Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tagged: Five of My Addictions

Haley Morgan has tagged me to list five of my addictions. I have so many that it's going to be hard to choose just five!

1. My children are my number one addiction! I have to admit that I think my kids are great. I am very proud of them and can't spend enough time with them. This inlcudes Ben, my great new son-in-law!

2. My pets are my number two addiction. Prissy the elderly Schnauzer, Bob the big cat, Nate the new baby and Henry, my granddog! They are lots of fun and are great entertainment.

3. Coffee and chocolate (yes, they do go together ) are my number three addiction. I really love to have several cups of French Vanilla or Hazelnut coffee in the mornings and I have to have something chocolate to go with it.

4. Self-help books, articles, websites, blogs,etc. are my number four addiction. It's a little crazy but I love to read about organizing, health, beauty, leadership, simplifying, stress reduction, decorating, etc. I actually just put a book together for Katie and Cara that is full of lots of this stuff! Self-help junkie!

5. Cooking, reading and collecting recipes is my number five addiction. I read cookbooks for a hobby! I have tons of cookbooks and recipes all over the house and even in my car! I am putting together a family cookbook right now!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Christmas Baby

Well, we added a new addition to the family! We have a new Maltese puppy and he is an absolute doll! He is unbelievably tiny and sweet. Henry, Cara's Maltese, loves him and is very protective of him. It's been a great Christmas, having everyone together, including the dogs and Bob, the cat. We opened gifts this morning and have thoroughly enjoyed taking it easy, eating, taking naps and playing with the puppy. Matt and Ben got new golf drivers and went outside to try them out. Larry played with his new Nintendo DS and I got lots of goodies, including a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. Cara has been reading Twilight and Katie has been practicing sketching, using her new sketch book. It's been a wonderful Christmas, having Ben in our family and also the addition of Henry, Bob, and the puppy, which still doesn't have a name.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missing Clarke

Clarke, my sweet teacup poodle, died on Thursday. Clarke was adopted from an animal shelter last year in January, after I found him on an animal website. He had been dumped in the cold rain and had to be completely shaved due to being so matted. He was skin and bones and had to have his teeth removed because of abscesses. He vision and hearing were poor and the vet guessed that his age was at least 15 years old. So why did Katie and I drive almost two hours and pay to adopt him? He looked so pitiful on the website and we just knew that he would probably not be adopted. We were stunned at how pitiful he was when he was removed from the cage. Clarke was scared and shaking and wouldn't eat anything for quite a while. We could only get him to eat smoked turkey at first and he eventually got stronger and could eat canned dog food. He was the sweetest dog I have ever had and was so devoted to me. He gained weight and eventually looked like a real poodle. I carried him with me all the time and kept him tucked inside my chenille robe when it was cold. He went on vacations with us. I even sneaked him into a hotel room because I couldn't stand to leave him! We found out that he had a malignant tumor inside his mouth that was fast growing and painful last week. The vet recommended that we not keep him alive after she anesthetized him for surgery and found out what was wrong. I know that it was probably the humane thing to do but it has been so difficult letting him go. Larry buried him in the back yard in his snowman sweater. I think that he taught me a lot about life. He wasn't valued by many because of his looks, his disabilities and his age but he was such a sweet and gentle little thing. People made fun of him and were shocked that I would pay to adopt him. I just don't believe that there could be a dog more loving and devoted than Clarke was. He was so appreciative to be given a good, loving home and to be treated with kindness. He knew that I loved him and that I thought he was special, even if he wasn't the most beautiful thing around. I have always said that pets and people that are the most difficult to love are the ones that need us the most and Clarke was proof of that. I will never regret that his last year was spent being pampered and loved because he deserved it. I miss him terribly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Blessing: The Gift of Unconditional Love

No matter how old we are, we all desire the approval of our parents. The approval of our parents affects how we view ourselves and also affects our ability to pass on that approval to our own children. Many of us spend a lifetime searching for approval and acceptance. John Trent and Gary Smalley have written the book about what the Bible calls "The Blessing" that outlines the five essential components of the blessing. This is a very powerful book that every parent should read. The components include:

Meaningful Touch
The Spoken Message
Attaching High Value
Picturing A Special Future
An Active Commitment

Children that do not receive these things from their parents will seek them throughout their adult lives in different ways. All children want to feel cherished by their parents. The book is a must read for all parents with children of all ages and can be ordered at The Blessing.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Decorating on a Dime

I love to go junking! It's great therapy for me to spend time going to estate sales, antique stores and junk stores. I try to get a good look without spending a lot of money. It's almost a challenge to see how much I can do on a small amount of money. This picture is the window section of my living room. The chairs in this picture came from a yard sale I passed on the way to work one morning. I paid $25 for the two chairs and polished the wood and recovered the seats. The needlepoint pillows came from an estate sale and cost $20 each. I dried the hydrangeas from my bushes in my yard and bought the urn at TJ Maxx for around $15. The table came from a flea market years ago and I can't remember the price. The drapes came from Linens n Things and are probably the most expensive thing in the picture. They were around $70.00 each, I think. You would pay much more than that for custom made, lined, Duponi silk drapes. The seagrass rug came from Home Goods and was only $40. I really love a look that has history behind each piece and not a furniture showroom look. I actually don't like to buy anything new if I can find something to recover or paint. The blue books on the table are Matt's baby picture portfolios. We recently repainted the living room and we used "Deer Path" from Benjamin Moore. It's amazing how much a coat of paint can change a room!

New Recipes for the Dinner Party

I recently had a Christmas and retirement party for the school system counselors. One our the counselors is retiring and I wanted to prepare a nice dinner for her. Since I love looking through cookbooks and recipe websites, I decided to try a couple of new dishes. Here's the menu:

Appetizers: Roasted Cashews with Rosemary
Cream Cheese Pineapple Ball with crackers
Blue Cheese Crisps
Hot Apple Cider

Dinner: Teriayke Pork Tenderloin
Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus with Herbs de Provence
Sweet Broccoli Salad
Yeast Rolls with Honey Butter

Dessert: Too Much Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Frosting

I really liked the pork tenderloin! I have tried other recipes and I think this might be a favorite. The cashews were really good and quite easy to prepare. But the best thing was the chocolate cake!!! I found two different recipes for the cake and the frosting and the combination is terrific if you love chocolate like I do. I'll try to post all of the recipes but forgot to take pictures!

Teriyake Pork Tenderloin (12 servings)
1/2 cup and 2 T. Soy Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T and 1 t brown sugar
2 t ground ginger
2 t freshly ground pepper
3 lbs. pork tenderloin
Combine the first four ingredients and place in resealable plastic bags along with the pork tenderloins, after removing fat. ( I used 2 gallon size bags ) Seal bags and turn to coat the tenderloins. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Drain and discard the marinade. Place tenderloins in a 11 x 7 baking pan sprayed with Pam. Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 23 to 35 minutes or till meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes and serve with the drippings from the pan.
Roasted Cashews with Rosemary
2 -9 0z cans roasted whole cashews
2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 T brown sugar
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper
Preheat over to 375 degrees. Spread cashews in a single layer on a lightly greased baking pan and heat for 5 minutes. Maintain the oven temperature. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a large stockpot over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the rosemary, salt and cayenne pepper.
Add the cashews to the stockpot and toss to coat. Spread the cashews in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 5 to 10 minutes or until light brown, stirring occasionally.

Bob the Cat

A few weeks ago, I found a kitten that was up under the hood of a car. Long story short, I still have him. I really did try to find a home for him but it didn't take long at all to get attached to him. He has special needs and I'm sure that's why God sent him my way. He walks in a very crooked kind of way and his head bobs up and down when he drinks or eats. Of course, that's how he acquired the name of Bob. He is most unusual besides walking crooked. He will lay on my shoulder just like a baby and lets me hold him as long as I want to. Last night he pulled an ornament off of the Christmas tree and for the next two hours he is rolling and galloping all over the house, batting the ornament around. He even went upstairs and banged around for a while. It's nice having a young and energetic pet around since our two dogs, Clarke and Prissy, are both 14 years old and sleep most of the time. Bob is going to have a play date with our neighbors cat that was also adopted recently and I suppose he'll need a new outfit!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making Mountain Memories

The Blue Ridge Mountains were beautiful! Having the entire family together at the same time in the same place was wonderful! It really doesn't get much better than that. We rented a beartiful log cabin called the"The Sunset" in Ellijay, Georgia. Ellijay is a quaint little mountain town full of little antique shops, cute family style restaurants and friendly townspeople. The town is decorated for Christmas with wreaths and bows on the light posts that line the streets. A quartet was singing one night in the town square while local merchants were serving hot apple cider. It was almost like stepping back in time to a simpler life syle. It's interesting that when we plan a vacation we like to go to a place where life is simple and just being together is what it's all about. We had a four bedroom cabin with a stacked stone, woodburning fireplace inside and outside. The cabin was at the top of a mountain ridge that was two miles up a very rough dirt road. There was a beautiful mountain view on both sides of the road and the trees still had some color in their leaves. It got a little crazy at times with all six of us and four dogs in the cabin but that's what makes it fun. We took turns cooking dinner, kept a fire burning in the fireplace since the temperature was in the 20's most of the time, and played games. The kids got caught up on their sleep, I drank about 2 gallons of coffee, we shopped in Blue Ridge and Ellijay for Christmas ornaments and had a foosball tournament. We spent time reading, taking walks with the dogs and the kids enjoyed the hot tub. Since I don't sleep much these days, I was up by six o'clock and enjoyed starting the fire in the fireplace and drinking coffe while enjoying the view. It was so quiet in the mountains, we weren't always in a hurry and could take our time to do whatever we wanted.
I read "The Last Lecture" on the way to the mountains. It's a wonderful book written by a man diasnosed with terminal cancer, that writes about reaching your childhood dreams. It was his way of leaving his thoughts and advice for his three young children. The most important thing to him, after his terminal diagnosis, was to spend as much time as possible with his family. None of us know how long God plans for us to be on this Earth and we need to be spending each day of our lives as if we have a limited amount of time left. Life is too short to be wasted on worrying about material things and staying busy with unimportant demands. Take time to plan how your time will be spent so that you have no regrets when your time is running out.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blue Ridge Mountains

I don't think I could be more excited! My family is heading to a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains this weekend. It's a rare thing to be able to have all of the kids together in the same place at the same time. Memorable moments don't just happen when the kids grow up and go away to school and get married. It takes planning in advance. I spent about two weeks in July looking on the internet for the perfect mountian cabin for our family trip. We have been to a cabin for the last three years the weekend before Thanksgiving. The Alabama v. Auburn game is always the weekend after Thanksgiving and we definitley couldn't plan anything that might interfere with the big game. This is our first time to go the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have been to Mentone that last two years and loved it but I thought we'd try something different this year. The cabin looks awsome! Outdoor fireplace, four bedrooms, great mountain view, hot tub and pets go free. It's going to be great! We'll cook, sleep, play games, watch movies, hike, roast marshmallows, make Smores, read, go shopping and sleep some more. It's so much fun when we are all together on one place! One night Katie and Ben will cook dinner, Larry and Matt are cooking another night and Cara and I will cook one night. We will have tons of food! Last year we made pictures of all of us lying in the leaves in a circle with our heads together. It was hilarious until we realized the next day that most of us were covered in chigger bites! It was pure misery for the chigger infested! Can't wait! Good times!