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Monday, December 31, 2012

Tiny Baby Spaces


I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, and friends, and blessings too many to count. I know I did.
 
We spent the weekend at home, catching up on rest and a little TV after a wonderful Christmas. We took down all the Christmas decorations yesterday, and I even got the Hubs to haul the crispy old tree away. I know, I know, it is bad luck to take your tree down before New Years, but if you know me, you know I like to live on the edge! Ha! Or if you really know me, you know I cannot stand clutter, and that the minute the gifts are opened, I am eyeballing that tree plotting it's demise. It feels cleansing and refreshing to have the livingroom back in order.  I have a few decorating projects planned, and I can't wait to get started on them now that the Christmas is packed away. 
 
I had a little spell of nesting disease yesterday afternoon, and thought I would share the fruits of my hormonal labors with you. Everyone in our lives is just as excited about our little Alien as we are, and thus it received Christmas gifts! Yes, it is only the size of a fig this week. (I know, obscure fruit that no one can picture.  The only other comparison I found was a large kumquat...again...I don't know that I have ever even looked at a kumquat.) But, even though it is obscure fruit sized, family and friends showered it with gifts over Christmas. So, we needed to figure out what we planned to do with this little kid's stuff! Remember, we will not be moving to a bigger house, and our baby will not have a nursery. It is rooming with us. Sadly, I fear our roommate situation will not lead to the hillarity of "Friends- Chandler and Joey" type situations, but one can hope.
 
There is a large cabinet area under our dresser, that we were able to clear out.  This will be the baby's closet. I used items I already had on hand to organize the space.  The labels will help me keep all the different sizes straight.  I made those myself out of cardstock and some pretty scrapbook paper. The baskets on the top shelf serve double duty as dividers and to hold small items. They are quart till produce baskets. They sell for about .29 cents at feed stores and Tractor Supply. They hold socks, and hats and accessories.
 
We will keep adding to it as more clothes come. Our bed will be used as the changing table, and I have already cleared out a drawer under our bed to store diapers and changing supplies.  We have underbed drawers..amazing. As long as we don't go nuts buying baby stuff, and remember that everything this baby owns has to fit in OUR room, I think we should be good. Once upon a time, the thought of having a new baby without a fancy nursery to decorate, and fill with baby stuff would have made me insane. How could I possibly have a baby without it having it's own room filled with stuff!? But now, I realize, that making do with our small house, and small space, is perfectly fine, and will work well for our family.
 
On a funny note, I had my first experience with maternity clothes this past weekend. Wow, stretchy and scary. I have already started to outgrow my regular pants, and forcing them on makes me look like the before picture on a Slim-Fast commercial. My evil pregnancy book says I should only have a slight "thickening" in the waste- not neccessarily showing yet. Whatever-  screw you 'know it all' book, all I know is, my belly is not fitting in my pants anymore, and whether it is too many Christmas cookies, or a baby with the Hubs 6'3" genes, I look pregnant. So I decided to go maternity clothes shopping. Wow. $60 for stretchy scary jeans I will wear for 6 months? $30 for a tee shirt? And this was at an outlet store! This drove me to the trusty Craigslist. Which then led me and the Hubs to drive to some strange woman's house on Friday night and begin rifling through 3 garbage bags of maternity clothes. However, I did luck out. A. She was my size. B. She had some pretty cute and name brand maternity clothes. C. She sold them to me for $2 each. Fantastic! Thanks Hubs, for driving in the dark, to some strangers house, so I can raid her maternity garbage bags. While you uncomfortably watch the news with her husband on their couch. You, are continually awesome.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bitter Sweet

I had all kinds of posts planned for December, yet none of them have really come to be, and none of them really seem to matter anymore.  This December has been filled with some moments of incredible joy, and some moments of incredible sadness.
 
Since my last post, I turned 30, rather quietly.  My wonderful husband and children took me to dinner, and gave me a present, and cleaned the house for me. I could not ask for a better husband or family, I mean that. My parents joined us for dinner, I could not ask for better parents (I mean that too.)
 
I had my first ultrasound for the baby, and got to see the heart beat. Today's post was supposed to be about that, but I will save that for another time. All looks good with baby, and I am told everything looks healthy and perfect.
 
Then there was Sandy Hook Elementary. And the tragedy that ensued there.  I do not have words to put on paper to describe the evil and horror of that incident. As a parent to a kindergartener my heart absolutely broke. I wept for those parents who left the fire house empty handed, after searching for their child.  I pictured the Hubs and I going to search the crowds for our Monkey. I couldn't help it, it is just where my mind went. I just imagined what it would be like to be one of those mothers, and my heart broke. I got to tuck my little boy in last night, and watch him sleep peacefully.  He got to sign my birthday card in his scribbly handwriting, and buy a gum ball with me after dinner. Those other mothers are not so lucky.
 
And then there is my Grandaddy. My sweet Grandaddy made his way to heaven last night.  He was my Daddy's Daddy. He was such an amazing man, with such a rich life filled with talent, passion, and interest. He was a devout Christian, a Lutheran.  Yet, he never passed judgement on another, never seemed self- righteous, never pushed his beliefs on anyone, but loved, and revered God in every aspect of his life. He was a soldier, who served his country, and went to far away lands torn by war for the sake of our Freedom; leaving behind his wife and small children. He was a brilliant business man, and a devout teacher. He loved music and art.  His hands were those of a craftsman.  He built beautiful instruments by hand: violins, banjos, dulcimers.  He taught himself to play them, and mastered the art.  He painted beautiful landscapes with oils and brush. His home was filled with paintings signed with his name at the bottom. He could build nearly anything with wood; planes, furniture, anything. He could craft stained glass.  He could craft anything he put his mind to, with skill and precision. This is something he passed along to my Daddy.
 
He was married to my Gran for over 60 years.  He loved her dearly, and still treated her tenderly, and needed her more than anyone. That was clear to us all. My Grandaddy would tell  "backwards" stories, and all the grandchildren would gather around his knees. My children had the oppurtunity to meet him, and hear his tales once. I am glad they did.
 
I am trying to find my way through this process of grieving for my Gandaddy, and for whatever reason, I thought writing about him would help. He always impressed me. Always.
 
I will remember him as I always have. To me, he was always an old man, always wearing his plaid shirts and loafers, with his glasses pouch and a pen in the front shirt pocket, napping in his arm chair. He always made me popcorn in wooden bowls. He was eager to patiently teach me music, or painting, science. He always told me how pretty I was. Always. Every time he saw me.
 
My own Daddy is so much like his Daddy in so many ways. In all the wonderful ways.
 
Life is filled with bitter and sweet. That is what these past few weeks have been filled with. A mixture of both. Beauty and horrendous ugliness. Happiness and sadness. That is life.
 
I planned on posting regularly this month with Cookie recipes, Christmas Candied Popcorn, and ultrasound photos. But, as with life, things change, and now, I am just going to take a few days to thank God for the amazing blessings I have in my life. 
 
I am blessed to have been Gerry Garvey's grandaughter.   
I am blessed to tuck in my Little Monkey at night.
I am blessed to have my Momma and Daddy, and their amazing friendship and love.
I am blessed to have been smart enough to marry the Hubs. That is the best decision I have ever made.
 
God Bless everyone as this year draws to a close. Please, this Christmas, take a moment away from the gifts, and gadgets, and flashy Ipads, and Rudolph. And count your blessings.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Home Tour

Welcome to my Christmas Home Tour! 
 
I will be linking up at the 2012 Holiday Home Tour over at The Inspired Room on December 15, but you get a sneak peek!
 
Our home is modest, and for the size of our family, mind boggeling to some.  Especially with another baby on the way, most people have asked us when we plan on looking for a  bigger house. The answer: not any time soon!  We are happy and content in our little 1,000 square foot "farm house," and plan to stay here well after this new baby is toddling around. (Except, of course, if it turns out to be twins....then...that may change things ;) )  We have taken a simplified, semi- minimilast approach to our home, and that has helped us immensely in  being able to fit into our tiny place. The less stuff we have, the more room we have to play, and create, and have fun. So we keep our stuff to a minimum, and thus, don't need a bigger house. (Don't get me wrong....big beautiful houses are gorgeous, and appeal to both the Hubs and me, but in our phase of life, we will make do with our little place until the time comes when we can upgrade to bigger :) )  We took a simplified approach to our decorating this year aswell.  I love how it turned out. Just enough to make us cheerful and feel Chirstmasy, but not so much that I spent a fortune, or have to worry about the Monkey breaking anything.
 
So grab something warm to drink, and enjoy our little Christmas home tour.

Come on in!  (Our wreath is made of real pine, spruce, and juniper)
 
Our buffett, as you enter,was a gift from some wonderful family :) 
Oh...and the stockings....yeah....remember my post about making the burlap stockings.....
Lesson: Always check your Christmas boxes FIRST, then add new items....because you probably bought some really cute ones on sale after Christmas last year....and now....you can't decide which to use. Ultimately, I chose the burgundy "sweater" onces....because I just really love them. Anybody want some burlap stockings? :)
Close up of the buffett display.

I just added some glittery ornaments to a basket I already had. The red berry garland was also an oldee from the Christmas box.  The star is a vintage tree topper that I just love sitting on it's own.  The candle is Winter Night from Bath and Body works, and smells heavenly.
Our Tree
We cut it down ourselves. Well..the Hubs did, I stood and watched :) I also have an ever growing collection of Christmas books I keep in the galvanized pale next to the tree.
These little guys are sprinkled through out the living room. They are silly little snowmen who add some humor.  The Monkey likes to make them bounce around and eat his food.
My kitchen table display is one of my favorites.  The little church and tree are nestled inside plain old sugar.  The apothacary jar is a staple of our kitchen and usually holds snacks. The tray of nuts is just fun.
The Monkey is very focused on his Christmas cookie while I try to take photos!
 
Merry Christmas from us to you.  I hope you enjoyed our little home tour, and our simplified version of Christmas.  God Bless everyone as we venture in this Holiday Season and a new year FULL of new adventures.
 


 
 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hormones 1, Me 0

{Not me crying...this is what I wish I looked like when I am crying...}
 
Pretty sure this is what I actually look like when crying
{Aside from being a 6'7" black man...I think this nails my crying face...not sure, but I am just guessing}
 
 
So....I had heard all this talk about pregnancy hormones, and how they can make you go on this roller coaster of emotions and mood swings.  True to my nature, I figured "yeah..if you can't control yourself, jeez, I will be fine, I will just be tougher and stronger than the hormones, and will be a totally wonderful happy pregnant woman.  Me and my will are tougher than hormones, you will see...."
 
(To all of the other dear women who read this blog, who have gone through this before me, and are laughing at me right now...go ahead. And I promise, if you are hating me right now for my self righteous attitude, don't worry...I will get my comeuppance...and soon....)
 
 
So that was my plan...just outwill those pesky astronomical levels of progesterone and estrogen pumping through my system at alarming rates.  I mean they have the power to transform a tiny person in my body, and to turn bananas into tuna flavored horror, but me, I can out wit them...I am that good.
 
Booooom.
 
 
Nope.
 
 
It all started yesterday afternoon.  The Hubs had been gone all week long working a very important homicide case. (Yep, that is what he does...so cool and sexy right?....um try living it in real life...we will tell you, while it is cool...it sucks ALOT of the time.)  Anywho, he had been gone every night this week, and I was missing him.  And with this new alien in my belly, I had so many things I couldn't wait to talk to him about.  I starting missing him so much I felt like crying..... I didnt, but I wanted to.....I should have seen the signs.
 
Next came the end of the day.  I left work, happy that The Hubs appeared to me heading home tonight.  Yay!  I stopped and got us both a drink.  Just as I was about to give the Hubs his drink, the lid flew off in spectacular fashion and 44 oz. of Diet Coke flooded the floorboards of my front seat.  I wanted to cry. WHAT THE ......!?!? Why do I want to cry!?!  I should be cussing, and damning the stupid cheap lid makers...no... all I wanted to do was cry.  That is when I had a sneaking suspicion...it was over...the hormones were winning.  Hell bent on teaching me and my self righteous ass a lesson about their powers.
 
We made it home, and sat down at the table while dinner cooked.  We started talking about all the things I had on my mind.  One was nursing, and how nervous I was, and all the research I had done, and then...I started crying. Yep. I starting crying about my fears of nursing, and my fears of being totally unattractive to my husband...7.5 MONTHS BEFORE IT IS HAPPENING! I even said "omg...why am I crying...what the...."  The Hubs just smiled and hugged me, and said "it is the alien, he has taken over your body and done this to you...sweet little alien"
 
Then the Hubs got a call again, yet another grissly crime scene awaited him.  And I started bawling again. See, I am used to this by now.  First of all, the Hubs is on call 7-10 days out of every month, I am VERY well versed in his call outs, and him having to leave.  But this time,  for some reason, I just couldn't handle it last night. Stupid Hormones.
 
Today I feel fine, and a little silly and embarassed at my weepiness last night, but I guess for once, I have a good excuse to act insane ;)
 
Welp, hormones, you win. Thanks for knocking me off of my high horse.  Guess I deserved it, thinking my will was stronger than nature, and every other woman in the world. Well played hormones, well played.
 
I am sure we will meet again.
 

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We hosted Thanksgiving...and oh yeah..We are having a Baby

WHAT!?!?! You exclaim! Yep...we hosted Thanksgiving...successfully.. I roasted a 20 lb turkey, and made home made pie crusts. I also created a fabulous spread of appetizers...

What?

Oh....you don't care about Thanksgiving....you wanna hear about the baby!?  You sure you don't want me to post about my turkey basting secrets and pie crust technique....ok...fine....

 
{Me with my pee stick...eww}

Yes...The Hubs and I are expecting a baby.  We told the family over Thanksgiving dinner.  And although the announcement did not quite go as we had thought it would,  it all turned out fine in the end. We kinda announced it in a joking manner, and it did not go over well. Meh well, live and learn.

Our baby is due in July. Yay...I get to be HUGE in Texas summer. Oh well, I am still insanely excited.

In light of our new endeavor in life, I thought I would share a list of things I have already learned about being pregnant that no one told me.  I plan to add to this list as things progress, but we will start with what I have learned in the past few weeks.

1. People are going to ask you inappropriate questions.  20 times a day. Boobs, hooha, conception.... it is all up for grabs. It makes me crinkle my nose and want to run away.
2.  Certain friends in your life are going to ask you 7,000 questions daily about everything from "when you plan to tell your HR department?", to "why is your doctor doing  an ultrasound so early? ...are you sure that is right?...when I WAS PREGNANT..." It is exhausting. 
3.  Everything you eat or drink will be scrutinized by your entire office.
4.  Your "hooha" will take on an identity of it's own.  People will feel free to talk about it, and it's impending doom- like it isn't even there...at the copy machine, over lunch, everwhere...hooha hooha, hooha....how horrible your poor hooha is going to feel after it is all over....
5.  Every woman will tell you the horrors of her pregnancy. Every. single. one.
6.  In the morning, everything I eat tastes like tuna. Bananas, malt o meal, muffins. Tuna.
7.  Tuna flavored malt o meal washes off the side of your car pretty easily if you get to it quickley.
8.  Decaf coffee is a joke. I hate you decaf. No wait, I love you....please don't leave me.
9.  What the hell is cord blood banking, and why do I not know about this, and oh I should research this, and oh, it is $13,000 dollars, um... never mind.
10.  Everyone you know, including your doctor and her nurse will jokingly tell you it  might end up twins. You will want to kill them, and then go cry. And then go buy two of everything.

The list will continue, as this little alien platypus (that is what it looks like at this point) continues to take over my body and then come ripping out of me like the scene from alien. Should be fun I think.

Oh...almost forgot #11. This is VERY important. Very.

11.  Don't watch any videos of natural births before 1987....they are horrendous. And they don't do things like that any more...I asked...keep the videos current, otherwise, you may end up sitting at your kitchen table; staring blankly at your husband, as he stares back at you, both of you frozen in horror.  Trying to make the 70's video go away from it's burned hole in your brain.

Yay baby!
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Burlap Christmas Stockings on DayQuil


The Monkey and I have been sick. And then the poor Hubs caught a mild round of it himself. It was one of those cold/sinus infection/ achey/runny nose/ horrendous sounding coughs/ cold chills/ "my GOD it is hot in here"/ "oh wait now I am freezing, crank up the heat"- kinda things. We were down for about a week.  We passed it around the house like a football on gameday.

But we are back now, and hosting Thanksgiving Tomorrow! Yay us! (Don't worry I disinfected everything ;) )

Come Monday,  the three of us were still at home together, cooped up, all sneezy and pajama clad.  I was starting to feel better by Monday and was getting a little stir crazy.  I decided to try my hand at one of the many projects I had planned for this Christmas.  These projects  had been mocking me all week while I layed on the couch, watching another hour of the "ABC Phonics Song" helplessly, unable to make the Monkey give up control of the laptop.

So, on Monday, since the Hubs was now down for the count and the new victim to the catchy "g-g-g- gor-illa" song, I snuck away and got after one of my easier projects.

I had decided I wanted to sew my own stockings this year, for a few reasons.  1. I wanted something a little more neutral, that kinda matches our whole living room, and isnt red or green.  2.  I also wanted to make something a litte more classy than the red- fur -lined- glitter- pen- name ones I made the kids 2 years ago. Just sayin. 3.  I had decided if I sewed them a bit smaller, that is less crap I have to try to fill it with, and less junk to buy, sort, give, and then see chucked at the bottom of the toy box by Christmas day night.  Hear me out- Stocking stuffers, are the popular highschool jocks of Christmas. Stay with me...  "popular jocks you say?" What the hell is she rambling about...get off the Day-quil lady  No no..listen.  The popular good looking jocks in highschool.  They were sooo cool, and soo awesome, and sooo...shallow, and really big idiots by "adult" standards.  And while they were the highlight of highschool...they kinda "pffft" out right after graduation and become weird semi-good looking real estate agents who never go to college, and just hang around the small town their whole life, talking about their 50 yard pass back in '97.  Alas...stocking stuffers are those guys. AWESOME on the day of! "Woohoo!!! Gum!! Woohoo!!! Tiny writing tablets shaped like Santa!!!" Next day...meh...

A-N-Y-W-A-Y  (jeez lady get to the damned point, I thought we were talking about stockings you weirdo)

The Hubs said it was incredibly Grinch like of me to sew smaller stockings so that I have to put less '97 all- state quarterbacks, I mean pocket hair brushes in them. But I said, "It is just good financial planning"  He kinda rolled his eyes at me I think...I am not sure though...he was kinda feverish at the time, and that damn dancing Gorilla holding his letter G proudly makes everyone a little cranky.

So, I drew a template for my stockings using an old stocking.  I used burlap fabric that I had left over from the Hubs and my wedding for the sock part, and used a neutral- polka dotted- shiney kinda fabric for the fold over liner.  It sewed up REALLY easy.  Burlap is a bit of a yucky fabric to work with though....I don't reccomend it.  It left tiny little burlap hairs all over EVERYTHING in my kitchen....I mean sewing room. ;)  I used wooden letter initials for each kiddo and attached them with twine and ribbon.  The twine is also the hanger.  I am still considering painting the initials a golden sparkly color, to give it a little bling. Thoughts?

In all it took me about 1 hour to make three slightly scaled down stockings.  I really like them. 

Oh, and just so that you can share in our mind altering state of the A.J. Jenkins Phonics Song, please click the link.

You are welcome.   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Zombie Jam Making Photos


I call them Zombies because the Hubs resurrected them from the dead.  He spent days trying to resurrect my dead SD card. He succeeded. Reason # 5,687 I married him, he never gives up.

Enjoy your photo tour of jam making...with some people who were first timers, made a huge mess, and had a good time doing it.

{Happily Chopping away...La Ti Da..Oh such fun...}

{Sweet Mother McCree....I chopped my thumb off...ok...a bit dramatic}


{Sissybug peeling Apples}
 
{Tada!}

We have since made another batch of Apple, and a batch of Spiced Pear.  Yummo.

I will leave you with this...

{Reason # 6, 230 I married The Hubs...because he worked for days to save photos like this from being lost forever. }

Thanks Honey. You are the best.




Thursday, November 8, 2012

What a Poopy Day

Well Crap. That is how my day started yesterday.
 
I am using a stock photo from Bing images because my SD card is still in ICU on the Hubs' desk. Not that I would share an actual photo of poop with you, but I could have come up with some clever picture if I had all my images at my disposal. As you mutter to yourself about how I whine so much about my stupid SD card...just read on, I promise, it gets better.  If you think poop makes things better.....
 
Wednesday morning we awoke to poop.  And not just because of how the presidential election turned out.  I have LOTS of feelings, and thoughts, and fears based on this recent turn of events in our country's history, however, I will not debate them here.  If you want to debate politics, head on over to The Hubs' blog. Here... I am supposed to talk about homemaking, and kids, and my sarcastic view on home life.  Nevertheless, I am not too shy to say that my vote was cast for Mitt Romney, and when I excitedly checked my phone first thing, and it scrolled "Obama wins", well ...well poop.
 
But enough about the figurative poop of yesterday and on to the literal poop of yesterday.  The monkey was sick. Really sick.  His little belly was just not doing well. He had been a bit down at school all week, and then the "explosion of 2012" happened yesterday morning. He pooped in his bed while he slept. An explosive poop. A poop that rivaled anything I have ever seen or smelled.  Many of you may know that the Hubs is in the business of dealing with death.  That is his work, he looks over dead bodies many times a week, examines them, and even moves them.  If you want to know the details of what he does, head over to his blog and ask him! I say this to give you a point of reference.  This man, who spends his life looking at decomposing human bodies, gagged when he smelled the Monkey's, um, explosion.
 
The Monkey stayed home from school.  He went to the doctor, the doctor said he is fine. He got two suckers, I got to swipe my debit card. How is that fair? I should get a sucker, or atleast a gift card to Starbucks or something. Shouldn't that be included in my Obama Care? Ok, Ok, I know, I won't go there.  
 
I washed the sheets and pajamas twice, and sprinkled baking soda all over the mattress, and left the windows open all day. I also used the power of the sun to air out pillows and sheets.  The sunshine always helps.
 
Horrific.  There is nothing like cleaning up a poop explosion before 6am, NOTHING.  If you want to feel like there is no hope for the world, and that the planet is nothing but a pit of despair, clean up poop out of carpet at 5:50am. You will know what hell truly must feel like. And probably what it smells like too.
 
(And son, I am sorry, when you are 16, and your girlfriend finds this and reads it, I promise, I will tell her it was all a fabrication, and you will have nothing to be embarassed about.)
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Making Homemade Jam

So...my SD card crashed yesterday. After I took about 70 pictures of me and my family making homemade strawberry and apple jam this weekend.  Urgh!  The Hubs is trying to recover my SD card pictures now....we will see how it goes. If he can pull it through,  I will update with some pics tomorrow. Some of them were really great. But alas...this means nothing to you, as you stare at my boring, un-illustrated words.  The show must go on I guess.
 
Spoiler alert! I may be discussing what some of you may get for Christmas in this post.   But please read on.... :)
 
We decided to try our hand at strawberry and apple jam this weekend.  Both turned out to be a tremendous success. I used the strawberry jam recipe that came on the fruit pectin box.  I used an apple jam recipe that I got from Kelly over at Imperfect Homemaking. Both were great.  The apple jam, however, was absolutely phenominal. It has some added spices that just made it so flavorful. 
 
I would like to mention that I do not own any canning equipment. NONE.  I don't have a hot water bath canner, or a funnel, or special tongs or anything.  I just used what I had at the house already, and it turned out fantastic. I used three large stock pots, and a pair of sturdy kitchen tongs to pull the jars out of the hot water. 
 
The Hubs sharpened all my knives for me before I got started chopping hundreds of strawberries and apples. Yeah... so I quickly determined the power of his sharpening skills and sliced right through my thumb.  As my Monkey would say "owie bo-bo!" Once I got the bleeding to stop, and got myself all bandaged up, I continued on.  The Hubs pureed the fruit in the food processor for me. Sissybug helped with peeling and chopping the apples.  It was a great family activity.  Any time you can get a 14 year old in the kitchen, excited about making jam, I think that is just fantastic.
 
It was defintely a group effort.  I could not have done it by myself.  It is such a process of quickness, and keeping the jars hot, that I needed The Hubs and Sissybug's help.  Sissy was my official photographer. She did an excellent job. (Not that you would know that, since none of the pictures are saved...ok, ok, I will get over it..moving on) 
 
We sterilized our jars in a large pot of boiling water, then transferred them to a 200 degree oven to stay warm until our jam was cooked and ready. We kept that same water simmering and boiling, ready for the processing once the jars were full.  We kept the lids and rings hot in simmering, but not boiling water.  Per the recipes-I ladeled molten hot fruit into jars, The Hubs used his callous ridden man paws to put the steaming lids on, and SissyBug took photos of everything like a paparazzi. Then, we placed our filled and lidded jars in our regular old pot of boiling water with good strong tongs. We made sure they were covered by about 2 inches. We waited 10 minutes...and out came gorgeous jars of homemade strawberry and apple jam. As our jars cooled on the counter, we could hear the "pop!" of them sealing as they cooled.
 
The Hubs laughed at me about this. True to my nature- I fussed over the jars like a nervous mother hen and checked them a million times. Convinced I had messed it up and they would never seal.  I actually jumped for joy and did a little 'Yip!" when my first jar popped sealed. It is the little things that excite me.
 
I am trying to be more intentional with my gift giving this year, and plan on giving gifts that we made ourselves to most of the people we love.  It is part of our new lease on life of spending less, doing more ourselves, and being self sufficient.  I think some jars of homemade apple jam beats an ill-fitting sweater from Target any day.  Plus our blood (literally..ok not really...I promise) and sweat went into making every jar.  Our family enjoyed a wonderful evening together, working on these gifts together.  I hope everyone who receives our homemade jam this Christmas enjoys it as much as we did. 
 
And when I say we enjoyed it....we ate an entire jar the next morning.  Sissybug ate 6 bisquits....with apple jam....seriously.
 
Hope you enjoyed my non-illustrated post.  I promise I will try my hardest to add pics tomorrow.
 
Happy Monday. Happy Fall.
 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

In light of this spooky occassion, I thought I would share a photo I captured this past weekend.
This is during the day time, about noon, and I still think this graveyard looks haunted and creepy.
 
The Hubs and The Monkey and I went on one of our country drives on Sunday.  The weather was gorgeous out, and the nip of fall was in the air.  The blue Texas skies made for some amazing back road driving.  The Hubs and I don't usually set out for a particular destination, we just drive until we see some beautiful  country sights, then head back.  This time, the growling in our bellies forced us back home for lunch!
 
Before our hunger pains forced a retreat, we happened upon this little forgotten graveyard near Dacus, TX.  This graveyard looked very eerie even at noon on a Sunday.  I can't imagine this place at midnight, yikes.  It came complete with a creeking rusty gate, rotting flowers, overgrown brush and uneven ground.
 
With the Monkey napping in his carseat, the Hubs and I got out to take a few photos and explore.  I went so far as to walk into the graveyard and try to read some of the grave stones.  Most of the stones were so old that I could not make out any of the letters.  There was one stone that appeared to read 1818...I believe. Wind,  rain and Texas sun had taken thier toll on these old markers of the past.
 
Once in the graveyard I came to realize it was protected by some pretty nasty and aggresive plants.  Sticker burr grass was thigh high through out the cemetery and I found many of the plants "weapons."  These seemed to be no ordinary sticker burrs.  They were a dark blackish-blue, and the thorns were thick and angry.  I found myself bleeding from several places on my hands and fingers after just a few attempts at pulling the stickers off my pants.  I quickly retreated from the grave yard, clearly unwelcome, and made my way to the safety of our truck. There, it took me several minutes, and two bloody hands to remove the stickers from my pants, shoes and socks. I have never had a sticker burr make me bleed.  These could not even be touched without razor sharp needles attacking you.
 
As of today, there are still two thorns from those plants imbedded in my fingers.
 
My Halloween Expert Advice: Explorers beware, some places are eerie for a reason, stay clear, and don't underestimate the power of an old over grown graveyard.  It can leave you bleeding in a matter of moments. That place clearly whispered "Visitors Not Welcome" I should have listened.
 
Although a small part of me REALLY wants to go back tonight, after dark, and see just how creepy that little forgotten place can be.

The Road to Nowhere...will bring you to this place that did not want to be found.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Big Balls the Pirate


I am inspired today to continue the writing vien started over at All Road's Lead to Kiki's.  Go check out her post on the things her grandchildren say, priceless.

The Little Monkey is saying something new.....inappropriate, um quite, funny to the Hubs and me, oh, hell yes.

For those of you who don't know, our Little Monkey's brain is wired a little differently than most of us.  He has autism. Now, don't go feeling all sorry for him, or us, we wouldn't change him for the world. He has taught everyone who loves him that being different is sometimes way, way cooler than being "normal."  Anywho...one thing the Monkey struggles with is talking.  He is learning fast, and his specialized education has him climbing mountains everyday.  Two years ago, the Monkey didn't say a single word.  Now, at age 5, he is making up for lost time. 

OK...so....Pirate Big Balls. Yep you heard me...

See, the Monkey likes to talk in a Pirate voice sometimes.  He covers one eye, and in his best raspy, gravelly impression says "Arrrgh I a Pirate." This is sometimes accompanied by him stabbing me with a hooked finger, and expecting me to "die" spectacularly from this vicious pirate attack.  As of the last two weeks he decided to "name" his pirate identity....the name...Big Balls.    "SAY WHA!!!!??"

Now....the Hubs and I do alot of interpreting for Monkey, his speech is very hard to understand sometimes, and sometimes it takes us days to figure out new words.  But his pirate name was clear as day..."Big Balls."

The first time he said it I nervously laughed...
"Um Monkey...what was that?"
 "AArgh I a Pirate..Big Balls" 
"Um....you mean Big Beard the Pirate sweet pea? Maybe Big Boss??"
"Aargh Big Balls".... 
"Um...Hubs...what is he saying....?"
 "Big Balls Honey.. he is saying he is Big Balls the Pirate...." (never looks up, keeps reading his Fox News Feed)

Nice.

We tried correcting it, we tried figuring out where on earth he would get such a thing....he has no access to anything but PG movies...who knows....

So instead of feeling like a failure as a parent, we just let him say it, and laugh uncontrollably every time. Embrace the Big Balls!  Wait...what?

I worked late last night.  The Hubs triumphantly texted me that he was giving the Monkey a haircut.....ALONE.  See, it would be easier to give a farel cat a haircut than the Monkey.  It is usually a team sport.  Apparently the clippers are made of boiling acid .
I sent the Hubs a message back... "Without me there...you are brave."

The Hubs' Response:

"I am Pirate Big Balls"

You see what I have to live with...





Friday, October 19, 2012

Only oranges were harmed....



{This is how we entertain ourselves in my house-
Note, only one orange was harmed in the making of this blog post}
 
So...we don't have cable, or dish, or any other form of television.  We do have Netflix online.  We do not watch alot of TV, and sometimes go for weeks without watching anything.  My mother calls us Amish.  (I apologize if any Amish people are offended by this, although, if you are reading this online...then you are not a very good Amish person..tsk tsk)
 
We find other ways to entertain ourselves.  We sit and talk.  We read, alot. We go for drives in the country. We play board games with the kids. We turn on music, and the Hubs and I dance around the living room. (The Hubs is a wonderful dancer, reason # 4,768 I married him.)  We go to the library and rent movies for the Little Monkey and check out books. We just find other ways to fill up the empty space of TV. One time, when a storm knocked the power out, we put different plastic toys in front of the flashlight to make colored light on the walls.  It was actually pretty freakin' cool.  I accredit this creativity to not having TV. I know this is not for everyone. But maybe just try it, even for one day.  See what other things you can find to do! TV is kind of like a drug you have to wean yourself off of, and then once you do, you really don't ever want to go back.
 
Now, you are probably all wondering about this poor, very ill looking orange.  Well, he eventually became part of the Little Monkey's lunch...but before that, he was our evening's entertainment.  Complete with a voice over from the Hubs, and a dramatic incident that left him looking like this.... :)
 
Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cheesy Bacony Ranchy Goodness


The weather is turning a bit cooler. Which in Texas means in the 80's. With that, I find myself wanting something hearty, and warm for dinner.  I have also found myself bored with my dinner creations lately.  I seem to get writer's block every time I try to come up with dinner ideas.  Meatloaf again anyone? Or how about chicken....
 
Yesterday I made a "concoction" (as the Hubs lovingly coined my kitchen experiments) that turned out pretty good! These cheese, bacon, ranch bisquits, turned out flavorful and fluffy.

You will need:
Bisquik
Milk
1 packet of Southwest Ranch Dry Powder Salad Dressing Mix
4 pieces of bacon (or Real bacon bits)
1 small brick of extra sharp cheddar cheese
 
Here is what I did....
 
Shred 2/3s of the small brick of extra sharp cheddar cheese (set aside)
 
Fry up 4 peices of bacon (you can cook it in the oven if you wish, or use Real Bacon Bits found in the salad dressing section at the grocery.) Once bacon is cooled, chop into small peices. (set aside)
 
Combine Biquick Baking Mix as directed to make "Drop Bisquits" (2 1/4 cups of Biquick  with 2/3 cup of milk.)  Once mixed, add in shredded cheese, bacon bits, and 1 tablespoon of the Southwest Ranch dry powder.

Stir until combined.
 
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
 
Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes)
 
Enjoy warm!
 
We enjoyed them alongside The Hubs' Homemade Chicken Fried Chicken and Cream Gravy....oh my.


 
 
 





Monday, October 15, 2012

Batteries Recharged

 
{A Very Sincere Pumpkin Patch}
 
I went into this weekend feeling like I needed to be recharged.  I was feeling drained and sluggish. This weekend delivered just what the doctor ordered. 
 
The Hubs and I went out, ALONE, on Friday night for a steak dinner. It was fantastic.  We rarely treat ourselves to an expensive meal out, and the fact that it was fairly unplanned helped it feel exciting.  I wore a dress, and drank red wine. I didn't last much longer than the drive home.  I was exhausted from the week, and passed out on the couch during the opening titles of The Avengers.  Have you ever been that tired? The minute we don't have kids to chase, or care for, or teenage drama to muck through, I sit still for more than five minutes, and instantly fall asleep. Poor Hubs, he watches so many movies by himself.
 
We attended a wedding on Saturday evening, and had a wonderful time. We danced (quite well, if I do say so myself) and laughed, and talked with lots of adults! The Hubs said it was nice to hang out with a bunch of grown ups.  It sure was.  I was feeling better and recharged already.  We went and picked up the Little Monkey from his "night in" with his Kiki and Pops, and finally watched the Avengers.  I could stay up this time!
 
Sunday morning brought a nice, rumbly, slow thunder storm.  Perfect for a Sunday morning with no plans. We slept in, (as late as you can sleep with a little Monkey) and then got up to coffee, eggs and waffles. The rain continued to pour, so we stayed in our pajamas, and watched movies.  It was just what we needed.
 
Like magic, just as we were feeling stir crazy, and a little guilty for being in our pajamas at noon;  The skies parted and the sun came out.  We decided it was the perfect time to take the Little Monkey to the pumpkin patch.  He has been doing his homework in preparation for this day.  He watches "It's a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" about 5 times a day, so he was ready.  We had a great time, we picked pumpkins, went on a hay ride, jumped in a bounce house, and slid down an inflatable slide. And by We, I mean the Little Monkey did these things, while I payed for them with little orange tickets.   We even toured the Charlie Brown Halloween village- that made his day.  I was impressed with the pumpkin prices also.  Our super large pumpkin was only 5.99!
 
A simple little weekend, that recharged my batteries, and made me ready for another week of this crazy life.
 
Happy Monday, and Happy Pumpkin Season.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Best day ever



It has kind of been one of those days. Not a particularly horrible day: (like the day I came home wreaking of burned popcorn with frostbite on my toes...that is a whole other story) But, just a day, where things have been off, and while I examined them, I found a few of them rather funny.

It all started at 06:21 this morning.  Note the time. 06:21.  We have to leave the house by 06:50....that includes the Hubs and I both showering, getting dressed,  eating, and getting the little Monkey dressed and ready to roll. We normally get up at 5am.  Damn you snooze button! You are like a bad relationship, I vow: "next time will be different, and I won't go back for more"...but I always do. Sigh...(Would a real grown up oversleep for work?) Anywho- We did it. We made it out of the house on time. I had no make up on and day old hair, but we made it to school and work on time. However, as of 10 minutes ago, I discovered a casualty of war from this morning's frantic assault on 30 minutes of spastic grooming: My underwear are inside out.   That is right, you heard me, at 2:41 in the afternon, I JUST NOW realized my underwear are on inside out. Sheesh. Is it sad that I didn't bother fixing them?

There is also a paper clip holding my pants together. Button just fell off, like it was tired of this old cruel world.  Ended it all. No super tight squeezing in for me. Heck no. This was a comfortable, not super flattering, "who really cares you aren't even wearing make-up" kind of a pants day.  But none the less, the button felt it was time to end his tenure. Paper clip it is.

Then my shoe broke. Yep. The strap just came off mid stride.  So...I went out on my lunch hour and purchased a pair of 9$ flats. I think they are cute (pictured above.) However, the fact that they are flats makes me laugh. Once upon a time, I wouldn't have worn flats to save my life.  Sky high heels were a must. I would walk 1/2 mile from parking garage to courthouse in 4 inch heels. But now... Um, flats it is. I mean really, who am I kidding today: dirty hair, no makeup, paperclip pants and lunatic underwear...why try to church it up with fancy shoes? No, no the old clearance ones will do just fine...thanks. They do make a farting kind of noise when I walk....bonus.

I also feel feverish and like I am coming down with the flu or something. Yay. Maybe it is almost time for my transformation back into a pumpkin or something, I mean, everything else is falling apart. Hmmm...

But, in case any of you were not completely jealous of my amazing husband, prepare to be seething in your computer chairs. My amazing man, knowing I wasn't feeling well, and was having a bit of a crapper of a day, offered to bring me anything I wanted. Which he did.  He brought me a Diet Sprite with Cranberry from Sonic. Swoon! Eat your hearts out girls.


Oh, and there are Carnies (you know, carnival folk) making out in the parking lot of my office. Just thought I would let you in on that gem too. Best day ever? I think so....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scratch and Dent

{My kitchen window view}

I recently had a conversation with my mother about scratches, and dents, and all the little imperfections that come with life.  As I get older, I am coming to realize that my mother was always right, and that many of the lessons I begrudgingly learned from her, are now perfectly clear. It is true that you never really appreciate your parents, until you become a parent yourself.
 
Scratches and dents, and marks and scuffs. They are the proof of life. They are the evidence that we live in our homes, and cars, and spaces. That we lead real lives, with kids, and dogs, and red Kool-aid. (Which has been banned from my house. "Don't even think of returning red Kool-aid, you are on a restraining order buddy")
 
I remember talking to my mother, many years ago, about her old dinette set. It had graced our eat in kitchen since I was a little girl. A little girl who was made to sit many a long evening at that table until I finished all my food. When that dinette was finally ready for retirement, my mother touched it's scratches and dents, and could tell you the story behind each one. The back of one chair was worn to the bare wood. This was from a little me, constantly leaning my chair against the back wall. Another chair held a series of scratches and scuffs all in place, at hip level. These scratches were special. My late Uncle Fred had made them, with his beeper. (If you are under the age of 25 you probably don't know what a beeper is, but hey, ask you parents, they will know). My uncle was a legend of a man, who had lived wonderfully, loved fiercely, and died young. He was a cornerstone in our family.. Although he had been gone for many years, his mark was still on the items in my mother's home. The proof of life.
 
I now find myself having my own scratches and dents, and my own stories. As I dusted my furniture last night, I took time to notice all the scratches on my own furniture. There are the scratches on my coffee table, made by my little Monkey, as he drives tiny cars, and pretends to hammer, and lays out a feast of plastic foods. There are the clearly written indentations of numbers on my dining room table. This is from an overzealous 14 year old, keeping score during our Uno and Yatzee tournament, that lasted well into the night.
 
Then there is my favorite. The spilled wax on my nearly brand new dresser. It is barely visible, but when I dust, I can feel it. It came from my wedding night. (Don't worry, this is not a racey story, get your mind out of the gutter :) ) The husband and I got married at a park near our home, and had our reception in the backyard. As our house was filled with sleeping children, and my couches filled with friends sleeping off too much celebrating, we spent our wedding night in our bedroom as always. The Scentsy wax burner going as always- me half asleep, my hubs half drunk- attempted to turn it off.  We ended up spilling it on the dresser. We laughed hysterically about it. As we soon discovered, it was extremely easy to just unplug it from the wall. Oops.  It was just one of those things, we made this huge mess, and instead of freaking out, we laughed and made fun of eachother for it.
 
Those messes, and scratches, and dents, and scuffs are the history of our life.  I may not know where all the scratches come from. (I am pretty sure my children have Circuses in our living room when they are left home alone...(is that blood or chocolate...on the ceiling...???) But, I know alot of the stories, and the fond memories that created them.
 
I guess what I am getting at is, love your homes, the way they are. We don't all need to live in show case houses straight off the pages of magazines. That is not what a real home looks like. Love your home, scratches and all. Use your stuff, don't save the good china for when George W. and Laura finally come over for dinner. (Pretty sure my husband would jump up and down girl style if that ever happened) But my guess is, they have scratches on thier tables too, and chips in thier favorite coffee cups. Those are the history books of our lives. Live your life every day, use your stuff, and cherish the proof of a good life all around you.
 
Happy October, and Happy Fall.

Monday, September 24, 2012

'Til the real grown ups arrive...


(Who's kid is that eating a donut for dinner!?! Where is his Parent!?...oh...um..that's me.. taking the picture :D )
 
 

When you live in a small house (1000 square feet), with three kids, and a husband- things are, um, cozy. ALOT.  We spend nearly every waking moment in the same room together. It is this close proximity, on which, I blame some of my behavior. :)

I often read other "Mom"  and  "Homemaking" blogs and feel like I am faking it. You know what I mean?  All these others mothers are real grown ups, real moms, and me, I am just pretending until someone finds me out!  I picture it- "Hey- you- you aren't a real adult...what are you doing pretending...!? " I run, movie style, like a fugitive- "oh no! the real grown ups have found me out!"

I read blogs about other mothers who seem to have it all figured out. They are real adults. They have six kids, under five years old, and post photos of them lovingly making homemade cheese together.  Mean while, I hide in my bedroom closet so I can talk on the phone to my mother.  (It is the only place the kids can't find me.)  I read other posts from mothers homeschooling their 8 children while turning out fabulous blogs daily.  I, on the other hand, sneak through my house like a Navy SEAL in the mornings. Trying desperatley not to wake up the children, so that I can have just 5 minutes alone with my coffee and my husband. (Inevitably they always hear me, I need more tactical Navy SEAL training). I sometimes call my mother just to thank her for not smothering me in my sleep when I was a teenager. (If you have a teenager at home, you will understand this. If you don't, then you won't.) I cannot possibly be a real adult, or be a real mother.

Then I had an epiphany. I recently found myself child and husband free for about 3 hours. For one reason or another, all of my little people, and the Hubs were otherwise engaged...on a Friday night no less. Oh Glory Be! A Friday night all to myself!!! Would you like to know how I spent that time?  Wine night with the girls?...no, but nice guess.  Fabulous spa treatment?...sadly not.
 Drum roll..........I went to the grocery store. ALONE. It was FABULOUS!  Woohoo! Mothers of the world rejoice!
Then I think to myself....When did this become a fabluous Friday night for me? Anyone?

That is when I realized it, I am a real adult. Only a real adult and real mom would be thrilled by a Friday night alone at the grocery store buying goldfish and spagetti o's. I guess it is official.

I still feel like I am pretending at this whole "grown up" thing most of the time. But then I wonder to myself...."I bet my parents were just pretending too!"

Here's to pretending to be grown ups until the real ones show up and expose us all.

Happy Monday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Baking Bread from Scratch!

So I recently started baking my own bread at home for my family.  I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated at first.  I wasn't sure what type of yeast to buy, and wasn't familiar with kneading, for the most part.  But, I am a brave girl in the kitchen, so I gave it a go. I browsed one of my favorite recipe sights: Tammy's Recipes.  I opted for a whole wheat, homemade bread recipe that wasn't too scary! 

My first attempt at making the bread was....ok.  The bread wasn't as fluffy or light as I had hoped for. It was dense and cakey..like a banana bread type thing.  My loving husband ate it joyfully, but I still wanted to master this homemade bread thing. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and well, I just couldn't leave it at that.

Not willing to give up, I researched the internet as to why my bread didn't come out as fluffy as I had hoped for. Turned out... it was the kneading.  Hmmm...you mean the part I kinda didn't really follow the first time...yeah...so I should have listened to Tammy when she said knead for 15 minutes.....oops. Lesson learned, actually do what the recipe tells you. Duh.

So attempt number two...

(I find that measuring out all of my ingredients ahead of time is super helpful, and I can pretend I am on a cooking show in my head ;) )

I kneaded the bread for the full 15 minutes this time.  I floured up my table, and worked up a full on sweat! Also note, if you have a 5 year old at home, that a floured table is the most amazing thing in the world, and MUST be touched and blown at.

 But, this time...out of the oven came a beautiful, fluffy, mile high loaf of bread...thanks Tammy.

My tips for baking bread for your family:

1. Don't be afraid, it really isn't that hard, just follow the recipe...um, like I didn't do...:)
2. Knead that dough for the full time listed! Work up a sweat! (I pretend it is my exercise for the day ;)
3. Buy active dry yeast- quick rise  (I didn't like the instant)
4. Have fun trying something new. If you don't succeed, well, maybe you have a sweet husband, like I do, who doesn't mind eating your kitchen blunders :)

Happy Friday and Happy Homemaking!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One of my favorite Resources

I follow Kelly over at The Year of Less for tips on decluttering our home, and living a more intentional, purposeful life.  Read and be inspired!

About Me



I am so glad you stopped by! Please allow me to introduce myself...My name is Miranda and I am the Country Chick in the Hen House. I am passionate about keeping a home for my family, living a simple and wholesome life, baking, sewing, and raising backyard chickens. Throw in a dash of sarcasm and humor, and some good strong coffee, and you have me! I am married to a real Texas cowboy, who is the love of my life, and the most amazing man I have ever met.  Check out his blog here! God has blessed our lives in so many amazing ways, and we are so thankful for all that we have! Come by and visit my Hen House posts for some tips on keeping house, cooking, baking, sewing, simplifying, and adventures in parenting!