Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Days

I noticed this morning how light my heart is. Have you ever felt that? Things are going along so well and people I know are happy. I'm not saying that everything is rainbows and unicorns or that we haven't had a few speedbumps in our lives lately, but we are blessed. Largely I think it's from noticing things more around us - simple things really, but they mean so much.

This past weekend Keith, Joe (the golden retriever) and I went to the lake. Mostly we went to do some work and get things ready for the 4th of July weekend, but I guarantee we snuck in some fun time. The lake was perfect, we saw so many brilliant red cardinals flying around and had much laughing with neighbors. The next door neighbors had much of their family up (praise God she is feeling so much better and it looks like she's going to beat this cancer!) and they spent much time on their porch, which invites conversation from everybody. I got to hold and love on their new little dog named Bella, who was sweet as pie.

So we are busy, busy - it takes a lot of work making sure that everybody has a nice time on the holiday! But it is so worth it I cannot even begin to describe. And I'm looking forward to it immensely.

One of the errands we had last night was to take these two attractive jars that were filled with change up to the grocery store. They have one of the nifty machines that you just put the change in, it counts it and spits out a receipt that you then take to a register and get your money. Normally we do this much more often, but this time I got lazy and just got out another container. Keith told me to guess the total dollar amount for the two. Mind you, I've never won the 'guess how many jelly beans are in the jar' kind of contests, so I guessed $16. He laughed and laughed and told me to guess higher. $32? "No Elizabeth, exaggerate" $68? Again he laughed. Do you know there was $132 between the two jars? You could have knocked me over with a feather! I've always heard to put change in a jar and it adds up fast, but really I had no idea.

We did stop for dinner last night while running errands. We ate at Denny's, which proves we are definitely NOT party animals! But they do make a good sandwich and we discovered last night that you can get 'dippable veggies' in place of fries. Doesn't this plate look beautiful? And why don't more restaurants do this? I've said for some time that I wish McD would offer baby carrots and ranch dressing instead of fries. We enjoyed these veggies last night - perfect and cool for summer.

Good times.....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Upside-Down Sausage Pizza

Sometimes when you see a recipe on tv it might take you quite some time before getting around to making it. This recipe is a perfect example of that.

Back in September of last year Mom had surgery on her neck. While she was in surgery they told all of us to just wait in her room. Naturally with my sister-in-law and I in the room we turned the tv to the Food Network. I don't remember which show this recipe was featured on, but for some reason it actually stuck in my brain to make it. And that's kind of saying something as my 'rememberer' isn't always so hot anymore. :)

This is called an Upside-Down Sausage Pizza and I apologize for the poor photo (can't find the chord to the other camera right now - yikes!).

It's the sort of recipe that makes for a good jumping off point. The actual recipe is called sausage and mushroom, but I know that Keith is not a fan of mushrooms so I didn't add them. And as we were eating dinner Lynne' mentioned that maybe some diced green pepper would be really good in it. Then we went on and decided that next time we'll also add pepperoni.

It makes a full 13x9 pan, so plan on either a lot of leftovers or feeding a crowd. I served it with a wonderful salad (love all the fresh veggies this time of year) and it was a good meal.

The recipe is below, with my changes in parenthesis.

Upside-Down Sausage Pizza
(adapted from Food Network to fit my family's tastebuds)

2 t olive oil
1 pound sweet sausage (I used breakfast sausage)
1 cup onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I didn't use this)
1 cup pasta sauce
1 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup black olives, sliced (I used a small can)
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (I'll confess that I didn't use this much. Usually I say that more cheese is better, but we're trying to eat a tad more healthy)
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 T olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated (I used Kraft)

Preheat ove to 400 degrees F.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and onions and cook until brown and cooked through, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Add pasta sauce, pizza sauce and olives and bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer sauce to the bottom of a 13x9 cake pan sprayed with cooking spray. Top with cheese.

In a medium bowl whish together eggs, milk and oil until blended. Whisk in flour and salt, then pour mixture over ingredients in pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. To serve, use a spatula and flip the serving upside down on the plate so that the meat sauce is on top.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day and Moving Day

WHEW! Very, very tiring weekend. The crew got all of Lynne's things moved to our house yesterday, finishing up around noon. So glad they did since it was so hot about them carrying furniture in the heat and up and down stairs.

Today the three of us wanted to get the apartment cleaned so that hopefully she can get her deposit back. Lynne' thought it would be fun to have a Father's Day picnic at the apartment, complete with fried chicken...and she was right! Too hot outside for this sort of thing, but a spontaneous picnic in an empty apartment was fun. :)

We had a great day today and obviously I was glad. Since my dad is gone I will admit to kind of dreading this day, but it ended up being busy and fun and for that I am thankful. Honestly - I love being with my family.

"Just as a father has compassionon his children, so the Lord has compassionon those who fear Him." - Psalm 103:13 (NIV)

Friday, June 19, 2009

CAS19 Card

We have been so busy lately what with cleaning up after the storm and also cleaning the house in preparation for my daughter to move back home. It is enormously satisfying to see so many things being done, but on the other hand I miss my relaxing craft and friend time.

Finally decided to take a little break and make a card. This is based on the CAS19 Sketch at Splitcoast and I'm pleased with how it turned out.

As it turned out, this card will shortly be put in the mail. My aunt's mother-in-law fell and broke her pelvis and is in the hospital. Hopefully this will help to cheer her up.

Card details: Stamps - Embrace Life by Stampin Up; Paper - Kraft and Pink Pirouette by Stampin Up; Ink - Tim Holtz Vintage Photo Distress Ink; Copic Markers; Crystal Stickles

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Growing Wheatgrass Seeds Indoors

This is another one of those instant gratification planting experiences. I purchased some wheatgrass seeds in the bulk food section of our local Sprouts grocery store after reading about it somewhere online.

I have always heard that your planters need holes in the bottom and a few rocks thrown inside before putting your soil in to help with drainage. So I did.

Fill the planter with dirt (I got some MiracleGrow soil at the hardware store that already had some sort of fertilizer mixed in), then sprinkle the seeds on top. When I say sprinkle, I mean completely cover. I wanted it very thick. Then put a thin layer of soil over the top of the seeds.

Keep the soil fairly moist by using a spray bottle filled with water. My planter is on the windowsill right by my kitchen sink, so when I did the dishes I'd just give the planter a couple of mists.

I planted these seeds on 5/31.

On 6/3 this is what it looked like when we got up in the morning. Not only was the grass visible, it was pushing the soil up in chunks.

Keep misting.

On 6/4 you can see that it's really taking off. I think it was at this point that I told Keith I wish all grass seed would grow this fast and maybe we should consider using wheatgrass to cover some of the spots in the yard.

Keep misting.

I love this picture because it shows the moisture on the grass. This picture was taken the next day - 6/5 - and you can see that it's filling out nicely.

This picture was taken late in the evening on 6/8 - a week and 1 day after I planted the seeds. Right after taking this picture I 'mowed the lawn' so to speak for the first time. All I do is hold the planter over the trash can and trim the tops of the grass with a pair of work scissors.

I would say at this point, a week after the last photo, that I've had to trim it two more times. It will probably last another few weeks, then it will be time to start the process over again. I know this because I did it in March as well and there comes a time where it just gets so root bound that it can't do anything else and starts to wilt.

It always brings a smile to my face to see these perky pots in the window sill. I'm looking forward to doing some when it turns cold to bring a little of the outdoors inside.

This would also be a fun project to do with kids since it does bring such quick results. We're seriously thinking about putting a timelapse camera on the next one we do - how cool would that be?

Brooklyn Spends the Night

Saturday night Loni and Brooklyn spent the night so that they could go see a Barney stage show early the next morning. I never realized just how much fun it was to jump on an air bed, but she was happy to show us!

The next morning she headed to the car, armed with Barney and a sippy cup. Loni called after the show was over and said that Miss B loved the show and they even got to go to the meet and greet!

Every time we are with this little girl we are so very blessed. She makes us laugh and is filled with hugs and kisses.

This is why I didn't go to Barney - we were painting a room. Lynne' will be moving back home this weekend and we have been running around getting things ready. She's been gone for 2 years and I pretty much had turned her room into my sewing/quilting room and sort of extra bedroom. That stuff had to leave, which meant moving stuff around in a different room to have the space. So things from that room had to go to the garage. And so on.

I still can't get over how bold Keith and I were in choosing the paint color for the walls. We went for Almond Paste and in the little brochure it showed a room with this wall color and it was quite a bit darker than what it turned out for us. The good news is that it's a gorgeous neutral color though and the new blinds and valance all go together so well. And we even thumbed our nose at current wisdom and put a new ceiling fan in there, which is so pretty. I do not understand why ceiling fans are so out when they are so necessary in the summer heat. Either that or our electric bill will be so high that we couldn't afford it. :)

I'm so impressed with us for getting it done too. Two of my friends, Jeanie and Diana, do this sort of thing all the time. They will decide it's time to paint and BAM! it's done. Keith and I get the idea to redecorate, then we talk about it for about 5 years or so. About the time we think it's a good idea we start tossing around the idea that maybe we might want to move instead, so why do a big redecorating? So yeah, for us to make a decision and then follow through is pretty huge.

Regardless, I love the way the room turned out and I hope Lynne' enjoys it as well. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Saturday With Brooklyn

Weekends are so worth the sometimes long week it takes to get there. We needed to run up to the lake for a "mow and go" on Saturday, so went over and got Brooklyn to spend the day. She is SUCH a grandpa's girl and would run from door to window to door to keep an eye on him while he mowed the lawn. At one point I thought she was going to have the big one because I wouldn't let her outside with him while he was mowing, but she got past it and seemed to enjoy the running back and forth inside.

After the yard work was finished we took her on her first ride on the Ranger. At first she was a bit unsure and would put her hands out to touch us when we would go around a corner. But after only a few minutes she just put her hands on her knees and her nose in the air and enjoyed it.

Quite a routine before we could actually ride. It was HOT on Saturday, so she had to help me get her sunscreen on, then her hat (one of my mom's old ones that has been left at the lake) and sunglasses and finally she had to be involved in the spreading of the towel on her seat so it wouldn't be so hot for her.

We rode around a bit, then stopped at the little neighborhood store and got a pint of vanilla ice cream. Back at the house she was quite the busy body helper as she set the bowls out for us all and then went to get spoons. I really think everything she does is quite adorable. :)

On the way back home we stopped at a Subway in a small town and I got her a kids meal. Obviously grandmas do not know everything because I thought she'd enjoy the apples. But Subway does not peel the apples before slicing them like McD does and B thought that was highly offensive. ;) She did figure out how to eat the slices kind of like an ear of corn though and was able to not eat any of the peel.
Very good times.....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Surviving The Storm

Instead of hearing the sweet birds sing outside my window today I'm hearing a cacophony of chain saws, power tools and men's voices. There is a lot of cleanup being done after a fierce storm blew through on Wednesday night.

Wednesday was a long day for me, so I asked Keith if he would mind if we went out for dinner. Of course he's always up for mexican food, so off we went...never knowing a storm was on the way.

After dinner we were on our way to pick up a prescription when the storm wall hit us. He turned into a grocery store parking lot just in time for a light pole to snap and come down. He parked next to a store building, yelled get out and we ran over to hunker down. We stood and watched (and I prayed out loud the entire time) as 2 more light poles came down, trees were uprooted, a part of a roof flew by, the grocery cart corrals came undone and went flying and even the hard top of a pickup bed flew by!

The photo shows the light pole and tree down in front of the Starbucks that we go to. Doesn't look so scary when looking at a picture, but it was awful to not be home during this.

Coming home there was a power line not totally down, but leaning, so we went a different way. Fences and trees were down everywhere. The tree between our house and the neighbor snapped up high and landed on their roof. I sat with the mom playing with her two little ones to help calm them down and Keith went on the roof with the guy so they could check for damage. Their roof ok, but the limb too big too move without cutting it in pieces.

This storm has been on my mind a lot the last 2 days, especially since yesterday morning the entire area was hit with torrential rains again. Lots of street flooding in Dallas and high water rescues. A tree across the street got struck by lightning and it's the strangest thing - it didn't burn, but there is a burn mark all down the side of the tree. Later in the day there was door bell ringing and all the neighbors getting together and comparing stories.

It made me think of how we are hearing so many stories of people not relating to their neighbors like they used to. Honestly I won't argue that as I feel it is true. But somehow I am a little more comforted knowing that in times of trouble we all still turn to each other for help and assistance.

And that's a good thing.

"Carry each other's burdens, and this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" - Galatians 6:2

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Cat Litter Cucumbers & Peppers and EASports Active

When my friend Dawn posted about her first cucumber I thought it was way cool. We have yet to actually harvest any tomatoes, but we're still having fun with it.

Then the lightbulb moment came - we still have a bunch of cat litter buckets, how about expanding the crop a bit?

Right now we have probably between 50 - 60 tomatoes total on the 4 plants (26 on the cherry tomato alone!), so we didn't need more tomatoes.

I bought a cucumber and a red bell pepper plant and we'll see how it goes. If nothing else we might be able to have a very nice salad.

And since tonight was Day 1 of the 30 Day Challenge on EASports Active, I think some nice salads would be a good thing. Speaking of which, the EASports Active is NOT a game like the WiiFit. This thing is way more serious exercise, especially for two old fogeys like us! We had a lot of fun with it though and my favorite feature is that two people can exercise at one time. Always more fun doing this sort of thing together.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Loni's Birthday

Running a few days late with this post, but the thoughts are no less sincere. We celebrated my daughter-in-law's birthday last weekend and of course that means a handmade card. This image is from Pink Cat Studio's Christmas Kitty stamp set, though with a few color changes there's nothing Christmas about it.

Good thing I made a card because Loni pulled the envelope out of her bag and said that it better be a handmade card! WHEW!

Miss B was a total Rockstar that evening! She really was in fine form and her girly giggles had surrounding tables in smiles.

We went to Uno's Pizza and Loni and I split a Spinoccoli pizza that had spinach, broccoli, chunky tomatoes and cheeses and there was some for her to take home even. Brooklyn had some of ours cut up on her plate, but then she would see a big piece of broccoli on my piece of pizza and ask for it. Of course grandma said yes, so I just started handing her my broccoli. And I'm thrilled that she's that crazy over a vegetable!

When we left the restaurant and walked the few blocks to our car, Grandpa was carrying B. Lynne' and I were walking right behind them and just thought it darling to watch Brooklyn with her little arm around her grandpa's neck. And every now and then she would run her fingers in his hair. She really is a Baapaw's girl. :)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Flat Tires, Cereal On The Go and Root Beer Floats

What we have here is a flat tire. Flatter than a pancake when seen in real life. And in a way it was kind of fitting and funny. I had one of those days at work where everything I touched did NOT turn to gold! Not a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day", just couldn't seem to get it together. So when I felt the truck acting funny shortly after leaving work I was pleased to see a gas station convenience store combo and pulled in. Walked around the truck and there it was. Bless Keith's heart, he didn't miss a beat when I called to tell him and before I knew he was pulling up to help me out. My beloved white knight. :)
On a brighter note, last night was Bible study of a sort. Our leader had a brilliant idea for us to meet at a local yum-o restaurant and just have a fellowship time instead of going over our homework. This really was such a good idea and we had a great evening. During Bible study time you tend to get very deep and emotional and tell some of your most personal thoughts, so it's rather nice to know the ladies that hold your secrets in the palm of their hands.

That aside, it was fun! We went to a latin restaurant and the menu was quite extensive. I narrowed my choice down to two and since one of them was marked with the heart smart symbol I decided to go with it. Oh so good and one of the side items was sliced grilled sweet potatoes. I love a good baked sweet potato, but I've not ever had them grilled before. Might be a foodie experiment in the making.

Since I went straight to the restaurant from work I had a little time to kill. Fortunately for me there is a Container Store right there...oh be still my heart!

One of my "score!" purchases was this E-Z Freezer Cereal On The Go container. I've had a pink one for several years and used to use it for my morning break at work. Keith recently decided to try it for his morning break and never once complained about the hot pink color. Unfortunately the freezer goo is starting to leak, so I was happy to finally find another one.

It's really a clever contraption - the bottom part twists off and you freeze it overnight. In the morning fill it with milk, fill the top part with raisin bran and there's a spoon that tucks into the very top. Believe it or not it keeps the milk cold enough that there are little ice crystals throughout.

And with that I'm headed to bed. Hopefully everybody remembered to go to Sonic tonight for the free root beer float. We did - after working out first, naturally. ;)

Good times..............

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Crayon Tote Bag

This is the little tote bag that I made when I went on retreat. I bought the pattern online, but I can't find it right now - I'll edit this post when I find the pattern information.

Anyway, it's just the right size for a little girl to carry her coloring books and crayons. When I saw the idea I just fell in love with it as it seems so practical to grab this tote when you're on your way to a restaurant or on a car trip or something. Keeps things all together that way.

It's also the very first time I've ever done any meandering quilting. Step one of the pattern is to make the 'quilt sandwich' and do the all over quilting, then put the tote bag together.

I made this for B's 2nd birthday, which is in July. Now look below:

This is Brooklyn Sunday night carrying her new tote bag! We all went out to eat for Loni's birthday (more on that in another post) and it just seemed like the perfect time to give this to her.

And you know, all a girl really needs is her crayon tote bag and sippy cup and she is ready for just about anything.

Good times...........

Monday, June 01, 2009

Rotini with Spinach and Asiago Cheese

Last Friday night was Bunco and I haven't laughed that hard in a long time! There is something about getting together with girlfriends that just makes for a great evening. And I just happened to be at the head table and won the final round - the one that counted!

Our potluck theme this month was italian food and with it being summer I didn't want to pull out the usual lasagna recipes and such. I turned to Food Network because I figured Giada wouldn't let me down - and she didn't.

I made a large bowl of Rotini with Spinach and Asiago Cheese, though you might notice that the actual recipe says Fusilli instead of Rotini. But...I wasn't positive how to pronounce fusilli, so I bought rotini instead - LOL! It came out perfect for a hot summer night and I breathed a sigh of relief to see the other ladies eating it (why do we worry about that stuff so much? But who wants to come home with a full dish???).

Keith and I tasted it before it left the house - naturally - and we both really liked it. I still have enough of the cheeses to do another batch, so we'll be having it for dinner on Thursday. The only thing I will do differently is that we bought some italian sausage at the meat market and I'll grill that, slice it and stir in the pasta. Makes it more of a manly main dish that way. ;)


1 pound pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (9 ounce) bag of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup (about 3.5 ounces) asiago cheese, grated
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender, but still firm. Cook about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, warm olive oil in a large, heavy skillet (really large!) over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook until the spinach starts to wilt, about 2 more minuates. Add the cooked pasta and tossed. Stir in the cheeses, salt, pepper and cooking liquid (I didn't need to add the cooking liquid to mine) and stir to combine.