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

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!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Celebration Without Food? No Way!

Have you ever celebrated a holiday, birthday, wedding or special occasion without food being a part of the celebration? I doubt it. We expect special food to go along with the special occasions. It's a given that we will eat turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving and Barbcue on the Fourth of July. We're going to the Blue Ridge Mountains in two weeks and I'm already planning my menus. It's all about the food! Good food, good times and good memories. Just the smell of fried chicken makes me think about my great grandmother. It seems that no matter when we went to visit her she would have fried chicken and gravy and biscuits.
Have you ever thought about how strange it is that we celebrate by eating? Why not celebrate by going for a run or going fishing or flying a kite? I can just imagine my aunt calling to invite us to meet on Thanksgiving for a 5k run! Why not celebrate this way? Who started this eating tradition anyway? What about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? What if they left some brochures on learning to speak Spanish in our baskets and stockings instead of candy? Why do we feel the need to eat until we're sick on special occasions? It all started with the Clean Plate Club. Boy, I really wanted to be in that club! Then I grow up and find out there is no Club, or Clean Plate Prom or anything! What about eating everything on your plate because there are children starving in other countries? I thought that if I didn't eat the peas and other yucky stuff that there would be that much more food for them. I just never figured out how my eating habits had an effect on starving children. But why change now? I just feel like I'm doing my civic duty by eating everything on my plate!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Six Inch Heels? What Are We Thinking?

Seriously, do you think men would walk one mile to a football stadium wearing six inch heels and then another half mile to get to the upper deck? I don't think so. We were in Tuscaloosa over the weekend for Alabama's Homecoming game and I have never seen so many girls wearing heels that were at least six inches high. I admit that I do like to wear heels but three inch heels are enough for me. After wearing boots with three inch, spiked heels with pointed toes all day, I really should have my head examined. There's absolutely nothing at all that could be considered comfortable about wearing shoes like that. But, we wear them because they look good. What are we thinking? After wearing these heels with pointed toes all day, I can barely walk for the next six hours after taking them off. It's not easy cramming a short, chubby foot into shoes with long pointed toes. Plus, walking on spiked heels while having your toes squeezed in a vice and trying to walk around like you're not suffering, is just ridiculous. There have been times when I really thought my feet were on fire but I didn't dare act like I noticed! I just kept on walking until I reached my car and then started screaming while pulling off the tortuous shoes.
How did it happen that women started wearing shoes like this and men never did? It kind of makes me wonder about our intelligence. Men's fashion's have pretty much stayed the same. They have been wearing khaki pants, a golf shirt and comfotable shoes for as long as I've been alive. Women's hemlines change fourteen times in one year, along with the necklines, sleeve lengths, fullness, fabrics, colors, patterns and collars. About the time I have figured out what is "in" and finally get around to buying some cool, new "in"things, I find out they are now "out." Girls will wear tiny, little strappy dresses with six inch heels when it's 30 degrees outside, and walk five miles to a football game without ever complaining. But don't ask us to tell you what the score was or who was playing because the whole purpose of going to the game is to be seen in a cute, trendy little outfit while pretending to not be in excruciating pain. I hope the guys appreciate the sacrifice!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Coffee Enhances Memory? It's a Good Thing!

Supposedly, drinking coffee has several benefits, one being that it enhances our memory. Well, it's a good thing because I would hate to see what I would be like if I didn't drink coffee! I have been drinking coffee for about 15 years. It all started with a visit to a friend's house in Charleston, S.C. My friend was married to a professional chef and they would grind fresh coffee beans in the morning for their coffee. The smell of the coffee brewing was fabulous. After trying Hazelnut and Vanilla Nut, I was hooked. Of course, I used half coffee, half milk an a little sugar at first, but now I have advanced to drinking in the big leagues and drink only black coffee. I have a coffe bean grinder and a french press but mainly make coffee using Folgers flavored coffee due to always being in a hurry. Since I can't remember where I have parked my car, can't remember the name of movies I have just watched or the names of books I have read, I would probably not be able to remember where I live if it weren't for drinking coffee. I never go to work without a cup of coffee in my hand. I also have coffee stains on lots of my clothes. But I think I'm in good company becasued 82 % of Americans drink coffee and 44 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year worldwide. Since coffee is supposed to increase productivity and ability to focus, I think that could be the reason I feel the need to do three things at once. The sad thing is that I probablyl don't remember what those three things were!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Old Days

It seems that the older I get the more I appreciate the great stories told by my relatives. The stories range from walking to school in the snow, barefooted, uphill both ways to dating on a mule, to getting up at 4:00 AM to milk the cows and collect the eggs before going to school. I used to not really care to hear all of this, thinking that it was boring. Of course, I was probably a teenager at the time and was very easily bored with just about anything having to do with the "old days." But now I love to hear these stories and have a new respect for the lives of my relatives. They talk about life without TV and cars, indoor plumbing, and having to work in the fields, since most of their food came from their gardens. I guess we can tell our grandchildren about our early lives without microwaves, VCR's, DVD's, IPods, Wireless Internet, and cell phones. I'm sure this will be very boring to them and they will find it hard to believe that we grew up so deprived. But that's the way it was in the "old days."

The Best Ever Baked Apples in Pastry!

Katie and Ben went to a cool restaurant for dinner one night and had baked apples wrapped in pastry for dessert. It sounded so good that I decided to try to duplicate it. One apple will easily serve two people. There is an optional syrup that is delicious and can be poured around the apples after baking or before. Here's what I came up with:

Baked Apples Wrapped in Pastry

4 servings

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored (don't cut through bottom)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1 egg
1 T. milk

Puff Pastry (thawed)

Optional Syrup :
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/3 cup butter

Place apples in water with lemon juice after they are peeled to prevent browning. Mix the next four ingredients. Remove apples from water and dry. Fill the cavity of each apple with the mixture. Cut puff pastry in 5 inch squares. Whisk milk and egg together and brush over the pastry squares. Place one apple in the center of each pastry square and gently bring pastry up around the apple and smooth into pleats. Bring the corners up to the top of the apple and twist, forming a "stem." Brush the pastry with the egg wash and place each apple in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned.

Optional Syrup: Mix all ingredients except butter and bring to a boil. Add butter and stir till melted. Pour around apples after baking or about 10 minutes before removing from oven.

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Autism: The Mystery

Almost everyone knows a family affected by autism. Autism occurs in approximately 1 out of every 150 births. This is significant considering that just a few years ago, autism occurred in 1 out of every 10,000 births. The cause of autism is still a mystery although there are several theories. There has been much publicity surrounding the claim that autism is caused by the preservative used to prolong the shelf life of childhood immunizations. Autism changes the lives of the families affected in many ways. These families face many difficulties in seeking a diagnosis, a lack of support, feelings of helplessness and grieving over the future they had dreamed of for their child that would now be very different. Some of the challenges that parents face include dealing with people that can be very judgemental, lack of resources, expensive treatments, maritial stress and negative effects on siblings. Families often have difficulty attending church due to a lack of care for their child, difficulty maintaining friendships due to the behaviors of their child, and difficulty with schools and understanding the special education process. As difficult as autism can be to deal with, there is much to be learned from these children. I personally owe so much to the first student I taught that had autism. I truly believe that I learned more from him than he learned from me. He was such a remarkable young man that was not understand by the average educator. These children have so much to offer and so much going on in their heads. The challenge lies in teaching them to control their negative behavior and to discover their gifts and talents. Children with autism often suffer from depression and anxiety. They realize that they are different, want to fit in but do not have the skills needed to maneuver the social world. I will be attending a workshop tomorrow on autism and managing behaviors. I have a very special interest in helping families that have children with autism and have had a lot of training over the years. One reason I wanted to start this blog was so that I might be able to provide some support and help for families dealing with autism. .I hope to be able to report some interesting new findings after attending the workshop tomorrow. Keep these families in your prayers and pray for increased funding and research to help identify the causes.

Memorable Moments: Packing Them In!

Katie, husband Ben, and Cara were coming home for the weekend. Matt had a Sigma Chi pledge retreat in New Orleans and couldn't come home. This meant planning ahead to have great food, favorite snacks, clean sheets and bath towels, a clean house, candles burning, dogs groomed and sometimes wearing outfits, and a full agenda of activities. We get really excited about the kids coming home. There's nothing better than seeing their headlights turn into the driveway on a Friday night and meeting them at the door. This weekend I had Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas, Mexican Rice and Mexican Cornbread waiting on them. For dessert I made roasted apples filled with cinnamon, butter, brown sugar and pecans wrapped in puff pastry and served with ice cream. After dinner we all put on our pajamas/random drawstring pants, etc. and pile into the den for TV, catching up, playing with the pets, and plan our activities for Saturday. Saturday morning comes quickly and we don't hop out of bed as early as we had planned. We decided to skip the big breakfast and head out. Somehow, Katie, Cara and I end up lapsing into extreme silliness and take turns doing the "model walk." This is where we make fun of the girls on the show "How Do I Look?" After we laugh our heads off and finally get out of the door, we go to a great home consignment sale and then to the Renaissance Fair that is held every Fall in the downtown park. The Fair is always interesting and full of very strange looking people. Ben had never been to the Renaissance Fair and was a little shocked at the unusual outfits, which often have nothing to do with the Renaissance era. We walked over to an old sandwich shop downtown for hot dogs and milkshakes, stopped by our awesome public library to check out the books in the used book store and toured the local art center. Then we drove over to the Cane Creek Preserve, an awesome area for hiking, waterfalls and great views. We hiked for a couple of hours, which included getting lost for about 30 minutes and then headed home. We were running short on time because we had to get home in plenty of time to watch the Alabama v. Tennessee game on TV. We stopped by the Olive Garden for lasagna, salad and bread sticks and then to Sam's for cheesecake. Everyone jumps in the shower, I make a couple of appetizers for us to snack on and company comes over to join us for dinner and football. We watch football, play with the pets, play on our laptops, and finally head off to bed.

Sunday morning we head off to church and then back home for the "big breakfast" as we call it. We made Belgium waffles, scambled eggs, bacon and sausage. Cara takes a nap, we read the newspaper, chill out and play with the pets. Then Larry and I head out for the Symphony with our neighbors and say goodbye to the kids again. It doesn't get any better than this!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm My Own Worst Enemy

The alarm clock goes off around 6:15 A.M. but I know that it's really 6:00 since I set my clock up 15 minutes fast. It's not as if this tricks me into getting up earlier or even on time. It just means that I get to hit the snooze button about five more times before getting out of bed. I crawl out of bed feeling like I've been run over by a train, swearing that tonight I'll be in bed before 9:00. But that never happens. Right now it's 11:00 P.M. and here I sit goofing off when I know I will pay for it in the morning. I'm even writing about it instead of just going on to bed like a normal person. I just can't stand to think that I could be wasting time sleeping when I could be doing something much more fun. Why do we do things to ourselves knowing we'll pay for it later? Like eating the bowl of ice cream tonight even though I am supposedly on a low carb diet. In the morning I will be standing in my closet calling myself a heifer because my pants are too tight. Well, whose fault is that? I have to get myself under control and follow a more structured routine but until I do I will just put myself in time out until I think I'm ready to go to bed.

Cool Things To Know About

One thing I have learned as I get older is that the more I learn, the more I realize how many things I don't know about. I feel like I'm in a race to pack in as much new information as possible since my pea sized brain will soon not be able to hold new information. I love making new discoveries about things that make life easier and more enjoyable and wanted to include some websites that are pretty cool:

Yahoo! Answers: Gets answers and advice on almost any subject

TripKick: Tells which floors and rooms in over 250 hotels should be avoided Simplifies online invitations and RSVPs

Geni: Geneology website that provides tools for diagramming your family tree

NexTag: Comparative shopping site with product reviews

Omiru:Style for All: Style and shopping guide and fashion trends

http://ThriftyChick: Secrets to savvy shopping & online coupons for name brand stores discounts Tons of tips and checklist on organzing virtually everything Tips on cleaning and do-it-yourself projects

http://StumbleUpon: Tons of links to a huge variety of websites

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trig Palen

Trig Palen has caused quite a stir on the campaign trail. Trig, Sarah Palen's baby boy, has Down's Syndrome and his presence in the media has brought much needed attention to the population with special needs. Families with special needs children have been turning out to support Sarah Palin in droves. A precious young lady with Down's Syndrome was in the news because she was elected as her high school's Homecoming Queen. Familes that have children with special needs often feel as if they are invisible to the public and their needs often ignored. Many times they are viewed as being less important and Trig is helping to change this image. These families need our support and we need full funding to be able to implement No Child Left Behind in our school systems. In my experience working with families with special needs children, I have found that these children teach us more than we teach them. They teach us about unconditional love, patience and about the real priorities in life. Perhaps we all need to be paying more attention to these children and their families. I vote for Trig!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hollywood Material

Since I started this blog, my husband has been offended that I haven't written about him, so I thought I would dedicate this post to him. He has beautiful, thick hair that starting graying in his 20's. At the age that many men are losing their hair, he is getting a lot of attention for his pretty white hair. In fact, he's been told by several women that he should be in Hollywood and that he is "Hollywood Material." We've also been stopped in grocery stores, restaurants, etc. by poeple thinking that he might be Dennis Franchoine or Newt Gingrich. When asked by people if he's in politics and he says he's not, some have asked if he's sure! I guess he should say, "Well, come to think of it I am! I forgot that I was Speaker of the House!" I've been trying to figure out a way to make some income off of his hair. His white hair has come in handy over the years when we are looking for him in a crowd. His hair is so thick that he can get out of the shower and his hair still looks dry. I think it's duck hair. The water just rolls off. I wonder if I could send in his picture to Hollywood and he could be a double for Richard Gere or somebody. That's a thought worth looking into! (See picture of Larry with Katie on her wedding day.)

ENS: Mystery Ailment That Causes Strange Behavior

ENS is a common and not often talked about ailment that occurs mostly in women in their forties and fifties. This ailment can cause unusual and bizarre behavior that is only understood by other women with ENS. ENS or Empty Nest Syndrome, can manifest itself in a wide variety of behaviors. I self-diagnosed myself with ENS when I realized that I was out of control and making irrational decisions. This behavior resulted in the adoption of Clarke, the very old teacup poodle discussed in an earlier blog entry. See picture.

Both of my daughters speculated that I might possibly have a breakdown after little brother, Matt, left for college and the possibility that Prissy, the 14 year-old schnauzer, might die. So, with this train of thought, it might be reasonable to consider adopting a puppy that would be the "transition dog," instead I ended up with a dog that the vet says is older than Prissy. Clarke is pretty much blind, deaf and has no teeth and is too old to be house trained. The perfect pet!

I am actually very fond of Clarke. He has gained weight, looks healty and really looks like a poodle now except for the fact that is tongue hangs out of his mouth. He is obsessed with me, I suppose because I rescued him from a previous terrible life. However, it's hard to justify his adoption as a rational decision. Just ask my husband!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Supper Club

You would think that someone that owns a trillion cookbooks, cuts out recipes from favorite magazines, and searches for recipes on recipe websites, would probably cook all the time and have dinner parties frequently, but actually I am so busy collecting recipes that I don't have time to cook! I love collecting recipes and menus for dinner parties and this past weekend I actually got to try out some of the many recipes I collect since it was my turn to have the neighborhood supper club dinner at my house. The problem was narrowing down hundreds of menus, themes and recipes and choosing the final menu. I considered having a pasta/Italian night, a Halloween party with heavy appetizers, a murder mystery dinner, a casual cookout on the deck, or a traditional beef and potato dinner. Ultimately, I decided on beef tenderloin, potatoes, asparagus, salad and rolls. I also wanted to have a couple of appetizers and a dessert. So.... many more hours of deciding on which recipe to choose from in these categories. I did a few trial runs to test out some new recipes and finally chose the menu that is posted on the sidebar. I had a wonderful time working on the meal and pulling out my china and crystal (that doesn't come out of the china cabinet often) and making a centerpiece for the dining room table.
Many hours later, the supper club dinner was over, my feet were tired and my kitchen was piled up with dishes to be washed, and I loved every minute of it! The bad thing is that I am even more motivated to search for new recipes and menus! Being part of a supper club is a great way to try out new recipes and also a great way to get to know new people. Well, time to look for some new recipes!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bringing the Outdoors In

October, being one of my favorite months, is a great time to bring the outdoors in for decorating. I love using pumpkins, gourds and Mums around the house. The Hydrangea blooms are also at a peak time for drying. Having several Hydrangea bushes in the yard, I have been cutting off long stemmed blooms and putting them into a large bucket of water. The blooms will usually dry to a nice papery texture, just perfect for using in arrangements, as the water evaporates. This method has worked best for me in trying to dry Hydrangeas. I dried some ginormous white Hydrangea's for Katie that I salvaged from one her wedding centerpieces. Small pumpkins work great as candle holders when the top is hollowed out enough for a 3x3 votive. The top can be cut off and the pumpkins hollowed out for holding Mums or Pansies. Grapevine also is an inexpensive item that works great for decorating. The grapevine can be used on the mantel, wrapped around candles or draped over doorways. Hobby Lobby is a good source for buying long grapevines. Gourds can be used in the same way as pumpkins with the top hollowed out for candles or flowers. Fall is here and let the decorating begin!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Transitions in Traditions

Fall is here and the mums and pumpkins are on the front porch, the mantel is decorated with grape vine, small pumpkins and gourds. That's all great and wonderful except for the fact that this is the second year in a row that we haven't carved pumpkins with the kids. Of course I do realize that we were still carving pumpkins up until they left for college! It has been a tradition to go shopping for pumpkins together and let each of the kids pick out their pumpkin. We would cover the kitchen table in newspaper and they would carve their faces and then make fun of each others pumpkins. Halloween parties for the kids has been a tradition at our house for several years until last year, since there were no kids at home! Adjusting to the kids not being at home hasn't been easy but I have decided that if the kids are happy, then I'm happy. I really miss seeing all of their friends and having a house full of kids. The girls loved having parties but Matt really wasn't too excited about having a party. I was always offering to let Matt have a Halloween party but since he didn't want to, Matt's friends would say that they would have a party at our house and that Matt could come if he wanted to. So that's what we did! Matt didn't invite anyone to the party but we had over 100 kids at the last Halloween party.
This year I'm going to have a family Halloween party since I love to have parties. My mother used to have family Halloween parties for the family and I think I should continue the tradition even though she won't be here to enjoy it. Traditions change over the years as our kids grow up and our parents get old and die. But, I think it's very important to continue traditions even though it's easier not to. Traditions are important to children, even if the child that loves Halloween parties is now almost 50 years old! I hope I never grow up.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Animal Menagerie

I have a 14 year old Miniature Schnauzer that can barely see or hear and adopted an elderly (14 years or more according to the vet) teacup poodle, named Clarke, in January. This has been quite an adventure! We adopted Clarke by chance since we had no intentions of getting another pet. I think that God intervened and somehow we found Clarke on an animal website and long story short, we ended up driving and hour and a half to adopt him. He looked like a little, old bat on his profile page! His profile said he had been dropped on the side of a highway in the cold rain and had to have his hair shaved off since he was severely matted and all of his teeth were pulled due to absceses. He looked so pitiful that we couldn't get him off our minds. Katie and I drove to the shelter to get him and when they took him out of the cage we almost passed out! He was so skinny and weak that he could hardly walk. We looked at each other in a way that meant, "WHAT have we done?" He was the saddest looking thing you have ever seen. His tongue hangs out of his mouth since he has no teeth and he is almost completely deaf and blind. However, we love this little fellow and he looks great now! He has gained weight, his hair has grown out, he has been groomed and now looks like a poodle! He sleeps in my bed ( which is unbelievable if you know my husband) and is carried around all the time like a little prince. He and Prissy, the schnauzer, co-exist but don't really acknowledge each other. Priss is definitely the alpha dog and makes sure that Clarke doesn't forget it.
Katie and Ben are here for the weekend and have a beautiful chocolate lab named Pete that is also here. I lost my mind in July and bought a precious little Maltese puppy for Cara ( my youngest daughter) because she was lonely living alone during her first semester in graduate school. I broke the rule we have always had about not having pets while living away in college. This is one of the top five dumbest things I have done lately! Anyway, we love this little guy that is now named Henry and he is absolutely the cutest thing and is extremely hyper! We also have him here this weekend since Cara had to go to an engagement party in Nashville. He comes with his own playpen and diaper bag that includes toys, treats and cucumber melon spray. To make things even more interesting and to add to the top five dumbest things list, we now have a kitten living in our screened in porch! He was stuck under the hood of a car and another long story short, is now living here until I figure out what to do with him or her. Unfortunately, we have also gotten very attached to this cute little thing, too! Katie is checking him out and waiting to see what Pete thinks about him and might just take him home with her and Ben. So, we now have four dogs and one cat here this weekend! Two dogs can't really see or hear and Henry is running around in circles about 90 miles per hour and the lab just stands around wondering what is going on and how to get away from it all. To top it off, we are painting the kitchen and laundry room this weekend. Other than that we really don't have much going on!

Showing My Age

Well, I decided to start a blog with the help of my oldest daughter, Katie. She has recently started a blog with encouragement from one of her best friends as a way for them to stay in touch. Katie is in town to be in the wedding of another friend so we had the opportunity to spend some time together. I realized as I tried to set up my blog that I had become the child and Katie had become the parent in this situation. It is quite obvious that blogging is not something that I have grown up with and that I needed a very patient teacher to get me started. Katie explained the steps of adding a cute background and it sounded pretty easy until after about two hours of trying to add a cute backgound I only ended up adding a cute screensaver and nothing on my blog! Finally, Katie took over and got me straightened out and when I selected my background we realized that it was the exact same background that Katie had on her blog! We are still connected!