Thursday, July 30, 2009


I lived in the dormitory my first year of college. At Ouachita, you had girls' dorms and boys' dorms, and if you were one and went in the other, you could only go in the lobby, and that was only before something like 10 p.m. If it was the weekend I think it was midnight. The reason I lived in the dormitory only for my first year was because Hubby and I got married between our freshman and sophomore years.

So during my freshman year, one of the RA's was at the desk doing cross-stitch. I had tried needlepoint when I was growing up at some point, and for me it was a nightmare. This cross-stitch looked like it might be up my alley.

So I did what anyone in a very small Arkansas town would do. I went to Wal-Mart and looked for a kit. That is, after I talked my boyfriend and future Hubby into driving me there.

I read directions. I always have. It has to do with my OCD I think. So when the directions told me to use two strands, I tried. The directions didn't tell me that the floss is actually already made up of six strands and you have to separate it. I finally got all twelve strands through my needle and started stitching.

After a few stitches things just didn't seem right, so I went up and asked the RA about it. I honestly don't remember if she laughed at me, but I still laugh thinking about it. She explained what I needed to do to use my floss.

The only cross-stitch I've ever done is counted cross-stitch. It's the left-brain math girl in me. I've done a couple on linen and use stretcher bars for them. Otherwise I just hold the fabric in my hands and don't use hoops or anything, even on the big stuff, including this Grandma Moses' reproduction.

The entire surface of this cross-stitch is stitched. The frame size is roughly two feet wide, if that gives you an idea how big it is. It took me a little over a year to do when I was in college after Hubby and I got married.

Here are two more of my favorites. The patterns were by Charles Wysocki. The first one I did over 15 years ago, probably closer to 20, and the other one I did while we lived in Virginia.

I have a lot more patterns by Wysocki in my drawer to do. If I could just find the time...

This post is linked to Show and Tell Friday at There's No Place Like Home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Thanksgiving Bird

We have multiple ways to drive to church. Most of them involve various back and side roads, and many of them involve some dirt roads. Depending on which way you go and how much dirt road you want, you can cut off a lot of time.

You go the main roads, like expressway and highway, it would take you some serious time to get from our house to church. Like I would need to leave right now to get there tomorrow. Okay, something like 45 minutes, more in rush hour. We never, ever go that way.

There is one way to go where you can take no dirt roads (except out the back of our subdivision), and it takes about 20 minutes if you hit every light just right.

When you take one of the ways with dirt roads, you're down to 12 minutes on a perfect trip, or somewhere around 15 to 18 minutes. And you are very likely to see some wildlife on the way, sometimes alive, sometimes not.

Okay. Opportunity past. That's what Hubby said. I saw these turkeys — probably two females and their 12 chicks while taking the boys to VBS. Hubby said I should've hit them and we would have had plenty to eat on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine's Day, etc. My only problem — who would have plucked them and taken out all the parts that you don't want? And aren't some of those parts poisonous if you don't get them out?

I so sound like a city girl. That could explain why I hate camping.

And Hubby was just kidding about hitting them. Unless of course they fly into my side window.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They Say the Funniest Things

You probably think this post is about Caboose.

It's not.

I might pay big for this post though.

The good news is, Hubby likes the blog. I hope that counts for something.

See, the middle of last week, Hubby got sick. He even had to miss a day of work. He never had any fever, just really bad congestion, which goes straight to his chest. Makes him cough bad, sound bad, and basically feel like he's been hit by a truck.

Since this is VBS week and we are still operating with just one vehicle, I am transporting him so that I can have it the rest of the day. He has to be at work by 6 a.m.

So when I talked to him Monday at about 6:40, exchanged pleasantries, which aren't usually very pleasant for me, not being a morning person, he says to me in the extremely deep, gruff, still sounding sick voice,

"Do you like my deep sexy voice?"

I immediately hear some shuffling and muffling at the other end of the phone. That is followed by,

"I was talking to my wife."

Immediately followed by this from me,

"Who was that?"

Basically, it was one of his co-workers a couple of cubicles over. He heard him and popped his head over to see what in the world was going on. Hubby told me he had to be pretty red at that point.

I feel sure he was.

And in my defense, I cleared this post with Hubby before I posted it. I was a good wife. This time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — July 27th

I missed my menu planning last week, although for the better part of the week I actually had it planned in my head. Yes, dangerous, I know. But it worked. Pretty well. We're back to paper this week, or would you just call this type? Anyway, you get the idea.

Monday — Caribbean Chicken (for the grill). I'm playing with this recipe a little, so I won't share it until I make sure it works. You'll know if it does since I usually drool in a post about the really good stuff.

TuesdayDeluxe Chicken Breasts. This is a recipe from a free card that came in the mail years ago that I kept to try sometime. Now's the time! I'll have to double it to have enough for everyone in my family.

WednesdayTacos, made with Homemade Taco Seasoning, my kids' favorite.

ThursdayTaco Salad, made with the leftover taco meat, since I always make extra and plan for this.

FridayGrilled Southwestern Pork Chops. Everyone in the family loves this marinade, and it's super easy!

Saturday — I'm trying a copycat recipe for TGI Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad, my favorite. There are at least two copycat recipes on RecipeZaar (nearly identical) and one I found somewhere else, so if the first one doesn't work I guess I can keep trying. Of course I leave off the bleu cheese crumbles.

Sunday — We'll be eating lunch at church after the VBS program and a regular morning service, so that's our version of eating out this week.

Check out Laura, The Organizing Junkie, to get lots of great recipe and menu ideas.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

July 26th is my grandma's 94th birthday. Wow! I can't even imagine.

Grandma still lives at home, but she has someone with her at all times. I have no doubt that if she were in a nursing home she would no longer be living, not because of poor care, but because of the simple comfort of being in her own home. I am truly thankful that she is able to be there still, knowing that at some point it may no longer be possible.

My grandma is very frail, and honestly we're all surprised her heart has made it this long. She suffers from dementia, and most of the time she doesn't really know what's going on around her. She just sits and watches the world go by.

Grandma grew up during the depression, and the effects of those lean years could still be seen in her home when I was a child. One thing in particular that I remember is a jar of rubber bands that she kept in the kitchen. It was one of the large mason jars, and every day when the newspaper came with a rubber band around it, that rubber band went in the jar, because you'll never know when you might need a rubber band. She would also wash out her tin pie plates and plastic baggies to re-use them. I think all of this was the precursor to us becoming a greener society.

Grandma was an excellent cook. I've never had fried chicken like hers. She used to make me peanut butter cookies when I was in college, and boy, was it hard to ration those! When Hubby and I would go back and visit, Grandma was the one person who would cater to my quirks. She would always give me a couple of extra little bitty bowls for my runny stuff so nothing had to touch. Sometimes I'd even get an extra fork. Because I'm weird that way. She also taught me how to make the gravy for our traditional Christmas dinner, Chicken Pie. She and I used to spend all morning in the kitchen making it and the biscuits for the top. I have fond memories of those days.

I asked Hubby something he remembered about Grandma, and after he got over being silly for a minute, he said, "She always turned the light on when I didn't want it on." Because you know, you can't read without proper lighting. If we were sitting in a chair reading and didn't have the lamp on next to us, she'd come by and flip it on.

Grandma couldn't stand this picture, her engagement picture. She hated the dress. She told me it was blue. I'm sure I would have loved it! (And my scanner is not working, so I had to take pictures of pictures, so the flash did funny things to these.)

This is probably my favorite picture of my grandparents, which you may have seen when I've talked about my grandpa before. I just had to show it again since I love it so much! It was rare to catch her in a picture with an open smile.

Grandpa left for WWII when Grandma was expecting her first child, my mom. Here they are, with the back of the picture showing that my mom was ten and a half months old. I like this picture because it's rare to see older pictures where people aren't posed, and this seemed to be almost an 'oops' shot.

One of my grandpa's WWII army reunion group wives wrote a book about him. She had been gathering information from all of the veterans to compile a book about their time in Europe, and we had so much stuff on Grandpa that she wanted to put it into a book about him. This is Grandma with a copy of the completed book a couple of years ago.

My mom and my aunt make sacrifices to keep Grandma comfortable and in her home. I hope they know how much I appreciate what they do for her. It doesn't go unnoticed! Thank you, and I love you both.

And I love you, Grandma!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


When my parents came to visit, they brought a few little goodies for everyone. Mine was my favorite. Here, I'll show you, then tell you the story.

My grandfather loved watching birds out his windows. He used to have this concrete birdbath in his back yard that he had made. I think my mom and my aunt helped, because there were marbles pushed in the concrete all around the edges. I spent many a day splashing in that bird bath.

One time when I was a career professional, you know, before kids, I was on a trip to Washington, D.C., for a conference. I had a little free time, went shopping, and found a quaint little hanging resin bird feeder that was just perfect for my grandpa. Only thing was I had to have the four or five foot pole shipped back because there was no way it was going to fit in any suitcase I had with me. But I bought it and had the whole thing shipped straight to my grandpa. Call me crazy. I know you want to.

One year for my grandpa's birthday, Hubby and I found a painting by a local Missouri artist in a shop attached to the one where we loved to look at the antiques (and actually bought a couple eventually). It was of a cardinal, signed and numbered, and we got it for him. The next year we got another one to go with it, but it isn't signed and numbered.

Fast forward about 20 years, and they have been hanging in the bedroom that served as my grandpa's home office, where he worked on his stamp collection and such. That room stays closed up most of the time now, so my mom talked to my aunt about bringing them to me when they came. She agreed.

As far as I know they have never been taken down from the wall, but when they took them down to dust them off and bring them to me, look what was on the backs.

At some point before he died, my grandpa had taken them down and written my name on the back to make sure I got them. It brought tears to my eyes when my mom flipped them over to show me.

They are now hanging above the chair that is in "Kayren's Hangout" in a prominent place. I didn't have anything else to hang there, so it's like it was just waiting for the right thing. Little did I know...

Hubby is supposed to come sit in this chair when I'm doing my scrapbooking and crafting. Only problem is, we can't agree on what to watch on the tv.

This post is linked to Show and Tell Friday hosted by Kelli at There is no place like home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Santa and Caboose

I've mentioned a couple of times that we've had company. They left this morning after having been here for a week and a half, thus the almost week break in blogging. Now I get to fill you in on some of the fun things we've been doing and some fun stories.

Last Friday we went to Frankenmuth, Michigan, a small town about an hour and a half north of where we live. It has a strong German heritage, but oddly enough, is well-known for it's chicken dinners.

When you tell people you're going to Frankenmuth, or even ask them about it, they will tell you, "They have really good chicken." So here's where we ate.

Here was my plate.

Here was the competitor across the street.

It was good chicken, but I'd say second best. The chicken dinner at Rockhome Gardens in Arcola, Illinois, gets my vote for best. It's in the Amish country. Sorry, Frankenmuth. Second gets a medal though at the Olympics though.

Frankenmuth is a pretty little town with a small downtown shopping area.

Frankenmuth is also the home of Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, World's Largest Christmas Store. I'm taking their word for it. It was definitely big, the biggest I've ever seen, and I must say extremely well organized. They had the ornaments in different sections by theme (snowmen, farm, sports, etc.), and the map had each section well marked. An organizer's dream...

We had to take a picture of Santa and the grandkids by the big Santa.

Now I have to explain here that we have never done Santa with our kids. The gifts have always been from us. But we've done a breakfast with Santa, had their picture made with Santa...gosh, Santa's their Grandpa. So obviously none of the magic of the season is lost. They know what other kids think, and the only thing that's been difficult is what to answer when people ask them what they want from Santa or what Santa brought them for Christmas. So when they were younger we helped them come up with an answer that they were comfortable with — one that didn't give anything away to other kids but didn't make them feel like they were 'fibbing.' They would just say, "I got so-and-so for Christmas," or "I want so-and-so for Christmas," and then that sort of covered it.

Well, Caboose knows that Grandpa doesn't take other kids presents. He also knows that his Grandpa is Santa, and that Santa doesn't really live in the North Pole either. Santa lives in Arkansas. This, my friends, is my child that has always been my brightest at the youngest age. We have not told him any of these things. This is his magic, and we have not discouraged it.

Before Grandpa and Grandma came to visit, Buddy and Caboose were having a discussion at the table, and I happened to be sitting there as well. I don't even know what it was about, I just remember hearing something about reindeer. I told them that reindeer were real and that we'd seen them at zoos before. Caboose proceeds to say, "But they don't fly Grandpa around."

For several years Caboose has asked what will happen when Grandpa dies and who will be Santa. I tell him he might have to do it. He's not sure he will have the whiskers.

But at Bronner's the other day he really got it going. I should have been prepared, but I wasn't. First he asked me, "Was Grandpa the first Santa, or were there others before him that have already died?"

Thank goodness the next question came before I had to answer that one.

"When Grandpa dies, will they just go up to somebody and say, 'Hey, do you want to be Santa?'?" (I know I probably didn't quotation mark that right, but I'm too lazy to check it.) I told him maybe it was a Santa secret, or maybe it had to run in the family and he'd have to do it, or if he was too young and didn't have whiskers, his dad would have to do it, even though he's an in-law.

The good thing is, now Hubby can grow whiskers. See his 'playoff beard' from a month or so ago.

Because for years we've joked about how he can't grow any facial hair, except in splotches. And when the girls were about two years old, look what he did with my eyebrow pencil!

Um, you might notice it's even getting a little more of the Santa-ish color, Hubby.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pork Chops in the Crock Pot

My mom has made this when we have visited in Arkansas. She's even told me how to make it, but I haven't, even though it's pretty simple. I just needed the visual. Now I have it!

Pork Chops in the Crock Pot
from my mom

Pork Chops or Boneless Pork Chops (cut from the pork loin)
Cream of Mushroom soup (size dependent on number of pork chops)
Milk (1/2 soup can for whatever can size you use)

Beat eggs (probably a couple for most people) in a one bowl. Put flour in a second bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. In a third bowl mix the cream of mushroom soup with half a soup can of milk; set aside.

Dip pork chops in egg mixture and then dip in flour mixture, turning to coat well, one at a time. Then place the pork chops in a pan filled with a little bit of heated vegetable oil. Cook about three to four minutes per side, just until browned. Remove pork chops to the crock pot.

Turn the heat off on the burner. If you have an electric stove you will need to remove your pan from the heat as well. If you have a lot of oil left in your pan use a spoon to remove as much of it as possible. Take your soup/milk mixture and add it to the pan, stirring as you do. It will splatter a little at first. Stir until you get all the pan drippings mixed in well, then pour directly on top of the pork chops in the crock pot.

Take a spatula and go around the sides of your crock pot, lifting the pork chops slightly to let the gravy mixture down to the bottom of the dish. Cook on high for about 5-6 hours, until the pork chops are done. They will probably be falling apart they are so tender.

Well, there are six of us and we have two visitors, we accidentally bought a larger pack of boneless pork loin chops than we thought it was, and so we had 21. My mom says they are very good as leftovers. I sure hope so! I also used the very large can of soup from Sam's Club that is 50 oz. and two pans to cook the pork chops.

Dip pork chops in egg mixture and then dip in flour mixture, turning to coat well, one at a time.

Then place the pork chops in a pan filled with a little bit of heated vegetable oil. Cook about three to four minutes per side, just until browned.

Remove pork chops to the crock pot.

Turn the heat off on the burner. If you have an electric stove you will need to remove your pan from the heat as well. If you have a lot of oil left in your pan use a spoon to remove as much of it as possible. Take your soup/milk mixture and add it to the pan, stirring as you do. It will splatter a little at first. Stir until you get all the pan drippings mixed in well, then pour directly on top of the pork chops in the crock pot.

Here it is after cooking a little while.

And here it is right before we served it. We drained the oil off the top with a spoon first.

Here's one of the dinner plates...not mine or nothing would have been touching the gravy.

In Caboose's words, "It doesn't look good, but it sure does taste good."

This post is linked to Slow Cooking Thursday at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It Took Eight Months, But Boy, Was It Worth It!

I've been looking for the perfect picture for my bathroom wall since we moved into our house the week before Thanksgiving. Last year.

It needed to be large since it would be on the wall above the bathtub. And not just large, but large in a rectangular way.

All the other pictures I found that I thought would be perfect were square, or too small, or they were part of a matching set that didn't really seem to go together quite right, or weren't the right colors, or were black and white...well, you get the picture.

Did I mention that daisies were extremely high on my list? Like of utmost importance.

So if the picture didn't include daisies it was probably not going to work, or it was going to have to be something really special. Pretty daisies were a given. Not the ones that are stemless on posters you see around that are often unusual not-normal daisy colors. They are cute, but not adult bathroom cute.

Well, today I took my mom (and Caboose and Chatty) to Garden Ridge on the way to Sam's Club. It was an unplanned stop, and not even for pictures. I just said, "Let's look at the pictures while we're here. I haven't been here since Christmastime."

Lo and behold, there was the perfect picture, and it was rectangular. Now, it was a little damaged on the black parts, and there was a little chip in the glazing on the front, and the paper on the back was gashed in about six places. So I did what anyone would do. I asked the check-out girl if I could get a little bit marked off. You know what she said?

"We don't give discounts."

Let me just say that this picture was $79.99. With a little damage. But perfect otherwise. And I could take a Sharpie marker to the black parts and you'd never know the difference. Plus I'd been looking eight months!!!

I also found out that if it went on sale later, they wouldn't do a price adjustment. And it was the only one in the store.

But you know what, she scanned it, and it must have been put in the wrong area. It was on sale for $19.99!

Please don't get too verklempt on me when you're looking at it. I'm still trying to get over it.

But it may take me a while. I keep walking in there just to stare at it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — July 13th

There were a couple of grilling recipes from last week that were excellent. The first one was the Basil Grilled Chicken. Doesn't it look yummy?

The second recipe that we enjoyed was for a Cajun Spice Rub. You can put it on your choice of beef, chicken, or pork. The family-sized package of boneless sirloin steaks was on sale at one of the local grocery stores last week, so that was our choice. We had about 6 1/2 pounds of steak when we started (from the package weights), and I tripled the recipe for the rub. It seemed to work out pretty well. I had plenty and the steaks were seasoned perfectly. They were really tasty, too. I think sometime I'll try this rub on some chicken or pork, but I definitely will do the steak again. This recipe was a keeper!

I'm sorry to say that we didn't get very excited about the Lexington-Style Grilled Chicken. A couple of the kids didn't really like it at all, and the others weren't too excited about it. I wasn't that crazy about it, although I could eat it. Hubby said it tasted like the seasoning some people use for their wings. I probably won't make this again.

We have company this week, which I still have yet to tell you about, but on to the menu anyway!

MondayTacos made with Homemade Taco Seasoning and Loaded Tostadas. The Loaded Tostadas are a new recipe, so I'm going to have taco shells on hand for the kids.

TuesdayBasil Grilled Chicken. I'm also going to try these Cheesy Potatoes in Foil.

Wednesday — Family Fun Night at church, and they are supplying food, so I don't have to worry about dinner!

Thursday — Pork Chops in the Crock Pot. Recipe to follow later in the week. I've had my mom show me this before and I always forget exactly how much of what to use, and it's not complicated so I should be able to do it, but I can't.

FridayMaui Chicken. This sounds like an Hawaiian Chicken that I used to eat at a local cafeteria in Arkansas that is no longer in business. I'm going to serve it with white rice. I have high hopes for this recipe, so I hope that doesn't immediately doom it.

Saturday — Hamburgers, hot dogs, and brauts on the grill.

Sunday — Eat out since we ate in all week!

Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more great ideas!

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