Friday, December 28, 2012

The Carnage

I hope that everyone had a Merry, SAFE, healthy Christmas! We had a wonderful time with family but as much as I love having a big shindig here, I really love getting back to my routine.

Christmas Eve brought our middle daughter and her family, a friend of theirs that is living with them, and my parents to our house. My father in law was sick so they couldn't make it :(

After a beautiful Christmas Eve service at church, tons of food and way too much wrapping paper, my living room looked like a warzone.
This was AFTER we picked up the paper!

There was much help in making the mess, especially by this little cutie!

Someone was a little grumpy:)
She was helping everyone open their presents and when my son opened one of his by himself, she looked at him, started clapping and said," You did it! Good job! High five!" Three is such a sweet age!

Hubby and I stayed up a little late because I still had one more gift to wrap for Christmas morning. Then we sat on the couch and talked for awhile. You know those kinds of talks. The ones where you have to wait until the kids are asleep to start them. Those deep conversations where you remember the year and all that you accomplished (and didn't). Anyway, we got to bed about 1 am and at 7am, my daughter was in our room shaking my arm yelling PRESENTS! PRESENTS!
So, presents it was (and lots of coffee).
This was the present that had to wrapped the night before. Pretty much, the only thing she asked for was a guitar. We were happy to oblige.

The only thing this guy asked for was a new Nintendo because his old one was completely worn out. And yes, his shirt is on inside out and backwards. It's kind of his signature!
And the warzone returned....
No, all those presents in the background weren't theirs. We did very good buying gifts this year. Each of them got the one thing they really wanted and couple things to go with it. Then they each got some books. We have found that the fewer the presents, the more joy is experienced. I felt kind of bad because my daughter ended up with a couple more presents than my son but I felt better when he said this, "Whoa, you got me exactly what I wanted. I don't feel slighted at all." Oh I LOVE this kid!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating. Way too much of both! I was up all night with the most horrendous stomach ache ever. NEVER NEVER NEVER again! I could not believe all the junk that was eaten. Stuff I would NEVER eat, I stuffed myself on. Lesson learned!

Our best present wasn't under the tree, though. Even though we didn't have a party or a cake, we celebrated the birth of our Savior. We read devotionals and prayed and thanked God for sending us His son. THAT was the greatest gift ever! Everything else was just fluff. Nice fluff, but fluff none the less!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say.....

I was hoping that I could avoid writing this post but, alas, I cannot. Awhile back, I wrote a post on MY OPINION of a kid's movie called ParaNorman. You can find that post here. You see, the purpose of this blog, MY blog, is simply to share what is in my head. The things I am learning, stuff I have already learned, what happens on a farm and what happens while raising kids. At no time have I ever stated that the way I do things and the way I think is the ONLY way. There are so many people with so many different views and opinions that no one view is correct. That being said, if you don't like what you read here...leave. This blog isn't meant for you. Find another blog that is more to your liking. DO NOT leave nasty remarks calling me names. You don't know me. There are a few blogs that I have read for quite some time and enjoyed them. Sometimes they say things that I don't necessarily agree with. Sometimes I quit reading them. Never have I left a nasty comment on them. Even on the one where the author stated that infertility is God's way of punishing bad women. Total hogwash but it was HER blog. Our views are a little too different so I don't read her blog anymore. Simple. No one's feelings had to be hurt. I would not have changed her views by telling her what I thought of her comment so I didn't comment.

People can disagree on things and be polite and respectful when pointing it out. The 2 people who commented on my blog weren't either of those things. They were mean. They were under the belief that because I thought differently from them, I was automatically wrong. No, I just have a different view and because it is MY BLOG I get to share MY view.

I love when people comment. I have had some great people share different points of view and I really like that. The difference is, they shared them respectfully without attacking me.

I realize that I am raising my kids differently than most of society. I am trying to raise them according to what the Bible says, not what society says. If that makes me a target so be it. If you disagree with what I say, by all means, let me know. R-E-S-P-E-C-T-F-U-L-L-Y!! If you can't be respectful, your comment will be deleted. So no 15 minutes of fame for you!

Really, of all the posts I have done, THIS one is getting the attention? Go figure. It was a less than stellar movie and I gave my view of it. Some may have loved the movie and thought it was appropriate for their kids. That is fine. I didn't. That is fine, too. Really, though, if this post angered you to the point of attacking me, what does that say about you? Maybe a bit too much time on your hands? I happen to have a farm here that could use some extra hands and I could fill up that free time you have.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

With Christmas Eve right around the corner, things are pretty busy here. Lots of cooking, cleaning and repairing going on. A few more gifts to wrap and I will be set.

I will be taking a few days off to be with family and get some much needed rest. Well, as much rest as anyone can get in this mad house!

I did want to get in one last post to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for reading and commenting this past year or so. I love to open my email and see some comments left by a complete stranger who feels the same way or has experienced the same thing. Or maybe someone who just gets a chuckle over my lessons in farm life! Whatever the case, I am so grateful to all of you.

From our family to yours....

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Christmas Gift

Oh my goodness gracious! My husband just received the best (and cutest) early Christmas present from our middle daughter. She called him this afternoon and said that she needed to bring his present out to him that day because their dogs were trying to eat it. Since she is not known for her cooking abilities, he was afraid she was giving him cookies. Oh, this present was much better than cookies.

Say hello to Babe. She's 3/4 Ossabaw Island Hog and 1/4 European. This breed was brought to Ossabaw Island, Georgia in the 16th century by the Spaniards. (yay wikipedia!)

Our daughter said that she was trying to figure out what to get her daddy for Christmas and she knew he loves hunting but that he already has every hunting implement known to man. She knew he didn't have a live pig. She was correct.

It seems her boyfriend's boss got a bunch of them from the University of Georgia and agreed to sell him one.


I love this pig!!!!

We aren't eating her. I already asked. Didn't want to love something that I would be eating in the future. She will be used as breeding stock. We will get another female and a male and use them to breed all the pork we could ever need.

Right now, she is asleep in a dog pen in the garage. Hubby is leaving the light on for her so she doesn't get scared...Ain't that sweet?!!! Tomorrow we will be taking a trip to town to get a pen for her. And a doghouse. Yes, Babe will be a pig in a doghouse. Next to the chicken coop. You just can't beat country life! She already has made a friend. A few weeks ago, this showed up on our porch:

His name is Desi.(I wanted to call him Kitty GaGa because he looks like he is wearing weird eyeliner but my son put his foot down on that one). And I love him. Anyway, he was nosing around Babe's cage and the two of them seemed to click. Weird, huh? Two foreigners in a strange land. A strange land that provides plenty of food, water and love but strange none the less.

Phase 2 of farm animals has begun. I always thought phase 2 would be a dairy cow but I can adapt!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Creamy Orzo with Asparagus and Parmesan

Sometimes I find some really cool recipes on Pinterest. This is definitely one of them.

CREAMY ORZO W/ASPARAGUS AND PARMESAN

  • 1 C. Orzo pasta
  • 1C. Asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C. Cream
  • 1/4 C. Grated Parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Directions

Bring approximately 4 cups of water to a boil over medium heat. (You do not have to be precise about the water amount as you will be straining the pasta and veggies once cooked.) Once water is boiling, dump in pasta and set timer for 5 minutes. Once pasta has cooked for 5 minutes, add the veggies to the pot and cook veggies and pasta for 5 more minutes. Once the pasta and asparagus are cooked, strain out water and add them back to the empty pot. Add the parmesan and butter and stir until thoroughly combined and butter and cheese have melted. Slowly add the cream, stirring constantly. You may find that you like your pasta more or less creamy so only add enough cream to get your desired consistency. Add in salt and pepper and enjoy.

We had this as a side dish with salmon and it was lovely. This goes with just about anything: steak, seafood, chicken. You could also change up the veggies. Peas would be divine. Adding in some bacon would just push this over the top of the ecstasy meter!

(original recipe posted by sugarandspice-celeste.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Home Remedies for the Cough, Cold and Flu Season

'Tis the season to share ge-rms. Fa la la la la la la la la....Icky, nasty, make you sick ge-rms...Okay, you get the picture. Germs are nasty. They make your nose run, your throat hurt, make you cough all night and pile on the blankets. Yeah, those germs. The other night, I was at choir practice sitting between 2 people that are just getting over the flu. Not the best place to be! So, when I got home, I started with a simple home remedy to help fight off any viruses or bacteria that could have made it into my body. I tried not to touch my face with my hands but my nose was itchy!

Remedy 1:
Simply mix a teaspoon of raw honey and a tsp. of cinnamon and swallow it down. If it is too sweet to take like that, add a bit of warm water and make a sort of tea out of it. Raw honey and cinnamon are wonderful, all natural germ fighters. This you can take as often as needed for coughing. I suggested it to everyone in my church choir as we have a concert Sunday and most everyone was coughing up a storm.

Remedy 2:
This one has a few more ingredients but is wonderful for a cough and/or sore throat.
  • 1 Tbsp. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg's)
  • 1 Tbsp. Water
  • 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tsp. Freshly Grated Ginger Root (or 1/4 tsp. ground ginger)
  • 1/4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced very finely (or 1/4 Tsp. Powdered Garlic)
  • 1 Tbsp. Raw honey, melted if solid.
Mix all ingredients in a small jar with a tight fitting lid and shake the dickens out of it.
Take 1-2 Tbsp. as needed. No need to refrigerate unless you won't use it up in 2-3 days. Also, don't sniff it. I say this because this stuff smells a little...umm...stinky. Raw apple cider vinegar has a much stronger smell than the processed stuff I was used to so this, to me, does not have the most pleasant smell. The taste isn't bad but, whew, that smell will get you!

Here is a little testimony to the effectiveness of Remedy 2. While I was typing up this post, my mom called me to ask if I would refill the jar I gave her with some more. She has been plagued with massive coughing fits lately and regular cough syrup wasn't doing a thing for her. Even the prescriptions from her doctor weren't cutting the mustard. I had mixed this up that day and sent it home to her. She took 1 dose and didn't cough but once or twice the whole night. That hasn't happened in a while. Now she wants a refill in case it starts again. I love home remedies that work better than pharmaceuticals!

Remedy 3

I have not personally tried this one but it comes from a blogger I trust.
Elderberry Syrup
She suggests taking this daily to boost immune system. I will try it once I get some elderberries.

It would benefit everyone to research what a wonder raw honey, cinnamon, raw ACV and garlic are. Antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial....the list goes on and on. Every pantry should be stocked with them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cash Wallet-Product Review

So, any Dave Ramsey fans out there? Then this is the system for you. I haven't followed Mr. Ramsey but I have read lots of blogs from people who do. I do, however, love to pay cash for as much as possible. We don't use credit cards so we have only a choice of cash or debit card. Cash is much safer for me because I have been known to "forget" to enter debit card transactions into my accounting software which leads to less money than I think or the dreaded overdraft fee. So cash it is. Now, if you were to look at my wallet a few days ago you would have seen numerous bank envelopes spilling out. I had a different envelope, filled with cash, for the various things I pay with cash. My wallet had a hard time closing sometimes and, once when I was in the grocery store checkout line, I reached for my wallet and every thing spilled out onto the floor. Not cool.

A few months back, I was perusing a blog and she had a link to an Etsy shop for a cash wallet
system. I clicked on it and instantly fell in love with what was offered.


This lady uses laminated cloth to make her wallets so you can just wipe them off if they get grungy. The fabrics she uses are so cute, too. Inside the zippered wallet is a set of plastic tabbed dividers. You can put any category you want on them. They are roomy enough to carry not only your divided cash but I also have room for my driver's license, debit card, store discount cards, gift cards AND the matching change purse that you can buy separately! I.Love.It!!!!
I like that I no longer have to carry my regular wallet with me which was a bit bulky for my taste. This is streamlined and I only carry what I need.

The price was really good, too. $18 for the wallet and $7 for the change purse. I think I had them in my possession in about 10 days from when I ordered them so she ships them out pretty quickly. Remember, these are handmade, one of a kind items. It may be too late to order any for Christmas gifts but, really you could gift (or keep) these at any time of the year! Here is the link to her shop.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Oatmeal...So Good When it's Cold Outside!

I don't ever remember my mom making me oatmeal for breakfast when I was growing up. I was always a cereal kind of girl. As a matter of fact, I don't think I ever even had oatmeal packets until my late teens or early 20's. Shoot, they probably didn't even invent them until then!! Unfortunately, I bought into the whole "all food at the grocery store is good for you" notion for many, many years and always had a box of Quaker oatmeal packets on hand for a quick breakfast.

Oh how things have changed. I was never a huge fan of those packets. My kids liked them well enough but I could take them or leave them.

Enter real food. I started making my own oatmeal and, lo and behold, I liked it. I liked it a lot. For me, there is nothing quite so tummy warming on a cold morning than a nice bowl of oatmeal. Now this isn't simply oats and liquid. No, I like to add stuff. Sometimes, lots of stuff. Right now, I have become fixated on the following combo; oats, milk, raisins, white choc. chips (yeah, I know they aren't real food) and nuts.

The process for making oatmeal is really simple.

Here's what I do:
  • Pour some milk into a saucepan. How much completely depends on how much you want to make. I usually use somewhere around 2-2 1/2 cups (could be more, I don't measure) for 3 of us.
  • Add in old fashioned oats. I guess you could use quick oats but I like the old fashioned ones better.
  • Stir in your add ins like raisins, maple syrup, whatever you are in the mood for.
  • Always add in a pinch of salt. Why? I don't know but it just should be done.
  • Stir over medium to medium low heat until the oatmeal thickens.
  • Enjoy!
Until you have made it once or twice, you will probably need to add a little more milk or a few more oats until you get it just the way you want it. There are no rules with oatmeal. Well, maybe don't burn it 'cause that's just nasty. But other than that, make it how you want. If I have leftovers (which isn't very often) I feed them to the chickens. They absolutely love it!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Budget Time

Geez, I can hear the groans through my computer!!! Why is it that every time someone mentions the word budget, people get all fidgety and try to get as far away from you as possible? Actually, I used to be one of those people. My husband would say that we needed to work on the budget and my eyes would glaze over and I would go into a trance. I hated that word. It meant limitations and accountability. I like limitations and accountability except when it comes to my cash. I want to spend what I want, when I want. Yeah, I'm such a grown up!

Nowadays, the "b" word doesn't bother me as much. Why? Because I have finally learned what works for our family and what doesn't. I also like knowing where the money is going and exactly how much I have to work with (i.e. spend like a mad woman!) Our budget system isn't anything fancy. It is actually a Works Spreadsheet with all of our bills listed according to date due. I have a column for budgeted amount and another one for actual amount. This helps me to see if we are getting carried away in a certain category or if I can reduce the budgeted amount to reflect the current amount due of a particular bill. I can plug in irregular bills whenever the need arises, say a doctor bill or repair. Because hubby gets paid once a month, I pay all bills at once. If a bill comes in after the day I have paid bills, it gets added to next month's budget. When he first started getting paid like this, I panicked! That tends to be my first response to change. Now that we have done this for a year, I kind of like it. I like the fact that everything is paid at once and I don't have to keep sending off payments all throughout the month. I scheduled all the payments I could to be automatically paid so, each month, I just go to my checkbook (Quicken) and plug in all debits. I keep track of any changes to amounts through email notices from creditors.

I also like the fact that I have to be diligent about the budget. If I get lazy and don't keep up with it, I know that I will run out of money before the end of the month and I will have no way of getting anymore. I don't like the feeling of being broke mid-month so I keep up with it as best I can. Nothing like a cash shortage to tighten you up!

If any of you read Stacy Makes Scents, then you probably already know this but Stacy's husband, Barry, is a financial planner and he did a post about budgeting. He even included a sample budget for you to add your info and design your own personal budget. Click here for that post.

The end of the year is the perfect time to get your budget done for the coming year, or at least the next few months. For me, this simply means printing out a report from Quicken showing how much I have spent in all categories for the year. From there I can see where we need to cut back and where we are right on track. Then I simply start separating what money goes where. For the coming year, I have some new categories that I will be contributing to such as bulk food purchases, vacation and hunting lease renewal.

Budgeting isn't horrible or scary. The state of your finances may be scary but the only way to get rid of the fear is to just dive in, see where you are at and create a budget. Oh yeah, and STICK TO IT!!!! I'm still working on that aspect!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Redmond Earthpaste-Product Review

Awhile back, I ordered the Healthy Living ebook bundle. Along with the ebooks, I also got some free samples of some products. One of those products is Redmond's Earthpaste. This toothpaste is quite different from what you would find at the grocery store.






First of all, the ingredients aren't all chemically sounding. They are: Purified water, food grade Redmond clay, xylitol, peppermint essential oil (in the peppermint flavored one), menthol, redmond RealSalt, tea tree oil. That's it. I like that. I can pronounce and spell every ingredient! Notice there is no flouride. There has been a lot of research done about the need for flouride in toothpaste and, those in the health world, have raised real questions about its need and safety.
Another (big) difference is the fact that this toothpaste does not produce foam. I will tell you right now, that's the biggest thing I am trying to get past. I have had foaming toothpaste for many years. This stuff does not foam. It is also clay colored so, when you spit, it is brown. That takes a little getting used to.

All in all, I think I like the stuff. My teeth feel clean, my breath is fresh and I don't have any toothpaste stains on my shirt. Please tell me I am not the only one who constantly dribbles foamy toothpaste all over my chin and shirt. Please?

The taste is very mild. No, it doesn't feel gritty or anything. It comes in 3 flavors; peppermint, cinnamon and wintergreen. I have only tried the cinnamon one so far and it is tasty. Oh yeah, you can swallow this stuff without having to call poison control. Not that you would want to but it is nice to know that there is nothing in it that can hurt you. Bonus if you have small kids. You don't have to buy children's toothpaste and adult toothpaste. Everyone can use this.

I use Redmond RealSalt in the kitchen and I like the quality of their products. I give this one a thumbs up.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pizza Burgers

Okay, I know, summer is gone and so should be the grill. But temps around here have been in the upper 70's so I think the grill can stay for a little while longer.

The other night, we had Pioneer Woman's Pizza Burgers. Holy cow, were they good. A few weeks ago, I made up the patties along with regular hamburger patties, salisbury steaks and meatballs. I love getting a bunch of meals out of only a little bit of work!

Anyway, the flavor of these burgers was outstanding. Like a dummy, I forgot to make up some marinara sauce so we used ketchup and they were still very pizza-flavored. I use these uncured pepperoni by Hormel. Not perfect, but a little better than the other stuff.

These burgers are just a bit different than the standard burger. PW also does a Supreme Pizza Burger by adding all kinds of veggies. There are numerous ways you can make these your own. Make 'em. You'll be happy you did. Plus, your family will love you just a smidge more!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...NOT!

I do believe Mother Nature has a mental problem. Or a really bad memory. It is December 6th and our highs the last few days have been close to 80. What the heck? It is hard to get into "the spirit" when I am sweating and turning on the A/C. THEN, in the morning when it is 60 degrees in my house, I have to turn on the heat because the popsicle twins are cold. If you look outside, it looks like it should be cold. All dark and gloomy. Bare trees and dead grass. 40 bazillion pecans laying under a foot of fallen leaves. Yep, it should be cold. But, alas, it is not. It has put a damper on my Christmas decorating. At least that is what I am blaming it on. "Sorry honey, can't decorate because it is too hot outside."

Hubs came up with a way to get me to get off my rear end and get the house and porches decorated, though. He decided Tuesday to throw a Christmas Party here Saturday. Yes, hubby is a "last minute" kind of person. I have learned to live with it. So, decorate I must! At least with the warm weather, we can have the party out on the pool deck so I don't have to super clean the house. Score!!!!

What is it about this time of year that puts time in a vacuum? Of course Christmas preparations take a lot of time but...I really haven't done any of that yet. It feels like someone has cut the hours in my days in half and, no matter how hard I try, I am woefully behind. I doesn't help that I haven't been home much this past week. Between church activities, UMW activities, monthly grocery shopping, being almost a week behind on school work and trying to balance my checkbook so I can begin Christmas shopping, I haven't had time to do hardly ANY prep work. Could the fact that I have become highly unorganized the past several months have anything to do with it????

I do have some things coming up to share with you. I haven't forgotten about that Taffy Apple Salad recipe. I was hoping to make it so I could take a picture to post with it but I am not sure that will happen. And, honestly, my photography skills are seriously lacking. Of course, you all are too nice to say anything;-) I am also going to try out this menu planning site called Plan To Eat. I got a free 3 month subscription when I bought an ebook bundle last month. I will try it out and let you know what I think. I love the idea of having my meals planned. Unfortunately, I stink at the execution of that plan! I have heard wonderful things about this site so, stay tuned.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Here it is folks. You want to get paid to do your shopping online? Just click this link and sign up for an Ebates account. Ebates is an online shopping site where you can access coupons, discounts and cash back for 100's of popular stores. Once you pick the store you want to shop at, say Bass Pro Shops, you simple click on that store and you are taken to their website. You make your purchase and Ebates will rebate you a certain amount of money depending on what the agreement with that particular store is. It doesn't cost you any money and you aren't charged any more making your purchases this way as if you had just gone to the website directly. AND THEY PAY YOU!!!!! Some stores have bigger rebates than others, some offer better coupons than others but you still spend the same amount you normally would and then every 3-4 months, Ebates sends you a "Big Fat Check". I just got my latest one the other day. I do a lot of my shopping online because of where we live.

The stores that are on Ebates are all stores you have heard of like Walmart, Macy's, Dell, Verizon. Check it out.  I will get $5 for every person who signs up after they make their first purchase. Then you can refer your friends and make $5 for each of them and they can refer their friends....You get the picture. I have belonged to Ebates since 2008 and have never once had a problem or issue. Getting paid to shop. Me likey!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tomato Soup

Awhile back, I posted this Tomato Soup recipe. It's a good one, don't get me wrong. How could anything with cream cheese be bad? Ahem, well, let's just say that sometimes one may find the need for something a bit...lighter. Enter this lovely gem from Kelly at The Nourishing Home. If you have never visited her site, please do. Her food is tasty AND healthy.

I had serious doubts about this recipe, only because I am particular about the taste of my tomato products. I shouldn't have worried. Everything of hers that I have made has turned out really good.  Please check this recipe out. It is sooooo good for the cold days ahead. She says that the soup gets better the following day so save any leftovers. That phrase "save leftovers" always makes me laugh because I have a teenaged boy and leftovers are not something that we have. I cook and he consumes.  EVERYTHING! It's kind of  "our thing". This soup was no different. After he had the last little bit in the pot, he stuck his finger in and licked more out. That is why it is so important to me to make the healthiest food with the best ingredients. If he is going to eat like a linebacker, then the food needs to nourish him. Hence, we love the Nourished Home. You will too.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Salisbury Steak

Man, I have been eating some good food lately. I can't take the credit for this recipe, though. This one is strictly Pioneer Woman. Don't you just love her??! I have been a fan of hers since way before her first cookbook came out.

This recipe is very old school and oh so good. I made up a big batch of the meat and froze it in little loaves. It freezes beautifully (uncooked) by the way. Since Ree always has a great tutorial with her recipes, I will not try and recreate it here. Check it out here. Trust me, this is one recipe you will want to save to make over and over again. Hubby really loved the gravy and now wants me to make that my default meat gravy. The twins loved it, too. My girl actually passed up dessert to have another steak. She doesn't do that very often so, if she turns down pumpkin pie for more salisbury steak, the recipe is a keeper.

I would have taken a picture of how mine turned out but I was half way through eating when I realized I should have taken a picture. I spared you the half-scarfed food pic. You're welcome. Anyway, it looked exactly like Pioneer Woman's did. Honest.

Make this recipe. You will NOT be disappointed!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coconut Flour Muffins

I have an uncle who has some "digestive system issues" so they are exploring a gluten free diet.  So, being the wonderful, loving niece that I am (pretty sure I can hear them groaning all the way up here)I decided to do a little experimenting with gluten free flours.

This recipe uses coconut flour that I bought from Tropical Traditions. The recipe actually comes from Laura at Heavenly Homemakers so you can pop over there to see the recipe itself. I made them this morning and they were pretty good. Now, if you are looking for something that tastes like it is made with regular wheat flour, this isn't it. However, they are very tasty. There are some things that I will do differently next time. First of all, as soon as you mix the batter, immediately pour it into a greased muffin pan. I let it sit for a minute on the counter and it kind of glopped up a bit. I also made the mistake of using muffin liners instead of just greasing the muffin tin and they stuck to the paper pretty bad. Note to self-pay attention to the recipe!

All in all, these were a good thing and I will recommend them to my uncle. When I bought the flour, Tropical Traditions was having a sale on it, 2 lbs. for $10. I don't know if this is a good price or not as I have never bought any before but I have noticed that a lot of the recipes using it only call for a small amount so I am hoping it will last for awhile.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home

Such a wonderful word...h o m e. The one place I am always wanted. Mainly because the others here are hungry and want me to feed them. BUT, they want me. I'll take it when I can. Nothing makes me more grateful for home then when I am gone for a time. Doesn't have to be a long time, either. I am grateful for home whether I am gone for days or just a few minutes to check the mailbox. I love home. I love the people at home. I love the animals at home. I never want to leave again. Well, maybe for Disney...but not for awhile yet.

We got on the interstate to come home at 6:45 yesterday morning. It was a loooooong trip. I only got a few hours of sleep the night before so I was really struggling to wake up. Didn't help that the twins were in the back all cuddled up in blankets and pillows snoozing, or that my mom, in the passenger seat, was snoring THE ENTIRE WAY HOME!!!! The only time she woke up was when we stopped for potty breaks or food. Other than that she was snoring. Well, more like snortiling. It is a strange sound, I won't try and explain it.

We finally pulled in the drive at 4pm. I barely got the truck in park before I ran to the house and hugged my hubby. I swore to him I would never go ANYWHERE without him ever again. Then I asked him to accompany me to the bathroom so I wouldn't be without him. He declined. He did, however, have dinner waiting on us; Steak, rice, corn/peas and pumpkin pie. He was so proud of himself because he made the pies (yes, he made 3) all on his own. They were good, too! I didn't care what he made, I was just so happy to be where I could have my own food. For the last week, I have really struggled with the food. We had to eat out a lot (yuck!) and I know I gained weight. It was hard to try and eat like I normally do because everything in restaurants is so commercially prepared. They use processed salt in their shakers. They use hydrogenated oils in their cooking. Their meat isn't grass fed or pastured. Their fruits and veggies aren't grown locally OR organically. I really sound like a food snob, don't I?  I hate eating out. I used to love it. Back when I didn't know or care where my food came from. Funny how, when you learn what happens to your food before it gets to your plate, you become very critical of anything you didn't prepare yourself. Not that I am a better cook than professionally trained chefs but I know where my beef came from. I visited the farm. I know where my eggs come from. They still have a feather or two on them from my coop. I know where my veggies come from. I picked off all kinds of nasty bug invaders from the vines and bushes myself.

Anyway, I survived and now I am back to my comfortable routine. Have you heard, Christmas is coming???!!!!!! Four weeks from today is Christmas Eve. FOUR WEEKS!!!!! There is decorating to do, food to make, gifts to buy....AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! Okay, take a breath.....ahhhhhhh. I can do this. I will do this. At least most of it. As soon as I figure out how to install the referral link, I will share with you my secret to getting paid for Christmas shopping. Yes, folks, I get paid to Christmas shop. Actually, any kind of online shopping I get paid to do. Sound intriguing? Stay tuned!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Florida Happenings

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday. I surely enjoyed both days.  Turkey Day dinner was held at my aunt Chris' house this year. I LOVE it when my mom's family all get together. We eat, we talk, we catch up on gossip, we laugh, we make innappropriate sounds at the funniest moments....That's how ya'll celebrate too, right? Right? No?

This is my cousin, Kevin, making his best pie ever, otherwise known as chocolate pie. Now, this isn't just any ordinary pie. No, Kevin takes the time to use REAL ingredients AND he made his own real whipped cream! Boy, it was good! This kid's got it all. He's a gentleman, he cooks and he's just about as cute as he can be. Sorry ladies, he's taken though. Just wanted to point him out so you single ladies know there are still young men being raised right!
Here is the finished creation. I didn't get my phone out quick enough to snap the pic before my uncle stole a piece.


The spread...need I say more? Oh my gosh! It was all soooooo good. I wait all year for my mom's cranberry salad. My aunt surprised us with my grandma's Taffy Apple Salad. Tastes just like eating a carmel apple. I'll be sharing the recipe for that soon. We had lots of drama with the turkey. Seems ole Tom decided to fake my aunt out about being done. She roasted him all morning and checked the temp and it showed he was done. She turned the roaster down to keep him warm and, when she went back to check on him, the meat temp had dropped like 15 degrees. After much conferring, we started roasting the sucker again.  Luckily, he cooked completely in the next 45 minutes. Then it came time to carve that bad boy. All you could hear was crickets chirpping when she asked for volunteers. Not one male family member was brave enough, so yours truly was the official carver for the evening. Not much different than when I carve a chicken up, just way more meat! The turkey was perfect as was everything else. We ate until we couldn't eat anymore then we ate a bit more. We talked about the upcoming wedding, the upcoming births, the people who couldn't be there, the past, the future. We laughed until we were crying at the mishaps of my cousins and their pets. We compared notes on menopause (who's going through it, who's survived it and who's doing her best to just avoid it), men, birthing (the words vaginal and vagina were used more than any of the men would have liked), sore backs and aching knees.

Even though hubby and my dad couldn't be here, I wouldn't have changed one minute of it for the world. I got to spend some awesome time with people that I love so very much but hardly get to see anymore.  They are the most amazing, loving, hilarious, kind hearted, goofy and wonderful people so here's my little tribute to them:
To Chris, Brad and Kevin-thank you for opening up your home to all of us and providing us with excellent grub and even better memories.
To Jimmy and Cindy-thank you for making the trek down from Gainesville and spending some wonderful time with all of us even though you are in the final stages of planning your daughter's wedding that will take place tomorrow!
To Angie and Steph-I love you two so incredibly much! Thank you for making sure we had a place to stay (and goodie bags in our room!), the free movie passes and the great pumpkin pie (which I never got a piece of!). But mostly for making me laugh so hard I was sure I was gonna pee myself at some point.
To Jan and Dennis-Thank you for the laughs (and that incredibly dry humor uncle D!)Those stories are the best remedies for ANYTHING that ails you.
To Kelsey-My other redneck Barbie. Thank you for being our nation's protector you bad a$$ Marine!
I love you, kid!
To Jennifer, AJ and Maddy-Thank you for being there and sharing that precious little girl with us. Cannot wait for baby number 2 to come along!
To Jason- You are almost (one more day) an official family member. You fit right in and we are glad you are here!
And last but not least to my grandpa- One of the most amazing people that will ever walk this earth. Thank you for providing this family for me. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Thank you for being you because no one can compare to you!

Enough mush!

Tomorrow is the big wedding day and then we leave EARLY Sunday morning to drive (UUUGGGHHHH!!!!)back home. I may take a few days off from blogging to spend a little time with the hubs:)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!

Thanksgiving has to be my favorite holiday. Okay, it's in the top 2! It involves two of my very favorite things, food and family. There is not much else that can top that combo. The only thing that could make this any better is if my hubby could be here. He couldn't come because he couldn't get away from work Friday and Saturday. So he has been at home taking care of the farm for us...and hunting. Lots and lots of uninterrupted hunting!

The trip down wasn't too bad until we got just south of Sarasota and there was an accident that brought traffic to a dead stop for an hour. Good thing we gassed up and emptied the bladders before that! However, I told hubby that anymore trips to SW Florida would be done on a plane! Ten hours trapped in a vehicle was more than enough!

Yesterday, we spent the day at my aunt's house getting some of the dinner prep done. My mom made 2 cottage cheese pies (It doesn't taste anything like cottage cheese once it is done!), cranberry salad (I wait all year for this stuff!) and stuffing. I showed my aunt how to make bread but I don't know how much she was able to absorb because we were kind of running her around asking where is this, where is that. Today, we are showing up a few hours before dinner to finish getting everything prepped and begin the massive cooking and eating fest! My Aunt Chris is very brave taking on the responsibility of feeding this crew. We know how to put away some grub!

This year, we have a little extra surprise. My sweet cousin Stephanie is getting married on Saturday. I love weddings! Steph and her older sister, Angie, are the closest things I have to sisters and I love them both so much! I am so glad Steph found someone who loves her and treats her so well. Now, we just need to find someone for Ang!

Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without remembering all that I have to be thankful for. I am thankful that I have a God who loves me as imperfect as I am.  I am so thankful for my husband and children. My life would be so empty and lonely without them. I am thankful for the best family and friends a person could ever hope for. I am thankful that I get to live in the best country on Earth. I am thankful for my awesome church family. I am thankful for all of you that are reading. Life is so good. Not perfect, but really, really good!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sorry posts have been a little non existent light the last few weeks. We have been in the thick of pecan picking season. I tried very hard to get most of what has fallen picked up before the leaves started their annual migration to the ground but they are now all over the yard, making the nuts extremely hard to see. Hubs is looking into getting a walk behind harvester to pick up the nuts but, sheesh, those things aren't cheap! He reasons that we will pay for it in 2 years with the extra nuts we will be collecting. We should be getting about 1000 lbs. of nuts per tree but we collect far less than that handpicking.

The trees are positively LOADED this year! I was smart enough to get the grass mowed just before the nuts started falling. Last year, I didn't do so good. The nuts were all caught in the grass and it made picking even more tedious than it usually is. This year, the grass was mowed and lots of nuts fell before the leaves really started falling so the early picking wasn't too bad.

Speaking of leaves, my poor pool pump has been working overtime trying to keep the leaves skimmed and out of the pool. That, of course, means I am sticking my nice warm hand into frigid water to clean out the skimmer basket multiple times a day! Thank goodness the 2 trees next to the pool are almost bare. Next year, there will be a cover on that pool! Live and learn.

Next week, the kids, my mom and I head to Florida for Thanksgiving. My cousin is getting married the following Saturday so we will spend the holidays with my mom's family. Hubby doesn't think he will be able to get down there for Thanksgiving but he will be there for the wedding. I hate spending the holidays without him. His business is slow right before Thanksgiving but all you-know-what breaks loose that Friday and he doesn't want to leave our oldest son to handle it himself. I do miss Thanksgiving with that part of my family, though. We all lived so close together when we lived in Florida. We spent all holidays together and it was just wonderful. My in laws really don't make a Thanksgiving meal so hubby and my dad will probably go to Cracker Barrel for dinner. Isn't that sad??? If my aunt wasn't counting on me and mom to do a lot of the cooking, I would just spend the holiday at home and leave with hubby on Friday night to head to Florida. I REALLY am not looking forward to that drive. Nine hours! I am the WORST person to be cooped up in a car with. I am a bad rider. I get bored easily even though I bring books, magazines and craft projects, I am waaaayyyyy too antsy to sit still for that kind of time. I won't even get into how many times we have to stop because I have the tinest bladder! The fact that I am driving only improves it by a little. I don't like driving, either. I wish my family would all just move closer! But no. They all want to stay 550 miles away! Something about "they have always lived there" and "it's our home". Yada, yada, yada. I REALLY wanted to fly but we waited too long to try and do flight arrangements. Plus, 4 round trip tickets would have been out of the budget this month. However, and it's a big however, I will get to see my grandpa and my aunts, uncles and cousins that I desperately miss so, for them, I will make the journey.

These next few weeks will be soooooo busy! Once I get back from Florida, it is full on work to get our church prepared for Breakfast With Santa. It is a project that my UMW group does every Christmas for the children in the community. They come and have breakfast, get their picture taken with Santa and then they get to shop in our Secret Santa Shop and buy things for their family. Nothing costs over $5 so they can usually buy for everyone they want. Our ladies are so crafty and they really come up with beautiful items for the kids to purchase. Then we wrap them up for them so they can put them under the tree without having to do anything. The kids do all this shopping without their parents. Our youth help the kids pick things out and keep track of how much they have spent so moms and dads get a chance to shop in our Bake Shop. It is a lot of fun for the kids but it is a tremendous amount of work leading up to it. Then, right after that, we have our UMW Christmas dinner. After that, it is work, work, work in choir to get ready for our Christmas Program. There will be multiple EXTRA rehearsals on top of our regular Wednesday night rehearsals and, since the Youth Choir will be singing with the Adult Choir, my kids will be going to most of those rehearsals with me. That will probably mean multiple meals out....Yuck! Hopefully, I can minimize those. I DESPISE eating out in our tiny town. Once our main Christmas Program is done, we still have a secondary one on the Sunday before Christmas. We will have an orchestra playing with us so we will have some practices for that, too. Then, of course, there will be the mad dash to get the house all ready for Christmas, the presents bought and wrapped (emphasis on bought!). Plus, did I mention our remodeling will likely start right after Thanksgiving so it will be finished by Christmas? Yes, because all that other stuff wasn't enough, I will have my house destroyed for several weeks. For someone who is OCD like me when it comes to cleaning, this will be torture!
But you know what? I love it. I really do. I always get mad at myself for scheduling too much stuff but I have a serious problem with down time. I always feel that if I am just sitting around, I am not being productive and I just can't enjoy myself. I think, secretly, I like the busyness. It keeps me out of trouble, that's for sure. Maybe I am just weird. Yeah, we will go with weird.

On the chicken front, we had several girls go into full molt because someone didn't make provisions for artificial light in the coop. I won't mention who that was but she had a real good reason. There is no electricity anywhere near the coop. I checked into getting some solar lights but, at this time of year, that expense is out of the question. So my set up is this. Two very long extension cords, a light fixture and a timer. It ain't pretty by no means but it works for now. We were down to several days with no eggs and I finally realized that several chickens were looking a little "feather bare". Once we got the light up. We started getting 2 eggs each day. Then it went up to 4. I noticed, recently, that 2 of the hens were completely outfitted with new plumage and our egg production went up to 6 eggs a day. We are now up to 6-8 each day so that means that only 2 are yet to begin laying again. What a relief! I lost all my (very small) income from egg sales for months. I even had to resort to buying a supply of eggs from the store. GASP! Hopefully, we will get back on track really soon and be back up to full production. Chickens are really easy to manage but there are some things that will totally throw them off. Reduced daylight hours is a biggie. They really need 14-16 hours of daylight to keep laying so we set the timer to come on 3 hours before sunrise and, voila, eggs! If you have experienced a decrease in production, this could be a cause.

So what's happening on your homefront. Are you crazy busy (and loving every minute of it) or have you found the secret to getting it all done without pulling out your hair? I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day!!!

Happy Veteran's Day to all sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines! We take for granted, daily, the rights many have fought and died to give us. For your sacrifice, I humbly honor you.

We had such a nice service in church today. Our pastor had all veterans stand up (him included as he was in the Navy). It was so nice to be able to look each of them in the eye and give them honor with our applause.  I sent my grandpa and email today, thanking him for being brave enough, all those years ago, to join the Navy during WWII. He hates talking on the phone or I would have called him:-)Today, I pray for my cousin, Kelsey, who is a proud Marine and my uncle Steve, who served in the Army during Vietnam and still is affected by what he endured. I pray for my husband's uncle Donald who was just diagnosed Friday with being infected with Agent Orange during Vietnam. He has had health problems off and on for several decades and he now has his answer.

Today I pray for all the families who sent their loved ones off to serve, never to return. They made the supreme sacrifice for me and no amount of praise will ever be enough to thank them for that.
If you know a vet, please shake their hand and tell them Thank You. If you are out to dinner and see a vet, buy his meal.  It is the very least we can do for those who have done so much.

Our pastor ended his sermon with some very wise words in lieu of all the election bruhaha. He said that we are all so aware of and against any type of bullying of our children, but some adults take to bullying on the internet, without a second thought, because they have friends with different opinions and they just can't handle it. So many people think it is okay to belittle anyone who doesn't view things exactly the way they do. Then he said the best.line.ever.  "My God is a mighty God and if the election didn't go the way He planned, don't you think He could have changed it?"
I have never loved a line so much in all my life!! It doesn't matter who anyone voted for. What matters is that we act like adults and provide a model for our children to follow. We get angry when they fuss about not getting their way but don't think twice about threatening people when we aren't getting our way.

Yes, my God is a mighty God. His hand is directing everything. Thank goodness because us humans would muck it up beyond repair! After all, we should be more concerned with the Kingdom of God than with the Kingdom of the United States....

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baked Ham Sandwiches

I was browsing around on Satan's site Pinterest the other day and I came across this recipe from Recipe Schmessipie for baked ham sandwiches. What really got my attention was the fact that it was made with those King's Hawaiian dinner rolls.  You know the ones. Yes, those wonderful little morsels of sweetness. We use the big round loaves in church for communion and everyone always hopes the pastor will break off a big piece for them, me included!
Anyway, this recipe uses the dinner rolls and it is so yummy!
I am NOT a photographer and I don't claim to be. Just happy my thumb isn't in the shot!


INGREDIENTS

1 Pkg. King's Hawaiian Dinner Rolls (12 pack)
1 lb. Deli Ham
6-8 Slices Cheese (I used shredded Swiss and Cheddar b/c  I haven't sliced my cheese yet!)
1 1/2 Sticks Butter (I used just 1 and it was still scrumptious)
3 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 Tsp. Worchestershire Sauce
3 Tsp. Poppy Seeds
1 Onion, Chopped (I only used 1/4 onion b/c my girl doesn't like them too much. It was fine)

Preheat oven to 350. In a saucepan, add the butter, mustard, wochestershire, poppy seeds and onion and stir around until butter is melted. Let simmer while you cut the whole pack of rolls in half, horizontally. You want to leave the bottoms all attached to each other and the tops all attached to each other. Grease a 9x13 pan and put the bottom of the rolls in it. Layer on the ham and cheese. Pour about 1/3 of the butter mixture over the ham and cheese. Put the tops of the buns back on and pour the rest of the butter mixture over the top. Smear it around so everything gets covered. Cover the pan and bake for about 15-20 until everything is hot and melty. Enjoy

These were really good but the men in my life complained that I didn't make enough. That is a very common complaint around here lately!!!

Sharing at The Prairie Homestead

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Election

I love America. I love that I am an American. I love that I had the right to go to the polls yesterday and cast my ballot. My voice was able to be heard. That is something that a great many people on this planet are unable to do. So, this morning, I was so disheartened to hear of a post on Facebook made by my husband's cousin's wife. I do not have Facebook any longer specifically because people will post the dumbest things and I was tired of seeing it. This person chose to make a few statements that have really ticked me off the longer I think about them.

Her first statement was "I am embarrassed to be an American." WHAT???  I have a cousin in the Marines, a grandfather who was in the Navy and numerous uncles who were in the Army.  They sacrificed so that we all could have the freedoms we take for granted. I am NEVER embarrassed to be an American and I am appalled at anyone who would say they are. My immediate response to her was that if she doesn't like our political process, maybe she should find a country more to her liking...say Cuba. I'll will bet she would just LOVE dictators! I did refrain from actually typing that response on Facebook (my daughter has an account and she was the one pointing it out to me). I only voiced my opinion to those near me in the kitchen!

Her 2nd moment of stupidity came in this post- "Anyone who voted for Obama, let me know so I can delete you as a friend. You are all terrorists as far as I am concerned."

Yeah, I know. Who anyone votes for is no one else's business but their own. I have many friends (and family members) who have political views that differ from my own but I respect their right to their own opinion. My daughter typed a response to her- "You can go ahead and delete me and I think ur crazy for posting this stuff on Facebook." Yes, she is her mother's daughter. She was much nicer than I ever would have been. (she gets that from her dad, thank goodness!)

Her 3rd moment of stupidity came in response to my daughter's comment. "You have no right to an opinion. You are like, 12." I heard my daughter furiously typing on her computer the following response "I have my opinion just like you have yours. I am not going to change it to make anyone happy. BTW-I'm 13." Yep, I let her post it. She was respectful, correct and courageous as far as I am concerned. She stood up to a family member and defended her beliefs just as she has been raised to.

I guess I should be grateful because this provided an opportunity for one of those "teachable moments" everyone talks about. We talked about tolerance and respect. We talked about our political process and how a democracy really works. We also talked about how some things shouldn't be posted on Facebook or the internet period because you can't take it back. It will always be there for the world to see.

I read a beautiful post from Shaye over at The Elliot Homestead, reminding us all that our true leader is God, not a politician. Our salvation and rescue will come from Him, not Washington, DC. While we must respect the office of the President of the United States, we must also remember who it is we truly serve." A nation divided against itself cannot stand." (I think I got the jist of that quote!)How true that is!
Peace to you all and let the healing begin.....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

Just popping in for a quick update on some frosting I made for the twins' birthday cake. I would much rather make their cakes then to have a grocery store do it.

I found this yummy recipe on Pinterest. It's called Ms. Humble's Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting and it is soooooo delightful!
Don't know why they wanted red, white and blue...They are Fall babies!


INGREDIENTS

16 Oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 C. Heavy Cream, very cold.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.
In another bowl, whip the cream to nearly stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until combined.
That's it. That's all you do.

What makes this frosting so great is that it isn't overly sweet because the cream cuts the sweetness of the powdered sugar a bit.

This recipe makes a generous amount of frosting. I made a 13x9 cake and this frosted it and provided a bunch for decoration. You could easily halve the recipe...unless you are like me and eat half of it before it ever gets near the cake!

Sharing at The Prairie Homestead

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Twins!!!

Today is the 13th anniversary of one of the best days of my life. My twins are officially teenagers today!!! At this time, 13 years ago, I was on my way to the doctor's office with what I was positive was gas. My husband wasn't convinced of the whole gas explanation as the "gas pains" were coming every 2 minutes! We weren't expecting it to be labor as I was only 26 weeks along. But labor it was.

After trying to stop the labor for 7 hours, my little girl decided that she had had enough womb time and was ready for the world. At 8:38 pm, my precious little girl was born weighing 1 lb. 9.5 oz. and was 13 1/4 inches long. At 8:39, her brother followed (to this day he doesn't like her going anywhere without him!) He was a hefty 1 lb. 14 oz. and was 13 3/4 inches long. Thankfully, the Lord blessed us with 2 children who, for the most part, only needed to grow a bit before they came home. After 70 days, a few blood transfusions and very few touch-and-go situations, our babies came home weighing 4.5 lbs (my boy) and 4 lbs. They were supposed to stay in the NICU until they reached 5 lbs. but the doctor's all said that they were doing very well and could come home. After 70 days of having to see an empty nursery, it was finally filled with two very small, squirmy babies...and life has never been the same since!

We never planned for them to be our last children, but God had other plans for us. While sometimes I am blue for the children we may have had, I will always be grateful for the 2 we got to have.

Life with twins is hectic, noisy, busy, messy, tiring, uplifting and fun. There is no place I would rather be than right here on our farm with the 2 best kids in the world.

So, in honor of their birthday, here are some random facts about them.

MY GIRL

1.  She is a redneck Barbie-Loves to wear dresses and climb trees...at the same time!

2.  She loves ALL animals. She saved a baby mouse from the cats and nursed it back to health.

3.  She is a "meatatarian". She loves any and all meat, especially bacon. Her other nickname is the baconnator!
4. She hates shellfish.

5. She loves to sing and wants to be a singer when she grows up.

6. She's a leftie.

7. She doesn't like to read.

8. She loves to bake anything sweet.

9. She loves that she is "older" than her brother...even if it is only by a minute!

10. She is the most exquisite little girl, in my opinion, and I love her dearly!

MY BOY

1. Is a video game champion player.

2. Is incredibly smart.

3. Says the funniest things with a dead pan face. He has quite a sense of humor.

4. Loves to read...anything!

5. Has a wonderful imagination.

6. He makes the best spaghetti sauce.

7. Loves to drink coffee in the morning.

8. Eats all.the.time.

9. Is almost as tall as his daddy.

10. Is the most amazing little man I have ever known, and I love him more than life itself.

So, there are just a few things that make them...THEM.

Because we usually don't make a huge deal out of birthdays, we decided that we would get them something very special for their 13th birthday gifts.

They first gift, they got a few weeks before their birthdays. Mainly because daddy couldn't wait to get them and wanted to use them.
Here is present #1;

Looks pretty excited doesn't he?


Redneck Barbie rides again!

Daddy reasons that they can use these on the farm.  I think daddy just wanted them and needed an excuse to buy them! I do have to say, they are pretty fun to ride. I told hubs that next year, we needed to get some for us!

Present # 2 isn't as big and flashy but I think it will get more of a work out than the 4 wheelers. We bought them their own iPhones. They have been sharing a little basic flip phone and it just wasn't working. My girl ALWAYS has the phone because she is the one who texts everybody. My boy is unhappy with that arrangement, not because he wants to use the phone, he just likes having it in his pocket. Go figure...
Here are a few pictures of them:

Wearing daddy's socks and boots. She was a daddy's girl from the beginning.
 
Baby boy was a water baby from the beginning

Angel Baby


First summer in GA

Loving on Chelsea


First fishing lesson with Daddy
 

Their first camo

 

They sure have come along way in 13 years!

Monday, October 29, 2012

One Great Benefit of Small Town Living

Something quite amazing just happened this morning. First, I have to give you a little backstory. Our church is selling fruit to raise money to send the youth on choir/mission tour next summer. This is the first year the twins will be participating in the tour so we have been busy selling fruit to anyone and everyone we can. Last Friday, my daughter sold fruit to a fellow UMW member and she said she would leave the check on her porch and we could come pick it up. She was fixing to leave on vacation so we needed to get it that day. Not a problem. We were already going to be in town that morning for a program at the twins former private school and we had to go right by her house anyway. So, after the program, we stopped and picked up the check and put it on the console of my truck. Then we went and ran a few errands and picked up lunch at Subway. When we got home, my daughter went to find the check to put it with the order form and she couldn't find it. We took my truck apart, searched her room and the yard, my purse, everything we could think of. The only other place it could be was the parking lot at Subway. I remembered that my girl couldn't get her door open because she had too many drinks in her hand and I walked around the truck and opened it for her, leaving the driver door open at the same time. It was pretty windy, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. It had to have blown out then and we didn't notice it. My mom was going into town so she said she would take her back to Subway and see if,  by a miracle, it was still there. (FYI-town is a 20 minute drive from our house) Of course, there was no check. They checked the stores around Subway to see if anyone turned in an envelope with a check inside but no one had. My daughter was pretty upset about it. She tried calling the lady who gave us the check but she had already left for vacation and wouldn't be back for a week. The turn in date for the fruit orders was Oct. 28th so we decided to go ahead and pay for her fruit ourselves and hope no one cashed that check before she could stop payment on it.

This morning, I received a call from a friend that goes to our church. She works at a bank in town and said that one of their branches called her and told her that they found a check in their parking lot made out to our church (they knew she went to that church, too) and our daughter's name in the memo. She asked if we had dropped it in the bank parking lot. I told her we had lost it in the parking lot across the street from that bank. When I say 'across the street' I mean across a 4 lane highway (the main one through town). Subway is in a strip mall at the far back corner of the parking lot. This check travelled about an 8th of a mile, across a busy highway to end up in the parking lot of that bank. The same bank that the check was drawn on!!!

I have no explanation as to how this check ended up where it could be reunited with us. It shouldn't have been. But it did. Had we lived in a big city, we never would have gotten the check back. Everyone here knows everyone else. I am so grateful for the people in this town :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Making Sauerkraut

A few weeks ago, a new friend gave me 3 heads of cabbage. Dontcha love free stuff?!!! Anyway, I decided that I wanted to make some sauerkraut. So I did. Seriously, this stuff is sooo doggone easy to make, I don't know why I didn't make this before. I saw a demonstration of the process in my Homestead Blessings-The Art of Canning video.

Here's how it goes:
Shred your cabbage to the size you prefer it. I used the grater blade on my food processor but a hand grater works fine, too.

 Once you have the cabbage all grated, start squeezing your cabbage. Water will start running out of it. That's a good thing. Generously sprinkle on salt. The salt will help get the water out of it and it works to preserve the cabbage during the fermentation. There is no measurement for the salt. Just taste test every so often and stop when it is your kind of salty.

See all that water coming out?



 Once you have a nice soggy, drippy mess of cabbage and water (it took me about 5 minutes of squeezing) pack the cabbage and liquid into clean jars. You can use canning jars but any jar with a lid will work. The jars won't be pressure or water bath canned so you can use any lid you want. You don't have to worry about getting a good seal. When you fill the jar, pack the cabbage in there pretty good and leave at least and 1 1/2 inch headspace. As the food ferments, it will shrink up a bit but the liquid may bubble over and out of the jar. This is perfectly fine!!! Just wipe up the mess and keep the jars stored on some newspaper or an old towel so it won't make a mess of your cabinets.
Once the jars are filled, put the lids on but don't tighten them too much. If the liquid needs to escape, it is better for it to leak out of the jar then to explode it!
The cabbage will need to sit for about 2-3 weeks before you eat it. However, they will remain edible for up to 2 years if stored properly (in a dark, cool room).
24 hours later, you can see the bubbles forming at the top. The cabbage has already shrunk down quite a bit. Cannot wait to have this with some sausage!

This whole process took me less than an hour and I have 3 quart jars full of vitamin C goodness! I will warn you that your kitchen will smell...ummmm....cabbage-y. You know how cabbage smells, right? Hubs thought someone backed up the toilet when he walked in and got a good whiff. At least it dissapates quickly with the windows open!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Last night, I went to a jewelry party at a friends's house. I knew that they had built a new house a couple of years ago but, due to our crazy schedules, I never seemed to be able to make it to any of her events at home to check out the new place. So last night was my chance. There are few words I know that can accurately describe this house. Stunning, excrutiatingly beautiful....you get the idea. Every thing was in its place, the decor was something out of Better Homes and Gardens. Everything was just...perfect. Now, I do NOT begrudge her this house. Her and her husband work hard and they are wonderful people. That isn't the problem. The problem was being there made me feel so inadequate. Inadequate about my unfinished house (and the dozen or so unfinished projects in that unfinished house), my decorating choices (I really have no style to speak of), my lack of real organization where it counts. I am not sure that this would be classified as jealousy. I do not want what they have for myself. I do not think that they don't deserve it so I am not sure that this is jealousy. But it is something. I have been praying about it, trying to figure out what exactly is bugging me but, as usual, my conversations with Him are very one sided.

I know jealousy is a sin but what is this? Am I sinning by wishing I was better at the whole-house-put-together thing? By wanting to have everything "done" and pretty? I worry that my wanting this isn't so much for myself or family but for those who may come to my house. I worry about what people will think of my home so I frantically try to clean up when someone is dropping by at the last minute. I cannot stand for someone to see my house messy. Yet, somehow, it doesn't really bother me that my family lives in the messy house. Why, on earth, should it matter to me what others think if my kitchen counters are covered in mail, magazines, recipes and jars? Or that there is more dog hair on my floor than is on the dog? Do visitors even notice these "horrendous" errors in my housekeeping? Last week, we had a contractor out here to give us an estimate on doing some remodeling and all I could focus on was the cobwebs on the wall (it's an outside wall for pete's sake!) and the freshly fallen leaves covering the pool deck. I worried that he might think we are just sloppy people or something. Why does this bother me?????

I have a feeling that this is not going to be a question that gets answered any time soon. Is there anyone else out there that feels like this? Anyone who feels they are being judged all the time? Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Only In The Country

Reason #384 I love living in the country....

You don't get scenes like this in the city! Don't quote me on this but I think these are peanut harvesters. We were heading down this last paved road before you get to our dirt road and had to pull over to let these big machines go by. As you can see, they take up the entire road! I love this! A few days before this, on this same road, we had to stop while they moved cattle from the pasture on the right side of the road to one down the road to the left. They just opened the cattle gates and the cows mosied on down the road to where they had the road blocked and they just sauntered into the new pasture. This rural living is exactly the kind of life for me. I love seeing the farmers working the land that provides us with food and materials. I love seeing a rancher carefully tending to his livestock so that they may one day feed my family. I love that my kids are learning, not only where their food comes from, but what steps are taken to get it to us. I love the peace and quiet out "here in the country". Sure, occacionally you hear a tractor plowing or a cow mooing or a rooster crowing, but these are the sounds of LIFE! Those noises are providing food, clothing and other life necessities for all of us. Load car engines, blaring stereos, people shouting, horns honking...what do they provide? Noise. Distraction. STRESS! I will take a 3 tractor backup over a traffic jam ANY day of the week!
Since hunting season has started, the sound of gunshots can be heard at dusk and dawn. Hubby and I lived in a city where you heard those sounds and you ducked to save your life! Now, these sounds are reminding us that some sweet animal has given its life to feed someone. Although, judging by the sounds of those shots, it is more likely that some sweet animal has narrowly escaped being dinner for the time being!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Word From the President....

Awhile back, my daughter wrote a letter to President Obama. It was not prompted by me or any homeschool assignment. She just wanted to let him know that she was praying for him and his family and that she thought he was doing a good job inspite of what "the other political party" thinks. Yes, it brings tears to my eyes when I think about how profoundly sweet this act was. She was not expecting anything in return, only to share her feelings. A few months ago, I was checking the mail and I found a large envelope addressed to her from....THE WHITE HOUSE! I stood in front of the mailbox with my mouth entirely open, catching flies. I ran into the house yelling for her to hurry up and get out here. She came flying out of her room, iPod earbuds hanging around her neck, sure that she was in trouble for something. I handed her the envelope and she stood there, almost afraid to open it.
This is what she found inside:


It isn't everyday that someone receives a letter from the President. She was so excited (we were ALL excited). As her mom, I felt tremendous gratitude that my baby's letter was acknowledged and answered. No matter how you feel about this President, you can't deny that this is an awesome thing for anyone to receive.
She is framing this and hanging it on her bedroom wall. A keepsake that she will be able to share with her future children. How cool is that?!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicken Bombs



I found this recipe either on a blog or pinterest. I can't remember which and I apologize to whomever posted it. You deserve ALL of the glory for this one!
This chicken is A.Maz.Ing!!!!
No, seriously.
Amazing.

Here is what you need:
(I tweaked the recipe a bit for our tastes)

5 Chicken Breasts (You will slice these in half width wise so you will end up with double the amount so you can adjust for however many servings you need)
5 Jalapeno peppers (I used large slices of green bell pepper because I can't take the heat of jalapenos)
4 Oz. Softened cream cheese
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (I used pepper jack)
20 Slices of Bacon

Take each chicken breast and slice it width wise so you now have double the amount of breasts. They will be thin. Pound them to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Mix the softened cream cheese and shredded cheese together in a small bowl until fully combined. Set aside.
Slice the jalapenos in half and remove the seeds and membranes (Make sure you wear gloves!)If you are using bell pepper, just slice into large slices, about 1-1 1/2 inches wide.
Take the cheese mixture and put a large scoop on the pepper slice. Place at the short end of a breast and roll the chicken up around the pepper. Don't worry if the chicken doesn't stay completely rolled. We'll fix that in a minute.
Take 2 slices bacon and lay them side by side, touching. Place the chicken roll at the short end of the bacon and pull the end of the bacon over the top of the chicken and roll until you come to the end of the bacon. The bacon will keep the chicken from unrolling and keeps you from having to use toothpicks.
Next, put the chicken/bacon rolls on a baking sheet and put them into a 375 degree oven. After 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and baste them with your favorite bbq sauce. Put them back in for another 10 minutes. Take them out and baste them with more bbq sauce. Put them in for a final 10 minutes. Take them out and baste them with a bit more bbq sauce. Let them cool for just a minute and serve. Oh, and don't forget to pick all that melted cheese off the baking sheet and scarf it down before anyone else comes in and notices it! I had to fight my kids for it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hamburger Veg Soup


This is, without a doubt, the easiest, simplest soup to make. And probably the tastiest soup I have made in a very long time. It came about in a moment of desperation. I needed something to fix for lunch and I just could not come up with anything that sounded remotely edible. Do you ever have those days when the thought of food just grosses you out?
I had some ground beef thawed so I browned it up with some onions and salt/pepper. Then I started cleaning out the fridge and freezer.
This is what was added to the beef: Half a quart of homemade tomato sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, about 4 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of turkey broth (I didn't have any chicken broth), half a bag of frozen corn, half a bag of frozen peas, half a bag of frozen green beans, garlic, oregano and basil. I just stirred everything together, brought it to a boil and then simmered it for about a half hour. About 15 minutes before it was done, I added a cup of orzo pasta and let it cook in the broth.

At lunch time, my son (the veggie hater) loudly exclaimed that he wasn't touching "that gross stuff" so he ate a sandwich instead. The rest of us sat down to a steaming bowl of nourishing goodness. I cannot even begin to describe how good this stuff was. I don't normally like these kinds of soup (I love cream based soups) but it just hit the spot. The aforementioned veggie hater saw how much we were enjoying it and, since he is never "full", he decided to try"just a little bit". He ended up eating 2 full bowls and I had to stop him from eating a 3rd! He didn't even pick around the veggies. He ate every last one of them. This NEVER happens. There are always threats involved to get him to eat his veggies.
This was a great soup to eat and a great way to clean out leftover bags of veggies in the freezer.
Try some of it and you will not regret it!

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