about worrying about her sweaty pits (oh yes, she did), and then she complimented my leopard heels (which are darling, if I do say so myself), and I was able to throw it on out there that if she ever needed someone up at the lodge to play hours upon hours of showtunes for her own pleasure, I was that pianist.

Strange how she didn't drop everything at that point and ask for my information so she could invite me up right away.


Guess I'll just have to be content about the fact that I have a signed cookbook in my possession now. Even if it doesn't have a Thanksgiving recipe section in it like I had hoped for. Because I'm not bitter about that. Not at all.

And yes, Marlboro Man was there, too. You should have heard the gasp from some of the ladies when he walked in. But not from me. I had seen him before and stood in line behind him a couple of Christmases ago at the bookstore. He's not real chatty so we didn't exchange any words, and I didn't want to weird him out back then that I knew who he was. You know, 'cause I'm not the stalker sort.

Nope, not at all.

It was really all quite surreal though. I mean, think about it, can you imagine if you all of a sudden had thousands upon thousands of blog followers coming to meet you on a tour of several cities? Especially if you were a gal from a ranch, isolated from the rest of the world for your day-to-day life? It was just an interesting thing to think about -- the fact that she is just an everyday person like the rest of us, but skyrocketed to the bigtime almost overnight. And there she was, in a crowded room with plenty of women who knew enough facts about her to score an "A+++" on a trivia quiz about her life. Huh.

The experience was fun. Because it was the second booksigning in our town that week (and not on the original schedule), there wasn't near as big of a crowd as I thought there would be. My friend, Shannon, and I waited in line maybe an hour, but we were 3rd or 4th in line, so once she arrived, we were outta there in about ten minutes. And we met a super fun gal in line next to us that really helped pass the time.

So that's the story.

Friday, November 13, 2009

TV Talk

Random thoughts from a most random girl...

I {heart} Tim Gunn.

(photo courtesy of Oprah)

No, really. He just seems like such a nice, caring, and encouraging guy. Believe it or not, this is my first season to watch Project Runway, and I am over the moon for this show! How in the heck did I not tune in until this season?!

Anyway, it's gettin' good. One more episode until we find out the winner. I like all three of the girls left, but I think I'm pretty much Team Carol Hannah, especially since I would wear her clothes in a heartbeat and feel oh-so-gorgeous and glamorous doing so.


While watching Project Runway (which is on Lifetime this season), I just about keeled over when they showed a commercial for a new Lifetime movie starring...

Michelle Pfeiffer....


Ashton Kutcher.

{insert crickets chirping}

{insert a few more cricket choruses}

{no, really, we need some more crickets here, stat}

Yeah, yeah, I wasn't born yesterday. I know who he's married to in real life, people. I know how he's only technically old enough to be his step-daughters' brother and not their stepdad (which is kinda creepin' me out to think about, so let's just move on already), but I'm having a hard time picturing him with Michelle Pfeiffer.

Here's a visual...

If you're not as weirded out by the idea as I am, here's a little more to help you out...

I checked it out on Wikipedia, and they are 20 years apart in age.

(Okay, okay, so technically Demi is only four years younger than Michelle, but I just don't know. It's still really creepin' me out.)


raise yer' hands. Who's plannin' on tuning in to that movie?

(In case you didn't guess, I'm sitting on my hands right now.)


But, wait!

Lifetime has redeemed itself from the creepy Michelle/Ashton Oedipus complex, and will be starting their "Falalalala" Christmas movie festival Thanksgiving night, showing Christmas movies every night through Christmas, and there will be a brand new one starring... girl, Kristin!!!


Okay, carry on, people, carry on. That's about all the randomness I've got to offer up today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A little more quilty goodness...

Yeah, so my last post was a bit on the lame-o side, but hey, at least I posted. You know you all have wanted to do that before. ;)

Here is a fun item I picked up this past Saturday. Our little city had a "Vintage/Antique Show", and I have to admit, I was a skeptic. Deep down I had hopes for finding some bargains, much like at the flea market, but I also knew that the dealers here would be the bonafide type who would actually know what to price their items at and how much stuff was worth. The majority of dealers were just like I suspected -- they knew what they had was worth something, and so a lot of the prices were a bit on the steep side. $300+ for a cute pair of vintage cowboy boots? Yeah, I'm probably not gonna be forkin' that out anytime soon.

But thankfully there were a handful of vendors that had some genuine treasures and didn't necessarily know it. Hence, I picked up this little beauty for 15 bucks. (Sorry for the darker picture -- I forgot to lighten it up in my iPhoto program.)

A vintage, unfinished quilt top. Sure, it's a crazy mess of patterns, but I have a great use for it -- as a tablecloth when we have fun parties and whatnot. I plan on skipping the batting, adding a layer of plain flannel on the back, and then binding it all around, which should make it perfect for draping a table. I was pretty excited to get this. There are so many times I've seen other people's blogs about their treasures they picked up here and there, but my luck (until now) hasn't exactly held out for finding such bargains.

Anyway, my mom and I were walking around afterwards in other booths, when another dealer stopped me to ask what was in my sack. The quilt was stuffed down in a plastic grocery sack, so all she could barely see was the top. She said that she was a quilter and wanted to see what I picked up. After taking it out to show her and looking back and forth at her and her husband's faces, it dawned on me that she was a lady whose blog I follow! Sure enough, it was Glenna Hailey, feedsack expert and fabric designer and author of a quilting book sold nationwide. Cool, huh? I'd used a couple of her patterns and sent her the pictures of the quilts a while ago, and when I told her who I was, she gave me the biggest hug. Sure enough, with the feedsack expert at my fingertips, she confirmed that the quilt I had just bought was made up almost entirely of feedsack fabrics. She said she'd had her eye on that quilt, but since she has so many quilts in her collection already, her husband put his foot down, haha. She was excited a fellow quilter had snatched it up! Meeting her just tickled me pink. What a fun day!

My mom and I found a few other treasures after that, which I will have to take pictures of and save for a later post. My mom's purchase is my favorite, and you'll see why...

(And just to let you know, I haven't forgotten that I still need to blog about my face-to-face encounter with the infamous Pioneer Woman. Forgetful me forgot to take my camera with me that day, so I am patiently waiting for my friend with the iPhone who went with me to email me the pictures she took.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Too tired to post.

But, by golly, this counts as a post for today. I will blog every day this month!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Craft Hope Project 5

I finished up my Craft Hope quilt this afternoon and got it mailed off, just in the nick of time to arrive Saturday (the deadline). The unanswered question as to why I am always such a procrastinator looms always over my head...

This quilt measures 36"x48". The top is made up of Heather Ross fabrics from her West Hill line (with a brown gingham thrown in for good measure). I had no plans for the fabric when I bought it, but I couldn't resist those horses and matroishkas and frogs and tadpoles and such. Plus, if you know anything about Heather Ross and her amazing fabrics, you'll know that not only does she draw the most enchanting designs, but her fabrics are the softest around. Think about the softest sheets you own, and that's what they feel like. This little quilt is oh-so-soft to the touch.

I knew I wouldn't have time to try my first ever free-motion quilting on this one, so I opted for the old-fashioned granny technique -- I hand-tied it. In my quilting group at church, all of our quilts that we give out are hand-tied, but I am always the "finisher" and not the one doing all of the tying, so I had no previous experience in this department. (As the "finisher", all this means is that because I am the whippersnapper of the group, cough, cough, the youngest, cough, cough, I am the person to hand sew the binding on. I am also the proud "needle threader" of the group since I'm the one with the keenest eyes, haha.) Thankfully though, I've paid attention a time or two to the hand-tying process, so I knew what to do. I picked a nice cotton yarn out in a sage/cream combo, and I really like how it turned out! So cozy!

Oh dear. Talk about getting my granny on. Can't you just picture the cutest, sweetest granny saying that phrase: "I picked a nice cotton yarn out..." -- ha!

I also used polyester batting this time. Polyester may elicit many a tsk-tsk from most experienced quilters, but since I was tying it, I decided that for the price (read: uber-cheap on sale) and the high loft that made it so much thicker than the traditional cotton batting I normally buy, it was the perfect choice for this quilt. I may have to incorporate more hand-tied quilts into my future. There is just something homey and cozy and familiar about the hand-tied quilts.

These quilts will be going to children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area who are homeless at Christmastime. I prayed over my little quilt as I drew the needle up and down, praying that it will truly bring comfort and love to its little recipient. Sitting on my comfy sofa with my purring cat at my side, a roof over my head -- it really hit home to me that this quilt on my lap, this very same quilt I was holding, will be going to some child in America, for crying out loud, that doesn't have a home. May God help me to be ever mindful of the many blessings and luxuries I enjoy every minute of every single day, and I pray that He would continue to put opportunities in my path for ways I can help.

Won't you consider joining the next project with Craft Hope? This is my third project I've participated in, and seriously, even if you are not a crafter, sign up anyway and enlist the help of a friend or relative who is. You'll be so glad you did.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Exciting and new

Whew. I almost forgot to post today.

But I am busy trying to sew binding on my Craft Hope quilt so I can pop it in the mail tomorrow so it can arrive just in the nick of time...

that I'll have to leave you with this.

(And no, I have absolutely no explanation whatsoever, other than the fact that occasionally I sing the theme song in my head.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nothing short of amazing.

Check this out.

Taken straight from the blog post above...

"Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire took a twenty-minute helicopter ride over Manhattan. Then he sketched the entire skyline from memory. Every building was correct and drawn to scale! He's also done panoramic memory drawings of Tokyo, Rome, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Madrid, Dubai, Jerusalem and London. How mindblowingly incredible."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

If money grew on trees...

I {heart} this yo-yo quilt from my beloved Anthropologie.

Oh yes, this quilt that three people somewhere in this very universe (according to the product reviews) have already shelled out $498 for and bought (plus tax, people, and maybe shipping, who knows).

How these people apparently have a $498+ budget allowance for Anthropologie bedding is beyond me.

On the other hand, the sick and twisted part of me thinks that $498 is not all that far-fetched.

Not that $498 isn't a boatload of money, but hear me out. If that Oklahoma quilt took my mom and I countless hours and hours and hours to accomplish, can you imagine how many hours it would take to make a yo-yo quilt? Those babies have to be made by hand, every last one of them.

Regardless, since there is not a surplus amount of $498 in my piggybank specifically earmarked for only one single Anthropologie item, I have a very strong feeling that this might be on my list of things to try and duplicate in the coming year. Don't hold me to it, but if I don't try to replicate it, it probably isn't going to be living in my home any other way.

What's interesting is that the furniture store, Ethan Allen, came out with a yo-yo quilt a few years ago. My mom gave me the ripped-out catalog page to drool over, and one day this summer, I got the guts up to walk in there, bypass the feeding frenzy of sharks (i.e. salespeople) and head straight to the bedroom furniture to see it for myself. It is covered completely in smaller, same-size yo-yo's that would take even longer to make since you would need somewhere in the ballpart of a kajillion of them to make a quilt. And the Ethan Allen version is priced at the low low price of $749. Oh yeah. See, Anthropologie is looking more and more affordable now, right? Pshaw.

Moving on...

I {heart} this crochet tablecloth from there as well.

It is the low low price of $128.

For that low low price, my four-year-old would need to keep himself and his ten little sticky fingers far far away from it. Maybe my husband, too, for that matter.

Now picture my own smiling face after hearing the news from my dear mother who informed me that she has an entire drawer full of crocheted doilies my grandmother made.

Cha-ching. The money tree in my brain just sprouted some leaves.

Replication is a form of flattery, don't you think?

Friday, November 6, 2009

The cat's meow

*I am well aware of the fact that upon publishing this post, the chances of me turning into the Crazy Cat Lady are quite high, especially once the blue hairs start sprouting on my head. With my quilting and NPR-listening and feline love, I really don't stand a chance, do I?

I tell you, I never thought I would love those crazy kitties as much as I do. Even if you are not a fan of cats, there is no way you could meet Harry and Sally and not think they're halfway cool. I had wanted a cat for several years, but my greatest fears were getting a cat that would either hide under the bed all day or have a terrible personality. As my husband, a new fan of cats himself, pointed out, you can't force cats to love you. Dogs might be easier to manipulate, but cats, not so much.

I had no reason to worry.

Harry and Sally are such good kitties. They both are very outgoing and affectionate. They both have super soft fur, almost like mink, which is so nice. They both love to purr and purr and purr. I don't know about you, but I think purring is one of the greatest things about cats. They are both mostly laid-back, and they both are fine with all the dogs. Getting a second kitty was also a great idea, hands down. They are best buddies and don't like to be separated.

Having a both a female and a male has been fun, too. They are so different from each other.

Harry is a true male. He walks like a hunter, slinking around ready to pounce on any prey that might come his way. (Sorry, Harry, there's not too much to hunt as an indoor kitty, huh?)

Harry is downright obsessed with my ponytail holders. That boy can sniff them out anywhere, and once he finds one, it's toast. In fact, as I type this, I realize I need to pick up another package of them next trip to the store because he has taken almost all of them.

Harry also seems to have a fascination with water. He loves it when the bathwater is running, he loves the dishwasher, he loves a sink full of dishes, and numerous times I have caught him with his head down the garbage disposal, hoping to find something tasty.

Crazy cat.

Harry loves boxes, paper bags, and any nooks and crannies he can possibly stuff himself into. The crazier the place to roost, the better.

Unlike Sally, Harry has already morphed into a true feline, perfectly content to snooze most of the day away once he finds the perfect roost.

But he also makes time for television.

That boy loves him some primetime goodness.

Sally, on the other hand, is such a diva. She this amazing strut, swishing her little rear end like she is Tyra Banks. She also loves walking past the dogs and running her tail all over their faces likes it's her own personal feather boa. Yowza.

She is my purring machine. They both purr, but Sally really purrs. Sometimes she is purring so loud you can hear it in the next room. She also will let you know when she has not received adequate love. Almost every five or ten minutes, she will let out these crazy loud meows, calling for you to shower her with more attention. It's so cute.

She loves to lay on her back and have you rub her belly while all four paws are splayed out in every direction. The more kisses you can provide on her little nose, the better, as it just makes her purr even louder. She is definitely a little lover, and her favorite place to lounge is on a warm lap.

They both love two places in the house and will often fight over who gets to lay there -- either the shelf in the kitchen where all the paper bags are, or the tray in the living room where our paper recycling gets stacked. They've both grown so much since we got them, but I'm hopeful that Sally will still remain a bit smaller since she was the runt of her litter. I miss the tiny kitten phase, but notsomuch the crazy tiny kitten phase. They've both been fixed so there will be no baby kitties in our future (whew!), and Sally was declawed since she was constantly sharpening her claws on the furniture. Harry has never done that, so we've allowed him to keep his claws, although the verdict is still out on that one. There have been two times I've seen him get that gleam in his little eye and reach up quickly for a quick sharpening session, so we'll have to see. I am hopeful he was just testing me, haha.

I know they both see me right now as the "FunSucker". Oh yeah, I suck the fun out of everything for them. Sally has a penchant for toilet paper.

Let me just say it was cute the first time to be picking up teensy bits of shredded toilet paper all over the house. And Harry had a penchant for climbing up and practically knocking everything off the shelves. Yipes. This fascination seems to have ended, but let's just say I'm already nervous about Christmas trees and am planning a strategy including water guns. They also love the crafting.

Oh, the fun fabrics they can cover in their fur, the spools of thread they can bat all over the house and under the furniture, the straight pins they can carry around in their mouths (wish I was kidding) -- it's pure kitty heaven for them, kitty h-e-double-hockey-sticks for me...

Having kitties has also changed my husband. He went from being very anti-feline to very much loving them both. And talk about a naive new kitty owner -- the first few days we had Harry he gave him a bath (no joke), which is a crazy idea to most cat owners. Then he took it to a new level when one of the employees at Petsmart convinced him to buy these "claw covers". Oh yes, my husband was crazy enough to first TRIM Harry's claws (Harry was not on board with this idea), and then GLUE these silicone claw covers on them. Seriously. I was laughing my head off. But hey, they really work! And apparently my husband wasn't scared off by the experience at all and is planning on trying to replace them every two months. Oh my heavens...