Thursday, January 29, 2009

I heart cross-stitching

A year or so ago they opened a store near my parents' house called The Amish Barn. I visit that store as often as I can and I always find something to buy.

You don't see a lot of Amish-y stuff in Georgia, but Amish stuff is BIG in West Virginia. My sister lives in Greenbrier County and near her is a store owned by a Mennonite family. They sell meat, cheese, and assorted other groceries. They have a separate building that houses their bakery. Yep, that's right. A bakery. I love going to that bakery!

The Amish Barn is not owned by Amish people (of course!), but they sell items made by the Amish. They have some really nice furniture. I have plans to buy some furniture from them one day. They also have food stuff. My son likes a particular type of seedless black raspberry jam and they carry it. I can't remember the particular brand. I just know it when I see it.

They also sell pictures, frames, candles, and some primitive-type things. Last year I started buying these cute little cross-stitch projects from them. They are from the Gentle People Collection from Douglas Designs out of Arkansas. The designs all feature "plain" people doing "plain" things. I bought one that is a lady picking apples from an apple tree. Another is called "Corn Man" featuring a man in a corn field.

Here's one that is finished showing a mother with a mixing bowl and a little boy in front of her with flowers behind his back. It's called "Surprise!". I framed it just to see how it would look, but this is not the frame it will stay in.
After I get this set of 3 finished, I plan to put them in simple wood frames and hang them in my kitchen. I've been cross-stitching since I was in my early teens and these designs are basic, but finishing them just makes me very happy!

I really love to cross-stitch!

There's a website address on the designs I bought from the Amish Barn, but it doesn't work. I did find Jeanette Douglas Designs, but haven't been able to find the Gentle People Collection from her site. Maybe it's not the same place.

I'm hoping to cross-stitch all my female relatives something this year! I gotta get busy!

Oh, my heavens!

Last night I made Amish Style Oven Fried Chicken that I got from Farmhouse Blessings. It was delicious.

You know what? Delicious just doesn't do it justice. It was the BEST chicken I have ever made and I've made lots of chicken. My husband (who can be a little picky) could not stop raving about it. And my son begged me to make it again this week.

And it wasn't just delicious. It was pretty. Pretty chicken? Yes, pretty chicken. I should have gotten a picture, but after we started eating we couldn't put the chicken down long enough to pick up the camera. The chicken quickly disappeared.

That chicken is going in my permanent recipe box.

I had mashed potatoes and biscuits along with the chicken. I should have made a vegetable, but I was late getting dinner on the table and I was a little flustered. By the time the biscuits were done, we just wanted to eat.

Actually, everything I have made this week has gone over big.

I made Potato Soup on Monday, another recipe from Lea at Farmhouse Blessings.

I'll make an embarrassing confession here. I have NEVER made potato soup. My husband and I will be celebrating our 17th anniversary in September and I am just a few years shy of 40 and I have NEVER made potato soup.

I know it's silly, but I was a little intimidated by making this soup. I thought for sure I was going to mess it up. Actually, I did forget the butter, but the soup was still very good. I think I went a little overboard with the pepper, still it didn't make it bad. The soup was just peppery.

I didn't get biscuits made to go with the soup like I had planned. Next time I think I'm going to make Amish White Bread to go with the soup. I made this bread from Tammy's Recipes on Sunday and it was fantastic. I've used Tammy's recipe for Homemade Wheat Bread before and it always comes out great, but I have never made homemade white bread.The Amish White Bread was simple to make and had a great texture and flavor. The next time I try it I might turn it into rolls rather than a loaf of bread. I think that can easily be done after letting the bread rise the first time by placing three small balls of dough together in a greased muffin cup. After giving it some more time to rise, it should bake into a nice dinner roll. I'll be testing it out the weekend.

I've made chocolate chip muffins twice this week, once on Saturday and again on Tuesday. My son is a big fan of the store bought chocolate chip muffins. You know the overpriced ones that come from the bakery? Well, the recipe I got from Born Blonde was perfect. I thought the batter needed more liquid, but decided to trust her judgment (since she has, you know, actually made the muffins before!). She was right. The batter was perfect. The muffins were delectable!

It's a nice breakfast for my husband and son. I like that my husband can just grab them and go. (He prefers to eat in the car. It makes his 2 hour commute just a bit more tolerable.) I also like that I can fix them the day before and let my son eat them for breakfast. I'm not always in the mood to cook first thing in the morning. This is a good alternative for my son who has never liked breakfasts that are convenient for me. He won't eat cold cereal. Breakfast bars are not his thing. Poptarts are something he can take or leave. Chocolate Chip Muffins? Those are a winner.

I'm going to try these muffins later this week with strawberries instead of the chocolate chips. I think they'll be really good that way too.

So, it's Thursday and it's been one week since my family has eaten dinner out. That's a record, people! I'm still having trouble with lunch ideas for my husband. Here's the scoop. Maybe you can help!

He's not crazy about sandwiches. He'll eat them once in a while, but sandwiches for lunch every day is not something he enjoys. He doesn't have a microwave. Any suggestions? Maybe a thermos that will keep soup or something warm. I've even thought about buying a small microwave and having him take it to work. The cost versus eating out would make the investment worth it, I think.

I'm going to do some more research about it. Leave suggestions, if you have any!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday -- No Eating Out!

I spent some time last week working on our taxes. What a thrill! I also took the opportunity to add up how much was spent last year on eating out. The total was embarrassing! Therefore, I have determined to make it through an entire week without eating out. I'm ashamed to admit that would be quite an achievement for our family.

I looked over several blogs for some inspiration and came up with a menu with a little help from bloggy friends! I plan on taking some pictures this week of the things I'm cooking. I'm kind of excited about it!


B - Oatmeal or cereal, toast
L - Egg salad sandwiches, soup
D - Potato Soup, biscuits


B - Chocolate Chip Muffins
L - Leftover soup from Monday dinner or leftover egg salad sandwiches
D - Pinto beans, fried potatoes, biscuits


B - Oatmeal, toast
L - Sandwiches, soup
D - Amish Style Oven Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, salad


B - Oatmeal or cereal
L - Sandwiches, soup, or leftovers from dinner on Thursday
D - Sausage Potato Casserole, fruit


B - Oatmeal or cereal, fruit
L - Leftovers from dinner on Thursday
D - Sweet and Tangy Sloppy Joes, fries


B - Sausage biscuits
L - Roast Sticky Chicken, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, rolls
D - Leftovers


B - Leftover sausage biscuits
L - Roxann's Mexican Enchiladas, salad
D -Leftovers from lunch, Strawberry Cake (Randi used blueberries, but I'm using strawberries)

Looks pretty good, doesn't it? And I'll have some pictures this week to prove it! So stay tuned!

Go check out some other great menus!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why I can't get rid of my cable company

I'm annoyed with my cable company (Comcast, if you are interested in knowing which one). They charge ridiculous prices to loyal customers, while giving their new customers the best rates. Also, their customer service is non-existant. I have never run into so many people that work for a company and couldn't care less about customer service. After trying to resolve some issues last week, I was flabbergasted by the lack of quality customer care.

So, I'm on the lookout for a different company. Come to find out, my particular little area of metro Atlanta doesn't offer a lot of choice when it comes to cable television. We've heard bad things about DirectTV, so haven't been interested in going that route. Not yet, anyway.

The aggravation of it all makes me want to just get it all disconnected and become one of those unplugged families. Sometimes it seems like it wouldn't be that great of a loss. I've watched a lot of garbage on TV.

For instance, I used to watch Oprah and Dr. Phil all the time. Every weekday. Had to watch it. I stopped that a few years back. I decided that's just a waste of a couple of good hours. So, while for years I thought I couldn't live without it, those shows have been very easy to give up.

I haven't watched soaps since I was in high school (Santa Barbara used to be my fave -- anybody remember that one?). And those judges shows that dominate daytime TV? Yuck. One of the many good things about homeschooling is it makes you keep the TV off during the day. I don't think I'm missing anything. I might turn it on once in a while to look at the news, but 99 percent of the time, my TV is not on during the day.

I have had to weed out my TV viewing over the past couple of years anyway. Maybe getting it all turned off wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Some of the shows that have fallen by the wayside or are on the chopping block include:

1. Without A Trace -- good show, but not good enough to make the cut.
2. Supernanny -- after a while, I just wanted to smack the parents and take the kids and raise them myself.
3. Wife Swap -- was interesting the first season in a "social-experiment" sort of way, now it's the same thing, different families every week. It was super easy to give this show up.
4. Samantha Who? -- I thought this was kind of a cute show, but I don't have time for cute. It got cut after half a season.
5. Grey's Anatomy -- I tried to hop on this bandwagon, but I didn't get past the third episode of the first season.
6. ER -- I know. I'm horrible. How could I let this show go? I watched ER for YEARS, but every season it stole a bit of my soul. After Dr. Carter left, I had to go too. I've tried to watch this last season, awaiting Dr. Carter's promised return, but I have the last 2 episodes waiting on my TiVo and haven't attempted to watch yet.
7. The Office -- This show has some amazingly hilarious moments, but I'm getting tired of it. With regret, I might have to give it the old heave ho.
8. The Biggest Loser -- Can't handle another season. Yes, I am trying to lose weight, but it's not motivating to me in the least. I wish all the people on there the best, but 2 hour shows every week? Too much. Gotta go.
9. Lipstick Jungle -- Who needs soap operas during the day when they have one on Friday night at 9 p.m.? I have watched 2 seasons of this show and I still don't know why. If it is renewed, I will not be watching it again.

It would be easy to say goodbye to stuff like that, but giving up cable TV would also mean giving up these shows that I really feel like I couldn't live without. Okay, I could live without them, but I would always miss them.

1. Life -- I love Damian Lewis. I love this show. I hope, hope, hope NBC keeps it on for a while. I have fears that it won't make it next season, but I will stick with it until it gets the ax.
2. Lost -- How can this show get better and better? It does. It really does. People, if you don't watch this show, give it a chance. Rent the first season DVDs and you will not be disappointed. Believe the hype.
3. Eli Stone -- I'm holding on to this show, hoping it will get better. The first season was AMAZING and I am not just saying that because I heart George Michael and watching him takes me back to my Wham! days. The first season was really good. The second season (sans George Michael) is not as great. I still hope ABC gives it a chance to make it.
4. Monk -- Evan and I watch this show together. It is consistently good.

I also love catching old episodes of Andy Griffith. I would really miss TVLand. Hallmark shows some good movies sometimes. I would miss the heartwarming stories.

And living without Turner Classic Movies? I don't think so. I think it is the best contribution Ted Turner has made to society (and that includes his billion dollar contribution to the UN). I love old movies and have watched some terrific stuff I would have never known about without TCM.

I am positive my husband wouldn't approve of me giving cable the boot. First of all he could not make it through college football season without it. Then there's basketball, NASCAR, baseball season --- even I would have trouble giving up watching the Braves.

My husband and son watch Heroes and love it. They also watch Smallville. Hubby also likes Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, any sci-fi stuff really. And he just recently started loving House. I don't get that show, but he likes it. Reruns of it constantly clog up my Now Playing section on TiVo. My TiVo.

And that's another reason giving up cable would be hard. How could I say goodbye to TiVo? It has never done anything to harm me. Only making my life easier and making me less of a slave to the schedules set up by heartless TV executives. I couldn't say bye to TiVo. It unconditionally loves me.

So, there's the rub. I want to punish Comcast by taking my business elsewhere, but it seems I am hooked. I'm still gonna look around more, but right now I'm sticking with them.

Feel free to tell me all about your "must-sees" on TV!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things making my head spin

1. I keep thinking it's January 5th because we went out of town for an extra week and I can't catch up with the calendar.

2. I'm up to here with adverbs, but they're still talking about them in my son's language arts book, so I gotta go with the flow.

3. Because of headspin #1, I am behind in my goals for the New Year.

4. I can't make myself care about my goals for the New Year (which mainly focus on organization and --- big surprise --- losing weight).

5. It's only January 15th and I'm ready for spring.

6. I still have a pumpkin on my front porch. A pumpkin. From Halloween. I didn't even realize it until I pulled into the driveway this afternoon.

7. Last day for Spring Baseball sign up for my son is Saturday. As in Jan. 17th.

8. That means baseball practice starts in 2 weeks and life becomes a little more complicated.

9. I'm craving a sandwich with fresh garden tomatoes and mayonnaise on white bread.

10. The farmer's market in Acworth does not open until June.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Sometimes I wish I had little cards that I could carry around with the definition of the word tact on them. Some people just don't know what it means and I think they could benefit from the knowledge.

**It's kind of funny that I am writing this because I can be the queen of foot in mouth disease, but I have never made the following faux pas**

This has happened to me twice, which is why it bugs me twice as much. The first time a great uncle said it to me at some family get-together. This second time it happened at my aunt's funeral. The offender was someone with whom my family went to church.

Me: It's good to see you. Thanks for coming.

Offender: How are you? Where are you living now?

Me: Acworth, GA. It's near Atlanta.

Offender: Oh. I was in Atlanta once. {Here's where I start to cringe, cause I can really tell what's coming} I was there at a conference.

Me: What kind of conference? {Trying to head off the inevitable, knowing this guy has zero tact}

Offender: Just blah, blah, blah...{Can't remember what he said. I wasn't listening. Here comes the why you gotta tick me off? part} Atlanta's not my cup of tea.

This is what I don't understand. Why would you tell someone who chooses to live in a certain area that you don't like the area in which they have chosen to live? I have the same problem with people who tell me what I order at a restaurant is disgusting. I'm not going to offer you some of my food and I'm not inviting you to visit me, so I don't need to know your opinion about every single detail of my life.

I wanted to say that to him, but it was definitely not the time or place. I just wish he would have realized that.

It'll probably be another 15 years or so before I see the guy again. I will have my comeback ready by then!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I've been away

My family might have been a bit weird, but my dad, his two sisters, and all their related kin got together at my grandma's every single Christmas as I was growing up. We spent Christmas Eves together and got together on Christmas Day. We spent Thanksgivings together and a lot of other holidays.

We were a close bunch.

It never exactly changed. To this day Christmas Eve finds us at my grandma's house eating and opening a few gifts. Christmas Days have changed. As the kids have gotten married, we tend to go to the in-laws for Christmas Day. But Christmas Eve remains remarkably the same.

This Christmas we had planned to stay home in Georgia. Last Christmas my father-in-law passed away on Dec. 27th. It was a hard Christmas last year, so we wanted to spend a quiet Christmas at home. But plans change. My aunt was diagnosed with cancer in early December and my dad told me it might be her last Christmas. I knew we had to make the trip back home.

We spent a week at Christmas in WV with family. I spent most of my time staying with my grandma (who is 89 and also in ill health) while other family members traveled back and forth to Charlottesville, VA to be with my aunt. She was in the hospital for a few days before traveling back home and dying in hospice care on Jan. 3rd. Her funeral was last Tuesday and my son and I spent last week with family while we all said our goodbyes to my aunt.

She was an amazing woman. She was the Deputy Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Labor at the time of her death. She was always very work oriented, being promoted to a leadership position at every job she ever had in a short period of time. She was focused and committed. She was a hard worker and many people will remember her as someone who didn't suffer fools gladly.

But she was something else too. Underneath the fire, she was very caring. She would give anything to help a family member or friend. She was too generous for her own good and never really understood how much she was loved.

On a cold, rainy day last Tuesday in Beckley, WV, around 200 people gathered to bid my aunt farewell. Many of those mourners made the trek to the little cemetary in Sophia to say goodbye as she was buried. Family, friends, and co-workers all shared some time to talk about what a great person my aunt was.

Her death was unexpected. We thought something could be done to buy her more time. I think she deserved a better ending, but, as Christians, we leave all of that in the hands of our Lord. I know she's in a happier, pain-free place. That knowledge makes her death easier to take, but in no way makes it easy.

Bye, Fran. I love you.