Thursday, December 18, 2008


I just realized that everyone but me is napping. The baby, my little guy, my hubby and the dog! All that I hear is the hum of the dryer in the background. I do love a moment like this every now and then.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Getting busy in the kitchen...

It seems that I have fell of the edge of the blogging planet, I'm sure a lot of others have too with the holidays here. I've been in the kitchen making candy, if I see one more caramel I think I might get sick. The driving force behind all my candy making is gifts for my family. There are a total of five of us, three boys and two girls. Two of my brothers are married with four children each and one is 19 and still lives at home. My sister is married with 2 children. We normally exchange 'family' gifts each year and when you have so many people to please with your present, candy seems like a pretty safe way to go.

It's kind of fun, finding different things to make. Last year I made homemade marshmallows and they were a hit. I made them again this year and this time I made chocolate ones too, they are so good. If you have a good mixer it is a pretty simple recipe, I will try to post it on my recipe blog in the next few days. I also made caramels, taffy, peanut brittle, cinnamon popcorn and hard candy last year. Everyone loved the cinnamon popcorn too, and I would love to oblige them again with it this year but I just can't get excited about the smell of cinnamon being stuck in my sinuses for a week. If you have ever made cinnamon candy, you know what I am talking about. I tried to add the cinnamon oil to the candy outside, but I still breathed a ton of it in. The cinnamon popcorn gets baked in the oven like caramel corn so there was no way to avoid the smell going all through the house. So far this year I have marshmallows, caramels and turtles. I think that I will also make cashew brittle and (I feel like I am going to cry) cinnamon popcorn.

It's always fun to see what everyone decides to give each year. One year we got a bunch of popcorn (un-popped) from and Amish company. Last year my brother and his wife gave every family about 15 pounds of Cheddar cheese. Seems strange but I used it all and I wouldn't mind if they did it again this year! I'm happy to carry on this tradition that started in our childhood, we always got to pick out a gift for each of our siblings. Oh, the stories I could tell. We always anticipated opening those gifts, and we were never disappointed. You could always count on your brother or sister to pick out something cool, they would never get you, oh, let's say, socks.

So we carry on, as long as good fortune allows. My wish is for everyone to have a wonderful Christmas, filled with good memories both new and old. I leave you now to don my apron and wooden spoon and whip up another batch of, well, love.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My store

Thanks to a recommendation of a fellow blogger, I have been working on setting up a little shop on They are a site that host sellers that have handmade/homemade products. I love to sew, for me it is relaxing and so etsy kind of gives me an outlet for my creative energy. This is my link:

I would love to know if anyone else has sold on etsy and if they have any tips at making it a success. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Josephine is doing great!

Just wanted to give a quick update, Josie came through with flying colors! The surgery was longer than expected, they had to do more than they thought. Even though it was more involved, it means that she will have an even better chance of functioning completely normally now. It is amazing how fast she has recovered, they sent her home after one night in the hospital. She has a large incision on her tummy and you can tell that she is uncomfortable at times but she is such a champ! Monday was the longest day of my life and I am glad that it is behind us. I am really looking forward to Christmas now that she has gotten through this. Thank you to all that sent up a prayer for her, I know that is why she has done so well.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Big Day

Just a quick note, my youngest will be having surgery at 7:30 AM December 1st. It is to repair a problem with her kidneys, she will be in the hospital for several days. Please pray for her and for all of us. Thank you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Porridge, not just for the 3 bears...

It's cold and rainy here this morning and porridge was the perfect thing for breakfast. I never even knew what porridge was for a long time, I just remember that it was in the story of the 3 bears. Then, when my parents moved to North Georgia, they found a wonderful granary in Helen, GA. It's called Nora Mills and they sell all kinds of delicious stone ground grains, flours and mixes. They always have their Pioneer's Porridge in a crock pot for you to sample when you go in. It has rice, cracked wheat, and white and yellow corn in it. I do mine in the rice cooker and eat it with a little honey or brown sugar. If I am feeling naughty I add a little real butter too. This is their website, I think that they ship their products.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Someone please save me from the candy corn

Okay, I am trying to post a recipe in my other blog but I just had to stop and post this. I have GOT to stop eating the candy corn! It's not even the good kind, it's a cheap store brand. (actually I like it better than the big name brand) When fall came around I was on a mission to find who was selling my favorite kind of candy corn. Target used to sell it a few years ago under their brand, Archer Farms. I broke out in a sweat when I couldn't find it this year. the mall the candy store had it. I only allowed myself to buy like 20 pieces, I was pretty proud of myself. I was in control. Then, I went to my brothers house for a family dinner and don't you know, his wife had some sitting in a bowl and it was THE CORN. I squeaked, "Where did you get this?" (along with other cries like "Noooo" and "I'm doomed", or so I am told) And she informed me that a local grocery chain was selling it under their store brand this year. What joy! I started planning a trip there immediately.

I did actually wait until after Halloween to go get it. The day after. It was 60 cents a bag, what a deal! I bought three. Now, here I sit with the last bag by my side and am thinking that if I put it back in the pantry then at least I would have to get up and walk each time I wanted a piece. But no, maybe it is just best to finish it off, there is only a little left. Yes, I think that I will just get it over with. Until next year anyway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back to the drawing board...

Well, both my auctions closed on eBay and neither one sold. There seems to be a ton of pillowcase dresses for sale on eBay, I didn't notice that many when I first listed them. There is another website called and it is for handmade items, vintage items and supplies for handmade items. I think that I will try it next, I am not ready to give up because I love making the dresses!

We did get some good news yesterday, my hubby has a second interview for a potential job, we are very hopeful. It does mean moving but that was kind of expected. I pray that we have good solid news before Christmas.

Well, most of my family is coming to my house for Thanksgiving. Last year they did too, along with my hubby's mom. It was great, the first time that I lived close enough to my family to have them for a holiday like that. I don't think that my oldest brother had ever been to any of the homes that I lived in, it made me so happy to be able to cook for all of them and serve them in my home as I have been to theirs many times. This year is traditional dinner, turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, mashed and sweet, green beans, homemade rolls, pies...the list goes on. Yum, I can't wait. I think that I will start some of my shopping this coming Monday and last year I made the potatoes a day or two before and just spread them in a 9x13 and froze them. It really cut down on kitchen time the day of Thanksgiving. Mom and dad will be coming to spend the night so I will have mom's help, which is great.

Good luck to everyone planning a holiday feast!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I must be crazy...

Well, I am sitting here questioning my sanity this morning. Yesterday we got a DOG. For people who don't know me, this is a BIG deal. Being such a clean fanatic, me and the word dog rarely go in the same sentence together, let alone the same house. But...she is an exception. First, most important to me, she DOES NOT shed. That was my biggest issue with our last dog. He was a shepherd and I just about lost my mind trying to keep the hair under control. Next, she is the breed that I grew up with so I am very used to having a dog like her around. She's a wire haired miniature dachshund, roughly four months old. My parents got her when she was four weeks but since they have another dachshund they decided to give her to one of the kids and we lucked out. Everyone here loves her...including me. I think that she is a keeper. She's great with the baby so far too. All in all, I don't think that we could have done better. The hubby really likes her too and he is a real dog person. Now if I can just get my three year old son to quit bossing her around...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting creative...

I have never been one to just sit there and just let things happen to me so when my hubby lost his job I immediately began thinking of what I could do to bring in a little extra cash. Whatever it was; I had to be able to do it at home with noisy kids in the background...and that didn't leave many options. Thank God that my mother taught me how to sew when I was just eleven years old. It is something that I really enjoy and have done a lot of over the years. When my twins were younger I made many dresses for them and now I am sewing again for my youngest. I also have made all the drapes in my house and have helped other people with theirs as well. So it only made sense to find a way to put my talent to use. After doing some research I have decided to make pillowcase dresses for little girls and sell them on eBay. I've posted a picture, I think that they are really cute. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Joining the unemployed...

Wow, it has been a while since I last posted! So much has been going on and truthfully I didn't feel like talking about it. My husband was laid off about a month ago. He is in the construction/automotive manufacturing industry and we have been through a lot in the last year and a half. After being unemployed for 10 months he took a position as U.S. President for a company based in Europe, it lasted for about 5 months and then they had to shut down due to the economy. I can't believe that we are going through this again. It is so stressful, you never know if today will be the day that he gets a call for his next opportunity. Every time the phone rings I jump out of my skin. And when something comes along and does not work out it is devastating. He has had a VP and Presidents title for the last 4 years so if he applies for something that would just 'pay the bills' he hears that he is "over qualified". How frustrating!

Also, our youngest is scheduled for surgery on the first of December. She is 4 months and will have an operation to fix a problem with her left kidney. She should be in the hospital for about 2 or 3 days and hopefully this procedure with fix her as good as new. Needless to say, I am thinking about it constantly and praying for her all the time. I will be glad when this year is behind us. Hopefully 2009 will be full of healthy children and a great job for my husband!

Monday, October 6, 2008

How to get it all done and still have fun

This may be one of my most valuable tips ever. It will help you accomplish more of your everyday tasks than any other I know. Once you try this you will feel liberated; freed from the oppressive rule of your daily household chores. You may even start to look forward to the work that you usually dreaded doing!

Okay, here it is: Buy a headset for your home phone. That's it. Let me explain how a headset can change the everyday grind from something you dread to something that you actually don't mind doing. When I get up in the morning I make my cup of coffee and I tend to the little ones. Make sure they have breakfast, get to the potty and get diapers changed. Then I don my phone and headset and I call my mom. As we chat about anything and everything I unload my dishwasher from the night before. We keep talking and I keep cleaning. Wiping counters, sorting laundry and making beds. On the other end she is doing the same thing. The only thing I can't do, for obvious reasons, is talk on the phone and vacuum. I even talk on the phone when I am cleaning bathrooms and mopping the floor. If I run out of things to talk about with mom I call my sister. When it's time to make dinner I pick up the phone and get cooking. It is so liberating!

You know, this makes me think of something that my mother once told me. When she was a brand new house wife she lived next door to a very good friend. They would get up in the morning and do their housework together. Literally one would go over to the others house and they would make beds and whatever else needed to be done together. Isn't that awesome? I think that talking on the phone to my mom or sister while I work is the next best thing to doing it side by side with them. And having a headset makes it possible.

Let me know if you give this a try!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How to make perfect lump free gravy

With Thanksgiving around the corner I thought that I would share my secret to perfect gravy. A lot of people tell me that they hate making gravy and they will shamefully admit that they will just use canned gravy or a gravy mix. Say it isn't so! Most of those "over the counter" gravies have MSG and all kinds of other stuff in them that does not belong on your Thanksgiving table. Here's my solution to making a great lump free gravy:

First, you have to decide what kind of thickener you are going to use. If you are going to make a milk gravy, you will want to use flour. If you are making a clear light brown or brown gravy you will want to use corn starch.

Next, you will want to get your thickener ready. Place the flour or cornstarch in a bowl and then slowly add a little milk, water or broth, first forming a paste. Don't add hot liquid or you will cook the flour or cornstarch. By making a paste first you are not giving the flour or cornstarch the opportunity to cook in a lump before it has been evenly distributed throughout the gravy. After you have a paste slowly start stirring in more liquid until is is thin enough to pour easily. Now set the thickener aside. If you have a pan with drippings you will want to place it in the stove over a burner. (assuming that it is stove top safe) If there is not a substantial amount of liquid you will want to add water or stock to the pan. If you don't have pan drippings to work with you can still make a very good gravy by using canned stock and reducing it a little bit. (boiling it until it reduces by almost half) Bring it to a boil and stir using a whisk to dissolve and lift any of the baked on bits in the pan. Once you have brought it to a boil you will want to quickly whisk in your thickener. Stir the thickener one more time to make sure that the flour or cornstarch didn't settle to the bottom. Then pour into the boiling liquid with one hand while whisking with the other.

It shouldn't take long for the gravy to thicken. I'm sorry I do not have actual recipe measurements, I just always guess. I think that I use about a about tablespoon of flour for every cup or so of liquid. When I am using cornstarch is is probably more like 2 teaspoons for every cup or so of liquid. I always check the seasoning as the gravy is thickening. If you are making a brown gravy, try adding soy sauce in place of salt sometime. Please comment if you have questions and let me know if you try this method and how it worked for you.

Mopping the floor...

I know that it sounds crazy but this is something that I am passionate about. There is only one right way to mop a floor. First, you have to vacuum it. Once I met this lady who was in the cleaning business and she told me that she mopped before she vacuumed. I will never forget that because it made absolutely no sense to me! I mop on my hands and knees using a wet bar towel. I fold it in half and then half again. I carry Lysol mixed with water in a spray bottle and I mist the floor and then mop over it with the towel. I cover about 8 to 12 square feet and then I flip the towel over and keep going. When the two outside sides are dirty I rinse the towel out under running water very well and then refold it and keep mopping.

I like this method because I feel like I can cover more area before I need to rinse out my mop. With a sponge mop I would be rinsing it out constantly. With a regular mop head on a stick I don't feel like I get enough pressure to actually clean the floor. When you are down on your hands and knees you see a lot more than you would if you were just standing and mopping. You can also get to the corners and the baseboards easier. There is something about a clean floor that relaxes me. I clean my house every Friday and I always do the floor first because it is the biggest and most physical part of the job. When the floor is done I feel like I am three quarters done with the house!

I would love to know if there is anyone else out there like me when it comes to mopping the floor. Incidentally, it also seems that if there is even the smallest sticky spot on the floor my feet will find it. That drives me crazy! I think that it also drives my family crazy to hear me going on about every sticky spot that I find but, oh well, I don't see that changing any time soon.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Going to have a busy day? Here's an easy dinner...

When I worked outside the home I used to love to make this vegetable beef stew for dinner. Now that fall is here I will be making it often. It's so simple, you'll need a crock pot to make it and you will want to start it in the morning. The only labor intensive part is peeling and dicing 2 small to medium potatoes, dicing half an onion and cutting up a carrot or two. Do that the night before if you are pressed for time in the morning.

Hearty Vegetable Beef Stew
1 lb. beef stew meat
2 small to medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots peeled and sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can of beef broth/stock
1 14 oz. can of cut green beans, undrained
1 14 oz. can of corn, undrained
1/4 to 1/2 c. red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Dump the ingredients into the crock pot in the order listed. What I love about this recipe is that you can put the beef in completely frozen, straight from the freezer if you want to. You can stir, but it's not necessary. Set on the low, 8 to 10 hour setting and enjoy when it's time for dinner. If you are home during the day you can give it a couple stirs but it's not really necessary until right before serving.

Let me know if you try it and how you liked it!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A mommy moment...

I just can't stop smiling. I have a two and a half month old and today for the first time I heard her laugh. It was a real belly laugh; I was tickling her cheeks and under her chin. I melted. She is the last of four; I have twin daughters that are 15 and a half and a son that is three. When I brought the youngest one home, my son looked at her and asked her " you like pink?" In the months before her birth I guess we had accumulated a lot of pink.

My twins are identical and even though they are alike in a lot of ways they still manage to have great differences. They are so smart and an awesome help with the younger two; I couldn't be more proud of them. You know, thinking back to when they were babies and I was just running in survival mode, I would have never guessed that they were going to become as diverse and accomplished as they are. I was practically a baby myself when they were born; God has been right there with them, there is no other explanation for the wonderful young women they have become. Oh, and one of the funniest things they ever asked me, "Mommy, who took care of us when you were little?"

My son is just a riot, so predictable and so personable. Like his sisters, he is extremely smart. He knew all his capital letters by the time he was two. I love the funny things that he says, and I hope I never forget them. They are precious. The first time he saw his baby sister breastfeed, he asked me what she was doing. I told him that she was eating her dinner. He replied, "No, she's eating you." And besides the time he made sure to specify that he wanted the milk that came out of the refrigerator that was all he ever said about that.

Some days I can't believe how blessed I am to be the mother of four of the most wonderful children. I also have to laugh at how crazy and tense and silly it can get around here. I love them, I fear for them, I worry for them, I push them to be their best, I make them mad at me. Oh, but I do it all for them, I hope that they know that some day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A bit too obsessive with the cleaning?

I can't help it; I love clean, I love organized. I sing the praises of Lysol and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I follow my family around and pick up after them to the point of annoyance. My kitchen sink sparkles and my trash cans are always empty. I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with vacuuming at 9:00 at night. Or cleaning your baseboards once a week. I bought a new vacuum just for the accessory that is for cleaning window blinds. Do I have a problem?

Just recently we were having someone over for dinner and I was doing my usual running around to get the house ready. As I pulled out a stool to stand on and readjust the folds of my living room window drapes, my husband commented "I didn't know that Martha Stewart was coming over." Doesn't everyone do that? It's like, if I know that something somewhere is dirty or unorganized...I can't forget about it. Once it is done, it's like cleaning the cobwebs out of the corners of my mind. That's the best way that I can explain it.

That's why I titled this blog Betty Crocker or Off Your Rocker. I'll let you decide which of those I might be because I am too busy reorganizing my Tupperware cupboard to worry about it...