Monday, October 31, 2011

photo shoot with my nieces

We drove down to Alabama this weekend to visit my sister, Kim and her family.  As soon as we got there, Haley and Alexis (9 and 6 years old) started posing for the camera.  I got some really good shots of them!

These are few of my favorites.  Of course, out of 743 pictures, I have many more!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

tuna burgers

Our family has always loved tuna.  It's been a staple around here for as long as I can remember.  No matter how you prepare it, it's a very inexpensive meal.  One recipe that we particularly enjoy are tuna burgers.

Mix together:  
 2 cans of tuna (drained)
 1 piece of bread broken into pieces
 1 egg
 2 Tbsp. chopped dill pickles
              (I like more though!)
 1 1/2 Tbsp. mustard

Add cornmeal to make patties hold together.  If the mixture is too wet, the patties will fall apart in the pan.

Heat oil in a skillet and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal.  Brown patties on both sides.  I like for mine to be crusty on the outside.  I've found that it's easier to achieve this if you cook them in a cast iron skillet.

When they're finished cooking, just prepare them like you would a normal hamburger and enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

studying history...

Recently, Mama decided to forego history textbooks for Sarah and create her own curriculum so that she could spend more time studying specific areas of interest.  Translated into stay-at-home homeschool graduate language, this means that I am now responsible for creating this personalized curriculum.  Not that I mind.  I absolutely love history.  It's just that the task itself is a little daunting, not to mention time consuming! 

The subject matter is the Civil War or, depending on where you're from, the War of Northern Aggression. ;)  It's amazing to me how few people actually know what caused the war.  Most would reply slavery.  And while that was a factor, did you know that more than 80% of the Southern army were not slaveholders, nor did they have any interest in the institution? 

Although, the urge to get on my little "historical soap-box" is very tempting, I will refrain.  However, it is a subject definately worth studying.  I continue to learn new things every day.  I just hope that I can articulate it to Sarah!

So here I sit, perched on the couch in the midst of books, pages of notes scribbled in my dreadful left-handed script, a list of websites and databases, compiling the information I find while trying to block out the strange conversations coming from the kitchen.  (Cleaning out the refrigerator always produces interesting conversations and exclamations, but when the persons participating happen to be Mama and Grammy...let's just say the line between interesting and strange becomes slightly blurred!)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

special spaghetti sauce...

When I was little, my mom canned a huge batch of spaghetti sauce.  The recipe she used called for cheese which, of course, burned.  The result was a lovely homemade sauce with a slightly scorched taste.  It took a little while to get used to, but we actually got to liking it.  Did I mention that she made a HUGE batch?  I think it lasted a little over two years.  When we finally ran out we went out and bought a case of sauce at the store.  Would you believe that after two years of scorched sauce, we could hardly eat the "normal" stuff!

Now, Mama cans all of the garden tomatoes to use for soups, so we have to buy sauce.  Over the years, I think we've tried just about every brand of spaghetti sauce on the market, but we just couldn't find anything that we liked the taste of.  Finally, we decided to make our own again.  Instead of homegrown tomatoes, we buy plain tomato sauce and add our own ingredients to it.

After trying several different brands of tomato sauce, we finally settled on 8 ounce cans of Happy Harvest from Aldi.  Many of the other brands we tried were greasy. 

We add four different kinds of herbs as well as garlic to the sauce. 

Italian Seasoning

Just add to taste.  We like a very flavorful sauce so we add quite a bit of each.  Our family is also very partial to basil, so we add a bit more of it than the other herbs.

Add minced garlic cloves.
This is also to taste.  We LOVE garlic, so we usually use one clove for each 8 ounce can of sauce.

Mix well, heat thoroughly and there you have it!  A wonderful spaghetti sauce perfect for any dish.  It also gives a wonderful Italian fragrance to the kitchen!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

thirty-something years ago today...

Thirty-something years ago today,
my favorite (and my only) big sister was born.
The world didn't know it then,
but God sent us a very special person that day.
She was almost a teenager when I came along,
 but unlike most people that age,
 she still loved to play with me
and treated me like the little angel I certainly was not.
To me, she was "Sissy".
That is, until I became "too old" for such sissy-ness.
Today, it's just "Kim"
and I look up to her as much now.
as I did when I was little.
A wife and homeschool mom of two,
and one of the busiest persons you'll ever meet!
She has great taste in everything,
she makes beautiful (and tasty!) cakes,
an expert wedding planner and decorator,
and has a closet full of clothes
 that make me wish I wasn't the tallest!
There's more I could say, but
I just can't seem to find the words.
I love you Kim!
Have a blessed birthday!

The actual age of the birthday girl was not given to protect the author!

Monday, October 17, 2011

and so it ends...

Eight weeks.  Eight weeks!  It makes me tired just thinking about it!  Eight solid weeks of festivals and here we are at the end of the tunnel.  At least, we're hoping that's the case.  Technically, we were supposed to have 9 festivals in a row, but Daddy is considering dropping the last one.  He hasn't made the final decision yet, but the rest of us have our fingers crossed!

It would be interesting to know, how many potatoes we washed during the past eight weeks.  We didn't have them every week and each festical requires a different amount.  Just for this past weekend, Mama, Sarah, and I washed 450 pounds of potatoes.  That amounts to approximately 700 potatoes.  Believe it or not, it only took us about 3 hours to wash them all!  And yes, we sold every last one of them.

Sarah, hard at work washing potatoes.

And so, it is time to relax, get caught up on house work, reading, and everything else that has fallen by the wayside these past eight weeks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bible reading challenge

This challenge comes from Grace and Sarah Mally at Grace Notes.  Speed reading the Bible between now and December 31st.  15 chapters a day.  Yeah, it's a lot to process, but it's doable.  Sarah suggests reading 9 chapters in the morning starting in Genesis, 2 at lunch starting in Psalms and Proverbs, and 4 before bed starting in Matthew. 

It seems a bit crazy, but it's a really good idea.  Reading the Bible slowly throughout the entire years makes it difficult to really see the big picture.  It also is such a slow process that people that suffer from ADD (like me!) rarely make it to April or May without slipping way off schedule, if we don't just stop reading all together.  So, when I saw this challenge today I got really excited.  It seemed like the perfect thing for me. 

I plan on starting tomorrow morning.  Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

on a rainy day...

I'm sitting at my sewing table listening to the rain pounding on the roof.  I just love rainy days.  That is, I love watching rainy days through a window.  The gray sky, the dim light, the soothing pitter patter, and on cold winter days a fire and a cup of tea.  Love it!  However, getting out in the rain is a completely different story.  I don't like getting wet.  I don't even like going swimming these days.  But, it always happens that God sends the rain on the days that I'm out the most.  I suppose He sees it as character building.  I've already dried out once from going out this morning.  Now, I am psyching myself to brave the vicious precipitation for a piano lesson later. 


This past weekend we were in the small town of Athens, TN at the Pumpkin Town festival.  I grew up just north of there in the even smaller town of Sweetwater, so, it was kind of like going home.  We saw a lot of people that we hadn't seen in quite a few years.  One gentleman was a member of the little church my dad pastored when I was little.  We hadn't seen him in about 15 years.  Others we saw were members of our old homeschool group and other people that we don't see much of since we moved to Cleveland.

Jennifer, one of my oldest and very best friends, stopped by to see us.  I don't get to see as much of her as I would like, so it was a real treat for her to come.  She and her family just got back from Ghana a few weeks ago.  They were there visiting their new brother, Nicholas.  I can't wait to meet him when they are finally able to bring him home.

Oh Jen, we've been through so much together!  I think she knows just about everything about me that there is to know.  That's kind of a scary thing now that I actually think about it! 

We've been best friends since we were about 7 years old.  We met when we were both on the homeschool basketball team.  Yeah, you read that right.  A group of homeschooled 6 to 9 year olds on an actual basketball team.  It was just as scary as it sounds!  But we survived!  Maybe a little scarred from the experience, but we survived!

I love you Jen!


Before we got busy, I had a chance to walk around the block and see what was going on.  Upon turning a corner, what should I see, but a big banner that read "Creation Museum".  I was sooooo excited!  I've always heard about the Creation Museum, but I've never been.  My family has only been north of Knoxville three times that I can remember, so we've never really had the opportunity. 

The gentleman running the booth was very friendly.  We talked way longer that I intended to.  It was so nice to discuss my beliefs with someone who understands.  So many times I feel as if I'm being judged when I voice my beliefs.  His conversation was really a breath of fresh air!

He gave me this book: Already Gone, by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer.  I've been wanting to read this book ever since I first saw it in a catalog, but my book budget kept interferring.  I'm already about a third of the way through it and I have to say that it is one of the best books I've ever picked up.  Every professing Christian should read this book.  It is a definate eye opener concerning issues that many of us have chosen to turn a blind eye to.  It is truly a must for every Christian library.


In my spare time, I've been tying up some loose ends in the sewing room.  Here's a little project that I started several months ago and then forgot about.  It's a large bag made from some of my Thimbleberries scraps.  I finished it last night with the assistance of Misses Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. :)

Genevieve was kind enough to model the finished product for the camera.

I got to use it for the first time this morning to carry my books with me to a class I've been taking.  It carried quite nicely I thought.

Here's a picture of the burgandy afghan I've been working on for the last few months.  I was commissioned by my aunt to make this after complaining of boredom back in the days of my nannyhood.  I've finally reached the home stretch in this project.  It's been one of the easiest crochet projects I've ever undertaken.  Easy, as far as the pattern, that is.  Making an afghan is still an arduous task no matter how easy it is.  I've never actually finished one.  I started one many years ago and ended up turning it into a scarf.  Mama is a really big fan of this one.  I think she might be planning to take possession of it herself!


Wow, this has been a really random post.  Sorry about that!  My mind is about as random as they get.  ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

my dear Claudia

A dear friend you have been to me
These ten years past.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe
They went by so fast.
Remember how I used to moan
And wriggle on the bench?
Practice hard, I did!
Although, my teeth were clenched.
I remember wishing desperately
To be in another land
When that massive book of Hanon
Slouched upon your stand.
Then came the Minuet in G
And Beethoven’s Fur Elise.
Happy was the day when
From those melodies we were released!
Now, here we are
Treasured old friends.
We’ve had good times and bad
But we’ve made amends
Thank you, my dear
For seeing me through.
That annoying child you feared
Would bring harm to you
By banging on your keys
Has come to love you
And your tinny melodies.
So, though I’ve said it before
I’ll say it again.
I have been blessed to have you
Claudia, my dear, dear friend.

Yes, I named my piano.  What can I say?  I suppose Anne Shirley was a bad influence on me...  ;) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the nillie bipper

This past weekend we were at the Nillie Bipper Festival in Cleveland.  Yes, I know it's a strange name.  It's named ofter Mrs. Billie Nipper, a local artist.  I have a hard time remembering that her name really isn't Nillie Bipper.  Why they chose to mix it up, I don't know.  Anyway, it's one of the best art festivals in the area, topped only by Prater's Mill.  My Grandmother came down and brought my aunt's Canon (yay!), so I was able to take a few pictures in my spare time.

 There were so many jewelry makers that it was hard to decide which one was my favorite.

This booth was across from us.  I was so distracted by all of the colors that I finally had to get a picture!

This gentleman was selling these one-string instruments.  I don't really know what he called them, but he could play just about anything on them.  You can just barely see it, but the string is attached to a Spam can tucked under his arm.  Now that's what I call creative!

This booth smelled sooooooo good!  These candles were amazing!

This man was also set up across from us.  He had these really cool wooden lid-openers.  Mama bought quite a few of them for Christmas gifts.


On our end, we had a really good time.  We weren't as busy as we would have liked to have been, but we still had fun together. 
 Me trying to stay warm on the way to the Exhibition Center.  Notice the fuzzy scarf!

 Sarah gets a little silly when she's cold...

 The 3 youngest.  Jimmy, me, and Sarah.

My favorite little sister! <3

 Samantha (Jimmy's wife) brought Mackenzie, Mollie, and Carter to see us.  I had a lot of fun taking pictures of them.


 Mollie Grace

 Carter Reid
(Aren't they adorable?)

 Talking with Mimi.

 Amusing themselves with paper plates. :)

I absolutely LOVE this picture! His expression is priceless!

Anyway, that's my weekend in a nutshell.  A big thank you to my aunt who is letting me borrow her camera.  I'm absolutely loving it!