Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Pioneer Woman

Have you read her blog?  Maybe you've watched her show on Food Network.  Up until a month ago I had no idea who she was.  I was talking with a friend and she said, "Oh I need to go.  Pioneer Woman is coming on."  Who??  I flipped on the TV  (which I rarely do) and found the channel.  It was only a 30 minute program ( I think-it seemed really short anyway), but I enjoyed it.  Ree (Pioneer Woman) seemed very down to earth and made some yummy dishes.  Since then I've tried to watch her show every Saturday.  It's funny how when you don't really know some one you come up with your own idea of what she's like.  From watching Ree (who also home schools) I thought she was probably very conservative, came from an 'old fashion' kind of family, grew up cooking, sewing, etc.  You know the type person I'm describing.  Pretty much the perfect little wife.  Then I read her book.

I was surprised at how transparent she was!  She was actually a 'real' woman just like me.  LOL!  Her life was sprinkled with mistakes, mishaps, etc.  She wasn't at all the woman I had made her out to be in my mind.  She was someone who learned from the things she had done wrong, picked herself up and made herself a better person.  The love story between her and her husband is so sweet.  She does give lots of details of their dating life .  Some made me blush.  She's openly honest.  I found myself unable to put the book down.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

After reading her blog I found out she has also written children's books-based on their family dog.  I have them on hold at the library.  Next on my try some of her recipes.  :)

By the way...this is not a paid review.  I just read the book on my own, enjoyed it and thought I'd share it with you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

She's here!!!!

I've been waiting patiently for her and today she arrived!  I could not be happier!  Thank you so much Carol at Mamacjt!  Your talent amazes me!  Every time I look at my lady, I smile.  You went above and beyond my expectations!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Apron Tutorial (kind of)

Recently Emma had to play a farmer in a skit for our library.  I looked everywhere for overalls in her size and couldn't find them.  The lady directing the skit had a little apron that Emma could borrow.  There was only one problem-it had John Deere fabric and there's no way Popie (my dad) could let his granddaughter wear John Deere.  He's all about Farmall (It's a Southern thing-everybody has their own preference of tractors-kind of like picking a football team).  What's a girl to do???  Make an apron in Farmall colors!
I went through the stash in my sewing room and found all the items I would need:

1 pair of old blue jeans(my size-or the size I wish I still wore)
about a 1/4 yard of red mini check fabric*
about a 1/4 yard of burlap*
Heat bond
*you may need more/less fabric.  I'm terrible at estimating quantities of fabric.

I cut the jeans apart right around the side (hip) seams and about an inch below the back pockets.  I used my Go! Baby (an amazing invention) to cut strips, 2 1/2 inches wide, of the red mini check fabric and also of the burlap.  For Emma, I needed 2 pieces around 45 inches of the red for the belt and 50 inches of the burlap for the ruffle.
Place the 2 belt pieces right sides together and sew both long sides and one short side (1/4 in seams).  Turn, iron and sew the one open side-tucking raw edges in.  I slid it through the belt loops and got it centered.  Then I sewed it to the jeans at both outside edges to keep it from slipping out.
I wanted the apron to look 'shabby chic' (more shabby than chic!) so I didn't finish the edges of the burlap ruffle.  I just eyeballed where the gathers (pleats, tucks, whatever you may call them) should go.  I sewed the raw edge of the burlap right to the top of the jeans.  I did go back and zigzag the edge so it wouldn't fray too much.  Gosh I love burlap!
For the hearts, I used my Go! Baby again, cutting 2 different sizes and applying Head Bond to all 4 hearts.  After ironing those on the pockets the little apron was finished!  
Emma proudly wore it with the Farmall t-shirt that Popie had given her which made everybody happy!

Here's a Farmall tractor like the ones my dad collects and restores.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beach Day in February

We live about 15 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico yet we hardly go there in the summer.  Too many people, tourists, cars, etc.  I hate having to push my way through a crowd-especially when it's stifling hot.  Instead, we visit this beautiful beach during the other 3 seasons of the year.   
This particular day my youngest daughter's morning had not turned out quite as she planned.  She had embarrassed herself and was absolutely devastated. We decided to grab lunch and head to the beach.  It had rained all morning, was windy and a bit chilly.  That didn't stop us.  There's something about coming to this haven that feels like the 'edge' of the earth.  The salty air, the sound of the waves crashing, the squishy sand under our feet, the gorgeous color of the sky-it cleanses the soul.  Daughter #3 picked up sea shells, rain with the birds and carefully avoided the waters edge (most of the time).  When we left, somehow all was right with the world for her.  All of the mornings heartaches were forgotten.
God has such a sweet way of comforting and loving on us through His gorgeous creation.  I'm glad we took the time to stop and enjoy it. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Our road trip north...way north!

For over 10 years now we've been going to Canada.  I've posted about it every year.  Every year I leave totally renewed.  There's always something different, something more, something special.  The people take time to get to know you, to visit, to make you feel special...

The sunsets and sunrise are bigger and more colorful.

The snow...oh the snow!  It's what we wait for! It never disappoints.

This year we happened upon a little coffee/gift shop.  We couldn't wait to go back everyday! Our new friends there were so much fun! (Mr. Mike, me and my Grace)

The whole gang in Rossburn at the coffee shop.

One of our favorite friends finally brought his violin on the last day. He played Ukrainian songs while my girls played their music.

Another favorite stop is Mrs. Marion's store in Olha. She always takes time to visit with us and always has everything we need.  She's more than the 'shopkeeper', she's like family to us.

Here's me and my crazy friend Cheryl. She makes me laugh more than anyone. I love this girl!

The kitchen of the little farm house we rented this year-playing cards with one of our buddies Taras. He's the most kind-hearted, giving person you could know.

Mr. Steve at the Olha store. So shy! he's so kind to pump our gas for us. So many stories to tell. Such a sweet man.

My favorite latte at the coffee shop in Rossburn. Better than Starbucks

Another favorite find.  This one is online too!

Chicken Asparagus Lasagna

This is my version of a recipe published by our local grocery store, Publix,.  It's a nice twist on traditional lasagna.  I love the addition of the asparagus.  Lots of pretty colors and super yummy!  My whole family loved it!

9 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 pounds asparagus, cute into 2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp fresh marjoram or 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup roasted bell peppers, drained and chopped
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese*

1.  Heat oven to 350 F.  Grease 13x9 baking dish.  Cook and drain noodles.
2.  Heat 5 cups water to boiling in 3 qt saucepan.  Add asparagus, heat to boiling.  Boil 3-4 minutes, drain.  Place asparagus in bowl.  Toss with oil and lemon pepper seasoning.  
3.  Melt butter in 2 qt saucepan over med heat.  Stir in flour.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in broth, milk and marjoram.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Stir in chicken, 1/4 cup of bell peppers and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Cook about 2 minutes or until hot.
4.  Spread about 1/2 cup of chicken mixture in baking dish.  Top with 3 noodles, 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture, half of the asparagus and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers, starting with noodles.  Top with remaining 3 noodles.
5.  Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup bell peppers, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.  Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until hot and top is lightly browned.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
*I always use more cheese than a recipe calls for.  We love cheese!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I never told you about New York!

For my eldest daughter's 16th birthday we surprised her (and the whole family) with a trip to New York City!  Mark was in the Middle East and was meeting us in NYC.  I revealed the destination in Atlanta.
Before leaving I made a booklet of all the places I thought we might want to visit.  I included the address, hours, prices, etc.  For the last flight I told Mary to look through this list and see what she really wanted to do
Here are Grace, Mary (the birthday girl) and Emma in Atlanta right after they found out where we were going.

The 9/11 Memorial-the one place I insisted that we see.  I was totally overcome with emotion as I read the names.  I don't know anyone personally who perished on this awful day, yet I cried uncontrollably as I walked through this beautiful monument.

Leave it to us girls to find the library!  We've managed to find one in every city we've ever been in! We just love the library.

Our hotel was in Time Square.  This was the view at night. Gorgeous!

One day we went to The Top of the Rock. What a n amazing panoramic look we had at the whole city!

We had to go see Central Park.  Here are the girls on our last day.
One of the 'must see' things was a Broadway show-Wicked!  We all love  the Wizard of Oz and couldn't wait to see this show.  It was amazing!!
We have to go to Hard Rock in every city/country that we visit.(that has one)   We're never been disappointed!

Here are me and the girls waiting on the subway to take us to Lincoln Center to the see NYC Ballet perform The Nutcracker.  It was so beautiful!
American Girl!  One of our favorite places!  This is the 3rd one we've seen.  They never grow old!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Our Sweet Valentine's Day

Valentine's morning found me with 2 sick girls and my hubby in the Middle East.  We managed to make it a positive, very sweet day.  I found a recipe on Pinterest for Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies.  I made mine in a heart shaped cookie sheet.  They turned out so well!

1 box red velvet cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix ingredients until combined.
Drop spoonfuls of cookie batter onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart (or use a sheet like I did.  I used a small melon scooper to put my batter onto each heart.)
Bake 10-12 minutes.

Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1lb box confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth.  

These little hearts are the easiest, and tastiest things ever!  I found this recipe on the back of the heart shaped cutter.  (from Target)
1 package of refrigerated pie crust
1 can pie filling
1 egg, beaten

Cut pie crust into shape of choice.  Put about a Tbsp (depends on the size cutter you used) of pie filling in the middle of the crust.  Brush egg around inside edge of 2 pieces of crust.  Put a piece of crust on top of one that has filling.  Press edges together very well.  My cutter had a crimping side.  Place on wax paper on cookie sheet.  Brush more egg on top.  Bake until lightly browned.