Friday, November 23, 2012

My Floors are Coming!

The countdown is on!  The installation date for our new flooring for the house is Monday!  I am scrambling trying to get the last bits and pieces done before then.  I still cannot believe it.

All the painting is practically finished.  Just two walls in our bedroom are left and some touch up in our bathroom.  I would like to paint the laundry room, but we will see.

I have been on top of the children to get their rooms in order.  They are spending the next few days with my parents. So, I won't have them underfoot in the final prep.

Hubby and I will be finishing the painting, moving some items into the garage, and taking items to Goodwill.  I have been making a pile to donate.  With all the 'moving' that will be taking place, I decided to treat the process as moving.  What would I not want to take - donate pile!

Hopefully, the weather will be nice and everything will go as planned.  Pictures will definitely be posted!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Our family gathered at my parents' home today in celebration of Thanksgiving.  My sister and mother were busy fixing all the dishes for dinner when we arrived.  The house smelled wonderful!

My sister loves to cook Thanksgiving dinner.  She made a delicious herb stuffed turkey and crockpot macaroni and cheese.  We had sides of mashed potatoes, stuffing, creamed asparagus, corn, gravy and rolls.  The desserts were fabulous as well.  We had a special chocolate dessert, Oreo balls, pumpkin pie, banana bread, and pumpkin bread.  A feast was served!

As we ate, there was laughter and reflection.  We enjoyed each other's company. 

Once dinner was over we opened the first present to kick off the upcoming Christmas season.  A tradition my mother started twenty years ago.  Every Thanksgiving she gives everyone a Hallmark ornament.  She tries to get on ornament that reflects a hobby, interest, or special occurrence during the year. 

Every year when I decorate our tree, I remember the Thanksgiving and Christmas each ornament represents.  Our tree is full of memories.

I have labeled each ornament box with the name of the child it belongs.  One day when they are on their own, I will give them all their ornaments.  They will be able to reflect every year about the Thanksgivings and Christmases of the past when they hang each ornament on their own tree.

I am so thankful for my family.  My parents are my foundation.  They have worked hard all their lives to provide a wonderful family for my sister and myself.  My sister is my best friend.  She has been there for me and I for her.  My husband is my rock.  He works so hard to provide for us.  He makes sure we are comfortable and will do whatever it takes to make our life wonderful.  My children are my life.  The provide me so much joy.  I could not ask for more.

My nephew and Little Man

My mother, Egee and my niece

Little Man with a mouthful of dessert.

I realize how fortunate my family has been.  For this we are truly thankful. - Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Music of Thanksgiving

The Music Sandwiched In Program at the library today revolved around Thanksgiving.  We were treated to a fiddle player from the group Heartsease and Thyme. 

It was a delight hearing the melody of the fiddle and being transported back in time to that of the late 1770's.  Along with the music, we were given brief tidbits of information concerning Thanksgiving.  She read George Washington's proclamation to the Continental Congress of 1777 declaring Thanksgiving a holiday to be celebrated on December 18th.

The musician then forwarded the time period to the mid 1800's.  She recalled Lincoln's proclamation to move Thanksgiving to the last Thursday in November.  She played various songs of gratitude and thanks from that period.

The children listened intently and Little Man would become lost in the music and begin to hum along.  They recognized bits and pieces of the songs she played.

One of my favorite pieces was "Simple Gifts".  Just watching her play the fiddle was memorizing.

Again, she brought in the politics of Thanksgiving.  This time fast forwarding to 1939.  FDR was basically lobbied by Fred Lazarus, Jr (owner of the Federated Department Stores, later to become Macy's) to move Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November.  This was due to November having at times five Thursdays.  It was a marketing ploy to get customers to start shopping for Christmas presents one week earlier.  This was to help stimulate the economy in the midst of the depression.  Thus, the holiday was moved and has been observed on the fourth Thursday in November.

After this brief history lesson, she then played a selection from Ken Burns' Civil War Series. 

Finally, she told us about her fiddle.  I had been eyeing it the entire performance.  It was a lovely piece.  She told us she chose to play it because it was an American made fiddle and she was playing music from America.  The fiddle was not particularly old like some violins or fiddles.  It was made by a man in Louisiana.  It was a beautiful piece.

She ended the program with a tune called "The Mockingbird".  Once again, parts sounded very familiar to us.  She could make the fiddle sound just like a bird! 

This was a wonderful program that set the mood for a thankful Thanksgiving.

Music of America

We had a music filled day today.  The downtown library's home school program was Music of America.  Followed by the Music Sandwiched In program of Music of Thanksgiving.  Both were a delight.

The home school program focused on patriotic music.  There was a guest musician that played a fife, flute and piccolo.  Mrs. Jean accompanied on a drum and guitar.

The program began with a brief history of why a fife and drum were used in the military.  The Queen of England had been concerned with the British troops not marching in step like other countries military men marched.  She declared that a fifer and drummer should accompany the troops to keep them in step.  Their roll increased from that point.

The fifer held many responsibilities for the troops.  One fifer and one drummer were assigned to every hundred men.  The fifer was the predecessor to the bugler.  His fife would summon the troops to wake, eat, drill, etc. 

The children were delighted at the sound of the fife.  As Mrs. Kaitlin played the fife, the audience was transported back to the revolutionary war.

Mrs. Jean introduced music associated with the War of 1812.  "The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key was written during this time.

She moved along to the American Civil War music.  "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", and (a new one to many) "Goober Peas".  Of course, "Goober Peas" was a hit with the children.  Southern children know or should know that goobers are peanuts.  This staple of the south helped many a southern from starving during the civil war.

Next, the program moved into the music of War World I and War World II.  The children sung "My Country Tis of Thee",  "America the Beautiful", and (a new one to them) "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!"  They listened to Mrs. Kaitlin play a part of John Phillip Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever".  Then Mrs. Jean kicked off the swinging "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the Andrew Sisters.

Mrs. Jean then read of the poem 'Sing, America, Sing' by Gail Brook Burket.  This is such a relevant poem, especially in today's political climate.

Sing, America, Sing!

Take up your harp, America
This is the hour for song.
Let myria-throated harmony
Rise jubilant and strong.

Forward, invincible with song,
Loved homeland of the free.
With mighty steps and mighty songs, 
Achieve your destiny.

A singing nation can prevail
Against the strongest foe.
A singing people marches on, 
Undaunted as they go.

Then sweep the strings with valiant song, 
Let hill and valley ring.
Lift up your hearts and voices, all
America, and sing!

Then we sung along to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA".  Everyone left on a high note!

Oreo Balls

I wanted to make a different dessert this year for Thanksgiving.  Something bite size, but not a traditional cookie.  So, I decided to make Oreo balls.

They are very simple to make and a kid friendly recipe.


1 package regular Oreos
1 8oz package of cream cheese
2 cups chocolate chips

Here are the step by step instructions:

Put all the cookies in a gallon ziplock bag.

Crush cookies with a rolling pin.  Make sure you have removed the air from the ziplock bag.  I hit the cookies with the rolling pin to really crush them.

After the cookies are crushed, cube the cream cheese and add to the bag.  Knead the bag to mix the cream cheese and the cookies.

This is what it should look like once mixed, a cookie dough consistency.

Pinch off the dough and roll into 1 inch balls.  Place balls on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until the balls are firm.

Measure 2 cups of chocolate chips.  Place in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 second intervals.  Stir and repeat heating until all the chips are melted.

Using toothpicks, roll the balls in the melted chocolate.

Place coated balls back in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate.  Once hardened, place into a container and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Very rich and delicious!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pork Stroganoff

I try to use my slow cooker as much as possible with our schedule.  Our evenings are typically spent on the go, and we get home late.  We leave to early to eat supper before hand and I definitely am not in the mood to cook a meal at eight o'clock in the evening when we return.  So, the slow cooker is a life saver for our family.  A hot meal awaits us when we arrive home tired, unless I forget to throw something in it to cook!

I don't typically cook with a recipe book.  I own a few and skim the pages taking note on what sounds good to try and I will try them.  However, most of the time I just put together this and that and see what happens.  That is the case of tonight's meal of Pork Stroganoff.

Pork Stroganoff


1 lb center thin cut pork
2 large potatoes (sliced)
1 medium onion (sliced)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package onion soup mix
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Two large potatoes

1st potato in the cooker

Medium onion

Sliced and ready.  This was suppose to be a sweet onion, but my eyes started watering when cutting it!

Onions added to the top of the potatoes.

Cream of Mushroom and onion mix stirred together and now adding the sour cream.

Pork is added to the top of the potatoes and onions.  Both have been seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

Sour cream, cream of mushroom, and onion mix mixture is added to the top of the pork.

Slower cooker is set for 4 hours on high. 
Four hours later everything is done and ready to dish out!

I decided to make cheesy cauliflower as the side.  Although, I think I made to much sauce.
Dinner along with crescent rolls on the side.

Cheesy Cauliflower

16 oz bag  frozen cauliflower
1/3 c water
2tbs  butter
1tbs  corn starch
1/4 c half and half
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c milk

Add the water to medium sized pot and bring to a boil.  Add cauliflower to the boiling water and cook for eight minutes.  In another pot, melt the butter (use low heat).  When butter is melted, add the cornstarch and stir.  Add half and half to the cornstarch and stir.  Once blended add the cheddar cheese and continue to stir the mixture.  As the mixture thickens, add the milk and stir.  When the cauliflower is tender in the first pot, drain the water from it.  Add the cheese sauce to the cauliflower (salt and pepper to taste) and allow to simmer (stir occasionally) until ready to serve.

A quick and easy meal!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Family Outing at Biltmore

We spent a lovely day at Biltmore Estate with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew.  I can't remember the last time all ten of us were together for an outing!  It was wonderful to have an opportunity to spend together.

The holidays at Biltmore are extravagant.  The house was dressed in its finest Christmas decorations.  Garland, ribbons, decorated Christmas trees, nativity scenes, Santa nick-knacks, and a large gingerbread house are eye candy to the visitors, as they roam the rooms in the house.  A faint scent of evergreen and gingerbread set the mood for Christmas.  One could only imagine what the first Christmas guests felt when they entered the house on Christmas Eve 1895.

The Grand Christmas Tree in the Banquet Hall.  (This picture came in the photo sleeve.)
After we toured the house, we drove to Deer Park for dinner.  The buffet was delicious.  Prime Rib, turkey, catfish, beef brisket, egg plant parmesan with marinara, green beans with stewed tomatoes, mashed potatoes, sausage stuffing, collard greens, salads, fruit, waffles, omlets, grits, fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, red velvet cake, sticky buns, doughnuts, chocolate cheese cake, brown butter cake, rolls, breads, ect. graced the tables.  A culinary smorgasbord to please any family.

We ate our fill at Deer Park and longed for a nap.  No one left hungry.  My father seemed pleased with his birthday lunch.

Afterward, we drove on to Antler Hill Village.  Little Man couldn't wait to see the farm animals.  He was able to pet the chickens and rooster, a couple of goats, a horse and a rabbit.  Egee loved the horses.

The children played in the children's tree maze.  This was great entertainment for Little Man.  I may have to plan one for our yard!

We made our way to the winery.  Walking through the old dairy area is always a fun way to enter the winery.  Hubby and my mom sampled wine.  The rest of us meandered through the gift shop.  We sampled the wassail and I purchased a few packages to make at home.  The wassail mix always makes a perfect drink on a cold winter's day.

Santa Claus was at the gazebo area.  My parents took the children over to see him and had their pictures made.  I had just been thinking about the last time Little Man had a picture with Santa.  He must have been around two years-old.  He hates to get his picture taken, so I was so happy to find out they were able to get a picture.  Who knows, this may be the last one I get of him and Santa.  I hope not, though!

Little Man and Santa

Egee and Santa
As our visit came to an end (seven hours on the estate), we upgraded our tickets to season passes.  They were having a special upgrade for $29 more and I couldn't resist.  I want to take the children back in the spring, summer, fall and again at Thanksgiving.  We didn't spend time exploring the gardens, but will with season passes.  There is so much to do and see!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Little Boys

Life with a boy is definitely different than life with a girl.  I am blessed to have one of each.  Growing up with a sister did not prepare me for a life with a boy.  Having a girl first, still did not prepare me for a boy.  Unless a woman has had a son that is 'all boy', she will never understand a male.  Even then, she still will never understand a male! 

Here are just a few things I have learned in the last seven years.

1.  What would life be like to have a clean house?  Boring.

2.  Candy is evidently a meal to itself.  It doesn't matter what time of day it is consumed.

3.  Everything can be turned into a weapon.

4.  The cat can survive being held upside down and drug around the house because 'she likes it'.

5.  The border collie makes a great pretend deer to stalk and hunt.

6.  Sally B is a perfect bear to stalk and hunt.

7.  Fire is the BEST invention ever!  Whether it is helping make a fire in the fireplace or in the great outdoors.              

8.  Shirt and shoes are definitely optional attire (even in the winter).

9.  Extreme comfort is being able to just wear boxers all day.

10.  Video games are a must.

11.   Blocks and legos are great to build all types of weapons or just to build and knock over again
and again.

12.  The refrigerator is a boy's best friend, along with a full pantry and microwave.

13.  Dirt doesn't hurt.  Whether it is on the skin, hair, or clothes.

14.  Swimming in the summertime also equals a bath.

15.  Anything round can qualify as a ball.

16.  All sticks have a purpose.                          

17.  A boy is never full!  (He only claims to be full if he does not like what is being served or he wants to leave the table to go play.)  Five minutes after everyone is finished eating, he is starving.

18.  Aggravating your sister is a sport.

19.  Tempting fate is a must!

20.  Mom's lap is still the safest place to be.

21.  No matter what (unless it is your sister) you don't cry in front of girls.

22.  Why make your bed when you are going to sleep in it later.

23.  BB guns, bows and arrows, swords, and knives are essential boy things. 

24.  Tools are cool even if getting into Dad's gets you in trouble.

25.  Seeds turn into food!  Learning to garden can come in handy.

26.  Trees are for climbing.      

27.  Rope can be used for many things.

28.   Selective hearing begins at a very early age.

29.  When in trouble, bat the eyes and give a sheepish grin.  Follow by looking very sorry and saying I love you Mommy.

30.  Permanent marker are wonderful for making art on the walls and changing one's face into a tiger.

31.  There should be Halloween every month.

32.  Boy's can aim and hit the target when it comes to shooting a gun or bow and arrow, but not the toilet.

33.  I don't know and not me are his favorite phrases.

34.  Bodily functions are humorous no matter what.

35.  Boys need good men in their life.

36.  Mom's cooking is always the best.

37.  If you hold your hand under the water for a second and then wipe it on your dirty pants, your
hands are clean.

38.  Costco is the best grocery store in the world!  Free samples should be mandatory in all grocery

39.  Grandparents are a boy's best friend. 

40.  Shopping is only fun if it is for toys or if it includes going to Lowes, Academy Sports, or Bass Pro.

41.  Cooking is cool when you get crack eggs and lick the brownie batter.

42.  When taking a bath, one should dump half a bottle of shampoo in the tub to make bubbles, then fill the tub to the top with water.  This will ensure you get clean from top to bottom.

43.  Mom 'loves' it when the spray water bottle is used to drench anything that needs to be cleaned in the house.

44.  Boys are oblivious to messes.

45.  To stay in good graces with mom, give her several hugs a day and say love you.

I love my boy with all my heart.  He may drive me insane at times, but I don't know what I would do without him.  He can make my nerves frazzle one moment and melt my heart the next.  I love my Little Man!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Science Fun with Mr. Jack

We had library class twice with Mr. Jack today!  The kids love seeing what Mr. Jack has in store for them.  Today it was building tops and rubber band cars.

The lesson involved Newton's Laws of Motion.  The children had a blast creating objects from old cd discs, pens, pencils, masking tape, cardboard and rubber bands.  It is amazing how entertaining these objects can be!

Wrapping masking tape around his pen.

Egee got the hang of wrapping her tape.

Top is ready to try out.

Spinning tops with their friends.

Look at it go!

Seeing who's spins the longest.

Building rubber band powered cars.

The girls discussing how the car will work.

Assembling the wheels.

Mr. Jack explaining how to 'power' the car.

Racing the cars.

The children had a blast learning with their friends.  Thank you, Mr. Jack for your fun science lessons!