Friday, December 30, 2011

jigsaw puzzles

One of my favorite things about being with family over the holidays, is the ability to work jigsaw puzzles with people who love the insanity as much as I do. (Well, my siblings do complain about the ones I bring, but they've yet to start bringing other options so I think they secretly love the challenge.)  Last night at my mother-in-law's house I looked at my watch at 8pm, and then when Bobby said we needed to go and I looked at my watch it was almost 11pm. I was totally flabbergasted.

Tonight will end the last of our Christmas celebrations, and a small part of me is ready to get back to a routine and normalcy. The other part of me feels as if this holiday season has been one emotional roller coaster and I would love a check-out time from reality and life to just emotionally recharge.  And yet I know that life, like puzzles, work best if you take small breaks but keep working toward completion, even if you do feel like you're the missing piece (that your brother stashed in his pocket and took home until the next day) and nothing is ever correctly finished because of you.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure which I like best: borderless puzzles, or puzzles with countless objects inside the picture. We've done both the last two weeks. Straight color scenes/backgrounds continue to be my non-favorite. And if I ever get our last bag unpacked, I might actually post pictures of some of our holiday projects.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Every time I pack for a trip longer than two days, I can't help but hear my nephew's voice as he helps unload the van..."This is like moving!"  Oh dear one, you have no idea just how much stuff your Aunt Monica has!

But it does sometimes feel that way.  Clothes (both church and everyday), medical supplies, Christmas presents, a bag of things to do/read on the adds up fast! And this time there's the extra unusual things: a rabbit cage, a huge bag of food & bedding. Needless to say, our little van is often full!

This trip will be one of the two we've made in the last 12 years where I've NOT been overly stressed or exhausted before leaving, and I'm looking forward to it.  Traveling is so much easier (in my mind anyway) when I'm not already exhausted before we even leave.

So tonight I'm rejoicing that this trip has the potential to be so much easier, and that 38 is FINALLY over! Broken bones, overcommitment, pain, disaster, I bid you adieu!

Friday, December 23, 2011

a birthday story

What do you get when you combine Christmas caroling in the back of a pickup with a very pregnant deacon's wife?


They say the other deacons and the pastor followed the trail of hay to the hospital.
Somehow they convinced the nurse to carol in the nursery with "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".
They claim I screamed through it.
I'm still not crazy about that tune.
The words, however, are lovely.

I don't miss that story being re-told every year at church. Some things are worth hearing just once or twice.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

cookie bake

 This last Saturday afternoon Mary Booth and I had the privilege of having a "cookie bake" with the girls from the oldest Jr. Church class. (Kimberly had already left by the time we started the photo shoot.) We had a good time, even if I was exhausted when it was over. :)

 This is one of our two mishaps. My Mom's recipe calls these "russian tea cakes" and they are a very caky-type sugar cookie. There was a miscommunication on which container had flour and which had powdered sugar, so we wound up with almost 5 cups of powdered sugar in this recipe. :) Needless to say, they were super-sweet, a tad chewy when they came out of the oven, and next to impossible to get out of the pan. None of the girls wanted them. By the time they cooled, it was impossible to get them out. Thankfully Mary had the bright idea to soak the whole pan, cookies and all, in hot water. After a few minutes, the whole sheet came out. We had a good laugh over it. Note to self: next year label all containers.
 Gingerbread man.
And a plate of cookies I saved for Bobby. 

My favorite comment of the day: "Let's make these cookies REALLY big, so if Mom says we can have one cookie we can obey but have what we want."  When I went to get the pan, I realized they were NOT joking! One chocolate chip cookie recipe only made about 12 cookies. Yes, these girls know the meaning of supersize! :)

Mary suggested next year we bake gingerbread and sugar cookies in advance, and then just have a decorating party (we didn't have time to decorate anything).  I'm thinking that might not be a bad idea.

May your holiday baking days be joyous and filled with laughter!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the NC Governor's Mansion

My camera batteries died while were at the Open House, but here's what few photos I did manage to take.

 This pic is a little blurry, but the eagle supported tables in one of my favorite things in the Governor's Mansion.
 The first tree you see upon entering.
 And a close-up of the dogwood flowers that adorned it.

 The stair case has always impressed me, even though it's heavily masculine-looking. I know such detailed work in wood was not easy to do during that time frame, so that makes all the ridges even more impressive. The finials at the end of the staircase have Raleigh's oak symbol craved into each side, and for some reason, that always makes me think the staircase resembles nutcrackers.

 From the NC room...(again, sorry for the blurriness) a wreath made from dried tobacco leaves.

 The mantel in this room is covered in dried flowers and cotton balls. Notice the North Carolina trees below instead of the poinsettias that graced the rest of the mansion?

 And the table centerpiece...made from an Apex bakery, the gingerbread house is in the shape of a tobacco barn (and looks like wood!) and is placed on top of a burlap (tobacco) bag.

 Not sure of the schedule, but various school groups were singing (and they sounded good!) A new group was coming in to look around before singing as we were leaving.

The poinsettias were HUGE...the largest I've ever seen. At first we thought there were several plantings in one pot, but it wasn't. This is ONE plant.

I hate I missed getting photos of the dining room and front room. The dining room was done in an apple/lime green color. They had those tall cylinder vases all along the table, filled with assorted green ornaments, then the next one would be a different type of green ornaments, followed by green apples. The mantle there was also decorated in the same shade of green.  The front room also had a huge tree (matching the other tree in height) but was decorated in majestic colors of gold, silver, purple, and mauve...very ornate.

Oh! I forgot the's tree was covered in ornaments made by children of parents serving overseas (the ones stationed at Ft Bragg and Camp LeJuene).  It was very patriotic, bright, and cheerful.

And outside? Next to the entrance/security gate was a winter-garbed tree (void of leaves) covered in red ornaments. I told Bobby that must be their Charlie Brown tree.

If you've never been to the Governor's Mansion, you can either schedule a tour or watch for Open Houses in the spring or at Christmas. I think it's something everyone would enjoy. Granted, you don't get to see the actual living corridors upstairs, but it's still quite impressive.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the Wicked Chicken Auction

Every one in a blue moon we head to a small town called Wilson's Mills, where the Calamity Jane's store has a Wicked Chicken Auction every Sunday afternoon. Bobby's geese (we have 4 females left) have started fighting lately, something they've not done in the ten years we've had them. Even the chickens and rooster get upset and try to separate them when it happens. So we headed to the auction in hopes of finding a male goose. They actually had a goose that matches ours, and when the held it up before the bidding started, I was unable to see the tell-tale pouch (females have a saggy bottom on one side after they've laid eggs).  We got the goose for a VERY good price, got home, and realized it was a GIRL.  On the bright side, the four original geese are now so busy trying to keep away from the new goose that they are forgetting to fight.

While there, someone had brought in several boxes of 6 week old animals. Every pair had gone for at least $2 (some as high as 25), so I laughed and told Bobby I was going to bid $1.  I did, and the person behind me bid $1.50.  I thought I was out of the running, but after I turned from laughingly saying something to Bobby, the auctioneer pointed at me and asked for my number. I NEVER in my wildest dreams anticipated bringing these home, but we now have them. Bobby's now threatening to return my birthday presents since we have our new "pets". The first night they slept in the brooder box, and yesterday afternoon I got them a cage as we'll most likely take them to Alabama with us. After we got home last night, I fixed their cage and brought them inside. They keep us up most of the night. And now that Bobby has left for work, they're calm.

I have a feeling I may be in BIG trouble when we get to AL. 8 of the 10 items on my niece's wish list were animals. One of those animals was a rabbit. If it weren't for the fact I want to keep the relationship with my sister happy, I'd put two ribbons on this cage and two tags with the names of her two children and stick it under the Christmas tree. But I have this strange feeling that we might not be quite so welcome at their house if we did that.

At least life is never dull.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

a happy exhausted

For those of you who don't live near us, the property adjoining ours was sold about 6 years ago to our county for the purpose of building an elementary and a middle school. The town of Garner denied the building permit on the elementary school because of a political issue, then politics got VERY ugly around here with the school board getting a Republican majority that behaved very rudely and the NAACP came in full force and responded just as rudely back. Numerous lawsuits and newscasts later (plus a downturn in the economy), the plans for both schools are no longer even listed on the county's website as future school sites. Meanwhile, the county has leased the land to the city of Raleigh as a place to dump storm debris (trees and such) from government locations during the next five years. Our discussions of "what we want as a fence" on the property line stopped being discussions and are now 95% reality.

After evaluating prices and dreams, we finally ordered trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation. Granted, these are seedlings, so it will take at least 5-10 years before they actually look like real trees, but we were able to order ALL of them for the price of one grown tree from a local nursery. The downside? We have to do the work. Needless, to say, I'll be barely moving at the gym tomorrow (if I make it all!).

However, and here's my happy dance coming:

Our property line now consists of 6 hydrangeas, 6 forsythias, 6 crapemyrtles, 4 dogwoods, 1 Japanese maple, 1 smoketree, 1 sassafras, 6 rose of sharon, 1 red maple, and a weeping willow.

5 giant steps away from our property line is 16 southern magnolias (for a natural fenceline) with 10 red cedars on the way. I figure if the county is going to take their time about building, and their "buffer zone" between us and the school was only going to consist of 4 dogwoods and some shrubs, then I could spend $20 and help them out and plant trees in their buffer zone for them. By the time they ever get around to building/or selling, I should have a semi-decent tree/privacy fence in place on the buffer zone they promised in the plans. And if they tear it down, I'll only have lost $20 and one day of my time.

If every thing lives, I should have cool pictures in the spring! :)

FYI: And if you ever wondered, chickens are almost as bad as dogs for digging in the spot you just planned.

Monday, December 12, 2011

use your imagination

I'm at the public library where the computer screen tilts down at you in the most unfriendly fashion and am REALLY missing the comfort of my home "library".  We fried our internet modem Saturday, so it will be Thursday, at the earliest, before you can expect any more posts. I had planned to upload a few pics from our trip to the Governor's Mansion Open House on Saturday, but that will clearly have to wait. Meanwhile, I expect to get quite a bit done this week without the lure of checking e-mail biting into my free time. Hope your holidays are moving according to schedule and that you are remembering the reason we celebrate like crazy. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

strange gifts :)

I have an unusual sense of humor.
Last year Bobby got a gift that was hysterically funny.

Even funnier was his almost-a-vegetarian niece's facial expression when she found out he actually ATE it. :)

I won't tell you what it REALLY was. You'll just have to wonder. At least until after Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the most shocking Christmas book

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham has to be the craziest, most thought provoking, and insane Christmas book I have ever read. It's short. It's not a legal thriller or a "call to reform the justice system" as many of his books are. It's simply about what happens when a modern American family who celebrates Christmas in the traditional American way decides to skip Christmas. Literally.

Like anyone who's ever seen a show on hoarding suddenly decides to clean house, this book will totally flabbergast you into evaluating what you do that is and isn't important about the holidays.

a blow-up Frosty for your roof, anyone? :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

my favorite Christmas book

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson remains my all-time favorite Christmas book.  Yes, it's a child's chapter book, but I've not found one to beat it. I found a movie of the book, but we were very disappointed in it. It was made in the 1980's, and I thought the script writing was lame, especially after seeing the Garner Towne Players Youth do a great production based off of this book a few years ago. Evidently, a media group started making plans to write a screen play based off of the book last year, but there's been no word yet as to where or if it will actually be remade. So meanwhile, I'll just continue to read the book every year.

I'm actually getting my Mom a copy. My niece, who is 7, is the angel in their church play. While learning her lines and finding out that she "suddenly appears", she has become convinced for the play to be realistic she MUST be dropped from the ceiling somehow. According to her, everyone knows angels do not just pop out from behind a curtain. She's now on a mission to figure out who is "in charge" at the church so she can get help in being dropped from the ceiling by a rope or bungee cord. Seriously. When I heard this, it reminded me SO much of this book! If you've never read it, I challenge you to do so. You'll never view children's ministry, Christmas programs, or the Christmas story the same way.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Last Wednesday night our church looked at Psalm 139. I've read and known many of these verses most of my life, but have never really broken them down into a contextual analysis. Needless to say, those verses have been on my mind A LOT since this past Wednesday.

A few of the reality checks that brought them back to mind: a blog friend who is fighting cancer mentioned that one of her Thanksgiving praises was also her Christmas wish: more time with her family.

And yesterday, I received an update on a fellow believer, an imprisoned pastor. He was thankful for being allowed an extra 5 minutes every month with his wife. Instead of the allotted 15 minutes a month, the guard was letting him have 20. And this past month, they let him see his wife and small child from behind bars where he could actually semi-hug his son instead of only seeing them through glass. And why is he in jail? He preached and practiced God's Word in a land where it is illegal.

So in the midst of the craziness in this holiday season, while I'm fighting headaches and more pain than usual, these were very poignant reminders of just how quickly and easily my priorities can slip out of focus.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

my favorite Christmas movie

I love Schulz's Peanut gang, and there's nothing better to capture the total American spirit of Christmas than this movie. It gives you the misplaced priorities, the funny scenes, the hyped emotions, out of control Christmas programs and the simple reminder "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."  There's one or two Christmas movies I've never seen that I hope to watch this year, but I have a hard time foreseeing anything replacing this one!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas memories: Santa Claus

I don't remember ever believing in Santa Claus. I know we never sat in his lap. (Walker County didn't have a mall until I was in middle school!) I know my parents weren't opposed to the notion of Santa, as many of our presents were signed "from Mr. and Mrs. Claus" or "From Santa & His Wife" but I never believed. Maybe because I recognized Daddy's handwriting, maybe because I knew Santa used the same wrapping paper as my parents (or maybe because my little sister found the hidden stash of presents EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR).  But I do know by the time I was in middle school if any of my siblings joined me in making a gift for Mom and Dad, we would sign it "From Santa's elves". 

One Christmas I watched my brother-in-law set things up for his girls, and I asked him if he needed help wrapping presents (a lot of the gifts were unwrapped under the tree).  He looked at me like I was crazy and said "Santa doesn't wrap his presents. He doesn't have time."  I was a bit discomforted at the level to which they took the whole Santa thing, but like a good aunt, I would just listen. When my nieces asked me if Santa was real, I borrowed my cousin's example and replied, "What do you think?"

I think if we had our own children, I would probably be like my parents and let them know about Saint Nicholas and the myths, but I don't think I'd push it as something true that required letters and such. My first year in China, when we had an open house so our students could see American Christmas decorations, almost every group of students would have someone point to the wooden nativity and ask which one was Santa. It was quite sad. Seeing how people the world over know about our beliefs in Santa Claus but not our beliefs in Jesus really bothered me. To this day, the only Santa in my house are two small tree ornaments. Reindeer, snowmen, bears...yes.  And I recognize this is a very personal decision and I certainly don't have a problem with anyone else having Santa decorations, but it's just not for me. My husband was laughing at me yesterday asking just how many nativity sets I was going to use to decorate with this year, and found it funny that I forgot how many I had. But that's a post for another day. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

a Jesse tree

The Jesse Tree was created as a response to Christian parents who want their child to fully grasp the meaning of Christmas: the whys and hows of Christ's coming.  I have a family member and many friends who do it yearly with their children, and there may come a year when Bobby and I do it together. Who knows?

Here's what I've written about the Jesse Tree in the past:

And if you're interested in starting this Christmas devotional with your child, this website has free devotionals and ornaments. You do have to subscribe to either her blog or to have it e-mailed to you, though.

Let the Christmas posts commence! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


National Novel Writing Month officially ends tonight at midnight. Yesterday I received an e-mail telling me I need to validate my final word count. Because I've signed up in the past, I still get e-mails from them, even though I'm not participating. For one brief, crazy moment, I wondered if I dropped EVERYTHING and did nothing but write for 24 hours straight, could I complete 50,000 words and still post. Of course, the answer to that is a big, fat, resounding NO!

I seriously considered participating this year. I even mentally tossed around plot ideas for different books. But seeing as I'm downsizing in other areas, I decided that the month of November probably wasn't the most prudent time to tackle such an assignment. And I have no regrets about that decision.

So while I won't have a novel rough draft to in my stash by midnight tonight, I do hope to have all my Christmas decorations up and all props for Sunday's Christmas play near completion. For me, that will be enough success.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I'm a checklist kind of girl.
In college, one of my friends complained  that our conversations  felt like I had a list of things in my head to ask, and we simply jumped down the list. Sadly, many times that was the case. I was taking too many classes and working too much, and there simply was never enough time in the day to get everything done. I lost most of my neatness-freak characteristics during those years.
Yesterday was one of my checklists days, where I didn't have things down on paper, but I do have a huge mental list of things that need to be done this week. And last night when I finally crawled into bed, I was very happy because a lot of those things were mentally checked off. Yeah, I'm weird that way.
But day planners and written checklists don't work too well for me. I figured out how to cheat. :)
It's simply, really. You have this list staring at you, and at the end of the day, many of them are STILL staring at you because you simply don't want to do them. But you can't end a day where it looks like you've done nothing. So you quickly write down all the things you DID do, and cross lines through them. After all, no one is superwoman and can accomplish EVERYTHING. And you got a lot done, see? So all the un-finished things simply carry over to the next day, and the next, and the next. Some people call that procrastination. I call it an unfinished checklist.
So if I don't post pictures of my Christmas tree by the end of next week, you'll know it simply came off of my checklist. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011


Today I've been thinking a lot today about my maternal grandmother.
She was married to an abusive alcoholic.
She was a Christian.
She stuck with him to the day he died.
When she met Bobby, I remember her telling him that she was miserable until the last 7 years of marriage. Then her Pug (never did find out how he got that nickname) became a Christian, and those last 7 years were the sweetest years they ever had.
One of her sayings was "Love is not a water faucet that you turn on and off."
We were the same height, and I fear have a lot of the same personality characteristics.
I don't know why God blessed me with wonderful godly examples and the family he has, but I am truly blessed beyond measure. I hope I can leave behind half the legacy that she did.

Friday, November 25, 2011

a day of rest, a day of work

Thursday found us up early (after a very late night!) and headed out to be with family. It was a great day, and I enjoyed playing with my great nephews (the nieces were a tad occupied). When we got home, I got to talk with 2 of my 3 siblings, and then we headed out to "black Friday" shopping...a first for both of us. We were home and in the bed by midnight, with only minor complications. (Some idiot decided to play with Bobby's van; we had to take two parking spaces since there were no handicap spots available; thankfully everything was fixable.)
This morning we were up and at 'em at our normal time, and I was very pleased with the amount of work we accomplished today.
holes dug for property line seedlings coming soon

and the hole size

outdoor nativity set up, minus light

my new nativity window clings

Christmas tree #1 is up...the nativity

More early shopping in the am, then family stuff, and Sunday we head back to the normal routine!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a note

Dear Squirrel,
I'm sorry I laughed at you yesterday morning when you almost fell out of the tree. Your gymnastic feat was truly quite amazing. When the tip-top outermost branch you were on started to fall downwards and you began stretching and clawing at the air, I thought for sure you would have to grasp at the branch below. When you instead flipped upside down and started climbing the underside of the limb, I was most impressed, even if I did laugh.

I see you've been enjoying the pecans. That's nice. We like them, too. So would you PLEASE stop throwing the remaining 3/4 of the nut you've already nibbled to the ground below? It's not very appetizing to pick up a wet shell that has the top eaten off. Why don't you bury that one in your holes? I'd leave those alone if you did.

There's already been talk of acquiring a dog or a cat by a member of this household. I'm not in favor of the proposition.But if you don't behave a little better, there may not be an option. I really don't care to find your tail on the doorstep. That has happened to some of your relatives in the past, you know.

This world is nutty enough for everyone, but you have to share more than just what you've already chewed.
Just thought you'd like to know.

Friday, November 18, 2011

little stuff

Fisher Price toys....I love them. They were my favorite as a kid, I delight in watching the toddlers in the nursery at church play with them, and I was thrilled to find two almost complete sets at a consignment sale today (for Christmas presents). The Noah's Ark was missing half of its animals, but I was able to find them plus some extras at a store online. :)'s fun, but I'm finding I love it when one of two things happen: 1) it's a crazy quilt and there's no pattern to worry about it, or 2) there is a pattern that tells you EXACTLY what to cut and HOW to sew the cut pieces together. I'm working on a baby quilt for someone, and the "easy" pattern I chose is missing some very vital instructions. Let's just say my bear currently has one arm, one leg, a belly, one ear, and one cheek, though not all connected.

Hammering...I've spent several hours the last few days pounding at the outer shells of black walnuts. While it's messy on the fingers (my thumbnails are stained black), there's something quite satisfying about the smashing the smothereens out of something and finding something worthwhile inside.

Coldness...we've had "mild" winter weather this week (several mornings of heavy frost), but several of our trees still bear leaves. We've still got a LONG way to go before the depths of winter, but somehow I find myself looking for daffodil shoots, as if it's mid-January.  Perhaps I really am mental.

And last, but certainly not least...I am so blessed to be married to my best friend and to walk this life journey with him. I had to wait a long time to find him, but he was clearly worth the wait.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

one of my weird favorites

I don't know what is, but almost anything you're drinking tastes better with this:
Last year Kohl's had a machine on clearance (and I had a coupon) that will crush ice. I was so excited about it, and one of the kids (not sure if it was a relative or a friend's kid) gave me one of those you're-so-old-are-you-crazy-or-just-plain-out-of-touch looks and said, "Why did you buy a machine instead of just getting a new refrigerator?" Why, indeed.

But regardless, if you want to feel better, just add crushed ice to your drink. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

pumpkin rolls

I tried a new recipe this past week. I want to experiment with some spices as it didn't have quite the flavor I was expecting, but the texture was good.

And I was a tad surprised by the powdered sugar. The loaf absorbed it while in the refrigerator instead of accepting its "dusting".  This is one of those recipes I would only use if I have time when I'm working around the house (it took me a little longer than the recipe said).

You can see the recipe here. What do you do with your leftover Halloween pumpkin?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

a crazy time of year

This year we're not battling beagles for pecans: we're battling crows and squirrels.
We've read every other year the trees are supposed to bear well.
This was supposed to be a good year.
It's not.
I know my father-in-law planted two different types of trees in the yard 12 years ago, but I was amazed at the difference in the nuts:
 and just to emphasize how large and small they truly are, I stuck an average size nut between them:
I guess nuts, like people, come in all sizes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

while I'm waiting

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait.

Several years ago this song came out for the movie Fireproof. For the longest kind of time I only associated the song with the movie's theme (marital problems and selfishness), but yesterday some of the words came to mind while I was waiting to hear a response from a friend. I am so much like a child on Christmas Eve. I think the world is going to end if Christmas morning doesn't come soon, and I can hardly focus on anything else besides what I want. But life doesn't stop. At one point this song went flitting through my mind, and I realized how appropriate it was for EVERYTHING. No matter what I'm waiting on - an e-mail, a phone call, situations, exciting events - my job to praise, serve, worship and persevere continues. It seems such an oxymoron to be waiting for something but be busy at the same time. But I'm finding that's one of the best antidotes to not worrying and becoming anxious. It re-focuses me on what is important and what I CAN do through Christ. And that is freeing, indeed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

my new jokes

During the slow elections yesterday, one of the polling places I had to inspect shared a "Joke" a voter showed them. I found it VERY funny and shared it at another precinct. The poll workers my age and older really liked it. The college kid Chief Judge stared at us like we had three heads and DIDN'T FIND IT FUNNY NOT ONE LITTLE BIT. Although, I don't think he had quite recovered from the shock that grown-ups were carrying around change when I started telling it. Either way, I'm sure he had a lot of crazy stories to tell his whipper-snapper friends when he got home. (But I was very impressed with the job he did and his seriousness and energy toward the job.)

 Look closely at the penny. Check it out slowly.  Ready?

What is its smell?

(It's just a plain cent). hahahahahahahaha

Think carefully.

What fruit is this?

(Oh, come on! It's a pear!) 

Don't give up! You know this!
What three animals are here?

(Watch out! Three copperheads!!!) 

 And last but not least...

 What four cars are here?

(Seriously! You don't see four Lincolns?)

If it makes you feel any better, both Bobby and I missed all four questions, too. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

conversations from yesterday :)

Me: Good morning! How are you today?
Girl: Great! Guess what happens to me this week?
Me: I have NO idea! What?
Girl: I have a birthday. I turn six.
Me: Six. Wow.
Girl: And then guess what happens the next day?
Me: I don't know.
Girl: He has a birthday. (pointing to her friend)
Me: (looking to her friend) And will you turn 10?
At this he laughs hysterically and the girl gets indignant: NO! He turns six, too! Looking to him, But since I turn six the day before, I'll be six and a half when you turn 6.

Me:  Did you tell Mr. Bobby about your big week?
Mr. Bobby: What happens this week?
Br: I'm having a birthday! to BW, Then I'll be six, too! I'll be 6 AND taller than you!
BW: Well, I still be 6 LONGER.
Me: Did you know that my little sister AND my little brother are both shorter than me?
BW: Some people are just born that way. I'm 26 seconds older than my brother, so I should be WAY taller, but I'm not. It's just the way we're born.

Friday, November 4, 2011

the big question

13 years ago last night I came home from work, tired as usual. I started supper, then went to work on grading essays, knowing that report cards would be going out soon. Bobby arrived after work like he normally did. The chicken was VERY dry, and the vegetables weren't all that great, either. After supper I dumped the dishes in the sink and he watched election results while I continued to grade papers. During one of the commercials, he asked me to get my calendar and see when would be a good time to head to South Carolina and see my parents. The closest date was around Thanksgiving. That didn't thrill him. He kept wanting to know why we couldn't shift some things around and go that weekend. I kept looking at that non-shrinking stack of essays and wondering where on earth his head was.
After he realized we weren't arriving at the same destination, and he told me to look in his wheelchair pouch. There I found a ring box, and it was already sized!!!
I promptly made arrangements to visit SC that Saturday, but I wore the ring the rest of the week (even though we weren't telling my parents over the phone!) The next morning at school one of the teachers spotted it between classes, and the news spread like wildfire throughout the school. My tenth graders wanted all the details, and they were more than a tad disappointed. They were totally convinced I was the most unromantic person on the face of the earth when I told them to get out their grammar books. 
"But Miss White, HOW can you teach GRAMMAR when you're so much in love and you just got a ring?"
I don't think my answer of "I'm thrilled, but life still goes on." impressed them too much.  But that night, before Wed night church, we headed to our favorite little hole in the wall, Eldorado's (which was then on 401) to celebrate.
And my romantic husband always remembers this date, and we almost always go there to eat on November 3rd now (even though it was actually the 4th when we ate there) to remember the night he popped the question.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

a snapper

While cleaning out e-mail this morning, I found a picture my sis-in-law sent after one of their summer NC visits. My niece, who wanted to throw away the worms and save them from their tortuous fate of being stuck, live, on a hook, and then swallowed by a fish, was the fortunate/unfortunate one to hook the huge snapping turtle. Everyone was excited by its size, except her. She cried. The poor thing had a hook stuck in its throat. The "poor thing" doesn't actually look that big in the photo, but you have to remember, this was taken with a camera phone with no zoom lens and from up on the pier. I don't think she'd be crying "poor thing" if she knew how dangerous these creatures can be, or had seen them demolish a baby goose. Regardless, with its heavy weight, it snapped the line before we could get it near the shore.

I'm thankful this thing is not my pet.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My new wonder drug. Took away my sinus headache and helped me breathe better, too! :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

chow chow

DISCLAIMER: Seeing as I'm having a puny day, I didn't actually photograph my jars,
but found a  picture online that looks like mine.

The purpose of chow-chow is to use up all your vegetables in the garden before the first frost. It is basically a relish, and can be made of whatever raw or unripe leftovers you have. You can make it hot and spicy, or you can make it sweet, or vinegary. I've seen recipes use green beans, cauliflower, name it. Below is the recipe I used.

Onion (I used 1 red and 2 yellow, though my base recipe called for 10 green onions)
Green peppers (which I also had some orange peppers I used as well)
1 cabbage
1/2 c canning salt
1 T celery seed
1 1/2 tsp tumeric
2 T mustard seed
6 c sugar
4 c vinegar
Green tomatoes

Chop or shred all your vegetables, and mix with canning salt. Let stand overnight. Rinse and drain well. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Heat until it boils, stirring occasionally. Put in jars. Seal. Place in canning bath for 10-15 minutes (once boiling).

I did discover after I was finished that many people use pickling spices in place of the seeds and tumeric. That might have been the cheaper way to go (although I already had the celery seed on hand). I sampled  little while I was jarring it, and was pleased with how it tasted. Reminded me of what the ladies in the Cordova church used to make, and was a small reminder of my childhood.  My family ate relish with peas (black-eyes or pink-eyed purple hulls),  though I've seen people ate church gatherings eat it with collards, or cornbread, or even meatloaf. I suppose like any food, it's all in how you like it.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Sometimes I think my high school teacher was right: we really do live in pockets of ignorance.
Yesterday, while reading various chow-chow recipes, I kept coming across this ingredient: canning salt.
Now, I know there are different types of salt:
  • iodized table salt - what I use
  • non-iodized table salt - looks the same, but without iodine in it or on the box
  • sea salt - which comes from the sea, looks like little rocks and is very popular in France
  • kosher salt - which I've only seen and heard of, but have no idea how salt could be clean or unclean
  • and rock salt - which is absolutely necessary for making homemade ice cream :)
So while I was at the grocery store, I looked, and sure enough there were boxes of canning salt. According to the box, it's best used when canning vegetables. For some reason the salt is absorbed better and doesn't discolor the veggies nor sink to the bottom of the jar. I decided to google it and see what more I could learn, but after reading one page decided I have no desire to be a salt connoisseur.

And now I'm curious: what kinds of salt do you use or prefer?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

for every thing there is a season...

This week has had a lot of season changes.
For our church family, as we faced a sad, but necessary decision.  For every thing there is a season...
For a friend, as she heard unwelcome words that sometimes love is a choice and any marriage is worth fighting for...a time to love, a time to heal, a time to cast away stones...
For a Christian acquaintance, who bid her 7-year-old daughter farewell...a time to die, a time to mourn...
For an old roommate who is grieving the loss of her triplets 13 years ago today...a time to be born, and a time to die...
For a Christian blog friend, receiving bad news with a 2nd opinion...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...
For my garden...a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
For something I didn't plant this year, my voluntary watermelon vine did quite well. Better than the vine I DID plant last year, actually. The three smaller melons aren't ripe yet, but seeing the low temps coming the first of next week, everything in the garden got picked or mulched yesterday.
And I'm trying something new this year. Instead of waiting for all these green tomatoes to ripe/rot, I'm trying my hand at a pickle-dish called "Chow-chow".  Growing up the older ladies would sometimes sell this at bake sales or give us a pint at Christmas, but I never knew until this year it was a way to use up last minute items from the garden (when there's not enough to put away but you don't want it to go to waste).  We'll see how it turns out.

I'm finding the passage of Ecclesiastes 3 especially comforting these days. As the vibrant colors of summer give way to the decay of fall and the marvelous temperatures (and brighter night skies!), I'm amazed yet again at just how relevant (and timely) Scripture is to our lives. For EVERY cool is that?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

essence of insanity

You walk into the bathroom, and the toilet lid automatically lifts, playing music while the touch screen comes on. It has a seat warmer, a bidet with dryer (a sprayer that will wash you and then with the touch of the screen turn into a hair-dryer like apparatus to dry you), it requires occasional re-booting, has no levers, and is rectangular in shape. It also costs over $6,000 (just verified on the's currently on sale for $4,000). To read more about this contraption you didn't know you needed and absolutely can't live without, here's a link to the article in yesterday's paper: toilet review.

Monday, October 24, 2011

full speed ahead!

the ever-growing stash

glow sticks from Mr. Hanks

candy and treats

the gun

the ammo: foam with suction cup "darts"

the not quite finished turkey
Friday is coming.