Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Recipes

I've made several new recipes lately, four just today! I made Cream Cheese Banana Bread which is wonderful and has just a hint of orange. For dinner I made Apple-Onion Pork Roast, Butternut Squash Apple Bake, and Butternut Squash Rolls. I served all that with mashed red potatoes and made gravy from the pork roast juices. Everything was really good!

You can follow the links to the recipes, but I made a few changes to them (naturally!). The bake I made pretty much the same except that I cut the amounts in half-ish.

Bonus Tip for coring apples: I have a little flower shaped cookie cutter that's maybe an inch across. After slicing the apples into rings, I used the cookie cutter to punch out the seeds/core. They looked very pretty!

For the rolls I used half whole wheat flour and half bread flour. The texture is sooo yummy that way! Also, I saved water from cooking the squash to use instead of plain tap water. Last, but certainly not least ... when the rolls were done baking, I melted a tablespoon of butter in the microwave along with a couple teaspoons of honey. I brushed that mixture over the hot rolls. Wow. Just wow.

The pork roast recipe I just made up, but in case you're curious, I put the meat in the slow cooker, and sliced an onion and a couple of apples (core, peel, and all, baby) over it. Then I seasoned it with fresh thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. I poured a cup or so of natural apple juice in there, and added a few tablespoons of cider vinegar. As an afterthought, I glugged in some chicken broth from a box in the fridge. I didn't want the roast to be too sweet from the juice. I cooked the whole mess on low for about 7-8 hours. Again, wow.

Ebates and Saving Money

So I'm all about saving money. And it works out well that I'm not a big fan of shopping. I like to know what I'm getting, get in and get out. I'm not a browser, unless I'm just having fun with friends. I guess since I've never had a lot of "mad money" to spend, I don't like looking around at all the stuff I can't afford and don't really need anyway! The only exception is grocery shopping -- I could spend all day in a good grocery store. :)

My friend Leah introduced me to Ebates a while back, and I've finally gotten around to using it more often. I did most of my Christmas shopping on-line, so the Ebates website was a lifesaver! Basically what you do is go to the website and from there you click on the link you want. Lots of stores I like to shop at are a part of the service. Barnes & Noble, Target, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, and Kohl's are just a few. When you click the link, a ticket automatically opens that tracks your purchases. Ebates then rewards you with a percentage in cash back. How cool is that?! The rebate percentage varies from store to store. I've gotten anywhere from 2% to 12%. The site also lists all the on-line coupons and deals available from your chosen website.

From Christmas shopping alone, I expect to receive about $15 back! (And that's all stuff I would have bought anyway, without the Ebates cash back.) Yay for saving money!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Joe's had a few funny moments lately ...

About a lady he saw -- "She's not pregnant, she just doesn't exercise."

Crawling into bed to snuggle with me one night -- "Mommy, I just can't resist you!"

Today while I was cooking for Christmas, and the kids were mooching -- "You're the best mommy! The very best thing about you is the cheese blocks."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Band Practice

Jeff has been asked by the minister of music in our home church to play with the band and praise team at a church in Milledgeville. A group of about 10 (not including spouses) are going down there Sunday to lead the worship for the evening service. Jeff's really excited about that since he hasn't had a chance to play his saxophone outside the house since we've moved. Thursday night, we had band practice at Maysville Baptist in preparation for the service. I dropped Jeff off and did some much needed Christmas shopping -- without the kids!

The horn section ... Jeff, Chad, and Jacob!

The Praise Team -- Todd, Chrissy, Rachel, and Dana.

On drums, J.T. On piano, Hara. And Hara's husband Deric plays bass, but he didn't make it into the pictures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Party!

We had a blast today at the Christmas party! The kids and moms loved the cupcakes. Two of the other moms had adorable Christmas ornament crafts. One ornament was a bird made from craft foam painted with glitter glue, and the other was made with large clear glass pebbles. The book exchange was a success and I think all the kids really enjoyed getting to play and get a break from school work!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nativity Cupcakes

Our homeschool Christmas party is tomorrow! We're pretty excited about getting together with our friends and celebrating the birth of our Saviour. We've developed a couple of traditions within our group, like serving our favorite brunch dishes and doing a book exchange between the children. All the moms pitch in and help bring food and organize crafts/activities. Our group has quite a wide range of ages, typical in a homeschooling organization. It can be a challenge to make sure there's something for everyone, but I think all the kids have fun.

This year, I offered a combination dessert/craft for my contribution. I started on it today since we'll be gone all afternoon and we leave for the party at 8:30 in the morning.

Nativity Cupcakes
I started by baking two batches of cupcakes, chocolate fudge and butter yellow. Betty Crocker is my friend here!

The decorating is the fun part! I purchased shredded wheat cereal, mini marshmallows, graham crackers, colored sprinkles, star-shaped sprinkles, and white frosting.

Once the cupcakes cooled, I made an example for the kids to follow. They'll decorate their own tomorrow. I frosted the top lightly. Then, I rolled the cupcake gently in sprinkles. Breaking the graham cracker in half, and half again, I poked the ends into the top of the cupcake in a V-shape. I crumbled a mini-wheat into the "manger" for hay, and added two mini marshmallows to make a baby Jesus. As a finishing touch, I placed a star sprinkle at the top!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Busy Day

So far today, I have done school with both kids, made sauce for lasagna, baked Chocolate Zucchini Bread, gotten dough for focaccia in the bread machine, cooked breakfast and lunch, addressed another batch of Christmas cards, and ordered several Christmas presents on-line! It's been full day, and that's not counting the silly stuff like keeping up with Facebook, reading Get Fuzzy on-line, and fitting in a couple of chapters of a Grace Livingston Hill Book.

I captured a sweet moment on 'film' during school today (no, I didn't bother to take a picture of me telling Kaity to "Focus, child!" for the eighteenth time). Kaity asked if there was something that she could read aloud to Joe, so I told her she could read his James Herriot story.

No, she's not reading the book upside down, the cover was just on upside down and backwards!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kaity's Got Talent

Kaity's newest creative outlet is sewing. She recently gathered fabric scraps and old socks and made them into doll clothes. She designed pants, skirts, dresses, pajamas, purses, and even a toy horse! She used the sewing machine for most of them, and Nannie did a little hand-stitching where necessary.

Enjoy the pictures, but please note that some of the clothes there are store-bought ones that she used as guides.

All the outfits in this picture were designed and sewn by Kaity for her doll, Hopey.

Friday, December 11, 2009


On Saturday, my oldest fri... um, longest ... um, let me start over! On Saturday, my friend Leah and I met in Charlotte, North Carolina for a girls' day out! We started out as "best friends" a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I was the same age as Kaity, actually! Anyway, Charlotte is a good halfway point for the two of us, and allows us to spend the day together when we otherwise couldn't. We had a fabulous time touring the Mint Museum of Art, and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design. The sister museums are both super-cool and had some wonderful exhibits. A few of our favorites were an exhibit of fashion from the 1940's through modern day; quilts from the earliest days of America through today, and the art of Loïs Mailou Jones. Lunch was at a pizza place in downtown called Fuel. Very reasonably priced, and yummy! We also made the trip up the interstate a little ways to the HUGE Ikea store. We found great furniture, naturally, and also terrific little gifts for our children.

I knew my camera wouldn't do the art justice so I didn't take a lot of pictures. Here are a few, though ...

Thursday, December 10, 2009


A good friend of mine recently sent me a link to a website that she thought I might like. Boy, was she right! It's a site that has all kinds of Christian resources, but the main interest to me is that you can listen to Christian music on-line. There are several channels to choose from, currently including Christmas music! No matter what style is your favorite, it seems to have something for everyone. I've really been enjoying it, and I hope you will, too!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sleeping Beauties

So, the kids like to sleep with lots of babies. Jeff and I get a laugh most nights over how the kids are arranged in the beds. They frequently end up hanging off the edge, or covered in babies and blankets. Here's a game of "Where's Waldo?" for you ...

Yes, the kids really are fast asleep in the beds under all that!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Quarry Field Trip

We went on a fabulous field trip yesterday to "Daddy's Work"! The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Out of our homeschool group, eleven families were represented, totaling 35 people! The kids ranged in age from a one-year to sixteen. The Martin Marietta Jefferson Quarry did an amazing job hosting us. They rented vans for us to ride in and even provided hamburgers and hotdogs for lunch after the tour. One family of children said it was the best field trip they'd ever been on. Another great compliment was one of the teenage boys asking Jeff how to go about getting a job at a quarry.

Hannah, Lydia and Kaity. We all had to wear hardhats while touring the quarry.

"The Moms" -- two more were there, but didn't make it in the picture.

Lunch. And me with food in my mouth as usual.

We went back out after the blasters had finished with setting off a shot so we could see the difference in the wall of the pit.

In the lower left side of the pit, you can see a rectangular section where the granite is whiter. That's where the shot was located.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ah, The Silver Lining ...

I was reading Joe his Bible story this morning, which was about Rebekah and Isaac's marriage. The story opened with Isaac being lonely after the death of his mother. Teasing a little, I said, "Joe, would you be lonely without Mommy?" He snuggled down closer to me and made whimpering sounds, then he popped up and said, "I'd only have Kaity ... and we wouldn't have to do school!"


Family Update

I don't have any pictures this time, just an update on life as we know it. School is going well. Kaity has taken to making out a chart of all that she has to do that week and checking it off daily as she goes. I was really proud of her for taking the initiative. She's studying the Civil War era (which Daddy insists on calling The War Between the States). She started reading Old Yeller yesterday.

Joe's math skills are about on level with Kaity's reading skills at his age! He just GETS numbers. He can add/subtract very well and do simple multiplication. He's beginning to understand how letters and their sounds fit together to make words on the page. Both kids spend every spare moment playing outside!

Work is going well for Jeff and Thursday we get to experience it! Our homeschool group is going on a field trip to the quarry. I'll write all about it then, but we're quite excited about getting to go.

I and the baby are doing well. She is a squirmy little bugger and I frequently can't actually breathe, but we're doing well just the same. My next appointment is on Monday, then I'll go every two weeks. She still doesn't technically have a name, though we have a fall-back if we end up staring at a blank space on the birth certificate.

I guess that's all for now! Time to start school ...