11.10.14 - Once again, it's Fall!



For some reason, it feels like this past year flew by in unusual swiftness.  It seems like we barely had summer.  I'm not normally a big fan of summer, but this year it left too quickly even for me.  I think it's because last winter was unusually cold and LONG for Texas.

But here we are, fall again, and I DO love fall. :)

I've been cooking chili, baking all kinds of goodies, lighting candles, wearing my fuzzy socks.  Because that's what fall is all about. :)

I needed new fall wreaths this year, so I made a trip to Hobby Lobby and grabbed a few things (either 50% off, or with the 40% coupon of course!) and whipped up a couple.

This one is my favorite:







I got a cheap straw wreath, a roll of printed burlap ribbon, and found an awesome fall stem of flowers.  Wrapped the wreath in the burlap, tied the stem of flowers on with yarn, and I was done.  Couldn't have been simpler, but I love how it turned out.  

That was my first welcome to fall.  Now I'm busy trying to make fall feel very much at home so it will stay around for a long, long time this year. ;)

Have a happy, blessed fall, full of cozy, yummy goodness! :)  


10.24.13 It's Salted Caramel Mocha time!!



Oh, how I love this time of year!  Cooler days, sweaters and boots, colorful leaves, yellow mums..... and salted caramel mocha fraps at Starbucks!!  ;)




I'm normally a hot mocha gal at Starbucks, but I am in love with this drink.  Getting that last salty sip at the bottom of the cup is pure heaven. 

When I came across caramel coffee creamer at Kroger, I thought it would be fun to create a hot version of this at home with my morning coffee.




Pure yummy!!!

Brewed my coffee, added the caramel creamer, topped with whipped cream, caramel syrup and sprinkled a little sea salt on top.  (you want to go light on the sea salt, a little goes a looooong way.... coarse crystals is what I had on hand, I'd recommend a finer grind of salt)




What a way to start a chilly fall morning!!

Do you have any favorite cold weather drink concoctions?


9.4.13 I'm an introvert


I really prefer to live life holed up deep in a cave somewhere. 

But.... people are always reaching in there and hauling me out.  ;)





(for a view like that, it's worth coming out ;-D)



Which, actually, is a very good thing.  I know that it's not good for me to live my days too detached from outside interaction.  I do, in true introvert fashion, HAVE to have time alone, time of silence, time to let my brain drain of all the clutter and noise that has built up.  But I have to find a balance.  Too much alone time starts having a negative effect on me.  I become selfish and self-absorbed.  

There has been quite a bit of reaching in and hauling me out lately.  I was asked to come back on the Praise Team at church.  I was placed in charge of the Couples ministry, which involves planning activities for our married couples at church every few months. My mom and aunt want me to take over making my Granny's dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That makes me nervous, but I'm happy to do it in honor of Granny's memory.  Nobody made dressing like her, and I'm determined to get it right.  

I'm teaching a class at our homeschool co-op this year.  Then, I was asked to be the field trip coordinator for the year.  They said they were looking for someone organized and reliable and thought of me. :)  Since I've only been a part of that particular co-op for one semester, I took that as a compliment.  Apparently I exude reliability.  Lol.

All of these things are going to cause me to stretch and grow.  I know I have talents and gifts that need to be used, but as an introvert, I sometimes struggle with *wanting* to use my talents.  I would often rather bury them like the unfaithful servant of which the Bible speaks. 

I firmly and completely support the introverts need for quiet time, alone time, time to recharge (which is not going to happen surrounded by people!).  I *insist* that I get plenty of that time, because I know that if I don't have it, I'm going to hit a wall and have a melt-down.  I'll be of no use to anyone.  But I also know that we introverts need to push ourselves sometimes.  We have many gifts that can benefit the people in our lives.  We need to use them. 

Do you have an introvert in your life?  Respect their need for time alone, because it's a very, very real need.  

Are you an introvert?  Give yourself plenty of time to recharge your brain through quiet time.  But don't get stuck there.  Force yourself to also take time to get out and be a part of that great big, wonderful world out there! :)  Share your many gifts with the world.  It will make the world that much better. :)








8.17.13 Red Shoes






Because sometimes you simply NEED the perfect pair of new red shoes.  :)



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(These were Chinese Laundry - I found them on Ebay after searching nearly every shoe store in my metropolis trying to find a pair that matched my criteria!)

8.12.13 Turning 50! and Blackberry Jiffy Cobbler

No, not me.  I'm still a spring chick. ;)  

My husband turned 50 a few days ago. He's very proud of the fact that no one can believe he's 50.  ;)  He doesn't look it.  Most people think he is in his early 40s.  Getting an AARP card in the mail put a nice dent in his ego, though. Lol.



My daughter wanted to make him his favorite blackberry cobbler, so we pulled out my grandmother's (Nanny's) super easy cobbler recipe.  This one is more of a cake-cobbler, I guess.  Doesn't have the traditional pie-type crust.  Top it with vanilla ice cream and you have an awesome treat!

Nanny's recipe that I copied down:


You put a melted stick of butter in the bottom of a cake pan, then mix together 1 cup each of sugar, flour and milk.  Add 2 T of baking powder and a pinch of salt.  Add that mixture to the butter and stir together.  

In a saucepan on the stove put a package of frozen blackberries.  (can use fresh if you have them)  Cover them with water.  Add 2 cups of sugar.  Stir.  Turn up the heat until it starts boiling, and then turn it down and let it simmer.  Simmer until fruit begins to soften, and the juice starts turning thicker and syrupy. If the juice doesn't taste sweet enough to you, add more sugar until it tastes the way you like it. 

Once juice is thick and sweet enough, pour it into the pan on top of the flour/sugar mixture. 





Bake on 350 until the crust firms up and turns light brown.  







This can also be made with other fruits. 


And it makes turning 50 just a little bit sweeter. ;)

7.2.13 Patriotic Toesies

My daughter asked if she could get a pedi for the Fourth.  She has a 'flag' dress, so she wanted a pedi to match.

Since that would be too adorable, I agreed. :)




CUTE!!!!





Happy Fourth of July to all of you!  Celebrate, be safe!


7.1.13 Birthday Decorations Pinterest-style

A while back I pinned - this - pin on Pinterest.  (Boy, that could be a tongue-twister.)

I waited anxiously for an opportunity to re-create that awesome display.

We decided to throw our pastor's wife a surprise birthday party, so THAT was my opportunity! :)

I was able to find black-and-white polka-dotted balloons at Hobby Lobby, so it wasn't hard to gather my supplies together.  If I hadn't been able to find polka-dotted balloons, I was going to buy black balloons and draw dots on with a white paint pen.

This is how mine turned out:




The wall color doesn't match too well, but there wasn't much I could do about that. ;)


Here's a close-up of one of the balloon flowers:




I created the flowers by blowing up the balloons, and then attaching each balloon to each other with a long string. The string was long enough so that there was room in the middle for the black balloon.  (I wish I had taken more pictures of the step-by-step process, but I was in a hurry and didn't have time.)  A string attached to the black balloon was tied to the middle of the other strings.  Then I attached the flower to the wall using tape and thumb tacks.  That whole thing was very unscientific.  ;)  I just taped and pinned until it stuck to the wall.  Of course I was pinning and taping the strings, not the balloons themselves. ;)

It was a little more nerve-wracking than I expected it to be, getting the balloons to lie still and not bob and roll everywhere while I was attaching strings, but I just persevered until I got it to work.

Everyone was suitably impressed with the balloon flowers. ;)  Our pastor's wife loved them and the party.




It was fun having something besides 'just balloons' at a party.  Give them a try!  People will be impressed with your creativity. :)

6.26.13 How Does My Garden Grow?


It grows quite well, actually.

Slowly but surely, bit by bit my picket fence garden is taking shape.  I still have a loooong way to go, but I'm feeling happy about how far I've come. :)

This has been a dream of mine for so many years.  I've always wanted to have a picket-fenced garden.  So I'm very excited that I'm actually DOING this now. :)

My long-term goal is to have it look like an English garden - all wild and overgrown looking.  Nowhere near that yet, but that's where we're heading.  Right now I'm just ecstatic that the things I'm planting are still alive!!!  :) 

Thought I'd share a few pics with you.  Then we will have them in a few years to compare to the way it looks then.  Can't wait!



I bought this purple plant at Lowes.  When I got home I realized I had picked one up without the label, so now I have no idea what I planted!  I'm planning to go back by Lowes and look at the tag! Whatever it is, I love it.




Some of my herbs.... and a happy surprise.  The tall white petunia.... that just sprouted up.  Apparently the root was left in the planter from last year and it just popped up.  I LOVE how tall it is!  I'm happy it decided to sprout.




One of my crape myrtles.  Love these bushes devotedly!  I'm a major, major fan of crape myrtles.  I've planted three so far, but plan to have them scattered all over my property.  They are awesome.  Very hardy bushes, drought tolerant, and gorgeous with all of those blooms!  I planted this last summer, and am thrilled that it survived and has bloomed once again this year.  (can you tell I don't have much faith in my gardening skills?)  ;)




Knockout roses.  Another bush that is supposed to be nearly indestructible.  My kind of bush!




 The bike.












Evidence of my hard work  ;)




I can't wait to see what it looks like this time next year! :)



Linked up at http://www.anoregoncottage.com/2013/06/cottage-garden-flowers-tgp

6.25.13 It's Like Saying Goodbye to Dear Friends

I HATE reaching the end of a television series.  Hate it. 

I tend to marathon watch.  I like to start at the very beginning of a series, and then watch it through, all the way to the end.  None of this waiting on a new season to start nonsense.  Don't even have to wait a whole week.  Episode ends, hit 'next' and there you go. 

By the time I'm into the second and third seasons, these people feel like my personal friends.  I know their quirks, their heroic moments and their weaknesses.  So when we get to the end, it's like you're wrenching my very best buddies away from me.

It's quite possible that I need to get a life.

I've reached the end of 'Crossing Jordan' today.  It's a show I had never even heard of a few months ago.  Now, I'm really really mad at the producers and/or the network for ending it without a season 7.  The NERVE.  And if it ended because of low ratings (as is likely), then I'm mad at all of the viewers who DIDN'T watch it when they could!  Ha!





From what I understand, the decision to end it was sudden.  They tried to tie things up in the last episode, but there were a lot of loose ends left.  I think ending things like that should be against the law.  ;)   (yes, tongue-in-cheek)




So now, I'm in a season of mourning.  It's "good-bye" to all of my friends in the Boston morgue.

But, hey, I'm going to continue hanging out in Boston for a while.  I'm making new friends over at Crane, Poole, and Schmidt.  ;)  It's time for a 'Boston Legal' watch-a-thon.

See you all later.  I'm going to go sit on the balcony with Denny and Allen.


6.20.13 - Above Bed Wall Display

When you walk into my bedroom, the wall above the bed is the first thing you see.  I wanted to create a fun display - something that would have more visual impact than a mirror or picture. 

I'd always loved picture frame displays, so I decided to go with that.  I went to the dollar store and bought several frames in different sizes and shapes.  I have eleven frames, so that cost $11.  Removed the glass and backing and sprayed them all with white spray paint.

I spread them out on my bed and rearranged them until I found an arrangement that pleased me.  Starting with the middle frames I nailed them onto the wall, maintaining the correct spaces between them.

The frames alone on the wall looked too flat and one-dimensional, so I looked around my house for things to fill the frames. The initial 'N', a coat hook, an old key, a peacock corsage that I had worn at my son's wedding.  I picked up a couple more things at Hobby Lobby to finish out the look I wanted.

I kept a few of the frames empty so that it didn't look too cluttered.

Here is the final result.  I am very happy with how it turned out. It adds a touch of whimsy to the room which I love.




Some close-ups:









This was a lot of fun to create, and very inexpensive.  I'm working on another corner in my room, and hope to share that with you soon. :)




(Linked up at http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/06/20/thrifty-thursday-week-16/)

6.19.13 An Oldie but Goodie - Rotel Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Tonight I dug waaaaay back into the past and pulled out an old recipe that I used to make all the time.  Don't know why it has been so long since I made it.  It's so very good.

First, boil some chicken.  I used 6 boneless thighs.  You can use any type of chicken that will give you about 2 cups of cooked chicken.

Then you'll need a can of cream of mushroom soup, a can of cream of chicken soup, and a can of Rotel.  I bought the store brand of Rotel - which is called diced tomatoes with green chiles. 




Stir the contents of the three cans all together in a bowl.




Now get a bag of tortilla chips.




Take a handful of chips and crush them with your hands.  Don't crush them to bits, leave some larger pieces.  Dump them into the soup mixture.  Do that four more times. 


 
 
Stir it all together.
 
Shred up your cooked chicken and add it to the mix.
 
 
 
 


Add salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Stir well.




Spread into a pan that you have sprayed with cooking spray.






Top with tons of grated cheese - whatever kind you like.  I used a cheddar jack mix.





You can cook it in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and bubbly, but since it was a bazillion degrees outside, I just stuck it in the microwave.  Cooked on it med/high power for fifteen minutes.

Topped it with a few more crushed chips and a cherry tomato.  And we're ready to dive in!




Served it up with some corn and Ranch Style beans (a local favorite).  So good!  It won't be so long before I make it again!!











Very casual recipe -

2 cups of cooked chicken
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
5 handfuls of crushed tortilla chips
shredded cheese
salt, pepper, garlic powder

Boil chicken until done, then cool.

Stir soups and tomatoes together in a large bowl.  Crush the chips into the mixture.  Shred the cooled chicken, and stir it in as well.  Season to taste. 

Pour into sprayed long pan.  Top with shredded cheese.  Cook in microwave or oven (350) until cheese is completely melted. 

Serve up and ENJOY!