Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Southwest Sloppy Joes

Ok, I am apologizing ahead of time for the poor photo quality that you are about to see!
My nice camera is en route to NYC for repairs & boy, am I missing it!
I've been snapping shots here & there with my smart phone, & generally they are pretty decent.
These pics, however, are not =(
But, the recipe that I want to share is SO good that I am forging ahead, bad pics & all.

We have an abundance of garden food lately from Garrett's 1st garden
& I've been enjoying finding creative ways to use this fresh produce.
This is exactly what I did to come up with this twist on traditional sloppy joes.

The recipe I started with was from my favorite Amish cookbook.
Here is my tweaked version:

2 lb. ground beef, browned & drained*
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped*
1 lg. banana pepper, seeded & chopped
1/2 green pepper, seeded & chopped
1 small Cajun bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 c. cherry tomatoes, whole
1 Tbsp. brown sugar*
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce*
1 Tbsp. vinegar*
1 c. ketchup*
1/4 c. BBQ sauce
dash of hot sauce

After the cherry tomatoes cook for a few minutes & become soft, bust them with your fork.

I basically added in the peppers & tomatoes because they were fresh & needed to be used.
From there, I decided to go for a southwest flavor & added the other ingredients to achieve it.

This is one of those recipes that you can easily tinker with to add your own flavor faves.
{For the traditional recipe, use the ingredients that have the * beside them.}

I served these on hamburger buns for dinner.
For lunch, I reheated the leftover meat & added it to a warm tortilla & sprinkled on cheddar cheese.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

God Orders My {Steps} Stops

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

I know God orders our steps.
But I also believe He orders our stops

Have you ever stopped in at your favorite store & found a reaaaallly good deal,
an unadvertised special ... with just one left on the shelf?
You walk away feeling so happy to know that you were in the right place at the right time.

I have so many of those stories I could share & I thank God for each & every one of them.
I credit Him for all my good deals, special finds & great prices.
Not only does He provide for my needs, He has supplied many of my wants too.

Our Christian walk, however, is not all about us!
Sometimes God orders our {steps} stops not so we get a blessing, 
but so we can BE a blessing. 

That's precisely what happened to me a few weeks ago.
After a day of running lots of errands, quick stops here & there,
I hurriedly pulled into to the Aldi parking lot for my last stop of the day.
Believe it or not, I stopped to return cottage cheese.
That's right ... I said to return cottage cheese.

The container I bought a few days before tasted a little sour, 
so I decided to exchange it for a new one the next time I got out.

I had almost decided to pass Aldi right on by.
I was tired after all my errands, it was 103 degrees {literally, 103 degrees}
& had almost talked myself into trashing the cottage cheese & heading on home.
After all, we could do without it & it was only a couple dollars ...
but, for some reason, I pulled on in.

No sooner than I'd pulled into my parking spot, 
I glanced into the rear view mirror & my eyes landed on an almost flat tire.
As I got out of my truck, I noticed a little old lady just about to get into this very car!

She was white-headed, dressed nicely in a skirt & blouse, brown stockings & sandals.
She looked to be about 80 years old & seemed to be getting along fine, 
but her steps were very slow. 

I quickly called out to her & told her about the tire, & upon further inspection,
we found the tire was pretty much flat ...  certainly in no condition to drive on.

Seeing as how I do not know how to change a tire & I assumed she didn't either,
I asked her if she had someone she could call to pick her up to which she replied yes,
but they were all at work. 

She decided that maybe she should use her AARP card & call for roadside assistance.
She had no cell phone, so she gave me her card & asked me to do the calling & the talking.
Finally, after standing in the pounding sun & heat, going through 10 automated options,
being transferred to the roadside assistance department, 
we find out that she had no roadside assistance on her card.

I could see by the despairing look on her face that she was totally unsure of what to do now.
Even I was unsure, but I knew I could not leave this little lady stranded at Aldi.
In my mind's eye, I saw my own mom in this predicament ... 
or fast forward 40 years, I saw me in this predicament.
I would be so grateful that God sent someone to rescue me.

I decided right then & there to take her home.
I knew that's what I would want ... to go home.
When I suggested that, she seems so relieved.
She said she had sons & grandsons who could come after work & change her tire.
So, we loaded up her groceries in my Suburban, I helped her climb in,
& off we went.
She only lived a couple miles away.
I got her home, her groceries carried in, & after lots & lots of thanks, I was on my way...
on my way back to Aldi to return my cottage cheese.

As I began replaying the whole situation in my mind, I was SO thankful that I found her.
I was glad I was there at precisely the perfect time.
What if she had gotten on the road with that flat tire?
What if someone else, not so nice, stopped to help her?

I know God had a hand in it all.
He was watching out for her ... & He was directing my stops

This scripture comes to mind:
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way."  {Psalm 37:23}
I especially love the New Living translation.
It says, "The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives."

There's such a comforting & secure feeling to know that I serve a God
who is concerned with all the details of my life.

Friday, July 27, 2012

An Ocean of Memories

The wonderful thing about this picture is that it doesn't require a lot of explanation.
There's just something so serene & beautiful about it.

This was taken on Sunday of Clarise, James' 82 year-old grandmother.
She's gazing out at the ocean on Fripp Island, South Carolina.

When James showed me the picture, he said, "Wonder what Grandma's thinking?"
Is she thinking back to the many trips she's made here, he said ...
maybe thinking back on the vacations taken with his Grandpa, who's now passed on.
She may be reminiscing about their many fishing trips ... 
or walking on the beach with her children & grandchildren.

Oh the years of memories.

And the ocean is such good medicine ... therapy for the soul.

This is such a neat trip for her too.
She's on a week-long vacation with her only remaining brother {who is 86 years old}, 
his wife, & many of their children & grandchildren.
They are staying in a huge home right on the beach with no real plans for the week.
Just plans to relax, take in the awesome ocean view, play on the beach,
& make memories ... lots of memories.

“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.”

*photo taken by Tammy Gibson of Tammy Gibson Photography

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Couponing: I'm Baaack!

After an extended break from couponing, I'm in the mood again!

To tell you the truth, we are just too busy from about April to late September for me
to spend much time with coupons.
Not saying I don't use any coupons during those months, but for the most part,
I shop at Aldi & buy Kroger brand then.
The ones I do use are my personalized Kroger coupons that they send me in the mail.
Love those things!

I also use my stockpile to keep cost down, buying just what we need for the week.

However, I'm ready to dive back in, & thanks to my dwindling toiletries stockpile,
I'm starting a little early.

Yesterday, I looked over coupon blogs & decided to go to CVS for a few deals.
I didn't walk out with a cart load for free like they do on those unrealistic coupon shows,
but I did pretty good, IMHO.

Couponing: I'm baaack =)

Here's the breakdown on what I spent:

2  -  12 pks of Dr. Pepper
2  -  12 pks of diet Mt. Dew
2  -  24 pks Nestle Pure Life water
4  candy bars
3 pk. Ivory soap bars
1 Crest toothpaste
1 Advil 

Total OOP {out of pocket}:  $13. 04

The sodas were the biggest expense at $9.84.
Next was the toothpaste & Advil ... paid $2.65 for those 2 items.
The waters were .24 a pack!!
Yep, 24 cents for 24 water bottles!
The 4 candy bars set me back a whopping 7 cents for all!
And the soap was absolutely free.

Retail price for these goodies: $31.75 {I saved 60%}

Not too bad!

All you need are a few good deals like this to get you back in game!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sufficient Grace

“If God wants you to do something, 
he'll make it possible for you to do it, 
but the grace he provides comes only with the task 
and cannot be stockpiled beforehand. 
We are dependent on him from hour to hour, 
and the greater our awareness of this fact, 
the less likely we are to faint or fail in a crisis.” 
~Louis Cassels

What an incredibly powerful thought!

He wants us to be dependent on Him! 

Hebrews 12:2 says:  "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."

And we are reminded again in Philippians 1:6 of a similar thought.
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you 
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

What a wonderful assurance in the life of a Christian!
He was there at our beginning & will be there in the end ...
so why not trust Him with everything in between!

Problems arise day to day, & oftentimes, we cannot handle them on our own.
Our shoulders weren't made strong enough to carry the load.

He longs for us to cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us.

He said He'd never leave us or forsake us.
In our hours of weakness,  
He is there & will give us grace sufficient for each task.

Grace for the task, if only we'll ask!

That's the key.

His grace is sufficient for anything & everything we will ever need!
We will see His grace in our lives when we truly learn to rely on Him 
in our areas of weakness.
That's all He wants.
The more we depend on Him, the more we will see His grace in our lives
& come to know Him as our provider, comforter, & best friend.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Following Jesus

photo credit

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.
Ephesians 5:1

Years ago, I heard a message on following God.
Although I've heard many messages in my life that haven't stuck with me,
this one did & I think of it often.

The part I remember most was when the minister shared that he wanted to follow God so closely
that he could eat from the palm of His hand.

I remember instantly visualizing beautiful path.
I could see the back of our Lord as I was following after him, along with a group of many people.
His arms were outstretched & in His hands was bread.
Those of us following close could reach out & take it as we desired.

My mind went to those who weren't following so closely.
They were getting the crumbs that were falling along the way & were straining to hearing His voice.

I  began to reflect back on my own Christian walk.
I have faithfully followed the Lord for many years ... from the time I was a child, in fact.
But there have been times that my steps have been slow & I've followed from afar off.

I've lingered, sometimes feeling immobile because of hurt, pain, & confusion.
In times of weakness, I've even sat down to rest until I've felt able to walk on.
During these times, I've picked up the crumbs along the way.

I am so grateful that those times have been far & few between
& that His strength is made perfect in my weaknesses.
His still, small voice always breaks through the noise of crowd {or the noises in my head},
as He reminds me that I've rested long enough.
It's time to walk on.

It is the Lord who goes before you. 
He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. 
Do not fear or be dismayed.
~Deuteronomy 31:8

My heart's desire is to follow God so closely that I can eat from the palm of His hand.
I can go to Him for nourishment as often as I like ... & it's fresh each & every time.
I can clearly hear His voice as He instructs & guides.
His words of encouragement strengthen me.
I'm not as apt to fall into the ditch or the pot holes because I hear His warnings as I follow closely.
These are the benefits of living life in the presence of God & following close to Him.

During Jesus' time of ministry here on earth, people who needed to be fed followed after Him.
He wants us to to just that today ... to seek His will & follow Him
so that He can meet our physical & spiritual needs.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
~James 4:8

Here are some ways that keep me walking close to the Lord:
  • Devoted time to reading/studying His Word
  • Keeping a consistent prayer life
  • Meditating on His goodness
  • Counting my many blessings

  My soul follows close after you: your right hand upholds me.  
~Psalm 63:8

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Celebrating 21 Years ~ Part 1

I'm dying to get the pictures from our anniversary trip on here,
but it's going to take me a blog or two to get them all on.
My nice camera is in the shop, so most of the pics are from our smart phones & the ipad.
I'm doing a bit of editing, but having to round up all the shots from 3 photo sources.
Whew...lots of work to share this trip on my blog, but once you see these photos,
you'll know why I wanted to get them on here for you to enjoy.

James chose the destination.
He decided we'd take a trip to Holmes County, Ohio.
According to Wikipedia, it's home to the world's largest population of Amish residents.
{I was thinking Lancaster County, PA, was the largest...}
We have quite an affinity to the simple life lived by the Amish
& enjoy visiting these bucolic rural areas whenever possible.

I have been here once before on a girl's trip & was thinking it was about a 4 hour drive.
After map quest said it was a good 5 hours away, James wanted to drive to Columbus, OH
on Thursday night so we wouldn't have so long to drive on Friday.

I booked us a room for the 1st night, using my usual method ...
& started fretting about the room as soon as it accepted my bid.
{oh the joys of the priceline negotiator! lol}
I got a good deal, but seeing as it was downtown, there was an additional $15 fee to park.
The reviews weren't so hot & I even called to see if I could cancel,
knowing full-well their policy doesn't permit that.
But wouldn't you know, it turned out to be one of the nicer places we've stayed!
All the rooms are suites, which I didn't even know, & the hotel was great & well appointed.
They even gave us a warm cookie upon checking in {at 1a}.
How cool is that?

The trip was officially off to a good start.

Here are a few pics from the first night of our get-away.

Doubletree by Hilton ~ Columbus, Ohio

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Goodies from Amish Country

We just celebrated our 21st anniversary in Amish country ...
& boy did we take some beee-u-tiful pictures while we were there!
Can't wait to show them to you, but it's going to be a fews days before 
I can get them all edited & posted.

As usual, July is our busy-busy month & this year is no exception.
We got home late Sunday evening & immediately started laundry,
preparing Garrett to working out of state for the whole week.
He headed out early Monday morning.

Yesterday was cleaning, chores, & packing for Gunnar, Riley & me.
We are headed out of town today {through Friday} for a music conference.
Gunnar is singing nightly with a worship ensemble, 
& he & Riley will both be attending classes.
This will be my first year {in 11 yrs} to not participate in this conference,
singing & teaching classes, so it'll be a change for me.
I'm looking forward to hearing Gunnar sing though ... he's been practicing lots.

And this leaves poor James home by himself.
Poor fella.
He hates being home alone & I hate going anywhere without him.

But....back to our Amish trip...
I'll blog about all our anniversary fun in a few days when things settle back down.
We had such a wonderful time & truly hated to see the trip end.
It was so relaxing.
And you all know how much I like the Amish way of life ... well, most of it, anyway.
As I've said before, being in Amish country, it's just good for the soul.

Here are a few quick pics of the food stuffs I picked up while we were there.

These are from a variety of stores, including Heini's Cheese Shop.

We bought 4 different cheeses:  
smoked horseradish, italian garlic & herb, lacy swiss, & smoked jalapeno.
All their cheeses are made with fresh local Amish farm milk.
Not only can you can watch the cheese being made on site, 
you can sample almost every type of cheese they make.

We got a great price on the apple butter & coconut oil ... 
much cheaper than what we pay here.

I needed to stock up on spices & found the perfect bulk store in Ashery for doing just that.
I bought smoked paprika, dried parsley, pumpkin pie spice, cumin, garlic powder,
& taco seasoning {no msg in any of it}.

 From the same little bulk store,  I picked up some cake flour & 2 rolls of butter.

I was quite excited to find some more of these sleeves of pie filling!
This time, I went for chocolate, coconut cream, & bavarian cream.
I am especially excited for the bavarian ... Gunnar loves that stuff.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to get away with my sweet hubby.
It did us good.

Stay tuned for more from our wonderful weekend in Amish country.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And tomorrow we celebrate 21 years!

I wish we had a better pic than this, but alas ...
Pictures weren't such a high priority in 1991, like they are now in the age of social media.

I also wish my hair wasn't sooo tall ... but again, product of the 80s-90s big hair era!

My third wish is that my face wasn't soo white
 The over-exposure makes me look like a ghost.

All that said, I adore this picture.
For one reason, this is the only picture I have taken at our wedding rehearsal.
The only one.

I love it because I remember how happy I was ... so intensely excited that the next day,
I would walk down the aisle to marry my best friend.
We had been sweethearts since we were 15 ... & waiting any longer than 3 years 
seemed impossible.
{I'm definitely not an advocate to getting married so young, 
but we managed to make it, with God's help ...we kind of finished growing up together.}

And the main reason I am so crazy about this pic is that James is hotter than hot!
{In the words of our little cousins, he's hot like Mexico!}
Ha ... can't even believe I'm being so blunt on this blog, but that's sure how I felt then ...
& exactly how I feel now.

After 21 years of marriage, he still does it for me.
He's the image of everything I wanted ... & God certainly knew he is what I needed.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate our 21st anniversary.
I thank the Lord everyday for leading us to each other & His continued guidance
through the years of our marriage.
He's given us each other ... & 3 wonderful sons that sweetened the deal.

Whatever the years ahead may bring, we'll face it together.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Hope You Dance

In 2 days, we'll turn the pages of our story & start a brand new chapter ... chapter 21.
We'll begin our 21st year of wedded bliss!

We are no longer in the honeymoon phase, sadly.
In fact, we are nearing mid-life!
That feels so weird to say ... & weird to experience too, I must admit.

It's been a year of transition, the biggest being that our twin sons graduated!
A huge part of my daily life {homeschooling 3} has changed.
The twins are working full-time jobs & both are in courtships.
Even Riley has worked some this summer, leaving the house empty & oh so quiet.
My babies aren't babies anymore ... & momma is trying to adjust to these BIG changes
as best as she can & as gracefully as possible.

James job has been more demanding than ever, bringing along with it the usual stress.
Add in the other usual day-to-day busyness, & you've got yourself a roller coaster ride.
That's about the best analogy I can think of.

We have determined, however, not to let our marriage {or our family} take a back seat.

Often in the hustle & bustle of life, we take for granted the things that are constants,
the things that are familiar, the things we think will just be there, regardless ...

& sometimes that ends up being our marriage & our spouse.

We've had our ups & downs, tears, sorrow, & sadness ... no marriage is void of those,
but we've also made some deliberate choices to celebrate, have fun, laugh, 
& make memories.

Last August, I blogged {a whole month late} about being married for 20 years.
We were sad that we couldn't do something huge to celebrate ...
you know, like go to Hawaii {like we said we do by our 10th}.
Nah, that just didn't happen.
In fact, July is one of our busiest months & we've never really celebrated too big.
Our schedules just haven't allowed it.
So, we decided to celebrate being married for 20 years all.year.long.
And that is exactly what we've done.
In my blog last August, I compared marriage to a dance ...
& I think this song fits us just right.

We've kept our dance card full throughout this 20th year.
James planned a trip to the Benjamin Harrison House & a nice dinner to start it off.
{July 2011}

In October {2011}, we headed to our favorite place on earth ...South Carolina.
It was hard to reduce our wonderful week down to just a handful of pics, 
but here are a few of my favorites.

In February, James came home & announced that he was planning a cruise.
After going back & forth, we decided that we couldn't leave the country without
taking our children along for the experience.
We told them it was a 'senior trip' of sorts.

We started our adventure in New Orleans ... what an experience that was!

We had a wonderful time in Cozumel & Progresso ... so many new memories to treasure.

As we begin our 21st year, who even knows what it will bring.
I'm sure there will be an adventure or two along the way.
All in all, we will turn through this chapter with a grateful heart,
thanking God for His many blessings, & asking for His love to guide & keep us. 

Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder
Where those years have gone
I hope you dance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance~

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Playing Catch Up

Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to being playing catch up on my blog.
There's been so many events & happenings that I wanted to share, 
but life has been moving at such a rapid pace around here!
Whole weeks pass almost before I even know it.
Ugg...I often wish life would slow down already!

I had almost decided that it was too late to blog about some of these events until a friend
& blog follower said, "Are you ever going to post about your cruise?"

That brought me back to the whole reason I blog in the 1st place ...
to share our life with far-away family & friends ...
& to serve as a journal, of sorts.
{I sometimes forget the details of things that happen in my very own life...not a good thing!}

So, bare with me as I share some pics & stories of the events in our lives ...
the things that almost fell through the 'blog' cracks.

Hope you enjoy it ... I know I will, reminiscing all along the way.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sabotaged by Pizza ... Almost

My mind is addled.
My thoughts are fuzzy.
My stomach is growling.
Not a good day to finish writing the blog about the sweet little stranded lady who I rescued from Aldi.
And this, my friends, is precisely what did it.

You see, this is my 2nd day of the 3rd week of lo-carbs NO carbs!
Ok, so I've had the occasional carb, but they have been few & far between.
Much, much less than my usual intake.

The meanie, I mean my personal trainer, husband is quite fond of the whole lo-carb diet
& {quite forcibly} suggested that I join him, for at least 2 weeks, he said.
After all, part of our slow to no progress is that we are always going different directions, diet wise.
He thought it would be smart for us to join forces & move together toward our new skinny selves.
It does make sense, & he's suggested this many times over, but I've always been the one stalling.
I'm a weight watchers girl.
You know the kind.
Use your little slider chart or points calculator & eat whatever you want as long
as you are within your allotted points.
I know how to do that just fine.
But to know about carbs & proteins & sugar ... & what they do in your body & when they do it ...
no, I'm no dietitian & sad to say, I don't have the 411 on any of those things.

It's much easier to use the points calculator.

But therein lies the problem.
At this point, I don't think I need easy.
I don't need to mindlessly go through the motions.
It's bigger than food choices.
I need accountability to my health!
I need to know how things work, what's good for me & what's not.

And I am learning.
And knowledge is power.
I am feeling quite empowered!

But to be brutally honest, I'm feeling ravenously hungry at this very moment.
The image of pizza is the express reason I cannot think clearly to finish writing the other blog post!
I would have to find that picture in a folder, wouldn't I?!
{I snapped it right after I pulled it out of the oven a while back cause I intend to blog
the recipe for homemade pizza & sauce.}
I just wish I hadn't stumbled across it today.

Right now though, the sound of Riley jogging on the treadmill snaps me back.
Better choices, one at a time, will get us to our goal.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Easy Ways to Dress Up a Card

Here lately I find myself giving more gift cards.
I'm not completely happy about that, but I feel like sometimes it's just the best option.

Both sets of parents, for example...well, they have everything there is to be had.
I think I've bought every 'standard' gift at least once.
Well, not every one, but I've certainly purchased a fair number of ties, 
Bath & Body Works, purses, books, etc.
You get the gist.

Case & point of why I've decided to go with gift cards more often.
This way, the recipient can buy just what they're needing or wanting.
I also enjoy buying restaurant gift cards to places that they may not ordinarily go.
A new dining experience is always fun.

I don't like giving just a plain card though.
It just seems, well, plain.
I tend to always look for something to attach to the outside to bump it up a notch.

This was my dad's Father's Day card, with his Kohl's gift card inside.
We had taken a trip to Jungle Jim's the day before & I picked him up 
this little package of Divinity.
Definitely nothing major ... no bells & whistles ... just enough to perk up a 'plain ol' card.'

Here are some additional ideas for dressing up an envelope:
  • write the name extra fancy, maybe scrolly cursive, bubble letters or calligraphy
  • use a colored ink, or maybe metallic or glittery, depending on the recipient ...                                             {I like using red & green at Christmastime}
  • use a decorative seal or sticker {another thing I do especially at the holidays}
  • seal the envelope with wax for an old-fashioned flair
  • using an ink stamp can be a fun feature {birds, butterflies, flowers, vines}
  • put your scrapbooking supplies to use: try embossing, texturing, or stenciling 
  • tie the envelope up with raffia, ribbon, or twine {it'll seem a bit like unwrapping a gift}

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summertime Sides

During the summer months, thanks to fresh garden produce,
there are some sides that show up on our supper table every night.
And we are not complaining.

This only happens from about June to September while the garden food is plentiful.
I could put a sliced tomato on our supper table every night, 
but the taste of home-grown garden food kind of spoils me.
It just can't be replicated.
No matter how hard it tries, a store-bought tomato just doesn't have the same flavor
as a ripe one picked straight from the vine.

That being said, fresh sliced garden tomatoes top the list of the things you'll find
on our summer supper table.

These beautiful tomatoes were from my dad's garden last year
& soon hopefully, we'll have some more.
I especially love the yellow ones.
{See that lone jalapeno pepper?}

Another summer side on our table each night is green onions.
Raw, whole green onions ... & we like to eat the whole thing, from tip to tip.
Here is what's left of the second batch from Garrett's garden.

I wash & trim them ... then store them in a gallon-sized ziplock bag in the fridge.
I do serve onions quite often, all year long, but when the fresh garden green onions
are gone, I serve slices or quarters of yellow, white, or Vidalia.
I'm sure it's a southern thing & I'm just continuing the tradition.

And for the third summer treat, that would be cucumbers.
I peel them, slice 'em up, & serve them with the tomatoes & green onions.


Often, I have a cucumber for lunch, along with cottage cheese & a slice of tomato.
Mom would sometimes mix a teaspoon of Miracle Whip into a cup {or so}
of cottage cheese, & stir in largely diced cucumber.
Sprinkle with salt & pepper, serve on a large leaf of lettuce, & you've got lunch!
Try it ... it's delicious.

There you have the three summer sides that we never get tired of ...
the sides that we miss when the garden is gone.
I do buy these same items from the store, for salads, sandwiches, recipes, etc,
but not to just eat plain, as an daily accompaniment to our meals.

James & I both grew up having a garden & we've always had one,
at every home we've owned until this one ... & all of us greatly miss it.
So, when Garrett was offered an opportunity this year to plant his first garden,
he jumped on the chance.
A church not far from us has a large field divided up between several families.
There was a small space left over & he gladly took it.
It's been a tough year for it though, weather wise.
We've had record-breaking temperatures & NO rain ... a very odd June, indeed.
There's been plenty of extra watering, but it's paying off.
Here's Garrett's garden, taken several weeks ago.
I'll have to snap some new ones to show the progress.

{The far end of the pic are another person's plants.}
His papaw gave his some stakes to use & he's got it looking good.

There's just something about growing your own food in a garden.
Something simple, but beautiful & rewarding.
 I think this quote sums it up: 

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, 
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. 
Gardening is an instrument of grace.
~May Sarton

Thursday, July 5, 2012

DIY with Dollar Tree Plates

So, you get white plates & you write on them.
It's seriously that easy.
And it makes a big impact for a cheapo price.

Items needed:  white porcelain plate, sharpie marker, & an oven.

I decided to make these plates for our twin sons graduation open house.

I picked up the plates at the Dollar Tree ... yep, for $1 each.
The sharpie {& oven}, I already had.

I needed 3 of these to use on a triple plate server for the pulled pork sandwiches
I was serving.

I decided to choose words relevant to our celebration ... 
so I went with words like 'accomplishment, congratulations, pencil, test, 
study,  perseverance, smart, exams, etc.
After I finished with all my words, I baked these for 30 minutes at 250 degrees.

Aren't these super cute?
Now, for one negative thing.
I washed these by hand ... & two of the plates did great.
However, the writing started to wash off the third!
Kind of odd.

So, my recommendation is to use a sharpie marker that is specifically for porcelain.
I'm going to try this again on a mug with the porcelain marker & I'll be sure to report back
on the result.

None the less, I was really pleased with the outcome of this cheapy DIY.

I'll post pics of these on the triple plate server {& other pics of the open house} soon.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I don't decorate for the 4th of July

I would love to go on an all-out decorating frenzy to celebrate 
our country's Independence Day.
I would love to do it all up ... inside, outside & everywhere in between.
Sadly though, that just doesn't, or hasn't ever happened! 

Well, wait ... there was something ... once.
I bought a beautiful bunting from Meijer a couple years ago,
clearanced down to $4.99.
primitive bunting

It was the antiqued coloring, more like a burgundy, cream, & navy.
We were able to use it for several years, hanging it up on Memorial weekend
& again for the 4th of July, til it faded out so bad that it had to be retired.
I've got my eye on replacing this, just as soon as it's marked down.

Back to my excuses for my non-decorating ...
I guess the main reason is because red, white, & blue has never, ever matched
with any of my decor ... & I'm not even a matchy-matchy type decorator.
I've just always felt like it would be 'stick out like a sore thumb' unmatched.

The next reason is that I have limited 'decor' storage.
I have a whole huge shelf in the garage that holds my 6-8 large storage totes
of Christmas decor, along with 2 artificial trees & other large loose items.

Then there's my 3 storage totes of fall decor.
It's my very favorite season to decorate for.
I deck out the house for the fall months as much as {or maybe a little more}
than for the Christmas season.

So I go back & forth between these 2 main reasons...doesn't match & no space.

I am sad about it though.
We are a very patriotic family, but our house surely doesn't show it.
And I see such adorable decor on blogs & on pinterest ...
so, I guess what I'm saying is this:  I have been inspired!
I think I'm going outside of the box.
I'm going to decorate next year ... I am!
It may not coordinate with a single thing.
It may stick out like a sore thumb.
But, this house is ganna put on some patriotic duds, one way or another.

Here is some of the decor that has inspired me:

This wreath would definitely work on my front door!
My walls are a similar color as in this room.
I'm crazy about this bunting hung on the fireplace.
beautiful room

This sign would work perfectly.
I like the tan letters with the pop of dark red.
I love the blue & brown of this star pillow.
I think the key for me will be accenting on browns, creams, & navy, 
instead of white & bright red.

primitive pillow 

Isn't this burlap banner over the fireplace so neat?

burlap banner

The fabrics on this bunting are cute, especially the toile at the top.
Totally crazy about toile.
If I could sew, I could put together just the colors I needed.
Note to self:  learn to sew.


This 'July' banner is cute.
I think you could leave this up for the whole month.
Again, if I made something like this myself, I could use whatever patterns & colors I wanted.

July banner

I love the variety of colors & patterns used here.
This one helps me think outside the box.


In just a few days, the left-over decor will be marked down uber cheap.
I'm hoping to snag a few deals, so that next year, I'll have some 4th of July decor 
of my own to share.
Until then, I'll just admire all of yours.