Friday, October 31, 2008

As a Matter of Fact, the Universe DOES Revolve Around Me

Forgot my camera. Wouldn't you know? This is the only picture I have of Hallie in her costume. You can't really tell, but that's Mercury on her right shoulder, then Venus, Earth, Mars is completely hidden and then Jupiter. Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are on the pants. We also threw in Poor Pluto for old time's sake.

Her Hero

We are not big fans of fancy Halloween costumes. I prefer simple and cheap. I made out pretty easy this year. Our church's fall festival is called "Space Quest", so Hallie will be attending as "The Solar System" ( which is a black sweat suit with the planets ironed on it). I'll try to post a pic later if I can get her to slow her orbit long enough to capture her on film. HannahKate is going as an alien from another planet, er, I mean, her normal 13 year-old self.
But as I was procrastinating today, I was reminded of Halloween 2006 when the children were supposed to dress as their favorite superhero. Hallie chose a doctor costume because she said veterinarians were her heroes. Very noble. (I once wanted to be a veterinarian until I read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot and learned what kind of disgusting things you have to do at the back end of a cow. ) But do you know who HannahKate chose? Her daddy. Isn't that sweet? The picture quality is not so great here, but what a precious reminder of the role a daddy plays in the life of a little girl.
We could simulate his "physique" with pillows, but she could't grow her gotee out as long as his in time for the festival.

You know what, HannahKate? He's my hero, too :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MNSC--Pantry Stew and Apple Burritos

It was my turn to host Monday Night Supper Club this week. To be honest, I wasn't as excited about it as I usually am. I just didn't feel like cooking. I was very tempted to have pizza delivered. But the weather turned off cooler and homemade stew sounded really good. So that's what I did. I call it Pantry Stew because the ingredients vary depending on what I have in the pantry. For dessert, I pulled out one of the few of my mother's recipes that I actually have written down--Apple Burritos. We also had salad (from a lazy is that?) and mini-cornbread muffins. So the next time its cool-ish outside and you don't feel like cooking, here's an oh-so-easy recipe.
Pantry Stew
1 lb. ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1 can diced tomatoes (or Ro-tel)
2 cans corn
2 cans Ranch-Style beans
2 cans potatoes (diced or sliced, personal preference)
Brown ground beef and season to taste. (I add onions, seasoned salt, chili powder, pepper, garlic powder and a little worchestire sauce.) In a stew pot or crock-pot, combine meat and all canned ingredients (Do not drain the vegetables). Heat thoroughly. Serve with cornbread and colby jack/cheddar cheese cubes.

Apple Burritos
8-10 flour tortillas
2 cans apple pie filling
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1/4 cup cinnamon and sugar mixed
1 tsp. vanilla
Fill tortilla with about 2 spoonfuls of apple filling. Roll into burrito and place in a large rectangle baking dish. Repeat until your dish is full. Spoon any unused apple filling over the top. Combine water, sugar and butter in a sauce pan and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour mixture over the burritos. Sprinkle the top with sugar/cinnamon mix. Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 350.

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Helen H. Lemmel

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Taste of New York

You may call me Louise now, because I have officially become my grandmother. She and my Papa traveled all over the United States and Canada. You could name any major city, and she could tell you what she ate there. (Boise, Idaho? Biggest baked potato ever. Bowling Green, Kentucky? Great chicken-fried steak. Honolulu, Hawaii? the Oceanarium. oh, and Wendy's. Seriously.)
I used to laugh at this phenomena, but as I've grown older I now realize, "Its not the places you go, its the food you eat while you're there." So here are just a few of the highlights from our New York trip.

Frozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Serendipity III

Chocolate Croissant
Roxy's Deli

Eggplant Pizza with Ricotta Cheese
Snacky's in Little Italy

Wedge Salad

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Bubby's Pie Kitchen

"firm fries and warm delicious mouth-watering buns"

These were not just meals, but defining moments in our adventure. Years from now, I may not remember what Broadway show we saw, but I guarantee I will remember the meatballs-as-big-as-your-fist and stuffed mushrooms with little bits of Italian sausage that we had at Carmine's afterwards.
Yes, the legacy continues... I have become "Louise".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekly Pic--Mayan Mexico

Tulum, Mexico
Mayan Ruins
January 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's in a Wordle?

As I've said before, Big Joel spends as much or more time as I do on the internet. He's always finding cool things. He's so clever. Anyway, he showed me this a few days ago and I thought it was soooooo neat! It's called Wordle and it's free, free, free. All you do is put in the text you want and it creates an awesome word picture. It's pretty elementary, so some of the things I think it should be able to do, it can't. (My thought is that if my little pea-brain can conceive of it, surely someone smarter than me has already figured out how to do it) I know just enough to make me dangerous, so there are still a couple of areas I'd like to fix, but can't. (For example, the quality of the picture here; but if you click on the actual Wordle, it should take you to my original version which is sharp and clear.) If you're having trouble viewing the wordle, it probably has to do with your Java-something-or-other-settings. And I'm very sorry, my friend, but you're on your own with that one.

Paige was the first to post about our trip and she was so creative. Just a list of things we did, saw, or ate while in NYC. So I started with her idea and added a few more. (Forgive me P, but we've already established that I can't come up with ideas on my own. Hopefully since I'm giving you credit, you won't report me to the Cyber Police for Blog-erism)

So, that was our trip in a nutshell, I mean, wordle. Cool, huh.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What To Do, What To Do...

Is it just me, or does anyone else experience a huge letdown after returning from a fun trip? Don't get me wrong, I love my life here in Hometown, Texas and wouldn't trade it for the big city for all the taxis in Manhattan. Its just that returning home for me brings on this anxious feeling of returning to normalcy. (Ha! I can't believe I said my life is normal) Its very difficult to explain, so maybe I won't even try. But here's how its playing out this morning.
I need to do laundry and clean the house. My precious mother-in-law washed the girls clothes and Big Joel had his done at the chinese laundry next door to our apartment in New York, so really, its only my clothes. Yet I'm unmotivated. I straightened the house before I left, but it is by no stretch of the imagination clean. We're talking dusting, scrubbing bathrooms and wiping down baseboards. These tasks are high on the guilt meter, but registering a big fat negative on the motivation meter.
I got so many cute ideas for things to do/make while I was in New York. Yet, I can't decide which one to experiment with first.
I have LOTS to blog about, but I'm still trying to organize my thoughts; so I'm not sure where to begin with that. I want them to be clever and well-written, but I may have to give up and just dish them up before my feeble mind starts to fade.
I'm trying to catch up with all my blog-o-sphere friends, so I'm reading and commenting on several days worth of bloggy goodness. But I started reading a new book and its so hard to put down.
There's so much more contributing to my mood. I think, perhaps, a nap will refresh me. Yes, after a nap I'm sure all will be right with the world and my thoughts/plan of action will be crystal clear. At least, that's what I'm choosing to believe.
**deep sigh**

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday Words of Wisdom/Weekly Pic

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus

Friday, October 17, 2008

Start Spreadin' the News...

...I'm leavin' today...

Well, actually, I'm leaving tomorrow. But that's not how the song goes and I do hope you were singing along with me. Yes, Elizabeth, Paige and I are headed to the Big Apple bright and early tomorrow morning. Big Joel will join us there on Sunday. Here are some of the things we have on our agenda:
Dinner at Serendipity III
Greg Laurie's Harvest Crusade at Madison Square Garden
The Phantom of the Opera
Statue of Liberty
Double Decker Red Line Bus Ride (yes, we are going to be those kind of tourists)
The Metropolitan Museum
Breakfast at Bubby's
Ordering garlic knots from Famiglia's and having them delivered to our super chic apartment on the Upper East Side with the "Pottery Barn-like decor"

Unfortunately, I am not in the least bit prepared for my adventure. I've been spending way too much time online blogging and stalking and meeting new friends. (umm, kind of like I'm doing right now) So here are some of the things on my agenda for TODAY:
Clean the house (can't stand returning from a trip to a dirty house)
Laundry (all of it)
Pack my clothes, but only after I decide on which clothes I'm taking. (I'm not sure the "Carpool Mom Sweats and T-shirt" line is as fashionable in NYC as it is here in Hometown, TX.)
Pack my children's clothes for their trip to Grammy's.
Take the dogs to the "hotel" for their vacation (translation: to the vet's for boarding)
Individually package up 140 necklaces to take with me and deliver.
Start on a new batch of necklaces so I won't be so far behind due to taking a few days off in New York.

I know I really shouldn't complain, because this time tomorrow the fun will have begun. But as my precious husband says, "I wish I could just wiggle my nose and it'd all be done." Since that won't work, I'd better get busy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh! You've Got To See This!

So I was over at my new friend Felicia's blog and she was talking about this amazing site called Scrapblog. I went to check it out and look what I did in about 15 minutes. All by myself!

Seriously, 15 minutes. You must go there now! Go on. Go! You'll be glad you did.

***Its come to my attention that you may or may not be able to see the adorable page I created using Scrapblog and pictures from last years' Halloween. If you can't see it, I'm sorry. I only know enough about technology to make me dangerous. But trust me. It is super cute and really easy...except for maybe getting it to show up in other your blog post.

Panic in the Parking Lot

I'm a creature of habit. This week, the girls were out of school for Columbus Day/State Fair Day/Parent-Teacher Conferences on Monday. I knew this would throw a kink in my world. I tried to prepare myself. We had enough food on hand that I could put off grocery shopping one more day. (Even if we hadn't, I'd rather go hungry than take my children with me to the store.) On top of that, we planned to celebrate my most precious mother-in-law's birthday on Monday evening, which I'm happy to do, but that also meant moving Monday Night Supper Club to Tuesday. Again, another kink. I survived Monday...barely...and not without a horrible migraine.

Then came Tuesday. I thought to myself, "Just pretend its Monday. Its the first day of the schoolweek. Its Monday Night Supper Club. Its grocery shopping day. Its Monday." And so, I drop both girls off at their respective schools and head for Wal-Mart. (Confession: Yes, I do my grocery shopping there. I buy meat there. I even buy produce there despite the fact that I saw a bird in the shoe aisle. Judge me if you must, but so far no one in my family, nor any guests I've served, have fallen ill due to mad-cow meat or pecked-over produce.) Back to the story. When I arrived at Wal-Mart, this is what I found. (cue creepy screeching Psycho music)

If you know me, you'll understand why this was traumatic. I had to park on Row 13! I'm not superstitious about the number 13, its just NOT Row 15--where I always park. Always! As I'm circling the parking lot in disbelief, my friend Johanna pulls up next to me. Thank heavens I wasn't alone in my hour of crisis! After a pep talk, I summon my courage and park my vehicle on another row. It is closer to the door, yet still way out of my comfort zone. Johanna, on a mission for Snickerdoodles, drives on over to the other side of the store in order to dash in and dash out the doors closest to the "bakery". She parked on Row 4 (and didn't even break out in a cold sweat). Oh, how I envy her!
On the bright side, I WAS able to locate my Jeep when I finished shopping; and, the next time I go to Wal-Mart, I'll have a newly black-topped parking space with freshly painted stripes waiting for me...on Row 15.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

Love is...meeting needs.
Dr. Bobby Renfro

Bro. Bobby was my pastor during my teenage years. He once said, "Love is meeting needs." Joel has used this definition in almost every wedding he's officiated because it had such an impact on the both of us as youth.

Today is Blog Action Day. Compassion International has asked its bloggers to speak to the issue of poverty and give people tangible ways to make a difference. The irony is that recent events in the stock market has money on everyone's minds. We are all so very concerned with how much money we are losing and how bad the economy is that we lose perspective. Yet the real poverty that plagues our world is not the absence of monetary wealth. It is our failure to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. It is our lack of love toward our fellow man. It is our disobedience to Christ's command to "love your neighbor as yourself". Through reputable organizations like Compassion, we can demonstrate love by meeting not only the physical needs, but also the spiritual needs of children who live in poverty conditions that most of us could not begin to imagine.

So while there are millions participating in Blog Action Day, very few will see my humble little post. And of those few, even less will be moved to take action. But it reminds me of the illustration of the man who happened upon a little boy on the beach. A storm had churned the ocean waters and left the sand covered with hundreds and hundreds of starfish. The man watched as the little boy carefully picked up a starfish and threw it back into the water. Then another and another and another. Even though he worked diligently, he hardly made any visible progress because there were so many stranded starfish. The man finally said, "Why do you bother? Look at all of these. There is no way you can ever make a difference." The little boy launched another starfish into the sea, stopped, looked at the man, and said, "I made a difference to THAT one."

Our family has a starfish. Her name is Doreen and she lives in Uganda. All around her is poverty, AIDS, and hunger. We can't possibly save all of the children on our own, but we can help THAT one. By meeting her needs. By loving her.

Love is...meeting needs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Well, I've never participated in a Blog-a-thon before. Honestly, I don't believe I've ever participated in anything that ends with "a-thon". That requires physical exertion and athletic prowess, for which I am not known. But they said there'd be prizes...and no strenuous activity, so I'm in!

I'm relatively new to the blogging scene. When I first began, I wouldn't even tell my friends. I had my blog so hidden that even my husband couldn't find me. It was basically just an online diary with a cute background. However, in the past few months, I've come out of hiding little by little. First I mentioned it casually to a few people. Then I linked to my blog from my facebook page. Next I started sending messages to friends on their facebook "Wall" when I would mention them in a post. Now I all but introduce myself with, "Hello, my name is Denyse @"
SITS has been instrumental in my transformation because I have met some of the.nicest.people. Seriously. I love visiting the featured blogs each day and I've learned that blogging is oh-so-much more fun when you make comments than when you just "lurk and leave". So thanks Heather and Tiffany for making my blog "saucy"! I appreciate all you girls do!

Here are 5 Great Blogs that make my day when the blog reader alerts me that they've posted something new:

Jennifer @ Dust Bunny Hostage

Tressa @ An American in Norway

Julie @ Journey to Family

Evi @ Keeping Up With Yesterday

All of these ladies are so fun and inspirational, too! They!

*P.S. I just realized that if you're here via the SITS Mr. Linky, you can't see the rest of my, if you're interested, click here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekly Pic--Sisters

Gulf Shores, Alabama--June 2007
A rare snapshot of sisterly solidarity

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sometimes, Life's Just Not Fair

Big Joel is here today.

I am here today. Hometown.
Yes, those are prison inmates with haybales.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Heard the Owl Call My Name

I hate birds in real life. I'm terrified of them. But for some reason, I love owls and sparrows as fashion accessories. I read this book called, I Heard the Owl Call My Name when I was in high school. It was about a young vicar and a Native American tribe. If I remember correctly, according to tradition, hearing an owl call one's name signaled impending death. (Maybe that's why I don't like birds?) Anyway, a while back, I ordered these vintage lucite owl beads from ebay. I just thought they were so adorable, I got them in every color! Red, green, orange, black, white and turquoise. As is often the case when I buy beads I love, when I sit down to create with them I just can't settle on what I want to do. They just won't "speak" to me and tell me what they want to be. But with Halloween and Fall here, I just knew these little guys would love to be festive fun earrings. The owl pendant is one I made from shrinkydink plastic and then strung on a necklace made with seed beads. I mentioned earlier this week that Hallie and I had worked on some jewelry together, so I just wanted to share. What do you think? If you like any of them, they are for sale over in my Etsy shop. Was that shameless? I'm sorry. But I just know these owls are calling somebody's name, not to warn of imminent danger, but to say, "Hey! Won't I look cute with that fall outfit?!" Ok, enough.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

Since I seem to be referencing "Steel Magnolias" for some reason a lot lately:

That which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Night Supper Club

Every Monday night we get together for dinner... Elizabeth, Paige, myself and whatever family members are around. Sometimes Paige's mom and little sister join us, sometimes Elizabeth's brother stops by, and sometimes Joel is in town. The plan is simple. We each take one Monday night a month to cook supper. The fourth week, we eat out. But it is more than just a casual get together. Even though we are all at very different stages in life, it offers stability, support and encouragement. I'd like to compare us to the ladies of "Steel Magnolias", except I would probably be Ouiser (the grouchy old bat played by Shirley MacLaine). It was Elizabeth's idea. It is a great one. I love MNSC.
We've had such delicious dinners that tonight we decided to share our recipes via blog posts. Sometime this week, go to Paige's blog to get her mom's recipe for Cranberry Chicken. It is ahhhhhh-mazing! Elizabeth is the overachiever in the group, so it will take her longer to post all of the yummy things she's made like lasagna, chocolate cobbler, chicken spaghetti and Mississippi mud cake. I'm sharing my recipe for "Ms. Peggy's Chicken and Veggies" that I made for the Inaugural Supper Club gathering back in August. My sweet mother-in-law gave me this recipe from a mutual friend. My kids love it and it is soooooo easy. What more could you ask for?
Ms. Peggy's Chicken and Veggies
1 pkg. boneless chicken breasts
1 can green beans
1 can sliced potatoes
1 pkg. dry Italian dressing mix
1 stick butter
Drain vegetables well. Place potatoes, chicken and green beans in a large casserole dish side by side. Melt butter and add Italian dressing mix. Pour mixture over chicken and veggies. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Serves 4 (I usually double the ingredients)
See? How easy is that?! Now, since I'm not a great cook, that's the only trick in my book. So I'm already on the lookout for what to make when its my turn again!

Weekly Pic--New York at Night

From the "Top of the Rock" at Rockfeller Center

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Just Catching Up

I haven't posted since last Thursday. I'm sure you're all wondering where I've been. Well, I'll tell you. On Friday, I went with some of my favorite girls from church to First Monday Trade Days. We had so much fun. I bought things I didn't really need: tulle ribbon, dominoes (for jewelry), and, of course, beads. I had the most delicious herbed chicken salad crepe for lunch and some fresh squeezed lemonade. I saw the biggest hair I think I've ever seen in my life...and when you're from Texas, that's pretty big. The weather was perfect and we stopped at the Dairy Queen on the way home. Lovely, lovely day.
But that's not all. On Friday evening, we celebrated Paige's birthday at a fondue restaurant. What an adventure! I had no idea you could dip so many different things in cheese. The thought occurred to me that fondue could be ideal for weight loss. I mean, basically, you cook your meal one bite at a time. Unfortunately, I think the aforementioned cheese is not included on most approved diet plans, much less the fruit, brownies and marshmallows dipped in chocolate sauce that rounded out our meal.
On Saturday, HannahKate went gallivanting with the youth group from church, so Hallie and I went to see a movie. Then we came home and made some jewelry together. Cute owl earrings and a necklace for Halloween. Kind of a quiet day, but very pleasant. Its funny how my children drive me crazy when they're together, always picking at each other and bickering; but, one on one, they are really quite enjoyable.
That brings us to today, Sunday. Church this morning was amazing. Jonathan sang one of my all time favorite songs, Carried to the Table by Leeland. Bro. Tim preached another amazing sermon about servanthood. At one point, the entire staff each chose one person, brought them to the front and washed their feet as a picture of servant leadership. Very moving.
So, there you have it. Nothing earth shattering, but just a testimony of how very blessed I am to have friends, family, and my church. How could I ask for more?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Breakfast with the President

Two years ago, Big Joel and I had the privilege of attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. I was so excited when I found out I was going, but that quickly turned to panic when I realized that I literally had NOTHING to wear. I was the administrator of a small Christian preschool at the time, so all of my clothing was either jersey or denim and usually stained with paint or some other kid-friendly/laundry-resistant substance. What DOES one wear to breakfast with the President? I tried to ring the White House to find out what Laura would be wearing. I didn't want to show up in the same outfit. You know us Texas girls must stick together. My calls went unanswered. A minor oversight, I'm sure. Left to my own devices, I finally managed to choose a pink houndstooth suit. Very cute, very Jackie-O minus the pillbox hat. To complete my ensemble, I found the most amazing deep-pink-faux-alligator-high-heeled pumps. I looked good, but let me just say that its difficult to walk in 3 inch heels at 5:00 a.m., which is what time we had to leave our hotel room. Little did we realize, that it would be almost 5 p.m. before we would return to our room. I'm not sure which was harder: walking in 3 inch heels early in the morning, or walking in those same heels 12 hours later. Yeowwwy! I can hardly complain though, because it was such a surreal experience. After the Breakfast, we had a private tour of the White House followed by a tour of the Capitol Building. It was an absolutely wonderful day. And the best part was, Laura and I didn't show up wearing the same suit! Whew! I'm sure she was relieved. I know I was.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

Live like there's no tomorrow.
Love extravagantly.
Lead a life to be followed.

"Goodbye Ordinary" by MercyMe