Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

Susanne at Living to tell the Story hosts a meme every Friday where you look back on your week and talk about 5 of your favorite things. I *love* looking for the joy, so I thought I'd do it this week. Can't guarantee I'll do it every week as I tend to flit around so much, but we'll see. :)

1. Y'all might get tired with my tomato stories, but really I am just so tickled pink about the whole thing! I wish I'd known long ago how much pleasure I could get from growing my own produce. Who knew?

2. I can't say a lot about this project yet as it is a gift, but I have gotten so much pleasure knitting on it this week. The last few things I've knit have been more 'deadline' oriented and the joy wasn't there. As this is a gift I've gotten to spend a lot of time thinking of the recipient and praying for her.

3. A guilty pleasure - mini peanut butter cups from Sprouts! I adore chocolate and peanut butter together and am also a big fan of miniature things. When I saw these babies in the bulk food section my heart fluttered in delight. Helen asked if I was going to bring some on our retreat and I had to say no - if I brought these I'd eat like a piggy! So now I 'reward' myself when I go get groceries at Sprouts with a small bit of these wonderful morsels. ~ sigh ~

4. This Bible study is simply amazing. I am learning so much about the Holy Spirit within me - pages and pages of notes! Any time a study can get you excited and give you that 'I can't wait to do it' each morning is a very good thing.

5. OK, I didn't see her this week and the photo is from Easter, but this little girl is still one of my Fav's and always will be! :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Topsy Turvy Tomatoes

The Topsy Turvy Tomato is growing like crazy! I was getting a little concerned because it was getting so leggy, but without a lot of blooms or even leaves. But this last week it has laid all my fears to rest and started blooming with a vengeance.

I feel like such a proud mama here......this is my very first microscopic tomato on the Topsy Turvy! And...wait for it...we have 10 microscopic tomatoes on this plant! Who would've ever thought when I first hung this plant under the eaves of our house that it would actually work? As seen on tv - I give Topsy Turvy a hearty thumbs up.

This little beauty is actually the first tomato that appeared in my 'garden', which of course consists of the Topsy Turvy and three cat litter buckets. Looking very good!

Another cat litter tomato plant and this view shows five microscopic tomatoes. There are actually nine on this plant.

We've become somewhat of an Oliver and Lisa with these plants, though really that's not entirely true since it was sort of my baby. But surprisingly Keith has jumped in with both feet. Each day after work we go outside to 'check on the plants'.

For those that have had vegetable gardens or even just a few tomato plants - I wonder if the thrill is still there or if you just take it all in stride. It's really quite exciting to see the fruits of our labor - if you can call watering each night labor! :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding? This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jillian Dare: A Novel, go HERE

MY REVIEW: As a long time Jane Eyre fan I was delighted with this book. The story has been updated, yet remains true to the story. The author did a great job developing different, but still the same characters, which I'm sure wasn't an easy task.

And really, there's something deep within many a woman's soul that makes us pine for the English castles of long ago. There's so much mystery surrounding the buildings and the families that lived there and that makes for a fun read, especially an updated version of that. Because even though I'd love to visit someday, I'd still love to have my laptop with me, so it was fun to see it as part of the story.

I look forward to more books by this author as I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England 2006 guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

A fourth generation pastor’s wife (her father Dr. Earl Morey is a retired Presbyterian minister), Melanie resides in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with her children and husband Bill Jeschke, a soccer coach and the Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel, an non-denominational Christian church in Fairfax, Virginia.

Monday, May 25, 2009

S'mores In The Oven

So the first three day weekend of the summer is now over. We went to the lake, but since the lake level was 11 feet high we didn't even get in the water. However, we did go down to the boat ramp and watch some of the action. The picture above shows probably the most amazing boat I've ever seen as they were putting it back on the trailer. The boat was big enough that it required a semi to pull - who says there's a recession?? With the excess water the truck had to back this far into the water just to be able to find the boat ramp and be able to get the boat back on. The "little" boat to the left is a nice sized normal boat, but it looks a little small next to that big one.

And above shows what a little determination can accomplish. We had planned to roast hot dogs and then make S'mores for dessert, but the rain made it a little uncomfortable to be outside manning the fire. Plan B was to boil the hot dogs and pop in the Miss Congeniality 2 dvd - excellent family evening. Lynne' still wanted s'mores, so her Plan B was to line a 13x9 pan with foil, put the graham cracker, chocolate bar and marshmallow on top, then set the pan under the broiler (watch this CLOSELY - it took probably about 30 seconds is all!). She then put the top graham cracker on and pressed it down - Perfect! And while she was preparing these we discovered that Keith had never tasted a s'more - ever! So last night was his first and I don't think he was over impressed simply because he's not a big fan of sweets. But Lynne' and I had a big smile on our faces. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Card Carrier and Matching Greeting Cards

My Stampin Up rep recently had an additional stamp camp at her house and I was excited to go. You know how sometimes you'll see something and you just love it? That's what happened to me with this project.

Though this project doesn't have an official name, some ideas included picture carrier, card holder and coupon holder. I'm not sure yet what I'll use mine for, but I love it just the same.

The front and back were made with chipboard and covered with paper and there's a cute button and twine closer.

And these are the cards that go with the set. I absolutely adore these, partly because they are so clean and simple. The stamp set isn't available to buy yet, but when it is I'll probably be right there.

It was a great day and I can't wait to get the cards sent out to people.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memory Verse

"Satisfy us in the morning
with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy
and be glad all our days."
Psalm 90:14

The Girls Are Free!

So after work today we went to pick up my truck from the dealer repair place...again. It was in the shop last week and they couldn't get the part in time, so they told us to drop it off again. This time they called Keith and said the part they got in was not good, so come pick it up and bring it back some time next week. I'm no longer amused at this. And I suspect that they aren't all that interested in whether or not I'm amused.....

But while we were at the dealer a rather strange thing happened. Keith and I were standing in the service bay waiting for them to bring the truck around and 'the girls' suddenly felt as though they'd been set free. In case you didn't get that, I could tell that the strap across my back had come undone. Ahem. So I calmly told Keith I was going to find a bathroom, all while crossing my arms across my chest.

This is what you get when you wear your backup br@ out in public. I know there is a little problem with the hook and eye on this one, so I usually only wear it when I'm sitting at home. But off we went before I had time to remember what I was wearing.

I am so happy that this happened while nobody else was around. It's hard to feel stylin' when the girls are more droopy than perky.

Good times.....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

These are the cupcakes that I brought with me to retreat this time. I've seen the recipe all over the internet and in a magazine and kept thinking how fun this would be. In addition to the classic "swirl" on top I also did my best at putting some words - laugh, fun, LOL, haha - on top. And I left cupcakes at home for Keith that said "love" and "babe" on them.

The only real problem I had with these is that it's a little hard to tell how much cream filling is really going into the cupcake. The girls at retreat all said I should add more filling and when I told them that I ended up throwing some away I almost feared there would be a mutiny! :)

Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin cups with paper liners (I got 21 cupcakes from this recipe).

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup. Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl on medium high until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Filling and Swirl Ingredients

4 T unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 - 3 T milk

Beat butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy; gradually add powdered sugar. Add 2 T of milk and beat 5 minutes until mostly white and fluffy, adding additional milk if mixture is too thick. Spoon frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain round tip. Insert tip of pastry bag into the top of cupcakes, about 1/2 inch deep, and squeeze.

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 T light corn syrup
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Cover and let stand 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.

Dip the tops of the filled cupcakes into the chocolate glaze. Place on a cooling rack to set for 10 minutes.

Change the piping tip for the vanilla frosting to a smaller round tip to pipe decorative swirls or words on top of the glazed cupcakes.

I dare you to just eat one!

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Computer is Back Home!

Well Praise and Glory be - my computer is out of the shop as of about 2 hours ago! Now I'll be able to catch up on a bunch. :)

Over the weekend was one of 3 retreats I go on each year with girlfriends. It started out that we all met as scrapbooking friends, but now the retreat has really just turned into girlfriend time. I did some sewing and quilting all weekend (and will post pictures just as soon as I take them) and I think that all the others were working on something scrapbook related, including one digital scrapbooker. But more than that we laughed and shopped and ate and took naps and whatever else struck our fancy for an entire weekend. Definitely good times and I feel very blessed to have a husband that doesn't blink an eye over me leaving for weekends like this.

The retreat house we go to is very well priced, mostly because we take care of our own foods. I think we've been to this house 4 times now and our food plan has evolved over time. The first time we tried doing one meal and having different ladies plan it and have done a couple of variations on that theme. What we discovered worked best for us though is basically for everybody to bring what they want for all meals and then we eat out on Saturday night. My menu was mostly panini sandwiches (there's always a panini maker there for us to share) and pastries from a local german bakery we found. The kitchen table is home to all the snacks that everybody brings to share and it works out just perfect.

Tomorrow night is my 2nd Bible study! We didn't meet last week as the hostess had to cancel (her mom is receiving treatment for cancer and had a bad day, so of course she needed to be with mom), so this is week 2 of our study. Totally enjoying it.

And that's the first update I have with my computer back home where it belongs. When we dropped it off at the shop I did tell the worker guys that I love this machine and that I usually put a mint on the pillow for my computer each night, so hopefully they treated it nice as well. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great American Aran Afghan - Janet Martin Block

My computer is still in the shop, but I did cajole my beloved into letting me use his for just a minute (please honey, do you really need to work and earn money to feed and clothe us???).

I had a fabulous Mother's Day weekend and have photos to prove it (!), but that post will have to wait until I have more than just a couple of minutes. In the meantime, I wanted to show what my latest knitting accomplishment is.

This is the Janet Martin block from The Great American Afghan. My knitting guild is doing a group project to enter into the state fair this fall and how could I pass up that opportunity? I think that after it is finished being displayed at the fair we are going to sell raffle tickets for some lucky winner.

When the idea was first presented we were able to look through the pattern book and choose which block we wanted to do. I instantly fell in love with the fish block as it made me think of "fishers of men" and my choice was easy. And then I read about this block and found out that out of the 24 blocks in the book this one is one of the 5 hardest!!! :-O

I learned SO MUCH knitting this and in the end I'm glad I did it. It wasn't so much that it was hard as it was just a lot more involved than anything I've ever done. I quickly learned that I could NOT watch tv while knitting this and really I pretty much needed absolutely silence in order to concentrate.

Right now the block is blocking (I crack myself up!) and that was a comedy in itself. Every time I would put the pins in, then straighten the other side, the pins on the first side would pop out. Keith finally brought in a big piece of cardboard to put under the towel and he helped me to stretch it out.

I doubt that I do another one of these blocks any time soon, but I am very pleased that I did this one.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Girlfriends Bible Study

"Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain."

We had another large storm roll through North Texas this morning and while I didn't literally dance in the rain I did grab my camera and run outside after it stopped raining. After the 'feet in the air sock picture taking moment' I think my neighbors might not be the least surprised to see me out dancing in the rain though.

The air is so fresh and clean and cool now and the birds are absolutely thrilled based on the sound of their songs.
Living Beyond Yourself: Last night's Bible study was wonderful. Beth Moore's studies are detailed enough to really make you think, learn and grow. The flip side of that is that her videos show how silly she can be sometimes, then sneak up when you least expect it and bring it all around to make a point. We all laughed so hard at some of her stories and at other times we sat startled by the fact that can seemingly see right into our souls. Some tears were shed and new friendships have started to take root. Honestly can it get any better than that?

On the girly side of things, our hostess last night was just so kind and gracious. There was chocolate and talk of hair and children and grandchildren. A typical gathering of girlfriends. :)

Good times....

Monday, May 04, 2009

Living Beyond Yourself

I really can't believe it, but my computer is ill again. At first I felt that panic in the pit of my stomach, then I remembered that we're trying to spend less time in front of screens. Somehow though it's a lot better to want to do something rather than to have to do it!

And we took our truck to the dealer tonight to get a few things fixed. Minor things, like when we were out on Saturday it suddenly started flashing lights and ringing its little bell to alert us to the fact that the brake system needed checking immediately. Of all the things that I really want to work on a vehicle I'm driving, brakes rate right up there. We explain to the super nice man that we want this stuff fixed before the warranty runs out and, silly us, TOO LATE! I wonder if they program the computers on vehicles now so that they know when the warranty is over.....

On the bright side, tomorrow night is the first night of a new Bible study, Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself. I'm sure it will be fabulous, her studies always are. And I'm excited that for the next 11 weeks I get to spend time in the Word. Somehow the little things like the computer and truck needing fixing just seem to not be nearly as big of a problem.

One last note, I wrote up my new Bible verse to start memorizing and just realized I never posted it on the blog. So here it is:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Chatter

I have to confess that I didn't take this picture, though I did take it from my daughter-in-law! Little B is so cute and never fails to make me smile.

Empty Restaurant: This morning after church Keith and I went to breakfast at the same place we go most weekends. Big difference today was that not only did we not have to wait for a table, but there were quite a few empty tables. All I can figure is maybe people are really nervous in my neck of the woods. Most of the area schools will still be closed next week due to swine flu. Our church also had a family fun day planned at an area amusement park that had to be cancelled - partly from rain and partly from flu worries. I'll be glad when the flu is no longer a threat and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Migraine Headache Relief: This afternoon I started getting a horrible headache, complete with upset stomach. I tried taking something, then laying down for about an hour. Nothing seemed to help, so Keith asked if I wanted to try getting out of the house for a bit. Off we went to run an errand and off in the distance, with rainbows and unicorns appearing in the clouds above (!), was a brand spanking new Cinnabon! We ran in (not to be taken literally) and shared a cinnamon roll and Coke and that worked - no more headache! I have no idea why it worked, though I suspect it had something to do with caffeine and sugar rush, but I was so thankful it did help.