Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Love

I remember meeting him when we were in 7th grade. All the small schools from different areas of our county merged together to make one middle school and one high school. It was our turn to make the merge and become one school in that very tiny town. I liked him. He seemed fun loving and very much a country boy. He had wild woolly curls that popped out from under his ball cap. He introduced himself to me as Mike. Just about everybody calls him Mike. Somehow in conversation his real name came up, and I decided that I would never shorten it to just Mike. I have called him Michael ever since. I think I was about the only person in high school to call him Michael. I told him the name Michael fit him perfectly and I liked it. He didn't mind at all. I wanted to name our first born after him, but he wasn't in agreement with that. Finally, I got to use the beautiful name for our last son's middle name. It just seemed to fit. He still introduces himself as Mike, but the people that know me well know him as Michael. After being around our family for about 6 months, our oldest son's girlfriend point blank asked him. "What do you go by? I hear you tell everybody your name is Mike, but Julie calls you Michael. What do you want me to call you?" He told her either was fine. That wasn't good enough for her. She persisted, "What do you prefer?" He told her to call him Michael.

It doesn't really matter to him what you call him, but if I were to ever call him Mike it would bother him. Time has come and gone. We have been married for 22 years and I am so thankful that the Lord brought this man into my life. His curls have gone, but his smile remains the same. He received an email the other day from a person at work. It made me smile...

Dear Mike,
I am so fortunate to have worked with you the past couple of years. I value your friendship, your patience, and your values. Especially those concerning your family. I enjoy hearing about your family activities. Your love for your family shines bright when you speak of them. That speaks volumes about a man.

Did I mention that I am blessed? By the way, I have been without a kitchen sink for two days now and I will be doing dishes in the bathroom sink! If he doesn't get it back in soon, I may be calling him worst than just Mike!!!

grace and peace,


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just Another Reason Not To Exercise

The weather outside yesterday afternoon was perfect. Michael was in early from work so I grabbed my walking shoes and headed out the door for a quick walk around the loop. I told him I would be back in 45 minutes. When I left, the kitchen was spotless. Not one dish was on the counter or in the sink waiting to be washed. They were all put away in the cabinets. The counters were clean, and everything was in its place. I told him that I had beef stew that we would eat when I got back from my walk. I wanted to wait on Josh to get home from football practice so we could all eat together.

When I came back home from my 45 minute walk, this is what my kitchen looked like! I am not joking. I am not making this stuff up imagination isn't that good! I had no idea that he was going to tear the kitchen apart while I was gone. (I might have stayed at home).

I hadn't even had a chance to get a drink of water when he asked, "Hey, Julie. Can you wash dishes in the bathroom for a few days?" I assured him quickly that I would not be using the bathroom sink, the bathtub, or the toilet to wash dishes. If he takes out the sink, it must be put back that same day...I had to draw the line somewhere!!!!

After just a few hours of work, he had the kitchen back in order enough for me to cook. This corner is where the big pantry cabinet used to be. We had the refrigerator there for about 2 days. He has now closed in the doorway.
I would be worried about my mental health if I were the only person in the house exhibiting symptoms. I can't tell you how many times I have been standing in the refrigerator and turned around to where the refrigerator used to be to get something. The other day I watched our 15 year old put his beloved apple cider in the pantry cabinet instead of the refrigerator. He caught himself and I heard a growl coming from his lips! Last night, I bet I tried to walk through the doorway that isn't a doorway any more in our kitchen to get to the hall at least ten times. I heard everybody making the same mistakes. Some of the kids laughed when they realized their mistake, while others grumbled. Our oldest son was at work when Michael made the wall out of the doorway. When Matthew came home, I think he bumped into the new wall trying to get in the kitchen. He screamed and then mumbled something about why he had to live in a house where doorways turned into walls without advanced notice!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Time Management

Time has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks. It doesn't seem to matter what I do I just don't have enough time to get everything done. I know that the Lord gave us all 24 hours to work with in a day so I must be doing something wrong. I have even considered giving up blogging just to find some more time. I am certain that part of my problem is mental. I had this vision of sugar plums and loads of time dancing in my head when my children started public school this year. I forgot the fact that I still home school the 5 year old and that still takes several hours out of my day. I also was unaware that I would be left alone to face a day's worth of chores by myself. I have always had older children's help with chores on a daily basis. While they still help when they get in from school, it is limited due to homework and wanting to spend family time together. Instead of being able to delegate the chores, I am responsible for the inside chores as well as the outside chores. I don't mind. In fact, I like being outside. However it does take time to accomplish those things.

I also had this notion that with the older kids off to school and the great new treadmill that my husband bought me I would be thin. I would somehow have hours to workout and run downstairs with the 5 year old by my side. (I think my apple cider fermented without my knowledge and tainted my brain cells)! I have not hardly seen the treadmill since the kids started school. I have always heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I have had the same plan everyday for the last several months and I still haven't been able to execute it. (I am going to blame this on the apple cider)! Today I decided to revamp the plan. Perhaps that will help me find more time in my day. I also realized that the vision of everything being perfect if the kids ever went to school had to be laid to rest. Truth be told, I just plain old don't like to exercise so anything and everything always comes first. (Hey, at least I am honest)!
I guess I was always looking at things through rose colored glasses and reality has hit. I only have 24 hours, and I LIKE to sleep. I can make it on 6 hours, but I prefer 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night! I tried the whole getting up at 4:30 a.m. thing to exercise. I muddled through the rest of the day like a zombie. I decided quickly that if I didn't enjoy my days then the getting up early thing really wasn't worth it. The other thing that I am tempted to do is to quit doing the things that I enjoy. I spent a lot of time the last few days baking and playing in bread dough. I love to write and I spend time pouring out my thoughts in a journal and on this blog. I also love to read. I spend some time during the day reading at the computer. It isn't vast amounts of time, but I am here off and on throughout the day. These are my creative outlets, and I don't want to push them to the side.
I spend large quantities of time taking my kids to ballet, football games and practice, and basketball practice not to mention school things. I am the crazy lady at the driver's license office doing the happy dance when the teenager gets his driver's license! He too becomes helpful in carting kids to their appointed activities, and I am thankful for extra help. My husband helps whenever his schedule allows, and I don't want to take that for granted either.
I have evaluated my schedule and I have decided that the above things are important enough to our family that I am willing to make the sacrifice. What doesn't really matter? I have come to think that a spotless house isn't all that important.
grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bread Baking

I have been baking bread since our first son was born. That has been over 18 years now. Ever since I got confident with bread baking, I have wanted to try to bake Challah bread. I had never eaten this wonderful Jewish bread until the Navy moved us to New York. It was heavenly. Many deli's serve sandwiches on this bread. After tasting it, I understood. The other thing I have always wanted to do was to make braided bread. Somebody please tell me why I have waited 18 years to do this? It was so simple and fun. I knocked out two goals at the same time yesterday. I made Challah bread and braided it! I had so much fun and my family enjoyed it. Jacob ended up eating half a loaf before supper. Next time I will read ALL of the directions and use a piece of tinfoil to shield it to keep it from being too brown. I didn't see that part of the directions until the bread was half gone!
I guess I am in the bread baking mood while I still have my kitchen in somewhat working order. Michael didn't get to remove my cabinets from the wall last weekend after all. I was so relieved because I didn't think I could take much more disorganization. I know it will be happening soon, but until then I am going to be baking bread!
grace and peace,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday is for Kitchen Fixes

Yesterday evening before the football game, Michael decided he wanted to move the refrigerator and the large pantry cabinet. Before he could move it, we had to empty it completely. It is a huge cabinet and I saw him bring a car jack up to get it over the lip of the tile. I was a bit intimidated so I left to pick Jacob up from basketball practice.
When I got home, my kitchen looked like this. My first thought was we will NOT be eating dinner tonight. For those of you who know my family, you know that I did manage to find some frozen chimichangas stashed in the freezer. My family did get fed after all. I was just about at the end of my rope. All I wanted to do was go to the basement and pretend that my kitchen was not torn all to pieces. I think Michael saw that look in my eyes. He came to me and reassured me that he had a vision for this area and he could see it completed. He promised me that it would be wonderful and all I had to do was to trust him and put everything back in the big cabinet. I know he can see the end result because I can see that in his eyes too. He is excited about this project...I just hope he is excited about sandwiches for supper and cereal for breakfast!

Missy was also on edge. When she realized that we were not heading to the basement to hide out, she did the next best thing. She took an almost empty peanut butter jar to the front yard. It is one of her favorite treats in life, and it keeps her busy for quite a long time.

Michael had to leave the above mess and head out to our son's high school football game. I couldn't go because our youngest little guy had been sick. The day before he was running a 104 temp. and I knew it wouldn't be prudent to have him outside in the night air. I was stuck at home with the mess. Again, I contemplated heading to the basement, but instead I made myself clean up the cabinet mess. It was the least I could do since I was no help earlier in the evening. Our daughter joined in helping which made it much more pleasant. Before long, we got the kitchen looking pretty good. Michael moved the refrigerator where the large pantry cabinet had been previously located. This is not its permanent home. When he encloses the wall, it will be located where the doorway is now. (Again, thanks for all of your all's encouragement to me through your comments. I held tight to each and every word that you shared yesterday)!

Here is the view from our living room into the dining and kitchen area. The pantry cabinet looks so much better there instead of the refrigerator. I love the look already. I am now having to get my mental self ready for the rest of the day. Michael will be removing all the cabinets today that is on the sink side of the kitchen so that he can hang dry wall. That will mean we will once again load our kitchen table up with dishes and stuff. By the end of Sunday evening, he should have everything put back together, but I still find that I want to hibernate until the whole job is completely finished!!!
grace and peace,

Friday, October 23, 2009

FREEDOM (for the baby chicks)

Michael decided today was the day that our baby chicks would be let out of the chicken coop for the first time. He did not consult me on this. I was shocked when I stepped outside to find our baby chicks enjoying their first taste of freedom. Apparently, Missy was also shocked.

She was uncertain which direction to go to make sure the new little egg producers would stay safe. It will still be several more months until they are ready to lay eggs, but until then we want them to be happy AND safe. We believe the fox that killed so many of our other chickens went off and died since we haven't seen it around since Labor Day. Our other two adult hens have been fine. The fox was picking our chickens off one at a time, and we don't think the other two hens would still be alive if the fox were still alive. That is my logic anyway! To be on the safe side, we will be watching the chicks carefully. We also will be locking them back in the chicken coop every evening. They will be safe there.
grace and peace,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kitchen and Living Room Remodel Continued

Here is our kitchen. Michael was able to return the bar and hutch back to their assigned spot this past weekend. I can't tell you how much I missed the bar area. He now has dry wall on the wall behind the hutch. He hasn't finished it yet so I haven't put all of my dishes back on the shelves. Last night he was thinking about a new kitchen design. (The Lord help us all)! He is now wanting to close in the doorway that leads into our hall. If he does that, he will put the refrigerator in that area. He wants to take out my big pantry cabinet, which is the tall cabinet to the right of the stove, and place it where the refrigerator is now. He will have to build another cabinet to go into the corner, but it would give me more storage area.
This picture was taken from my living area with me standing just by the fireplace. As you can see, most of the wall dividing the living room and dining area has been removed. We haven't started replacing our floor yet. For now, we are enjoying the lovely gold and orange kitchen flooring! The plan is to remove all of the tile and continue the floor that we have in our living room throughout our dining room and kitchen.

Here is another view standing by our couch. If you are sitting on our couch, you are looking straight into the dining room. (This is why he wants the refrigerator moved to the other side of the kitchen. The pantry cabinet would have a much more finished look about it from the living room. I have to agree, but I didn't want to tell him that)!

This is the view when you first walk in the front door. You see the whole living room and dining area. (The doorway behind the dining room table leads into my laundry room. We still have to put a door there so people don't have to view all the dirty laundry)! He is still in the process of putting up dry wall. It will take some time before we are ready to paint. We also have to save up the money to purchase the floor and new french doors that go out to our deck. These doors are in terrible shape. If you stand by them when the wind blows, your hair will move! The door behind my rocking chair leads out to our carport. Missy, the English Mastiff, has done great damage to all of our doors. We think we can sand this door down and repaint it. She scratches the doors whenever she wants to go outside. I hate to spend the money on all new doors for her to scratch them again. We are scolding her for scratching and most of the time she seems to be catching on to our desires. However, with just one swipe of her massive paw, she can ruin a new door!
Here is where I need your help. What would you do about closing in the kitchen area and moving the refrigerator? I am a bit concerned that I will feel like I am in a box. I like it the way it is and it flows just fine. I do see that his idea has a lot of pros though. We already have all the material in the shop to make another cabinet so there wouldn't be any added expense. We would have to add a bit of extra counter top, but we are hoping to replace all the counters with a more neutral color soon. I like the idea of the pantry cabinet being seen from the living room. The refrigerator is a bit of an eye sore. I told him he could just build an enclosure box for the refrigerator and make the same panels that he made for the pantry cabinet for the sides. Then all you would see would be the front of the refrigerator. He still wants to move it. If we move it, I get more cabinet space and working space. It will make my kitchen a better working area. What would you do?
grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Being Creative in the Kitchen

I have been busy lately baking in the kitchen. I am thrilled that Michael got part of our kitchen put back together over the weekend. I will have updates complete with pictures soon. I hate cooking in a kitchen that is torn apart. I have learned to live with construction messes in my kitchen. I work better around that than I do around a kitchen full of dirty dishes. I just can't pull off any meal if there are dirty dishes setting around on the counters. I think I have issues or something!!! With the cooler weather comes a desire to be in the kitchen baking bread, yeast rolls, and desserts. This past week I made homemade hamburger buns. I didn't get any pictures because they were consumed before I had the chance. I had a lot of fun playing with something new, and I am hoping to try to bake Challah bread in the next few days. First, I have to put the kitchen back together. It seems like there is always dirty dishes just waiting to be washed. Bread baking isn't usually a chore for me, but something that I enjoy doing to let my creativity flow. I always want to try new bread recipes, but I rarely take the time to deviate from our tried and true favorites. However, I have started pulling out bread recipes that I want to try and putting them on the refrigerator. That way when I have some time I am reminded that I wanted to bake something new. In my world, out of sight means out of mind. If it is posted on the refrigerator, then it is at least in my sight! Try something new over the next few days...your family will love it!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beef: Its What's For Dinner Tonight!

Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee. By the way, Don't forget the yummy piece of pie. I want to chat with you about having meat in your freezer. I can't tell you how wonderful it has been to have our own cow in our freezer. This year is the first year we have ever butchered a cow. It seems like we waited forever to get to this point here on our farm. I am amazed at how much our grocery bill has already decreased. I plan my menu around the beef that we already have on hand.

I know for many of you raising and slaughtering a cow just can't happen in your life right now. I understand that. I have lived that for most of my married life. I encourage you to ask some farmers in your area about purchasing a half or quarter of a cow. If they will only sell a whole cow, then find some other families willing to go in with you to purchase that cow. Divide up the meat and the cost.

If money or circumstances still prevent you from buying in bulk, I encourage you to watch the grocery store fliers for meat sales. This is the best way to save money. I had a friend call me the other day to tell me that chicken was on sale at our grocery store. This is the hormone antibiotic free chicken. I spent about $60, but got enough chicken breasts to last several months. I am now watching for it to come on sale again because I will want to restock soon. I always glance at our store's meat sale section. A few months back I was able to purchase a whole rib eye for $70. I KNOW that is a lot of money for meat, but it was a way for our family to enjoy steaks and a rib roast without spending a ton of money per meal. I brought home the whole rib eye, and I cut it according to my meal plans.

I also remember the days early in our marriage when there just wasn't enough money to buy the great big sale items. Unless they had given the meat away for free, we just couldn't afford to take advantage of buying sale items in bulk. During that time in our life, I would get the grocery store fliers and plan my menu around what was on sale. I would purchase small amounts of the discounted meat in order to save money on that week's menu. I didn't stock up extra. I only purchased meat that was on sale and I only purchased enough for our needs for that two week period. This was a way that I could stretch my money and make it go further.

Another money saving idea is to make things that require shredded meat. I can still use two large chicken breasts and make enough chicken enchiladas to feed my whole family. I usually have leftovers. It does require tortilla shells, cheese, and other ingredients, but it is a way to make the meat go farther.

For now, since we have the cow in the freezer we eat beef for dinner. Since I love chicken, I am thankful we have that in the freezer too. Perhaps our son will get a deer this year. I don't eat deer meat, but everybody else does. That too helps keep the grocery bill down a good bit!

By the way, if you want to save extra money, don't be making too many desserts. They are costly and as we all know not very nutritious. I almost always have a special dessert on Sunday. One of my kids asked me the other day why I make dessert every Sunday. I shared that we went to my grandparents' house on Sunday a lot when I was young. My grandmother ALWAYS had several desserts to choose from, and it was something I enjoyed. Serving dessert on Sunday just feels right!

grace and peace,

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Country Boys Do for Fun In the Fall

They go up...
And up...

And then back down...

You may wonder why our son is climbing an electrical pole. Well, other than the fact that there isn't many places to go when you live out in the country, he needed the practice. I hear all those inquiring minds wondering why in the world he would need practice at climbing electrical poles. I can sum it up in two words... Deer Season. He has a deer stand located on our neighbor's property. He needed climbing sticks in order to get in the deer stand. The climbing sticks just came in this past week, and he was excited to get to practice. We wanted him to use them a couple of times around the house. You know, just so he could get good with them. (I would hate for him not to know exactly how to attach them to the tree and fall out of the tree while in the woods). This way I could stay in the comfort of my home and watch him. Kind of like sitting on a bench in the park and watching him play when he was little. He had a good time, and so did I! Actually, we all had fun watching him go up and down. He commanded quite the audience, although he wasn't thrilled with being watched. He now has my stamp of approval that he can use the climbing sticks to attain access to his deer stand.
What else do country boys do to have fun on the weekend? Well, he spent his evening by a fire in the backyard sipping hot apple cider. He likes to wander off and build a fire in the backyard. When he gets it good and going, several other people always slip off to join him. It is quiet out there, which this child treasures immensely. That is how soon to be 16 year old boys enjoy the fall time of the year in our neck of the woods.
grace and peace,

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Thought you might enjoy a look at our mountains. Although we don't actually live in the Smoky Mountains, it sure does feel like we do!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Southern Corn Fritters and Honey Butter

During the fall and winter, I find myself serving beans a lot for dinner. My family likes beans so this isn't generally a problem. It is a cheap meal, but it can get boring if I don't add some fun side dishes. Personally, I am satisfied with some ketchup and onion on my beans. I need nothing else to enjoy a perfectly fine supper. The other members of my family do not agree with this notion. Since beans are on the menu several times a week, I try to spice them up a bit. Sometimes I will make a Mexican Cornbread or Fried Cornbread to go with them. Last night, I went the extra step and made Corn Fritters with Honey butter. My kids and husband were elated. They even commented on how good the beans tasted with the homemade Macaroni and Cheese. The highlight of the meal was the Corn Fritters for sure. If you make these, please make the honey butter to serve with them. They are just plain Jane's by themselves, but with the honey butter they are a piece of heaven along side a big pot of pinto beans!

Southern Cornbread Fritters and Honey Butter

2 Tablespoons Milk
1 egg
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup cream style corn
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup self rising flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix wet ingredients, then add dry ingredients. Stir well. Dough will be stiff. Heat oil in a small pan. Drop rounded teaspoon fulls of batter in hot oil. Fry until golden, turning often so they do not burn on the outside. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with honey butter.
*This corn fritter recipe can be doubled. I do that for our family. You can add a bit of salt to the batter or sprinkle some after they have fried. I think they need a little bit of salt somewhere! I use canned cream corn or I will use my frozen corn. If I use canned cream corn, I put the leftovers in a bag a freeze the rest for next time I want to make these. I prefer these with frozen cream corn because the corn seems to have more flavor.

Honey Butter

1 stick butter (not margarine)
1/2 cup honey
With a mixer, whip the butter and then add the honey. You add can a little powder sugar to make it the consistency you want. Don't add to much or it will be like icing! I usually just add about a 1/4 cup of powder sugar. Beat well. Store in refrigerator. Make sure you let the honey butter set out at room temperature for awhile before serving or it will be hard. This honey butter will last several weeks in the refrigerator. It is delightful served on fresh bread or toasted whole wheat toast. It is also a special treat for a hot bagel or a croissant! Enjoy!!!

grace and peace,

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baby Blue Eyes

Just a few weeks ago we took Seth back to the eye doctor. We got another great report concerning his vision. The Dr. again stated that Seth is doing way better than he had hoped or dreamed. Seth improved yet another step on reading the eye chart. The Dr. has been so impressed with Seth's recovery that he decided not to do anything else at this time. (Prayer is a powerful thing)! He wants to let Seth's eyes continue on their own to grow stronger. We do not have to go back to the Dr. for another 6 months. At that time, if there is no improvement he will consider patching his eye. Seth still has no depth perception. He runs into door facings often, but this too should get better as his eyes improve. He is a joy for me to teach in school. He is learning to read very quickly, but he is behind with handwriting. I know this comes from the fact that he couldn't see very well until he got his glasses. He is learning the fine motor skills that most children learned when they were 3 and 4. I am patient with him concerning this area. He will catch up soon I am sure.
I am not a mom that runs to the doctor every time one of my children gets a scratch or a cold. However, when I realized that Seth's eye wandered, I sure wish I had gone to the eye doctor immediately. I thought it was something that he would out grow. I look back at his pictures before he had glasses and I am amazed at what I see now. His eyes looked odd. I just always thought he was tired or maybe was feeling a little under the weather. However, I now know that it was because his left eye wasn't functioning at all. He had such poor vision in it that he quit using it. Like any muscle not used, it just quit working properly. The eye doctor told us that we had until the age of 8 to correct this muscle issue. If we had waited much longer, he could have lost vision in his left eye permanently. After the age of 8, the muscles are set for life. I wanted to sound the alarm. If your child has an eye that doesn't look quiet right, make an eye appointment for him or her. It may just save their vision. It has made a world of difference in our little man's life!
grace and peace,

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"Fight the good fight of faith..." 1 Timothy 6:12

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Situating

I had hoped that Michael would spend his day dry walling the small wall in the kitchen so he could put my hutch and bar area back together. The weather did not cooperate. It was too wet to bring dry wall home from Lowes so no remodeling was accomplished today. Instead he decided to tackle his shop. There hasn't been much shop activity as of late due to the state of the shop. It was even hard to walk through the area. Thank God it didn't look as bad as the above picture. You can read more about that day here

We set off down to the area with much fear and trepidation. I am not fond of spiders and I was certain that there were quite a few camped out in my potting bench area. Guess where Michael stationed me to work? We spent several hours down there and made some progress. There is much more to go. I am hoping that tomorrow will be sunny and beautiful so we can head to Lowe's to pick up dry wall after church. If it is still rainy, I am sure I will get stuck back down in that shop cleaning something else with him. My other plan is to cook a huge Sunday dinner so everybody is too full to work!!! Before I decide about that, I will be checking the weather report!
grace and peace,

Friday, October 09, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts Already?

Over the last several years, I have started hosting my family for Thanksgiving. This is a lot of fun, but it does take some planning. My brother and his family always join us for Thanksgiving and my mom does too. We are trying to get my other brother and his family to come to the mountains, but his work schedule doesn't always lend itself to a trip. All of our family lives in other states. Everybody gets a cabin close by so they have a place to sleep, and then they all meet at our house for fun and food. We also have a birthday to celebrate at the Thanksgiving holiday. This year Joshua's birthday is on Thanksgiving day so I will need to produce a special cake to go along with all the pie desserts! I have already asked him if a Chocolate Eclair Cake would do, and since he loves that cake he was quick to agree. It is an easy cake to make and is much better if allowed to sit in the frig. for at least a day before cutting. Perfect for a birthday that happens to fall on Thanksgiving Day!
Yesterday, I sat down with a pretty vase of flowers, a cup of coffee, notebook and pen in hand, and I had a brainstorm session. I let my mind wander without consideration of time or money, and I thought about what I would like to make for each meal while our company was here. I took a complete page for my breakfast ideas, another page for my main meal ideas, and of course Thanksgiving Day menu got its own page too. I also put a star next to each item that could be made in advance. The more cooking I can do in advance, the more I will get to enjoy fun time with my brother and mom. As the time gets closer, I will go back to my notebook and make my final decisions on the menu. I know I want to have Banana Nut Bread, Pumpkin Muffins, and some Chocolate bread tucked away in the freezer. These make great fillers for breakfast. After writing down my thoughts, I will get busy over the next few weeks getting some of these items made and frozen. I am now also able to purchase some extra each and every time I go grocery shopping. I will plan a lasagna dinner in the next few weeks. I will purchase enough to make extra and freeze it. The day that all of our company is due to arrive, we will dine on Lasagna from the freezer. All I will have to do is add a salad and some homemade garlic knots and dessert. How easy is that?

If I take the time to plan well in advance, I feel so much less stressed about entertaining. I find that I am excited about being with everybody and I don't worry so much about the actual food. It all comes together because of the work I put into it during the previous weeks. Did I mention that Thanksgiving is my all time favorite holiday? Did I also mention that I would much rather cook it myself than go somewhere else? I always feel like I missed the most fun part of the day if somebody else fixes the dinner. I know I am a bit strange, but it has worked well for my family!!!
grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Beauty in The Front Yard

Yesterday evening I was outside taking a few pictures of the "smoke" on the mountains. It is so beautiful and it captures my attention each and every time I see it.
I also got captivated with the beauty of the English Mastiff. They are such majestic creatures when they are awake!

Missy was guarding the castle here. She was watching both ways to make sure all was well in her world as well as ours.

I can't let you leave without getting a glimpse of the beauty of the mountains covered with fog. Glorious!
grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Something Out of Nothing

They were just leftovers from the 15 year old's temporary wall project. I am sure his Daddy told him to put them somewhere other than the carport. He was faithful to put away the saw, but the scraps somehow got left behind to be attended to another day. Then the 5 year old found them. He was thrilled to find such a treasure just sitting all over the carport. He is good at making something out of nothing. I can't tell you how much fun has been had with a stray stick or an old rope. He just knew that his brother left these treasures on purpose to bless him. "Look what Josh made for me!" has been his cry ever since he found them. I was trying to figure out how to store such a lovely gift. The new blocks aren't allowed in the house due to the fact that the English Mastiff has eaten every block ever brought into our home. As I mentioned to my husband something about a pretty container to contain them until the next building project, I noticed a grin upon his face. He had a far away look as he spoke. "When I was a little boy, my grandfather made me special wood blocks. I loved those gifts from his wood shop." I now wonder if his grandfather really made them for him or if a chubby handed grandson just thought he did. I guess it doesn't really matter which was the case because both my husband and son have made great memories out of nothing but scraps, which each of them believed were made just for them.
grace and peace,

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bean Soup Recipe

Soup time is upon us here in East Tennessee. I love soups, but my children sometimes balk at the idea of eating it as the main course. They would like to think of it more as an appetizer! Not in my, soup is the one pot wonder! I grew up loving bean soup and I make mine just like my mother makes it. There are only two requirements for making bean soup: 1. a ham bone with some leftover ham (I always freeze my ham bone so I am ready to make bean soup at a moments notice. I also make sure to leave some ham on the bone when I freeze it. The ham falls off and adds meat to the soup). 2. a few hours at home to cook the soup. I know plenty of people who cook beans in a crock pot, but somehow I have never mastered that one. I cook my beans in a dutch oven on the stove.

Bean Soup Recipe

Rinse great northern beans using a colander. Place in a dutch oven with ham bone, an onion cut up, and fill dutch oven about half way with water. Cook on medium heat. After about an hour, add diced celery and carrots. I also add salt and pepper. Just be careful with the amount of salt because the ham bone and meat have salt! Cook until the beans are tender. Remove ham bone and feed it to your large English Mastiff AFTER you pick off the good meat for the soup! I like my bean soup to be soupy so I add more water during the cooking process. You can make as much of this soup as you desire. For my family of 7, I use an entire 1 pound bag of beans. However, that doesn't give us leftovers! Sometimes I will also add some dried thyme to the soup, but I usually just stick with salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper. To get my kids to enjoy soup for dinner, I will ALWAYS serve cornbread with this soup. Michael and I love Mexican Cornbread. It is a great accompaniment because it is so full of flavor. My kids prefer basic cornbread. Last time I made this soup, I made fried cornbread. That is one of their favorites so they didn't mind just soup for dinner that night. I also serve my bean soup with some green tomato relish or regular tomato relish. You choose! Hope you enjoy!!!

grace and peace,

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Scripture

"...That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:3

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Removing the Load Bearing Wall

Today has been a great work day for Michael and Joshua. They started early and made great progress. First, the day started with making the other temporary wall that would be used to hold our ceiling. After the temporary walls were in place, it was time to put the beam in place.
In the upper picture, you can see the beam at the top. The temporary walls are still in place, but Josh would be removing them soon.

Here he is removing the walls.

Missy has learned to sleep just about anywhere. She likes to be in the middle of the work site. I am amazed that she can sleep with hammering all around her.

Here is Michael with his newly installed beam. At this point, we were still hoping that it would hold the weight of the ceiling without any issues. Again, he is a nuclear engineer not a structural engineer and we were holding our breath just a little.

I took this picture from the corner of our kitchen. I can see the fireplace and living room from my kitchen, but I still have a small amount of wall to hide the kitchen dishes. I have to say we all LOVE the new house design. It makes our house feel so much more open and light!

This picture was taken from our front door. I know things are still a huge mess, but we have made great head way. Our next step will be to be remove the tile floor in preparation for our hardwood. Then we will be ready to put up dry wall. We also need to purchase new french doors before the dry wall goes up on the walls. Oh, yea baby!!!! I have been waiting for new doors for the last 3 years!!! Thus far we have spent a total of $130 for the beam, and around $100 for 2x4's to make the temporary walls. Michael will be able to use the 2x4's on another project now that we no longer need them to hold up our ceiling. Not bad for making a dream of a great room come into reality.
grace and peace,

Friday, October 02, 2009

I can't believe that it is Friday once again. There is something about turning 40 that causes the weeks to go by faster! I also can't believe that we will have no football tonight. It is a welcome break in a hectic season. So what does a family of 7 do with a free Friday night? We plan a huge family meal, of course! All of my children will be around my dinner table this evening. There will be a few extra girls around the dinner table as well. I like it when we can all get together, break bread, laugh, talk, and just enjoy the journey that the Lord has given to us. Dinner is in the oven, and I am headed back to the kitchen to make some yeast rolls. My only regret is that I spent the morning at the dental office instead of cleaning the house. I tell myself that dental work is longer lasting than cleaning so that makes me feel better. I hope each and every one of you enjoy your Friday evening. I have looked forward to mine all week long!!!
grace and peace,

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Look of Being a Community For Me

Our daughter has been studying marine life community in her science class. I have spent some time discussing these concepts with her. This past week the Lord brought me face to face with real life know the kind of community that you can trust. It started with a desperate plea from our 15 year old to run a forgotten football jersey and 2 leftover steak sandwiches to the field house. (If you ever come to my house and it isn't clean, you know it is because I am always running things to my kids)! After dropping off the desired items, I was heading out of the parking lot. While I was waiting to pull out onto the road, I saw my oldest son's best friend pull into the parking lot. This child is like one of my own, and I haven't spent very much time with him as of late. I rolled down my window and told him supper was on the stove and he was welcome to come out and eat with us. He smiled and said he might. When I arrived back home, I quickly checked my email. There was an email from the father of the child that I had just invited out to the house. We are dear friends with these people, although we do not spend lots of time together due to schedule issues. He was overseas with his wife, and he wanted my husband to talk with their son about college. Apparently the young man hasn't been very happy with college and this father felt helpless being so far from the situation. I quickly called the child on his cell phone and told him that he was required to come out to the house for supper....I wanted to talk with him. Shortly after the phone call, the young man arrived at our home. He spent the evening with me talking and eating. To be honest, I don't know if he will follow my advice, but I do know that out of relationship he was willing to listen. We have spent the last 6 or 7 years building relationship with this young man. He is just as much a part of our family as our son is a part of their family.
When my dad was dying, our son came to Ky. to visit. Michael was suppose to take him back home at the end of the weekend. Michael needed to get back to work and Matthew needed to get back to school. My dad was so bad that Michael just couldn't leave his side. He called the father of Matthew's best friend and told him the situation. The father offered to drive 6 hours one way to pick up Matthew and take him back home. Michael met him half way to make the drive shorter for him. This family kept Matthew for the month and treated him as one of their own while we were in Kentucky with my dad.
Both of our families are Christian, although we are different denominations. We don't see eye to eye on everything concerning doctrine, but we do see eye to eye on everything concerning Jesus. We get together about twice a year to fellowship. I can't say we are best friends because we don't spend enough time together, but I know we are family...we are brothers and sisters in Christ. This bond transcends so many differences. We are there for one matter the cost, especially where our children are concerned. Our church in Florida called this type of relationship a covenant. Although the language is different here in Tennessee, the meaning is the same. I have several of these types of relationships sprinkled throughout my life. I believe the Lord wants us to live like this. Along with helping one another, accountability is also another factor. Accountability comes with relationship. I could hold the young man accountable because I knew him. I could say things to him that someone who did not know him could never say to him. I had a point of reference with him that a stranger did not have. I also had his heart. Therefore, I could speak truth in love to him without offending him. The truth I spoke might have made him mad, but he knew without a doubt that I loved him.
What does Community look like to you?
grace and peace,