Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

About a week before Christmas Mom told me about the meatballs that somebody at work brought for a potluck.  She told me they were amazing, told me the ingredients, and Keith promptly said no, he wouldn’t try them.

Then we honestly forgot what with all the blizzard excitement, so when we got over to Mom’s house the day after Christmas (her birthday by the way), we all headed for the appetizers.  Every single one of us LOVED these!  I wish I had a picture, but didn’t even think about it at the time.

And I know the ingredients sound strange, just trust me and make them.  You can thank me later.


1 bag of pre-cooked meatballs from Sams.  (About 1/2 big bag fills a crockpot)
1 can cranberry sauce
1 can sauerkraut (don't drain the juice)
1 bottle of chili sauce
1 cup brown sugar

Put all ingredients in your crockpot and cook on high until the cranberry sauce and brown sugar melt and the meatballs get hot, then turn it to low.

You really need to stir this often.  As the cranberry sauce melts it will make your sauce.  Until it does you need to keep the meatballs stirred up so they do not stick on the bottom. 



I am happily linking this to Tasty Tuesday – go and look at all the new recipes that are linked!  :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oklahoma Christmas Blizzard of ‘09

009 copy Sometimes things don’t go exactly as we plan.  That’s my Christmas in a nutshell.  :)  Our plan was to have the kids over on Christmas Eve morning for our family gifts, have lunch together, drive to Oklahoma City, attend church services, then eat and do presents at the in-law’s.  But mom called me Wednesday morning to say that a big snowstorm was on the way to OKC, so we kicked it into overdrive, did our family gifts while shoveling pizza for dinner, then drove to OKC Wednesday night to get there before the storm.

And I am so glad we did!  OKC ended up getting 14.1 inches of snow on Christmas Eve – an all time new record!  They actually called it a ground blizzard because the wind was blowing so hard and making big snow drifts.  Just south of the city there was a 50+ car pile-up due to the white out conditions.  It was so bad outside we weren’t even able to make it to church.  We did talk to Pastor the next day and he said that the candlelight service had 10 people there – and that counted him, the vicar and his son!

So on the plus side – we got there safe, we spent some quality time with the in-law’s and we really don’t get to see them often enough, we were warm and we had one heck of a white Christmas!  The negatives – we had a rushed family celebration before leaving, didn’t spend much time at all with my family, wasn’t able to get to my cousin’s house at all and of course the biggest negative was not being able to get to church.

But somehow things all work together for good, don’t they?  When we were at my mom’s house we were all laughing with my brother and sister-in-law about the Great Blizzard of Aught Nine….and then discovered the kids didn’t know that a zero could be called aught!  Yeah, we felt a little old at that point.

015 copy So here’s Brooklyn all bundled up for her first time in the snow.  When we went out on Christmas Eve day she greatly preferred staying on the porch out of the wind.  On Friday when there was no wind she did have fun.

019 copy This is my granddog Xena.  She loved the snow!  She ran from one end of the yard to the other.  And on Friday when we ventured out to start shoveling the driveway and walkways two neighbor dogs, also labs, came running down to play.  The three of them were so funny together, growling, chewing, jumping on each other.  Here she’s showing off one of her tricks – balancing things on her muzzle.  Of course, a snowball wasn’t as easy, but she managed!

039 Late at night on Christmas Eve my father-in-law got out the snowblower to make a path out to the travel trailer that my brother- and sister-in-law were staying in.  They had planned to leave from OKC and head west on vacation, but it got delayed a few days from the snow.  Look at how deep that snow is!

047 copy And this was one of the highlights for us southern folk – using the snowblower on Friday!  My in-law’s are originally from northern Minnesota, so when the came south they brought some of the northern toys along with them.  It might sound silly, but we all had fun taking a turn using this.

This entire holiday was a perfect example of learning to Let Go and Let God.  There’s not a thing in the world we can do about the weather, so we might as well relax and enjoy it.  And oh the memories we’ll have.   :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

And it came to pass.....

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.    Luke 2:8-20 NIV

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Knit Christmas Tree Skirt

Nothing like finishing at the last minute!  Since I tend to spend quite a bit of time in my office/hobby room, I decided to spread some Christmas cheer by setting up a Christmas tree.  We ran across a great sale and I got a 4 foot white tree that is now spruced up with pink decorations and ribbons.  Obviously the not-so-pretty stand had to be covered up with a tree skirt and I was delighted to find a knit pattern.

Amazingly I finished this is about a week and a half, mostly because it's done in garter stitch and short rows.  I was also working on this project the week that Keith worked evenings and my daughter and spent some quality time watching tv and doing needlework together.

I'm very, very pleased with how this came out.  It completes my little girly tree.  And having a knitted Christmas tree skirt is fairly unique I would think.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

Well looky there, it's Friday already!  Time for some of my blessings of the last week, in no particular order:

1. The first one still surprises me the way it turned out.  Keith sent me a text Monday afternoon that the remainder of the week he would have to work 12-8:30.  I was less than gracious in my thoughts because all I could focus on was all the things we had to get done this week.  But in the end it probably made for a very relaxing week.  Each night I had a task to complete - and did.  I would work on something in the living room with Lynne' and the two of us would watch tv together while she worked on a crochet project.  It's not often we get time like that - she's 24 and has her own life - and so I thoroughly enjoyed it.

2. Panini's!  I use my George Foreman grill as a panini sandwich grill and have had some fantastic sandwiches lately.  Having used a real panini grill on a girlfriend retreat I will say that the George Foreman does not do as good a job.  However, I'm using an appliance I already had, which means I'm not spending more money or having to find a place to store another appliance.  A heated sandwich is so much more satisfying than a cold one this time of year.

3. I'm doing some other crafts again!  Two of them I can't share yet (and I apologize for even mentioning it), but they are Christmas gifts and are for people that read the blog.  I'm learning that there are so many wonderful things to do and I am enjoying doing them again.

4. Bible reading.  I thought I was going to wait until the new year to start, but then decided that really there's no reason to wait.  I'm using this reading plan to read through the Bible in a year.  I've used it before and really, really like it as you read part of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs each day.  Since I got so caught up in Bible studies this year I've let my daily reading lapse and I"ve found that I really miss it.

5. Friends.  Last Sunday Keith and Lynne' took the atv out to the river with his brother and wife and I had the day to myself.  I still wasn't driving at that point (though I did drive last night - first time since I broke my ribs - a personal victory!), so had many tasks at home that I planned to do.  Those plans were beautifully spoiled when a girlfriend called and asked if I wanted to go with her to Joann's, Michael's and Dollar Tree - a few of my favorite stores!  It was nice to get out of the house for a bit and I even still got home in time to get some things done.  Happiness!   :)

Visit Susanne at Living To Tell The Story to see more blessing posts or to link up one of your own.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Little Brooklyn Stories

Please indulge a grandmother a bit.  I realize that my granddaughter is the most precious thing to happen to my family in a long time, so I thought it might be fun to post a few of the cute things she says.  I am very fortunate to have a daughter-in-law that loves to share stories with me.  :)

Loni (daughter-in-law) was busy folding clothes.  When she finished the folding and got up to put them away Brooklyn looked up and said "Wow, good job Mommy, good job!"  I've decided she must get a lot of positive affirmation at home and daycare.
They have a yellow and white cat named Cheeto and a black lab named Xena.  Brooklyn is old enough now that it is her job to let Xena outside in the backyard to "do her business".  Problem is that Cheeto is an indoor cat who is very curious about the great outdoors.

Brooklyn let Xena out and Cheeto slipped outside too.  "Mommy, Mommy, Cheeto outside, Cheeto outside.  OH NO!!!"  I can't help but picture Brooklyn with her palms on her cheeks when she gets to the oh no portion of this.
Loni had Brooklyn try on her new Christmas dress last night, the one that is a beautiful blue with a diamond belt.  I can't wait to see this on her because she has such beautiful blue eyes.  Apparently Brooklyn thought that she looked very pretty in it and looked at Loni and said "Show Daddy?"  I think it's adorable that she wanted to show her Daddy how pretty she is.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

Everybody has a favorite banana bread recipe.  And in fact, mine even has the title of "Favorite Banana Bread" in my recipe program.

Years ago we were fortunate enough to have my brother-in-law and sister-in-law live very close to us.  One weekend when the rest of the family came in town to visit, Rhonda had this banana bread as a treat for us.  It's a bit different than others as it has cream cheese, and everybody knows that anything with cream cheese has to be good.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread is wonderful fresh from the oven, the whole house smelling divine.  But the interesting thing about this one is that my sister-in-law wrapped hers in foil and kept in the refrigerator.  Doing so makes this banana bread turn rather dense and the cream cheese flavor really comes out.

We like it both ways.  And when I made it the other night, the first time in a long time, I think my husband enjoyed it enough he'll stop throwing away the black bananas I hang on to!

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup nuts, chopped

Combine cream cheese, sugar and butter, mixing until well blended.  Blend in bananas and eggs.  Add combined remaining ingredients, mixing just until moistened.  Pour into greased and floured 9 x 5" loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday's Fave Five 121109

Today is the perfect example of why I enjoy the Friday's Fave Five so much. I don't feel good, my broken ribs still hurt, I'm cold and I have a headache. <-- See, I'm not perky ALL the time!  Reality is that some days we just don't shine like what we want.  What I"d really like to do is curl up and cry and how silly (and unproductive) is that?  Instead I'm going to focus on some of my blessings from the past week.  AMEN!

1) Santa - Tuesday night we heard the now familiar sound of sirens and loud voices.  Our community has Santa ride on top of a big, shiny red firetruck and drives slowly through the neighborhoods waving, saying Merry Christmas and with Christmas music playing.  It is so much fun to watch families pouring out of their homes and standing in their front yards waving to Santa.  Honestly I couldn't help but smile and wave at him.  It is a fun tradition.

2) A new Christmas tree - We don't have our Christmas decorations down from the attic yet - that's planned for this weekend.  But we bought a 4' white pre-lit tree for the office/hobby room and I'm so enjoying it.  I spend the bulk of my day in this room and it's fun to have the festive tree in here - it makes me smile every time I look at it. 

I'll admit that I first wanted the pink tree, but I was afraid that I might tire of pink someday.  The white tree will give me more decorating options.

3) Christmas services at church - This year the sermon focus is a little different than years past.  Instead of only telling the story of Jesus' birth they are also focusing on His triumphant return.  I'm enjoying it thoroughly and am learning so much.

4) Christmas music - James, Loni and Brooklyn have already given us a Christmas gift this year - Alan Jackson's Let It Be Christmas cd! It makes so much sense to give a Christmas cd early so that it can be enjoyed.  And we do enjoy it - listening to it reminds me of the concert we went to a few months back.  Love his voice.

5) Games - Particularly a new game on the iPhone.  One of my friends discovered a game called Words With Friends and I'm having so much fun with it.  Basically it's Scrabble and you play it with anybody else that has the app on their phone.  Right now I have 5 games going and it's so fun!  You just do your move when you can, it's not a sit down and play now sort of game.  I couldn't tell you how long some of these games last, but I can tell they will be long.  I have been reading more and more about playing games of this sort to keep your mind active, so I guess I'm doing my part!  :)

Visit Susanne at Living to Tell the Story if you'd like to read more entries.  Or join the fun and do a post of your own - and let me know you did so I can come visit!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Spritz Butter Cookies

Christmas cookies can evoke such powerful emotions.  I can honestly remember helping my mom make spritz cookies when I was younger and as a young wife was thrilled to make them myself.  Through the years these cookies have signaled the start of the Christmas baking season in our household.

I'll be sharing my mom's recipe as soon as I can find it (did I just admit that I can't find something???), but in the meantime here's a recipe I made from a recipe a friend gave me.  This one is absolutely the easiest recipe ever - 3 ingredients! - and you can even make these without a cookie press.  And yes, the amounts listed are correct.  Do not blame your cholesterol level on me if you make and eat these!  ;)

Jeanie's Butter Cookies

4 sticks butter (I warned you!)
2 3/4 cups flour
1 white cake mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Microwave 2 sticks of butter on high until melted. Slice remaining sticks of butter into 1/2" pieces and add to melted butter, tossing to coat.  Allow to stand 3-5 minutes til softened, then whisk butter until smooth.

Whisk flour into cake mix.  Pour the butter into the dry ingredients, mix until smooth.

Use in cookie press and drop onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Decorate with sprinkles and bake 10-13 minutes. Or roll out dough, cut with cookie cutters and bake 13-15 minutes. Or drop by tablespoonful and bake 15-17 minutes.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My 2009 Calendar is Almost Extinct

I was looking at my desk calendar and smiling at how cute it is when I realized I need to share this on my blog.

Last December I went searching for a printable desk calendar, found this one at Country Graphics by Trina Clark & Friends and immediately fell in love. Each month is adorned with darling graphics and border and I love that I can print it myself.

I found the stand at Joann's (using a 40% off coupon naturally!) and I couldn't be happier.

I didn't see a 2010 desk calendar listed on her site (look at printables), but I've sent her an email to see if she'll have one at a later time.  What I did find was some adorable Christmas gift tags to download and print, on sale now for a little over a dollar.

You can thank me after visiting the site - it's really cute.   :)

CFBA - Whirlwind

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Whirlwind by Robert Liparulo - Thomas Nelson (December 29, 2009)


Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, released to critical acclaim. Each of his subsequent thrillers—Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers.

He is known for investing deep research and chillingly accurate predictions of near-future scenarios into his stories. In fact, his thorough, journalistic approach to research has resulted in his becoming an expert on the various topics he explores in his fiction, and he has appeared on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio.

Liparulo’s visual style of writing has caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted last year with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January, and number four, Timescape, in July. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series, Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?”

With the next two Dreamhouse books “in the can,” he is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects supernatural elements into his brand of gun-blazing storytelling. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on his acclaimed short story, which appeared in James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado.

Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page: http://www.facebook.com/LiparuloFans


Which door do you go through to save the world?

David, Xander, and Toria King never know where the mysterious portals in their house will take them: past, present, or future. They have battled gladiators and the German army, dodged soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, and jumped from the sinking Titanic. They've also seen the stark future that awaits if they can't do something to change it--a destroyed city filled with mutant creatures.

And they've still got to find a way to bring Mom back and keep Taksidian from getting them out of the house. The dangers are hitting them like a whirlwind . . . but the answers are becoming apparent as well.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Whirlwind, go HERE

Unfortunately my copy of this book has not arrived yet from the publisher, so I cannot add a personal review at the time of posting.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Merry SITSmas 2009!

Today is the day that the girls over at SITS are celebrating some Christmas blog love.  This group posts a spotlight blog each day for us to visit and I've found some really great blogs this way.  And in case anybody didn't know, I'm really kind of hooked on reading blogs and honestly would rather do that even than watch tv.  I KNOW!   :)

My Christmas post will feature my precious granddaughter Brooklyn, 2 years ago.  She is the light of our lives and we enjoy her so much.  Can't wait to get a new Christmas picture of her this year!

May your Christmas season bring you many blessings this year.  Remember the little baby lo this many years ago that started it all off.  As we wait for His triumphant return!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Brooklyn and Grandpa Sleeping

I was looking through pictures tonight so that I can get some printed and put into albums.  I realized that I still have some Thanksgiving stories that didn't get told and posted and here it is December already!

This picture is one of my new favorites.  It was taken early evening Thanksgiving day.  We were all playing Farkle at the kitchen table and Brooklyn was sitting on my lap rolling the dice when it was my turn.  We took a break (to get pie...I'll admit it!) and B wanted to watch a movie.  Grandpa went in to get things set up for her and the next thing we saw was the two of them sound asleep on the couch.  So very sweet. 

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Knitting With Toothpicks

This was such a fun card to make!  My knitting group does a Secret Santa gift each year, filled with all kinds of fibery goodness.  I had so much fun putting my gift together, then got to the card.

I was struck with this idea and went with it.  The hard part about knitting with toothpicks instead of knitting needles is that they are so short.  The circumference wasn't difficult because the needles I use to knit socks are probably smaller than the toothpicks.  Then I got to the ball of yarn - it's so tiny that it didn't want to stay together.  I finally called Lynne' in and she tied a tiny piece of yarn around it.

Not sure I'll be knitting with toothpicks on a regular basis, but I am very pleased with how this card turned out.   :)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday's Fave Five 120409

Ah Friday, how I do love you.  In addition to being the end of the work week I now look forward to looking back at the week and finding my favorites.  Visit Susanne at Living to Tell the Story to see more favorites.

1. Starting off today with something I saw this morning - a backyard filled with birds.  I live right in the middle of the city, so I don't see a lot of birds normally.  But this morning when I took my coffee cup back in the kitchen I looked out the window and there they were.  Included in the crowd were 3 of the biggest, brightest bluejays that I've seen a long while.  Seeing God's creations like this always makes me smile in pleasure.  I'm thinking of setting up a bird feeder again so that maybe they'll continue to come to my yard.

2. Advent Services at church started this week. Maybe if we had Wednesday night services all year long I wouldn't be this excited, but for now I have to say that this is the best mid-week pick-me-up ever.  Sitting with my husband and daughter and worshiping is one of those "it doesn't get any better than this" type of feelings.  I'm so thankful that these services are available to us.

3. Family Teamwork - Last Wednesday the first to arrive at our house was my in-law's.  We sat at the kitchen table visiting and finalizing the meal plan for Thanksgiving and it was a great time of sharing. My sister-in-law called to tell me that they were stuck on the highway and not moving at all.  I looked it up on the gps and called my mom and grandma so that I could help re-route them and keep them from getting caught in the mess.  We found out later that a semi had overturned and no traffic at all was getting by, so it was great to have gotten the warning call in time to get mom and grandma out of the mess.

4. Family Teamwork Part II - I'll admit that I was a little concerned over how well I'd be able to get things done this Thanksgiving since I have broken ribs.  Why in the world I worried I'll never know - I was treated like a queen!  Everybody here pitched in and did so much.  Funny thing is that I have the world's tiniest kitchen and it was fun to see how many cooks you really can get in there when you try (sort of like the clowns in the car at the circus???).  I lost count of how many times we'd hear "excuse me" or "oh, sorry!" from people bumping into one another.  And this is also the first year my daughter, 24, really took part in the food preparations, so that was very special to me.  We even cooked the turkey using a spread of butter and poultry seasoning similar to what she'd seen on the Food Network.  Every woman knows that it makes you feel good to contribute to the meal and her smile showed she felt the same.

5. My first Christmas Card!  A photo card from a family member with a picture of the cutest 2 year old boy ever.  Is there anything that can compare to the fun feeling of going out to the mailbox to get your mail and finding Christmas cards?  Which reminds me that I need to get mine done and in the mail.

It also reminds me of a tradition I read about many years ago that I just love.  When you open a Christmas card take a few minutes to stop and pray for the person/family that sent it to you.  Many times a Christmas card will be the only time you hear from some people, so don't let the opportunity to pray for them pass you by.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Brooklyn Loves Rock Band

After we finished eating our Thanksgiving dinner the kids got out the Beatles Rock Band.  I absolutely loved it!  The best part is that Beatles music goes across all generations, so everybody from little Brooklyn to the great-grandparents were singing along.

Now clearly she is destined to be in the arts, whether it be drums, singing or dancing.  She does seem to love it all and especially being part of it with everybody. 

If you are so inclined to watch the video, please be gentle on our singing abilities.  ;)  Notice at the end how Brooklyn holds her drumsticks in the air.  You'd think she's been doing this forever!  And I'm not just saying that because I'm a proud grandma......

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana

Set in 1890, young Julia Cavanaugh works in an orphanage in New York City, very much loving her young charges.  Imagine her surprise when the matron announces that she is getting married and closing the orphanage!  Many of the young girls are put on an orphan train headed out to Montana, where they will be delivered to host families along the way.  Julie accompanies the girls and a piece of her heart breaks each time she has to say goodbye.

The last stop is Lonesome Prairie, Montana, where the final two girls, her favorites, are set to meet their new parents, who Julie is happy to find the quite acceptable.  But she also discovers that not only is her ticket a one-way ticket, but she has been sold as a mail-order bride to one of the miners!

Luckily the local circuit preacher steps in and defuses the situation.  And a little seed of interest is planted.

It's been quite some time since I've read any sort of historical romance and I will admit that not only did I love this story - I devoured it.  The authors - a team of two - not only did a seamless job in portraying the old west, but they also wrote a perfect heroine.  Julie was not some vapid young girl who knew everything or was over-spunky.  Instead she found herself asking for help and accepting it from many local people.

I loved the Julie and the preacher had some great conversations about God and the Bible.  She also learn a lot about true friendship along the way and I found that I did too, through her.

This book is definitely one of my favorites from the year.  And I love reading a story that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to a teenage daughter of a friend.

Fall in Love with Lonesome Prairie!
The authors, Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss, have put together one humdinger of a contest for this blog tour! Enter the Fall in Love With Lonesome Prairie Contest and WIN a perty Montana Gift Basket!  

To enter, simply fill out the entry form (http://www.triciagoyer.com/contest.html ), (then tell 5 or more friends about the contest)! The winner will be announced December 14th, just in time for an old-fashioned Montana Christmas. Giddy-up!

The Winner of our ‘Fall in Love with Lonesome Prairie’ giveaway will receive a fantastic Montana Gift Basket, including:
*Winter fleece throw
*Huckleberry chocolate bar
*Paula Dean candle
*Burt’s Bees gift set
*Wild Huckleberry taffy
*Montana stationary notebook
*Montana greeting card set
*Montana ball cap
*Montana apron
*Montana refrigerator magnet
*Charlie Russell 2010 Montana Calendar

** Thank you, LitFuse, for providing a copy of Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, MT,  for me to review.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

An Evening With Debbie Macomber

Such a delightful evening!  My book club had the pleasure of getting to meet with Debbie Macomber tonight before she did her public book signing.  I would guess there was 20-25 ladies there, which made for an intimate gathering.  

She talked to us and told us how she got started writing and there were several times that I literally did an LOL.  She has a great speaking style and it's easy to see why she is such a popular author. 

But my "wow" moment of the evening was first when she looked out at the audience and noticed some of us knitting.  Her remark was "God bless the knitters" and she grinned real big.  Then when I was getting my book signed she asked me what yarn I was using to knit the shawl I was working on.  That was kinda fun!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Brooklyn's New Purse

It's interesting to me to watch a little one just somehow know certain things.  For instance, we went shopping the day after Thanksgiving and mom found an adorable purse for Brooklyn.  Brightly colored beads on the handle, a jaunty hot pink bow and an embroidery bling'd crown that says Princess.

When mom handed the purse to Brooklyn she just automatically slung it up on her shoulder like she'd been doing it for ages!  Obviously a certain little two year old has seen other ladies do this, so she knew exactly what to do when the opportunity presented itself.

And as every lady knows, a purse (or bag as Brooklyn called it) needs to be filled with Very Important Stuff.  We started her on the right track by giving her a sample size bag of Craisins we'd gotten at the mall and a handkerchief from a box mom had just bought.  And when we stopped for lunch she had a toy from her kids meal to add to the bounty.

So where do the girlie traits come from at such a young age?

Monday, November 23, 2009

30-Day Giving Challenge Continues

Before November is but a memory I wanted to give a few more ideas for giving.  Keep in mind that there will always be needs, not just around the holidays.

- Overtip the wait staff.  Keith and were enjoying dinner out recently and noticed that they seemed to be short staffed for the crowd. Our poor waitress was running herself ragged trying to keep everybody happy. We came up with the idea to leave a larger than called for tip in the hopes that it might give her a smile.
- Pay for the person behind you in the restaurant drive-thru (an oldie but goodie).  This is something I've done for some time now, kind of my way to justify eating out perhaps. What I didn't realize is that apparently Keith had never been with me when I've done it.  It was perfect timing because the young man at the drive-thru window had apparently never heard of this and he was so appreciative. I like to think maybe it opened his eyes to future opportunities.
- firstgiving.com  I don't remember who sent me this link or I'd give them credit, but the main thing is the site - tons of giving opportunities. The link I was sent went to San Diego Food 4 Kids and if you have a minute click through to the site. This is such a fantastic idea and maybe somebody reading about it will be able to start a similar program in their community. It only takes a spark...
- Fire stations.  As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals across America this week remember the the police and firemen that keep us safe. Perhaps take something to them as a thank you.
- Sales clerks.  Black Friday approacheth!  Honestly, if you never had to work retail on this day you can't even imagine how exhausting it is. Maybe tuck a $5 gift card to a fast food restaurant in your pocket and give to a harried clerk - you know you'll see one or five - as a thank you for working on this day.
- Food baskets. I am certain that food banks would love to have gifts this time of year.  Our church is putting together baskets and made it very easy for us to donate to this project.

Again, these are just a few ideas to think about.  With the slow economy even donations to the "usual groups" are way down, so if you are at all able to give this year I know it will bless you.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

Time now for Friday's Fave Five, brought to you by Susanne at Living To Tell The Story. 

1. Retreat with friends.  Last weekend I headed out for 3 days/nights of scrapbooking with friends. I love going on retreats for a multitude of reasons - a beautiful time to renew, rebuild and refresh friendships.  We sat at our tables and worked on projects and one of the best parts was when we would hear "Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner is ready!".  It's great to be somewhere and not have to worry at all about fixing something to eat.  I was teased towards the end about being a social butterfly because I love to flit from table to table and talk to everybody.   

2. New glasses.  I had gotten a new prescription and ordered my glasses, so was very pleased that they were ready when I got back in town from retreat.  Keith and I went on Monday to pick them up and lo and behold - there is a bit of bling on each side that is....a butterfly!  I had completely forgotten about that part and it made me smile to see it after hearing that at retreat.  I can see so clearly now and always enjoy right after getting new glasses.

3. Vacation.  Keith and I are using up some vacation time (we're at the 'use it or lose stage') so have this week off work. In addition to the trail riding, we also put down a new floor in the kitchen and dining room.  I guess really I shouldn't say we as it was entirely "he" that did it.  He's putting the last touch on it right now and I love it.  We even celebrated earlier this morning by going and buying a new broom.  ;)

4. Thanksgiving.  We're hosting the family meal this year and I'm tickled pink. I pulled up the menu that we used last year as a base for this year.  There are some additions and deletions, but it sure makes it easier to have that list in front of me to work off of.

5. BSF.  I'm finally really hitting my groove on this Bible study and look forward to it all the time.  Monday night I will admit that I wasn't really feeling like going (still tired from retreat!), but went anyway and ended up getting my socks blessed off! I've never been in a study quite like this one where I've really had to work at some of the answers.  I will admit that sometimes I get frustrated at having to work some of the answers out in my head, but I will also admit that I've learned more in these first few months than I ever would've imagined.  God is very good to have led me here. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Woman Who Loves Life and Laughter

Honestly I wasn't even going to post about this event. But the thing is, when I started this blog it was kind of meant to document some of the exciting and meaningful events in my life. So even though there might be some kind folks out there that will roll their eyes when they read this, I'm going to have to take that chance.

This is the underside of the new 4-wheel drive fun machine we got this week.  Keith and I are on vacation and having a lot of fun just enjoying being together and that included picking up our new toy.  

And in fact, we picked it up yesterday and headed to the atv park to play with it.  What we were not totally aware of was just how easy this thing rolls over.  Now thankfully we had our seatbelts and such on, so when it went over, my side is on the sand, Keith was held aloft by his seatbelt, thus giving me the chance to get out. 

I had a little pain in my side, so we headed back to our truck so I could just sit still for a bit while Keith and his brother went out riding some more.  We got home and I still was kind of uncomfortable, so we did a little internet searching to see what we figured might have happened.

This morning I still hurt, so we headed to the doctor's office, where we discovered that I had broken some ribs.  Funny thing is that they do absolutely nothing for broken ribs any more, so I got a pain med prescription and was sent on my merry way.

It has been suggested to me that perhaps it's time for Keith and I to stop doing things like this and realize that we are getting older. But honestly, that's not us.  We truly love to live life to its fullest each and every minute of the day.  So much more fun than sitting around at home waiting and letting life pass us by.

The moral of the story is this - every person must make their own choices as to what they want to do.  We feel so blessed by our lives and being able to play together, especially celebrating me being in remission.  There are no guarantees in life and I do not want to sit around and just "be safe" without living life.  What a terrible thing to have as part of my final "sermon" - She was a very safe woman.  No thank you.  I much prefer She was a woman who loved to live life and laugh all the way.

I hope that all that read this are encouraged to have fun in life.  We never know how long that life might be, so we might as well enjoy every minute we have.  And when the good Lord comes to take us home we will leave this earth with a big smile on our face and arms open wide to receive Him.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Painted Ball Jar Flower Vase

In my past life I did a LOT of canning.  I made all our jams, hot sauce (my husband still pines over that hot sauce and I haven't made it in years), applesauce and others.  But sadly, I haven't done much of that lately.  And sadder still, I have boxes of Ball jars that I'm storing.

I saw this idea online somewhere and was excited enough that I immediately went to Michael's (40% coupon in hand) to get the paint.  I'm happy enough with the outcome that I think I'm going to make some red ones to use at Christmas and Valentine's Day.

Look for paint called Vitrea 160 in the stained glass section of your craft supply store.  In addition to whatever color you want, pick up a bottle of their thinner.  I also had to buy a paint brush as I don't have any around any more.  I think I paid about two dollars for the one I used.

Pour a small blob of paint on wax paper or something plastic (I used the top of a disposable lunch meat container) and then add about a paintbrush full of thinner.  Swirl around to mix it up.

Use a clean, dry jar and paint it in nice even strokes.  At this point I will add that the directions I had said that it doesn't matter if you see the paint strokes on your jar as they will disappear.  I'm here to tell you that is not true, but in the end I decided it was ok.  So whatever you see at this point is about what it will look like when it's done.

Let your jar set for about 24 hours, then bake for 30-40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  I did not believe these directions, so did research on the Ball site and yes you really can bake these jars.  Another bit of forewarning - I put this jar in the oven, set the timer and honestly forgot I was baking it.  About 15 minutes later I was in a semi-panic because I thought I smelled an electrical fire.  ;)

Let this cool completely before trying to add flowers and, more importantly, water to the jar!

In the end you'll have a beautiful rustic looking vase!  And looking at this picture you will see that I clearly do not have a future in floral arranging....

I"m adding this post to the Metamorphosis Monday post on Susan's blog - my first!  There are some seriously great craft/decorating ideas posted every Monday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa

We are trying so hard to eat at home now instead of going out.  For the most part it's not a problem because all of us prefer eating at home - it's cheaper, faster and so much better for you.  Best of all is time spent together at the table towards the end of the meal and afterwards.  We have some of our best share times during those moments.

The one thing that I do miss is chinese food - I love it!  The problem I run into though is that Keith has never been a big fan of it.  So I was quite pleased to run across a Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa recipe during my internet travels.

I will confess that I used frozen egg rolls as I have not at all mastered making those myself.  That did just remind me though that when my kids were quite young I worked with a lady that did make her own and one Saturday a bunch of us met at her house to make egg rolls together.  Very delicious, but at least in my memory it was a lot of work!

The best thing about Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa is that it's made in the crockpot, which make meal prep a breeze.  We all agreed it's a bit too sweet for our taste, so the next time I make it I'll use less brown sugar, add sliced green peppers and probably at least a splash of soy sauce.  I think with a little fiddling around this will soon be one of our absolute favorite recipes - and straight from the recipe as is we did enjoy it.

Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa

2 lbs kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 cup packed brown sugar (I'll probably use only 1/2 cup next time)
1/3 cup spicy mustard
1/3 cup finely chopped onion

Combine brown sugar, mustard and onion in crockpot, stirring well to combine. Add the sliced kielbasa and stir well.  Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally (I did not stir mine until the end).

Serve over rice.

Check out more Crockpot recipes (and who couldn't use those?) at Crockpot Wednesday and other recipes at What's Cooking Wednesday.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

What a beautiful week - and already time to reflect on some of the beauty of that week.  To be uplifted by positive posts, see more at Living to Tell The Story.

1. My birthday was Tuesday! And while I won't show a total gift list, there are two things I do want to share.

First is this bracelet that my daughter got for me.  Besides the fact that the colors and style are fun and me, she found it online at a great site, Hope For Women .  To quote from their site - Hope for Women offers handcrafted Fair Trade, eco-friendly products made by economically disadvantaged women worldwide.

Lynne' knows her mother well - these are things that are becoming more and more important to me.  I'll be wearing this great bracelet when Keith and I go out tonight and I imagine that every time I look at it I will think of my daughter's giving spirit.

2. Now how fun is this gift from my son and daughter-in-law?  Back in May a bunch of our family met at my brother-in-law's house for the weekend.  One of the highlights was spending a day at First Monday Trade Days for some great antique, craft and junk shopping.  Honestly I don't know if there is anything quite like it anywhere and I suppose if there is it would probably involve quite a drive for us.
ANYWAY... one of the things I was keeping my eye out for was a turquoise rotary dial phone.  We only saw one the entire day and it was pricey and filthy, so of course I passed.

Apparently though there were some little eyes watching me and remembering, because she managed to somehow find one!  My long range plan for an extra bedroom is to do it in a somewhat cottage like theme.  I haven't decided whether I want all white furniture or to go more traditional with antique brown furniture.  Regardless, I love this phone.

It doesn't ring and Keith says it's probably because we have a fiber optic phone system in the house and it won't drive the little bell.  Disappointing, but the bright side is that ring won't wake me up as it sits on my nightstand!  The grand thing is that it does work, including the dialing.  I had heard that some phone systems no longer support pulse dial, so it was a fun surprise to be able to call my kids to thank them.  And there really are few things in life as satisfying as listening to the sound of a rotary dial phone.  :)

3. Dinner out with the family.  Our birthday tradition is to eat out and of course whoever is celebrating the birthday gets to choose.  We went to Fuddruckers for my dinner as I do love hamburgers.  Even better, they now have "exotic" burgers and I was able to indulge in a buffalo burger.  Bliss!  They taste fantastic and are so much better for you.

4. Brooklyn!  Keith and I went to her daycare to get her for the dinner out.  When we went inside her class was coming in from the playground, all in a line.  She was chatting and laughing, then looked up and saw me, put her arms out and ran to me!  That moment of joy is beyond description.  The ladies there laughed and said there is no denying that she knew me. 

I don't have any pictures from that night, but I do have some video.  Unfortunately I don't have a clue how to get it out of my phone yet, but it will surely be featured here as soon as I figure it out!

5. Finalizing our Thanksgiving plans.  We are *this close* to having some actual firm plans for this year.  Truly we are blessed to be able to have options to choose from.  I do so adore my family.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

30-Day Giving Challenge

One of the blogs I follow is Keeping The Kingdom First and for the month of November she is having a 30-Day Giving Challenge.   The premise is simple - give something away every day in November and write it down in a journal.  The other side of this is to write down all that you receive each month.

The most important part of this challenge is to ask God to lead you each day.  The glory is for Him, not for us.

I will not be writing in my blog what or how I give as I feel strongly that if I give something simply to blog about it I am not doing it for the right reasons.  I'm not saying this is true for others, but I know it's how I need to do this.  I'll probably blog reminders though as I do love this idea.

It's also important to remember that all giving is not monetary.  When we give from our hearts it might also be an act, rather than a check.

For example:

- the next time you bake some cookies package some up and share with a neighbor
- send a card to one of the kids on the Make a Child Smile list 
- give of your time - maybe watch a neighbor's children while she gets the house ready for the holidays
- when buying food for your holiday meal consider buying extra and donating to your local food pantry
- knit a hat and donate to a homeless shelter

As I think of other ideas this month I'll share them.  And if those of you reading my blog have any ideas, please do share.  There are so many ways we can give beyond what we ordinarily think of.

I'm going to close with the same Bible verse that Alyssa used on her blog as it is so perfect for this challenge:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Halloween Experiment

But first, here is Joe wishing you a Happy Halloween!  He's a little embarrassed as he's having to wear last year's costume, but he still enjoyed seeing all the kids come to the door.

And in fact, handing candy out to the kids and talking to them has always been one of my favorite things to do.  Talking to mom on the phone tonight we were thinking back to years ago and sharing favorite memories.  I remember huge groups of kids and parents walking the neighborhood when my kids were young and it was so much fun.  Mom told me a story of a lady that she said probably started getting ready for Halloween two weeks ahead of time.  They'd go to this lady's house to trick-or-treat and go inside to her dining room table and choose from homemade cookies, popcorn balls, etc.  Sadly, that sort of thing is but a memory now.

Now, we have a very warped and nerdy sense of adventure.  Earlier today we decided it would be fun to see what would actually happen if we set a bowl of candy on the porch with a note that read "Honor System, Take 2 Please".  If you look just to the right of Joe in the photo above you'll see the video camera we set up for the experiment (and we did fix the curtains so that the camera wasn't noticeable). 

Up until about 8:00 I handed out candy and enjoyed every moment of it.  Then we were ready for the experiment.  I set the bowl on the porch, we turned off the inside lights, shut the door, activated the camera and waited.  In the next hour only two groups of kids came to the porch, possibly because they saw the front door closed.

The first two kids came up to the porch and the older of the two read the sign out loud.  Then she counted her candy "one, two" and helped the younger one with her with their candy "one, two" and off they went.  The next two more kids came up and read the sign, then they were quiet for a minute.  The next thing you hear from them is "We can be good, can't we?" and they each took two pieces of candy.  As they left the porch they called out "Thank you bowl!"

When we watched the video after bringing it all inside we burst out laughing at the "we can be good, can't we?" statement.  I guess there was an instant of being torn, but good won out.

And it did our hearts good to see how the kids reacted.  The best part was that there was still candy in the bowl when we brought it in.  If children are our future, we're in good hands based on the kids that visited our porch tonight.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Papercrafting

It just hit me that if I want these to be posted before Halloween that I better get a move on!  Both of the projects I'm posting today were done at our last Stamp Club.  I just love how talented our demo is - she never disappoints.

Every time I look at this project I get a gigle out of the stamps.  Mr. Skeleton has such a put upon look on his face.  And it really is a darling little project - we used a die cut for the package portion, then tied the top with beautiful wide ribbon.

Next we made a little bit different candy bar wrapper.  This one has a ribbon wrapped around the candy portion and you can pull it out that way.  Very clever!  And when I read the sentiment stamp that says "Friend Good", well it makes me laugh as well.

These projects are the extent of my Halloween since we really don't do much for it.  I'm tickled pink with how cute the ideas are and am actually amazed that this candy bar has been on my desk for as long as it has without me eating it.  ;)