Thursday, December 31, 2009


A couple days ago, I caught a picture of the sunrise from my front porch. At least it's pretty out here in the boonies.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Round One

We have survived Christmas Round One. Actually, Round Two (of family visiting) will technically be New Year’s, so I can safely say we have survived Christmas. I’m not normally frantic about Christmas, but this year was a little different. We found out just before Thanksgiving that we’d be moving a week before family was scheduled to arrive, and we went out of town for a week at Thanksgiving.

When we returned home from our trip, we had a week to pack and paint. Forget Christmas shopping. My only saving grace is that we paid someone to clean our old house before the move out inspection. I can’t imagine how much more stressed I’d have been if I’d tried to do that on my own, too.

Once we got into the new house, our main goal was to unpack and hide the boxes. We didn’t want our family to feel trapped in our mess when they arrived. We succeeded. The night before John’s parents arrived, we hauled the last of the boxes to the trash to be picked up the next morning.

Then, I had to finish my shopping. Usually, I’m done with all my Christmas shopping (save the inevitable last-minute items) in October or November, so for me, shopping just days before Christmas was TERRIBLE. Everything got done and Christmas was a success (I think), but this is definitely the first time that I’ve heaved a sigh of relief once it was over. I hate that. I love Christmas. I hope I can treat it with more respect next year. Until then, here are some pictures of the festivities.

Our tree on Christmas Eve.
Neely snags some cookies.
Is this where it goes?
Christmas morning - not quite alert yet.
What did Santa bring?
Elefun IS fun!
The damage...and we're only halfway through.
Christmas flat wore her out.
A boy and his mama.
Is it done yet?
Our first fried turkey. Beautiful.

Neely loves to eat Christmas dinner!

I was there too, I promise. I'm just behind the camera. As usual, there is no evidence that I was present at Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Pops

Anybody familiar with Bakerella? If not, just click on over to her website there. Drool for a little while, then come back to me.

I had trouble coming up with an idea for gifts for Neely's classmates at Mom's Day Out. I mean, I can't exactly send candy bags to a bunch of one-year-olds. I saw these Santa hat cake pops on Bakerella's website, and I decided to give it a try, even though I'm pretty sure more mommies and daddies will eat these than toddlers. Oh, well. They were a little bit of a pain to make, since I'm not really a baker and am terrible with frosting, but they sure are yummy!

Friday, December 18, 2009


A few pictures from Aidan's preschool Christmas program...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Moment

Yes, I finally have the internet again. And I have a short story to tell.

On the drive home from picking up the kids from preschool and Mom's Day Out today, Aidan pulls the day's craft out of his backpack. It's a nativity decorated with stickers of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the wise men, shepherds, you get the idea. I got to listen to my sweet boy explain to his little sister about Jesus and how he was born in Bethlehem. He then passed it to her, presumably so she could see it better. Neely then peeled off a wise man sticker...and tried to eat him.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Crafting

Today, I took a little break from doing this...

...and this... make some Christmas ornaments. It's nearly killing me that I can't decorate or put up a tree yet, so I had to ring in December somehow. Before Thanksgiving, I bought The Nester's tassel e-book. I think I'd read it within half an hour of the download completing and started hunting for something to turn into a tassel. This cardinal was sitting on my mantel. I got him at Joann after Christmas for $2. I decided he'd work. So the next day I hoofed it to Hobby Lobby for some fringe. (And if you've read the e-book, don't chastise me for going to Hobby Lobby. I only got the filler stuff there.) I got him about halfway done before we went out of town. I went to Best Fabrics today - my kids' favorite place to run away from me and hide - and got the last few things I needed to finish it. Ta-da!

My first tassel. Not too shabby, I don't think. Here's the problem, though. My original intent was to take it and give it away at our spouses group's yearly ornament exchange. If I do that, I don't get to keep it, and I really like it. I also risk someone ending up with it that really hates it, or doesn't know what to do with it. And I risk getting my feelings hurt, because I made him and I love him, but at these swaps, you definitely know which ornaments are liked and which are not. I'm not sure what I'll do. We'll see. Oh, here's the cute little red bow on his booty. :)

Last night, I remembered this paper ornament kit that I bought at Michael's after Christmas several years ago and never got around to using. I started working on them while we were watching TV. It took me two hours to finish just five, but I really like them.

And finally, the pearls. Just this morning, I saw this post on Decor to Adore and knew I had to make these. I have a bag of retired costume jewelry that Andrea gave me the last time I was in Tennessee. I painted some stars gold, disassembled a couple of necklaces, glued the pearls to the stars, and voila! Recycled jewelry ornaments. (Annie, I will send one with your Christmas gift, so now you can hang your old jewelry on your tree.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Very Disney Thanksgiving

We went to Disney World for Thanksgiving this year. What was supposed to be a much-anticipated family vacation ended up being a much-needed forced break from the madness of packing. If the trip hadn't been planned since June, I think I might have completely overlooked Thanksgiving this year. Don't worry. I won't share all 255 of my pictures here, just a few of my favorites. That one up top was actually taken on our last day. It was the first day we'd seen the Magic Kingdom with the sun shining. We'd done it in bits and pieces in the evenings leading up to the last day.

I only have two photographs of either of my children with a Disney character. Neely would burst into tears if one neared her, and Aidan would pretend they weren't there. We could be walking through the park, and someone would say, "Look, Aidan! There's Goofy, Mickey, Minnie..." and he would look the other way.

See? If I pretend she's not there, she'll go away.

Here's Neely at Epcot on Thanksgiving Day.

Joe & Maggie in a Kim Possible phone booth.

What is this on my head?

I love myself.

This is the happiest place on earth, dude. Cheer up!

Pretty, pretty girl.


Aw, they love each other.

And the pinnacle...the mouse ears that Aidan picked. Of course, they're Lightning McQueen ears. Of course. And I couldn't get Neely to keep hers on long enough to get a picture.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I know I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately. “I’m moving. I have to pack. I’m so busy.” Whine, whine, whine. I’m sure you’re all sick of it, and I apologize. Today, I’m making a conscious effort to be thankful for my circumstances and for what they mean.

I read this the other day, and I should probably tattoo it on my arm.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7, The Message

And then, a couple of days later, I read this:

“When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, and my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.

Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it’s okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we’ve been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won’t be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God’s strength, our problems are small, indeed.”
From Crazy Love by Francis Chan

I had a hard time finding a stopping point on that one. My reading both of these things came with impeccable timing. Divine providence? Of course. It’s nearly Thanksgiving, the time of year when I’m supposed to reflect on all the wonderful gifts that God has given me this year, and I’m complaining. Why? Because I have to move to a new house. First thing I’m thankful for? The fact that I have a house to live in. I’m not being kicked out into the street. I have a home. I nearly wrote a “but…” I stopped myself. I am thankful to have a home.

Where to go next? I am thankful that I have two beautiful, healthy children. Although, I’m sure if I had sick or handicapped children, I’d still love them and think they were beautiful, so maybe the adjectives are unnecessary. I’m thankful for my children.

I’m thankful for family and the opportunities that I get to see them. I complain that it’s not often enough, but we get to spend Thanksgiving with my parents and Christmas with John’s parents this year. It’s good. I’m grateful that we have family to spend the holidays with.

I’m thankful for my church. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with e-mail and invites for all the things that are happening at our church this December, but thank God for them! It means our church is alive and well. And even though our calendar is quickly filling up, these are the events that I’m most excited about.

I can go on, but I feel like this post is growing a bit long. As things get crazier and busier as we pass Thanksgiving and barrel toward Christmas, if you catch me complaining, call me on it. I’m not kidding. Please remind me that at least I have a house to live in, clothes to pack, gifts to wrap, kids to drive to school, etc. Maybe I’ll do the same for you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Messy Girl

It's been a little while since I've shared a video. Here's one...


I had hoped to be posting photos of my Christmas decorations by now. I brought two or three boxes down from the attic, unpacked them, and had begun giving them their holiday homes before we decided to go ahead and move. So instead, I have Christmas sitting sadly on the mantel that I will not get the decorate this year.

I have Christmas sitting in piles in the dining room.

My house is quickly turning back into an echo chamber, as I take down all the curtains I spent all summer making for this house. Hopefully some of them will work in the new place, and some of them will make nice pillows someday.

It's a good thing we're going out of town in a week, because it's getting a little sad around here.

On the bright side, I'll have lots to share as we begin settling into our new home.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


“The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft askew.”

Here’s the problem with planning, and with making rash declarations, they usually commit you to whatever it is you swore you’d never do. At least, that’s how it often works for me. The day I said I’d never wear skinny jeans in public, three years ago in a Delia’s dressing room with Stef and Laura, doomed me. I didn’t give in until recently, but I gave in nonetheless.

In this post, I ranted and raved about having to move for renovations. I even had some of my facts wrong. And I made this declaration: “…they pay for us to move wherever our little hearts desire, which will most definitely not be back to their stinking duplex.”

A couple of weeks ago, John went to a town hall meeting that was held for our housing community to ask questions about the whole relocation/renovation process. He came home with a copy of the floor plan for the new four-bedroom duplexes opening on the East Reservation. (For those unfamiliar with Barksdale, the East Reservation is still on base, but it’s a good 15-20 minute drive from the main part of the base.) My initial reaction? “Wow. This is pretty big. I wonder if it’s nice.” To which John said, “That’s not the point. I don’t want to live attached to another family again.”

The farther removed from the initial shock of having to move I get, the calmer I feel about it. We received an invitation to an open house to look at the new duplexes this week, and we decided it would be prudent to at least see what we were refusing to live in. I prayed and prayed about it ahead of time. If we liked this duplex, it would save us so much hassle and stress. John has been stationed here for four years. As soon as we went out and bought a house of our own, he’d be almost certain to receive orders to move. Murphy’s Law and all that. Plus, staying on base means not having to worry about a mortgage payment, homeowners’ insurance, our own maintenance, and all the other things that go along with owning a home (I’m sure I’m leaving plenty out, as we’ve never owned a home). Our BAH would still automatically go to Pinnacle, so we’d never see a bill for our rent, garbage removal, water, electricity – it’s so mindless and easy. I prayed that it would be obvious. If we were supposed to move to this duplex, let us love it. If we’re not, let us automatically hate it.

On Thursday, we went to the open house. The duplex is really nice. It has four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, 2,272 square feet, it’s carpeted, has an attached two-car garage, separate laundry room (it’s in the kitchen of our current house, so this is a big deal to me), lots of storage, and we’d be the first people to live in it. The biggest drawback is that there is no yard. There’s a patio in back and lots of landscaping, but not much grass for the Hankster. In the unit we looked at, there wasn’t even enough grass to put a fence around. They may not all be this way, but having to walk Hank whenever he has to use the bathroom may alleviate some of the problems we’ve been having with him. He hasn’t been getting enough attention, and we’ll have to give him attention if we’re putting him on a leash each time he goes outside. I digress.

When we got back in the car, we were confused. We expected to hate it. We expected it to be small and have industrial tile everywhere, just like our previous duplex. We had to pray some more.

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling like the duplex was the right choice for us right now. We went to the leasing office to change our minds on paper. Next week, the contractor will be releasing the houses to Pinnacle, and we will get our move-in date. All we know right now is that it should be before Christmas. I hope now that once we get the move-in date, we’ll be able to coordinate movers in a timely fashion, because we have family coming in on December 17th! It definitely gives me a goal and a reason to unpack quickly. (Don’t worry, Jamie. I plan on getting your stockings finished before Thanksgiving. I’ll just have to keep an eye on which box they land in.)

I’m excited, even though this will be our fourth residence in the time we’ve been at Barksdale. Neely will no longer have to live in the sunroom, which is difficult to keep heated and cooled. I won’t have to break out the mop and bucket near as much. There will be no squirrels in the attic. I won’t need to stop the dryer to enjoy dinner with my family. This will be good for us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stocking Commission

What's my latest project around here? Well, there are several running simultaneously, but the one I choose to share today is....stockings!

My sis-in-law Jamie called me a couple of weeks ago asking if I would embroider names on their Christmas stockings. She hadn't picked any out yet, but she wanted to be sure they could be personalized. I said, "Sure!" And then, I got myself in deeper. I volunteered to make them, because it would be even easier to put a name on a stocking before it was sewn together.

She e-mailed me a link to this stocking, from Pottery Barn Kids.

If I'm being honest, I'll admit that I got scared. Here's this beautiful, velvet, quilted, ribbon-adorned stocking that I'm certain to botch in trying to recreate. Jamie told me that she didn't mind if it were different fabric, and not quilted, and sent me pictures of some other stockings that she also likes. Phew! This I could work with.

I decided to do Jack, the dog's, stocking first.

It's the only one I've finished so far, but it's so cute I had to share. My first stocking! What do you think?

Monday, November 9, 2009

List-Making: A Double-Edged Sword

I am the queen of list-making. You can ask anyone in my family. It’s a habit I’ve been plagued with my whole life. As a child, I had Christmas lists. As a preteen, it was a list of what I expected to receive and from whom on my birthday. (My dad totally ratted me out on this one. Thanks.) In my teens, I’d moved on to packing lists. I’d have my list of what to pack for summer camp made in March.

Sometimes, lists are wonderful. I keep a running grocery list, and when we run out of something, I can add to it so when it comes time to make the weekly trip, I’m not standing dumbfounded in the middle of the store, trying to recall what it is that I need. When we go on vacation, I always have a big, bold absolutely do not forget these things list to double-check as I walk out the door, because never again do I want to leave behind the cell phone charger, portable DVD player, pack and play, etc. This time of year, I have a Christmas card list and a gift list, so when I get that perfect gift idea, I don’t forget and end up giving something sub-par.

Other times, the lists are just a nuisance. Our house has gotten into such a state of disarray that we now have the big around the house To Do list. There are closets to clean out, cabinets to reorganize, clothes the kids have outgrown that need either to be shipped off as hand-me-downs or taken to Goodwill, leaves to blow out of the yard, wasp nests to remove from the patio umbrella, and it goes on and on. Probably, if we spent a day dedicated to the list, we could strike everything off. Each item on its own would not take much effort to accomplish. But the list has a mind of its own. It keeps getting longer, and the sheer length of it, not necessarily the size of the mundane tasks on it, is daunting. The list itself is now causing me to procrastinate. It’s so big, I feel I can’t tackle it. I probably need to toss the list in the trash and just do what needs to be done as it occurs to me, but it’s going to be tough to part with that darn list.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Little by little

I've started decorating for Christmas. Just a little bit. I'll share more as I get it done. I've been needing holdbacks for these hand-me-down curtains I have in my living room now, so I just made some Christmas-y, scrappy, ragamuffin ones. I love them. I don't think I could get away with this style year round, but it's working for now.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This is what happened...

...after I got off the phone with my mom last night.

And as she walks around with the telephone to her ear, she says, "Hey!" over and over and over...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How to Use a Pie Pumpkin

During our annual visit to the pumpkin patch, I picked out some pie pumpkins with the intention of using them to make pumpkin butter. The problem? I have, to this point, been a devoted user of Libby’s canned pumpkin. I did a little research, dragged out a couple of cookbooks, and figured it out. Here goes nothin’.

What you need:
Pie pumpkins (about 6” diameter)
A sharp knife
Cutting board
Ice cream scoop or melon baller
Large microwave-safe bowl
Saran wrap or lid for aforementioned bowl
Food processor or blender

Step 1: Have a cute baby carry your pumpkin around the kitchen while you gather your supplies.

Step 2: Cut the pumpkins in half. Some things I read suggested that using a serrated knife makes this easier. I don’t have a very good serrated knife, so I used a regular chef’s knife with a slow rocking motion, so I wouldn’t cut myself.

Step 3: Using an ice cream scoop or melon baler, scoop out the pulp (aka orange goop, at my house) and seeds. I save the seeds for roasting, but what you do with them is entirely up to you.

Step 4: Pile up the pumpkins in that microwave-safe bowl and put just a little bit of water in the bottom. Cover the bowl with Saran wrap.

Step 5: Microwave for 15 minutes. (This is a good time to clean those pumpkin seeds if you’re going to roast them, or fold a load of laundry.)

Step 6: Here, you can either peel the skin off the pumpkins or scoop out the flesh. Use tongs to remove them from the bowl, because they will be very hot. Place the flesh in your food processor or blender.

Step 7: Puree! I ended up with about 4 cups of puree from my three 6-inch pumpkins.

At this point, you can do whatever you want with your pumpkin puree. I chose to make pumpkin butter, and I’ll share the recipe in a minute. However, I’m sure this fresh pumpkin would make a wonderful pie, loaf of bread, pancakes, or anything else you’d normally crack open the Libby’s can for. I chose to make pumpkin butter, because it’s one of my favorite things from the Apple Barn in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and I haven’t been there in, oh, six or seven years. On to the recipe!

Pumpkin Butter
Pumpkin puree
Sugar (1/2 c. for each cup of puree)
3/4 tsp. Ground cloves
1 tsp. Ground allspice
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 10-12 hours. Can while hot. (I just buy a package of jars and use the instructions on the bottom for canning.)

I’d say you probably don’t need to can it if you intend to use it pretty quickly, but that all depends on how much you make. And for you skeptics, pumpkin butter is wonderful! It’s great on toast and biscuits, and it tastes like pumpkin pie. Yum!