About Me

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Married twenty-five years to my wonderful husband and best friend. We have 3 "home-grown" kids and 1 hand-picked by God from Africa. Our life is blessed. We are a close knit family with strong Christian beliefs. Come along with us on our journey…you might have a great laugh or two.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A wonderful Christmas...

We had a great Christmas day celebrating with my mom and her friend Christmas morning.  We take our time opening presents and oooo and ahhh over everyone's gifts.  The house gets trashed.  Laughter abounds.  Pictures are taken.  It's a lot of fun without any kind of stress.  Even our Christmas dinner is very simple.

The day after Christmas we headed down to my husband's family for another round of celebrating.  There's food.  Games.  Laughter.  It's loud.  It's just so much fun.  Enjoy a few of our pictures taken along the way...

We hope that your holiday season was as joyful as ours.  May God bless you and your family this holiday season and the upcoming year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The land of giants….

When my husband and I first got married (22 years ago) we were young and money was tight.   Living on love.  But that, can only take you so far.  Especially at Christmas time.  We had little to no decorations at that time.  Even for the tree.  Our first angel on top of the tree was made of paper and to this day I cannot throw that thing away.  Pathetic old thing.

I remember we would go out "window shopping", because that's basically all we could afford to do, and I would see such elaborate winter Christmas villages.  Filled with twinkling lights and oh so cute, accessories.  I wanted one.  So with just a little bit of money in our pockets and a whole lot of creativity, I decided to paint my own village.

At a local craft store, I found unpainted houses on clearance and so, our snow village began.  Then every year after that I would continue to buy more and more on clearance.  It took a while, but our village began to take shape.  There was one problem though…..I had no people to go with it.  Zero. Zilch.  Nada.   It was like the Christmas ghost town I put out every year.   Kind of creepy.

Not willing to give up, I shopped garage sales for years and rifled through thousands of Christmas clearance bins.  Slowly but surely….the people came to our village.  But here's the thing.  Not a single one of them are proportionately correct to the houses. Any of the houses.  Kind of funny if you really think about it.

My husband calls it the land of giants.

And I wouldn't trade this homemade, out of proportion village for the world.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

One of the best Christmas songs ever….

With Christmas just days away, what better way to get in the holiday spirit than to talk about Christmas carols.  Love them.

The end.

Okay, I guess it's not that simple.  There are like a billion of them on the face of this earth.  But….I do have a favorite one I heard this year.  It's this one….

It's worth the 4 minutes to slow down this holiday season, and get mesmerized by the experience.  I love the part where all the angels show up at the end.  I believe this was just a fraction of the angels that were probably there that night.  They all came for the par-tay.  I know I would.


Friday, December 19, 2014

My brain's feeling just a little bit fuzzy….

This morning, before going to the swim meet, we squeezed in our appointment to pick out our windows for the new house.  Apparently, it's one of those things you have to do before they get very far on the house.  Basement gets poured, house gets framed, windows are put in.  Makes sense, right?

So we beep-bopped ourselves over there for our first meeting.  Pretty fun, huh?  Well, I guess it is and it isn't.  When questions are fired at you at the speed of light, your brain begins to feel a bit fuzzy.

 Do you want crank out or double hung?  Wood or vinyl?  3 grill or 6?  Plain windows or craftsman style?  What color is going to be on the outside?  What's the inside color?  On and on the questions went.  By the end, I felt like holding up the white flag of surrender and retreating.

Yes, it's true.  We've never built a house before.  We've relocated some for my husband's job but the houses we've always chosen have already been built.  Easy-peezy.  And yes, we are excited about this.  But, it is a bit overwhelming at the amount of things you must pick out.

And we just started.

So one step at a time, right?  Windows are now checked off our list.  One down…..a bazillion more things to go.

Finally found a picture that looked like the windows we chose.  No.  This is not our kitchen, but I do love this style of windows for our new farmhouse.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's not hard….it's just about planning

This weekend our girls are in a weekend long swim meet.  Translation….we need a lot of food to take with us.  Yes, we could actually buy fast food everyday and it would be easier, but really?  From a family that never eats out, and I mean never, that just sounds so gross.

So today I'm in the kitchen cooking up a storm.  I've got pita breads fresh out of the oven to stuff with our favorite lunch options.  Fruit snacks are chilling in the fridge and granola bars are packaged up and ready to go.  Tomorrow I'll whip up some homemade chips real quick to take with us.  Man, are those yummy and surprisingly enough they only take about 15 minutes for me to whip up.  Finally for breakfast, I'm thinking about surprising the kids with some homemade toaster strudels - they'll love that.  I can make those in advance and they can heat them at the hotel later.  Throw a bunch of fruit in the cooler and we are good to go.

You see, good food is not hard to make.  You just need to plan.  I don't pick crazy elaborate meals that my family eats on the road.  Nope.  Not going there.  Just simple ones.  Things that can be reheated (if that's an option) or healthy munchies to grab and go.  It keeps us clear of the fast food places for a long as we possibly can and at the same time, I feel better about what's going into their bellies.  

So for now, I'm off to whip up some toaster strudels.  And then get this crew ready to go swim up a storm.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oh man….that sounded like a challenge

"You can't make those."  It was said at the dinner table last night.

We were talking about vanilla wafers.  My husband requested banana pudding for desert, sooner rather than later.  He drops hints like that.  However, being out of vanilla wafers, which everybody knows is a key ingredient to banana pudding, that poses a bit of a problem.  What's a girl to do?  Go to the grocery….ugh!  Or make it.

I'll take the challenge.

I have learned that you can make anything really.  If it was boxed and put on a shelf in the grocery, then by golly, somebody created it first in a test kitchen.  They had to come up with the recipe before it went to the assembly line.  And if I make it, then I can pronounce everything in it.  Oh that's right, folks.  I am a food snob.  There I said it.

So, let's do this.  Let's whoop-up on this challenge and make us some vanilla wafers.  Who's with me?


Alright, fine.  I'll do it first.  I'll be the guinea pig.

I'm going to use Alton Brown's recipe.  However he used ounces instead of cups in his version.  That's just plain weird, if you ask me.  So I made the adjustments in mine to show cups.  Easier for me that way.  So let's do this…..

Homemade Vanilla Wafers

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup of sugar (he used vanilla sugar - no clue where to find that one right now so I just used regular sugar)
1 large egg
8 teaspoons vanilla extract (his recipe only called for 4 but since I have no vanilla sugar I'm going to double the vanilla)
1 Tablespoon whole milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides.  Add the egg.  Then add the vanilla extract and milk and blend for a moment but don't blend the fire out of it.  Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.

Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on a cookie sheet.  He says to use parchment paper.  I didn't have any so I just sprayed my cookie sheet.  It came out just fine.  Slightly flatten each ball and bake for 15 to 20 minutes rotating the pans halfway through the baking.  Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.

And the results are in….

The vanilla wafers tasted fantastic.  I got the smaller ones a little bit darker than what I wanted but they didn't taste bad or burnt.  Just a bit more crunchy like the ones at the store.

So here's my thoughts for next time.  I'm going to double or triple the batch, for sure.  With this large of a crew I'll be lucky if this small batch makes it through tonight, much less tomorrow.  Also, I think I'm going to try and flatten them a bit more….not too much, but just a tiny bit.  Finally, I think I'll use a teaspoon to actually scoop them all out next time. This time I just rolled them in my hand, not really paying too much attention to that detail, but I think it will help in cooking if they are all closer in size.

Overall, it's a winner winner chicken dinner.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Hey Momma….

….what number am I?"  my little boy yelled at the top of his lungs in the middle of his basketball game.  He was reaching his jersey around trying to see the number on his back.

"45."  I yelled.  Motioning for him to focus back on the game.

He took off running again and then stopped in the middle of the court, turned and yelled…

"That's your age, right Momma?"  and that's when the gym went quiet.

Well of course it did….

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My husband.

He is a wonderful father.  So devoted.  So loving.  And most of all so patient.  His most favorite thing to do is to be at the children's activities.  Loves it.  He takes such great care of his family, working hard providing for all our needs.  Never complains.  We absolutely adore him.

Today is his birthday.  He turns 44.  Personally, I am glad.  Because for 10 days all I hear is how much older I am than him and how much younger he is than me.  Blah, blah, blah.  (Usually we are just one year apart….except for those very long 10 days.)  That's fine.  I just tell him that we older women know what we want.  Nuff, said.

So to my wonderful husband…whose now just one year younger than me, happy birthday.  You make me laugh.  A lot.  I couldn't ask for a better one….but maybe you could work on hitting the laundry basket sometimes.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Presenting…..in this corner


And in this corner.  My orchard.  The battle has begun.  It doesn't bode well that we are not living on the property yet so I know those beasts think they have the upper hand.


What they don't know is….I am a fighter.  Rocky is my middle name.  Well, not exactly.  But...I can sing all the verses to the song "Eye of the Tiger".  What can I say?  Child of the 80's here.

Ahem.  Deer.  Back to the issue at hand.

After all the work on the orchard and getting most of the trees all nicely pruned and cut back, those wildebeests are working their magic on the trunks with their antlers.  Ugh!  I have got to figure this one out and fast.  They keep this up and we will lose a few more trees, for sure.  I have wrapped the base of some of the trees with a plastic lawn fencing, but I believe it's going to be a matter of time before they figure that one out.

I read somewhere that if you hang some bars of soap from the tree then they are slightly deterred.  I'm not sure though if that works.  That would be a massive soap bar order wouldn't it?

"Customer service, how can I help you?"

"Well, I'd like to order a 100 bars of your Irish Spring."

"A 100 bars?"

"Yes.  We are a really smelly family here, so if you could just rush that order please I sure would appreciate it."

Okay, maybe that would be a little fun.  Alright I admit it, a whole lot of fun.  I don't get out much….

Deer.  You will not win.  Growing up, I have watched Rocky with my father like a bazillion amount of times.  (He was a fan.)  I know who wins.  And soon you will learn that as well.

So move over bacon.  Here comes sizzlean.  (Sorry…80's again.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oh my goodness….this is so exciting

This past week we met with our builder for our new house.  We have finalized our plans and are now down to the last little bit of things and then it's a go.  Apparently there are quite a few things our builder has to do before he even breaks ground.  There is something called a perk test (for the septic system which we have to have out there in the boonies), heating and cooling has to get involved even before the house has even started, and a mountain of other things.

Who knew?

Goes to show you that we clearly have no idea about house building.  I just figured that as soon as you were ready you could just go out there and start digging.  Good thing I'm gonna stick to farming.  Since we have six acres we can essentially put the house anywhere we want.  So on Sunday afternoon, we are headed out there with some stakes and a string to "plan" out where the front of the house will be.

Oh my goodness….this is so exciting.  A stake and a string.

Right now, our weather is holding it's own.  But we'll see what the next few weeks bring while we are waiting for permits and tests to be done.  We need a few days in the 20's in order to pour the basement. Please oh please, just hold off before the bottom falls out on winter.

I asked real nicely…..

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 years ago today….

We were desperately trying to get to Africa and bring home our son.  5 years.  Has it really been that long?  Seriously?  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Every detail.  Every emotion.  Every bit of ache that we felt along the way.

It wasn't the easiest trip by any stretch of the imagination.  Everything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong.  The biggest snowstorm hit. our luggage never made it.  And on and on, it seemed to go.  If you want to read about the entire trip, click here.  But my husband and I were undeterred.

5 years ago they handed us this tiny little cutie pie.  All dressed in pink.  (That was terribly funny, because we thought they gave us the wrong child.  But in Africa, at the orphanage, a shirt is a shirt.  It doesn't matter who wears it)

5 years ago we had the hardest meeting of our lives.  We thanked our child's birth mother for the most precious gift.  She loved her son more than anything.  She just couldn't afford to take care of him. She wanted to give him a better life.

My favorite thing to tell people is that when we asked her what she would like for us to do for him….anything…….she said, "she wanted him to know the word of God."

The word of God, people.  Think about that for a moment….

In a highly muslim region, our child's birth mother was a Christian.  Only God himself could orchestrate this.  And one day.  One day.  I will walk through those pearly gates in heaven and hug his birth mother once again.  We will sit and laugh at all the stories I will tell about our son.  I feel so blessed.  He will get to meet and be with her again.

5 years ago today.  Africa called our name and we were forever changed.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Turning 45 today….here's what I've learned so far

For what it's worth.

-  Move.  Move. Move.  The older you get the easier it is to begin to live a sedentary life.  Don't.  Move.  Walk, run, do something.  Because the older you get, the harder it is to shed those pounds.  Tis' true….unfortunately.

-  It's never to late to start something new.  Take up a hobby - like farming.  So what, if people think you're crazy and are doomed to fail.  What do they know?  They are young and naive. You're old and wise.  Like Yoda.  Except without the wrinkles.  Okay, maybe some wrinkles.  Well, lots of wrinkles…ugh, now I'm depressed.  Next one….

-  Skinny jeans.  Don't go there.  Ever.  Just leave those bad boys on the shelves.  Trust me.  Weren't made for a 45 year old.  If you do, you'll look like your going through a mid-life crisis, all squished into those things.  Just back away.

-  It is completely normal and quite expected for you, the parent, to freak out regarding your teenager.  Totally normal.  It means that you are a loving and caring parent.  You are not the only one whose raised teenagers.

-  Pray.  Spend a lot of time on your knees.  This goes with the previous one.  Because you are going to need all the help you can get.

-  Embarrass your children.  Sing Christmas carols LOUD while you shop with them.  Do a mo-town dance while waiting to check out.  It's a perk, really.  Count it as paybacks for all those late night feedings and changing of diapers.

-  Never wear hoodies into a bathroom stall.  (see yesterday's post).  I don't want to talk about it.

-  In the eyes of your teenager, you know nothing.  They think you're more like spongebob than like Yoda.  I hear that turns around sometime later, but I'm still waiting for that one.

-  Start your marriage with someone you are crazy about and every so often, remember why you are crazy about him.  Laugh. A lot. And yes, sometimes relinquish control of the remote….I said sometimes. It makes for a great marriage.

-  Be happy.  With who you are, right now.  With your kids.  With life.  There are no do-overs.  You get only one shot at this.  Make the most of it.

-  Last one.  45 is not old.  Not even close.  I may be over half way done, but watch out….because I'm just getting started.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

More disinfectant, please….

Yesterday, I disinfected my hands about a million times….in a row.  Couldn't scrub them hard enough or long enough.

Yep, I did.

A million times.  At least.

Why, you ask?

Well….because I'm a bonehead.  Oh, and I don't wear hoodies into a bathroom stall anymore.  Ever.

Yesterday, I went to go and work out at the Y.  Went to the bathroom and dropped my keys in the toilet.

Oh, yes I did.

Thank goodness I hadn't gone in it yet, but still.  Ain't nothing grand about plunging your hand in that.  And I am positive that I heard laughter coming from the stall next to me.

But it wasn't my fault.

A nest, people.  I was building my nest.  I know you ladies know what I'm talking about.  When the keys slipped out of the pocket on my hoodie and into the depths of the abyss.

Ugh.  I'm might need some therapy for this one.

and some more disinfectant…..

It's a wonder my husband stays with me.  For I am a bonehead.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A time of being blessed….

This past Thanksgiving was just a wonderful time this year.  Our house was full of food and people….just the way I like it.  I did lose my voice one day…to which my husband said was an incredibly quiet holiday.  Humph, I don't know what that man is talking about.

Anyway for the big day, I rustled up a fresh turkey from a local farm.  He was a big one - 26 pounds.  I brined it and ooo-whee was it incredibly juicy and tasty.  Loved it!  And yes, we are still eating turkey leftovers.  I'll probably end up putting the rest in the freezer to bring out for turkey pot pies and such.  It will be a great thing throughout the winter.

For now, I'm thankful.  Thankful that I have leftovers to last a very long time.  Bones of the turkey to make wonderful turkey broth and family that I was surrounded with throughout the holiday weekend.  My husband and I are hopeful that next year it's our turkey on the table and that it's our vegetables that we eat throughout the winter.   Until then….

We hope that your Thanksgiving was filled with many blessings, family and food.