Monday, November 30, 2009


24 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!  Does that scare you?  This year, I have a pretty good handle on my gift purchases.  There are a few things that are causing me some stress, but I'm trying to get a handle on it.

I started decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  I got all the decorations up, except the tree - that is another story altogether.  Unfortunately, we put up a live tree - not a nice one that is harvested from a tree farm, but one that is cut from our property.  The tree looks lovely out in the woods with snow on it, but something happens to it once it gets set up in my living room - see for yourself (this was taken a few years ago):
Beautiful tree!

 What happened to it???  Try as he did, even Tanner could not make it look good!

The other decorations around the house look pretty good, though.  Here are some:

I put the poinsettias and the fake bulb ornaments around the entry ways in the kitchen/dining area.  The pine garland stays up all year, and I add decorations according to the season/holiday.

Here is the fireplace area.  Ty made the moose silhouette thing for me a few years ago - it is a permanent fixture.   The bear statue is also a permanent fixture.  My bff, Marie got it for me last summer.   I add things to the mantle for the holiday.  The cute picture below the mantle was made by Kevin's mom - it is cross stitch. 

Here is a nice wreath someone got me.

Those are just a few touches I've added for the holiday.  Red seems to brighten the place up - maybe I should make it more a permanent color in my home!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Creativity means believing you have greatness.


I am not a huge fan of Mexican cuisine.  I like the Mexican food I make here at home, but something did not sit right with me one time I ate at the local Mexican restaurant when I was pregnant.  I just cannot bring myself to try it again.  Maybe someday.

I do love making taco salad and nachos.   I found a recipe for making my own taco seasoning from Taste of Home cookbook.   I really like it because it adds a lot of flavor without salt or preservatives.  Here is the recipe:

4 teaspoons dried minced onion
3 teaspoons chili powder (heat to your liking)
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin (I usually double this)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix it all up and add to your cooked ground beef or chicken (or venison).  This will do 2 pounds of meat.  I sometimes triple the recipe and then store it in a ziplock baggie for later use.

This was my supper Sunday night:

Gotta love the diet Dr. Pepper!  (Notice I have my holiday glasses out too!)



Birthdays are fun - when you're under 30.   Receiving presents - that's always fun, even when you're 42.  Ugh - I'm 42.  I used to think that was really old. Now I think - that's not so bad. . . . better than being dead!   

I enjoy making a big deal out of birthdays.  I hang up a banner for the birthday boy (all males in this house), I make a special cake for them, and make their favorite meal.    My guys did a great job of making my day special - even though they did not hang up a banner, make me a meal or a cake. . . . they are guys, after all :-).  Dan took me out to Applebee's the night before my birthday and Tanner watched the boys for us.  I also got some nice gifts:
From Dan - a couple of photography books and a cricut cartridge

I bought these myself on Black Friday -good deal!  I got two because I was going to give one to my mom for Christmas, then she went and got one herself, so I was going to return it.  Then my mom sent me some money for my birthday and I figured, I would just keep the extra cartridge :-)  Thanks, mom.

From Ty and Emily a Yankee Candle - lilac scent.  It smells like my grandma's yard and I love it!

From Tanner:  2 packages of scrapbooking paper, which I am always needing!

I also got a gift card to Christopher and Banks from Kevin's mom and a wreath from Dan's mom.

Thanks, everyone for the gifts, the cards and the birthday wishes.

Here is the card my mom made for me - me in the tub.  Oh that is a fantasy of mine - being in the tub w/o children screaming at the door asking for drinks or snacks. . . . Cute card, mom.

Aren't birthdays fun?

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  You're only as old as you feel.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Fog - thick, heavy, gloomy.  That's kinda how being homesick feels.   No matter what you do, you just can't see past it.  It sits around your heart and allows others to see silhouettes of your sadness. 

This time of year has got to be the toughest.  Holidays and family go "hand in hand", and since I've moved 700+ miles away, my "hand" seems empty.  I miss Pennsylvania rolling hills and friendly faces of my family and friends.   It's funny that I feel this way, because I always thought I could leave Pennsylvania and not really feel saddened.  Boy was I wrong.   I took for granted all I had there - the lunch dates made at the spur of the moment with neighbors, the family reunions and picnics, the grandparent babysitters when I had an appointment or just needed a break. . . oh, I could go on, but you get the idea.  

I guess it is hard for people to understand the depth of homesickness unless you have experienced it.  Fortunately, I have some good friends here in WI who understand.  Many of my church friends here are "transplants" also.  We have Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas transplants and they all understand where I'm coming from.  Thanks be to God that he puts people in our lives who can help us through.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Don't take your life for granted - you never know when it can change in the blink of an eye.


As many of you know, I'm trying to break into the photography business.  I have always loved taking pictures.  My parents bought me a camera when I was 12 (I think).  I remember how  happy I was.  I took pictures of EVERYTHING.  I once remember snapping a picture of my mom as she was bent over my little brother - NOT GOOD!  I could not figure out why she was upset!  Now that I've had a few kids, I can honestly say, I would be upset if my one of my sons took my picture in that pose!   To take your mind off the mental image I just described, I wanted to share so pictures I snapped of Ty and Emily this past week.

I had a great time getting to know Emily.  She spent a lot of time here over the holiday.  She even went shopping with me on Black Friday and helped me get some of those great deals - all at 4:30 a.m.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Count your age with friends, not with years.


I saw these "cake pops" on the Bakerella website.  This lady is awesome and talented.  I would never even think I could come close to copying her stuff, but I just had to try to make the most basic cake pop she had and see how they would turn out.

Basically, you make a 9x13 cake the way you normally would.  After it is cooled, she recommends you dump it into a bowl and mix a can of cream cheese icing into it using your hands.  She warns it will be messy.  Well, there is a part of me that really hates stuff on my hands - I don't mind bread dough so much, but ground beef or anything really sticky - like a cake mixed with icing - really kinda creeps me out.  So, I dumped mine into my mixing bowl and used the beater - it worked perfectly!  I did not have cream cheese icing, I had chocolate, so I used that.

Then, you form it into balls.  It was not as messy as I thought it would be- in fact, the dough did not stick to my hands at all.  Then you push lollipop sticks in and chill.

After they have set up, you melt your chocolate (I used both white and chocolate), and dip the lollipops into that.

 She recommends that you push the sticks into styrofoam so that you don't get the flat chocolate at the top, but I could not find any styrofoam, so I just put them into a dish with waxed paper.

How do they taste?  Well, they are incredibly moist and since I had a chocolate cake mix, chocolate icing and chocolate candy, they were very, well, chocolatey.  Too much chocolate?  Maybe for me. (I know - how is that possible?)   I did however, have rave reviews from the toddlers and the teens.  The adults ate pie.

IF I make these again, I will try different flavors - cream cheese icing with red velvet cake mix (as recommended).  Also, I would not bother to put them on sticks, except maybe a few for the little guys in my house.  The sticks are "loose" anyway, and since the chocolate outside is hard, they pick up very well - like a candy.  The little guys however, love anything on a stick, so if it makes them happy. . . .

Just a side note:  I have a Wilton Chocolate Melter and it is wonderful.  It costs about $20 at Walmart and although I use it really only a couple times a year, it is worth the price - plus, my in-laws bought it for me as a present, so it really is worth the price!  LOL


Be confident enough that you won't settle for a compromise just to get by.


I've not posted in a long time.  I guess the main reason for that is just busy with holiday preparations and there's not much excitement in my life right now (at least nothing anyone would want to read on a blog).

Last Saturday was the first day of deer season (rifle) here. 
  After school on Monday, Tanner shot this trophy in our orchard.

Dan shot this one Tuesday.

Ty shot this one Thanksgiving morning.

All in all, it was a strange week.  Shooting deer, cutting up deer, more hunting.  These guys won't stop until their tags are filled.  Oh well, story of my life. . . . .

Guess I'll be eating a lot of venison this year.  I honestly don't know how thankful I am for that - I need to think about it :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I like simple things.  Sometimes simple things are better than the big and fancy.   I also like cake - it happens to be one of my favorite desserts.  Not just any cake, but cake decorated with a sweet icing - wedding cake is my particular favorite - perhaps because it is a happy occasion and the icing is always so pure and white.  Perhaps it is because they cut such small pieces and leave me wanting
more. . . .

Anyway, I enjoy eating cake and I also enjoy decorating cakes.  It seems something I must have inherited from mom - she took a pretty intensive cake decorating course when I was young and I remember her bringing her "projects" home for us to enjoy.  The flowers and basket weave designs were so pretty!  So, I guess I enjoyed the memories so much, I took to decorating cakes myself.  I just took a simple class at Joann Fabric Store one summer.  It was just to learn how to do simple things for my boys' birthdays.  A nice decorated cake at that time was costing about $10-$15, I could do that much cheaper, plus it would add a personal, loving touch to their birthday. Somehow, though, I ended up baking and decorating cakes for a lot of people.  I had my own little business for a few years and enjoyed every minute of it - plus my house always smelled so good.   I did many designs - Tigger, Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Rugrats, Star Wars, dinosaurs, deer, and once I even made one with a Rottweiler copied from a photograph (sound familiar to anyone reading this, Holly?).  My favorite cakes were the flower designs - roses and drop flowers were my specialty.   There's just something about eating a huge gob of icing in the shape of a rose!  (Any wonder why I can't reach my ideal weight?).

I only make cakes now for my immediate family - I've gone into retirement early.  I usually end up doing baseball, football, hunting or golfing cakes.  All boys things.  That's okay - I would not trade my boys for anything!  But, sometimes I miss doing the flowers.  Well, now that Ty is dating, I have a girl I can decorate a cake for!  Emily's birthday was this past week - she is 19 now.  She is here in WI for the holiday and my son is walking on Cloud 9. 

  I made Sunday lunch for us all, and decided we would celebrate Emily's birthday too.   

I saw this idea in a Wilton book once and have been wanting to do this ever since.  It is so cute and simple, yet the effect is adorable!  I'm not great at making daisies out of icing - it is a lot of work and to be honest, I've not practiced enough for a good-looking daisy.  However, these daisies are just made out of mini marshmallows flattened with my thumb. 

I then took a pair of sharp kitchen scissors and made little slits all around to form the "petals".  Then I piped yellow icing in the middle to form the center.  They are so cute, I could eat them up - and actually, we did!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  99% of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.

Friday, November 20, 2009


How's the holiday spirit coming along in your home?  I think I'm off to a good start this year, although I still have a lot of shopping to do and some gifts to make yet (I'm waiting on materials to arrive in the mail).  I work well under pressure, so I'm still calm at this point.  I have however, been making some arrangements with holiday greenery.  I'll share some with you.

Let me give you some background information:  I have this need to shop at consignment stores.  I find some really cool stuff there.  It's true, I'm cheap, but honestly, this is not about being cheap.  It's a treasure hunt.  Garage sales, Goodwill, consignment stores - it's all about what you can find cheap and do something special with it!  It's a sickness, really.  Anyway, there is a new consignment store in Spencer and I stop frequently.  I found this adorable bench there for $5.99!  There is a small water mark stain on it, but that's not a problem!

I fell in love with this cute little thing.  I decided to turn it into a holiday bench and give it as a gift.  I feel badly giving a gift with something I got so cheap at a second hand store, but I figured if I would jazz it up with some greenery, I could sell it for $25-$40, and that would make a nice gift for someone!  Here's what I did:

I just wired in some pine greens, hot glued some poinsettias and then an adorable cardinal.  I was going to add a bow, but it looked too gaudy, so I left well enough alone. 

My second arrangement I made for my sister-in-law, Deanna.  She used her Cricut machine to cut the flying reindeer out of vinyl and added it onto an already painted tin container.  She bought some artificial flowers and greenery and asked me to make the arrangement.  I have to say, I love doing this, especially when I have not paid for any of it! :-)  I thought it turned out okay.  Please remember - I'm not a professional anything, I just goof around until I think it looks okay.  Deanna was thrilled, so I guess that's all that matters.

Sorry about the distracting background.

My other little endeavor is to be used on my Thanksgiving table - but since we'll have several tables set up in various locations around my home to accommodate all of our guests, I will probably place this somewhere on the food buffet.  I found this idea on the Cricut message boards; I emailed it to Deanna because I thought it was cute.  I should have known she would have wanted me to make one - she has this knack for seeing something and then deciding "we" should do it :-).  She cut out all the pilgrim pieces on her Cricut and gave them to me along with the silk leaves.  I had the little bucket and the dowel rods here, so I got the hot glue gun out and got to work.  I think it is cute, however, 95% of my guests will probably never notice it - they'll be too busy talking about hunting.  
Isn't Thanksgiving supposed to be about family and being thankful and all that????  When did hunting EVER get invited in?  I could go on, but I'll leave that for another post :-).

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:18

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I wish I could say I came up with this idea, but I copied it off of a home improvement show way back before HGTV came into existence.   It is an easy way to "customize" the look of your room - without buying wall paper and wall borders. 

I did this in my bathroom when I living in beautiful, hilly Pennsylvania (just a bit homesick at the moment).  Most of my home is done in wildlife and outdoors.  I've always loved the outdoors for decorating - ironically, I spend most of my days indoors.  I wanted one room of my house that was not decorated with some kind of deer/moose/bear.  I have been to the ocean many times and love all my vacation memories of the Atlantic - along with the many treasures I either gathered on the shore or purchased in a boardwalk shop.  So I decided to decorate my bathroom in an ocean decor.  

First, I painted the walls white, then took a Caribbean blue color, dipped a damp old t-shirt in it, then proceeded to "wash" the walls with the blue.  I used swirly motions and zig zags - all to achieve a look of whimsical blue ocean waves.  It was awesome (just don't ask Dan about it).  Then, I found some cute material at Walmart to sew a simple curtain with (you can see the curtain in the photo).  I bought some extra and cut out the fish individually.  After cutting many, many fish out, I poured some fabric starch (the blueish stuff in a small jug) into a bowl.  I dipped each fish in, thoroughly soaking it, then placed it on the wall, dabbing at the excess with a cloth.  They stick like magic!  After they are dry, they will not come off - no matter how much steam is in your bathroom - until you peel them off.   They will never leave a mark on the paint or peel the paint at all.  Actually, when I moved to Wisconsin, I peeled them all off and redipped them to use in my bathroom here.  There was no evidence that they had ever been on my walls in PA, and they look great here in WI.  I placed them randomly around the top of the walls at different heights - to make them look like schools of fish swimming around a lagoon.

I also did the same thing to Levi's bedroom.  We wanted a sports theme, but we have textured walls on every square inch of this house.  Wall paper borders DO NOT WORK, neither do "wallies".  I found material that had a nice pattern of baseballs, gloves, bats, basketballs, footballs, etc.  I cut them out and placed them on a "border" that I painted on.  They worked well, although be careful with small children - he pulled them off when he was still in his crib and tried to eat one!  I took them off the wall for awhile and have since replaced them.

This can be done with large sections of wall also.  The tv segment I saw actually showed them "wall papering" the entire room with panels of material.  This is good for renters, they said, because you can just take it down when you leave and never hurt the wall.  If you wall paper an entire wall, you need a roller and lots of the blue starch, but it works!


In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.-Aristotle


These are just too cute not to take a picture!  I think maybe the restaurant chain, White Castle, came up with these.  I googled it and they also mentioned that Red Robin restaurant serves them.  They are called both 'slammers' and 'sliders'.   I ate them for the first time this summer when I was in Hershey, PA, at Fuddruckers.  They were so cute!

Plus, if you are watching your calories, they are perfect.  You can still eat a hamburger w/o overdosing on fat and calories.  I served these with a side of Weight Watcher fries, that even my firstborn son loves (he is against anything 'fat free' or "weight watcher" friendly).  To make these fries, peel your potatoes, slice them up (I use my Pampered chef garnish tool), then soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes or so.  Drain them and kind of towel them off.  Put about 2-3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a bowl, add some seasoning salt, garlic powder, paprika - whatever you like, mix it up and toss with your fries.  Bake at 375 on a baking sheet for 45-60 minutes (depends on how thick your fries are and how crisp you like them).

Add a side of broccoli and you have yourself an actual healthy meal (the bun is made with wheat flour).  Yummy.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Today's ramblings will be two-fold.  First, I want to share a wonderful drink recipe with you.  Now, for those of you who regularly read Holly's blog (, you know this is one her recipes, and in fact the other part of this post is also one of Holly's ideas.  Thanks Holly for all your wonderful ideas!  (Also, enjoy being 41 for a few more weeks- you, Dawnie and I are closing in on 42).  But I think I have a few followers who do not know Holly, so I'm posting this to benefit them! :-)

This wonderful concoction is so simple.  It is a can of Mt. Dew (I used diet), and some frozen strawberries.  Mix in a blender and enjoy!

I make this somedays when the boys are napping and I need a "kick" to get me through the afternoon.  Plus, it has fruit in it and I feel like I am somewhat doing something healthy.

The other great idea from Holly is that she put together a photobook of her "simple" recipes.  She mailed several out to her friends and family (I was fortunate to get one!).  There are about 12 recipes in here each with a picture of the finished product and Holly's "easy" recipe.   I love this book- this is just one of those photo books you can make through Walmart, Snapfish, Shutterfly, wherever, but Holly introduced me to ArtsCow - 

ArtsCow is a photo website based in Hong Kong.  They make the same stuff that Walmart and these other places offer, only cheaper.  Sign up - you'll be glad you did.  It is free to register and they send you emails a couple times a week offering sales on items and many times free shipping.  When you sign up, you get something like 1200 prints free (you pay shipping)!  I've been getting my scrapbooking prints from them for about a year now and the quality is as good as Walmart.  The only drawback is that it does take a week or more to get it delivered from Hong Kong, and that the shipping charges can be high.  Yet, I always get the item on sale and it is usually ends up being cheaper than if I ordered it locally.  I've purchased personalized coasters, mouse pads, calendars, pillow cases, and many photo books from them.

Today I ordered a Grandparent photo book I made up with photos of my boys.  They were offering one at $5.99 with free shipping, and additional books at $8.99 with the free shipping.  I got 2 books for $14.98!  I also made up a book for Noah for his birthday.  The book will be all about his family.  I have made a couple of these books up for the little guys and added a story to go along with my photos.  They love it when I read these to them.   I love giving and receiving personalized gifts.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:   The more we share, the more we have.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


". . .in everything give thanks. . ." I Thessalonians 5:18

This may sound like a sermon to some, but it really it is not.  Blogging is all about what's on the blogger's mind and in their heart, so here are my thoughts of late.

Being happy is so closely tied together with being thankful and "counting your blessings".  Almost every article you read -religious and secular - will tell you in order to be happy you to count your blessings daily.  Writing down what we have instead of thinking about what we don't have.  It really works!  God knew this long before there were PhD's.

I am going to try really hard from now on to be extra thankful for what I have.  Instead of just saying, "I'm thankful for my husband", I'm going to list WHY I'm thankful for my husband, i.e., he is patient beyond belief, he is kind to everyone, he is a Godly man, etc.
Thankfulness is something I struggle with daily.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not 'unthankful', but I tend to get whiny about things a lot and I need to stop NOW!  When I read the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt (Exodus), I am amazed that these people saw all the miracles they saw - water to blood, millions of frogs, parting of the Red Sea, etc.  Then, in a matter of days, they started whining about not having food and water, and not trusting that God would provide.  I have even been so bold as to say "I would never have been so unappreciative".  Yet, I do it every single day.  God has given me blessing upon blessing and I still complain about certain things in my life that really are not bad at all.  Shame on me!  

My thoughts today are just to encourage you to make a list-mental or on paper - of how God has blessed you.  Even if you are struggling right now with some terrible issue, there are things that you can thank Him for. 

Here are some of my thoughts:
1) I'm so thankful that I was able to bear children

   -healthy children

2) I'm so thankful that I was able to find a happy life again after losing a loved one.


3) I'm so thankful that both of my parents are still alive and healthy and that they are wonderful grandparents to my boys.

4) I'm so thankful that Ty is dating a nice Christian girl, that Tanner is so trustworthy and kind, that both boys are respectable and loving young men.   I'm thankful that Levi is a kind and loving little boy and that Noah is such a 'snuggler', and that both little ones are healthy.

5) I'm thankful that I live in America, despite it's flaws.  Where I can be free to dislike the President, worship as I chose, and have plenty compared to most countries.

I could go on, but I'll not bore you with anymore of my thankfuls.  This time of year can be hard for so many people - it can be downright depressing not being with your family or missing those who've passed away, but I encourage you to think about the good in your life, as I will try my best to do the same.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I don't have a lot of things that I really say "these are the best", but I have to say (please don't think I'm bragging), these cookies are the best!   I did not think up the recipe, nor can I take credit for the technique, but I have copied all those and turned it into one dog-gone good cookie!  The recipe is just from the back of the Nestle Semi-Sweet chocolate chip bag - "original chocolate chip cookie".  

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

However, I DO NOT use butter.  I use butter-flavored Crisco (Aldi's now has their version of it much cheaper!).  Plus, I always play around with the flour by possibly adding more -depending on how "sticky" the dough feels - if you can touch it and your finger comes away clean, it is ready!  If some dough sticks on it, add a bit more flour.  Plus, because I married a man who does not really like chocolate (don't judge him too harshly, he really is a great guy), I only add about 3/4 the called for amount of chocolate chips.
Now, the "best in the world" part:  use an ice cream scoop and make a big ball of dough - roll it around and put it on the baking sheet - you'll only get about 6 cookies per sheet.  I have to give credit for this idea to my BFF Shari, who is very gifted and talented in the domestic goddess field.  Bake them at 350 not 375, but before they're done, move them to the top rack for a couple of minutes.  These cookies are the best!  

At least that's what all my sons' friends told me back when they were in elementary school, and that's what my hub tells me.  For my self-esteem, I must believe it, so if you find out otherwise, please keep it to yourself!  :-)

Here are a few other tips I picked up from the Food Network or somewhere like that:
-put the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so before you bake them.
-do not over mix the dough once you've added the flour, or you'll see what "one tough cookie" is all about.

-take the cookies out about a minute before you they turn too brown-they continue to bake after they're out of the oven, especially if you use the baking stones.
-double the recipe - you'll be glad you did after everyone eats them up in the first 30 minutes.

-they always taste better the second day (this is my opinion).
(these are not that great of pictures, but you get the idea)


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Doing things (like making cookies) for others can totally make YOUR day!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Oh yummy!  I love chocolate so much, I painted it on my walls in my downstairs "rec" room.  The paint is actually called "hat box brown" by Dutchboy, but doesn't "creamy milk chocolate" sound like a better title?  Who makes up the paint names anyway, and how can I get that job?

This was the only room we had never painted since I moved in and took over the decorating, which my hub was all to happy to hand over!  The walls had never been primed and were dirty in some places.  Dan helped me prime the room - he did the ceiling, I did the walls.  Then I painted the chocolate, I mean the brown paint on.  Every time I dipped my paint pad into the tray, I thought of melted chocolate.  No wonder I'm having such cravings this week.

I was nervous at first putting this on the walls - after all, there is only one small window down there and not a lot of good light (we hope to fix that soon).  But after one wall was done, I knew we had picked a good color.  I plan to do the stairwell in the same color.
I need to hang pictures and the mirrors back up, and I'll get to that this week after I clean the carpets.  

Color is good - chocolate is better!

What do you think about decorating in a Hershey's theme?   Could be interesting!  Have to see about that.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:  Eat chocolate, it just makes you feel better!  Then brush your teeth -