Sunday, April 29, 2007

Congratulations Megan!

My nephew's fiance competed for and won the title of Miss Indian World in a pageant held in Albuquerque New Mexico this weekend. She has a very exciting year ahead of her. Best Wishes! This picture is from the webpage A Gathering of Nations and is their property. (They still have the wrong name on the top picture but there is a link to info on Miss Indian World further down on the page)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Frugal Fridays

Baskin Robbins is having 31 cents a scoop night on May 2nd to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Good ice cream. Great Price.

Our Babies Are Growing Up

Mama and Papa Purple Finches watch me warily from a nearby tree.

Our babies are getting crowded. They flap and spread their wings more each day.

Mama and Papa are good vigilant parents. Both male and female feed the babies. I never knew the male birds helped with the little ones. This dad brought food to the mother when she sat on the eggs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Works For Me

Maybe I'm too old to trust technology or maybe I've had to reformat my computer one too many times; whatever the reason, I prefer having a hard copy of everything on my computer, including my blog. My art journal is a loose leaf notebook with page protectors. I print out copies of my post here and include them in my personal art journal. I further embellish each page with handwritten comments, more pictures or other ephemera that is appropriate. This makes for a quick and easy journal entry and incorporates my blog into my personal history. For more tips check out Rocks In My Dryer

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What I Saw...

Click to enlarge

Beside the Oconalufee river in Cherokee N.C.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig.

We were back in North Carolina on business again this weekend. I got some great photos that I'll be sharing. Uh-oh, I think I'm feeling the urge for a new header! I just made the bluebird one a couple of weeks ago. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about editing this blog and creating headers etc. I guess I'll settle down on one sooner or later. I'm having fun with it meanwhile.
Picture: Beautiful Lake Lure next to Chimney Rock N.C. This is where they filmed part of the movie Dirty Dancing. Chimney Rock is where they filmed part of Last of the Mochicans.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What In The World Is This Thing ?

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without is our family financial motto. Creativity is a key element to living that motto.

Now to answer the question in my post title. What is this thing? It is a "make do" dehydrator. I have wanted a dehydrator for years but I have never been lucky enough to find one secondhand. I realize that I don't do enough drying to justify buying one full price, so I had to come up with a "make it do" solution to fill the gap.

What I did here was use a frame to a TV tray, a pizza pan (the kind with holes), a clamp on shop light with a 100 watt blub, and a cardboard box. It won't win any design awards but it works like a charm to dry the small amounts of food I've tried in it.

So even though I am repeating myself my frugal tip is: Be Creative. This seems to be a theme this week on Frugal Friday tips. There is almost always some way to get what you need without spending the big bucks.

What I Saw...

Our Neighborhood Groundhog. Very cute unless he is digging in MY yard!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Works For Me Wednesday

It seems the days of living near extended family are gone for most of us.

Forming relationships with extended family can take effort. As a mother of 12, my MIL has somewhere near 70 grandchildren and around 20 great grandchildren. She has done a wonderful job, in my opinion, of keeping in touch with the grandchildren and making them feel special.

Grandma would send the individual children letters that contained items she had selected especially for them. Each would include a card or letter and various items as simple as pictures she had cut out of a magazine of something as simple as a puppy or kitten, or maybe a picture of a grandmother and child holding hands and taking a walk. She would write a comment such as "Remember when we took a walk when I came to visit? How many birds did we see?" Sometimes she would include a dollar bill with instructions to "Make Daddy take you to buy a candy bar.". Maybe there would be a picture she took while here or a small toy or book. My kids were so excited to get these special letters.

We returned the favor by letting the kids put packets together to send to Grandma. Each would include a letter written by the child, and such items as pictures drawn, copies of papers written for school projects, poems the child wrote, pictures, basically anything that could be mailed.

Now with the internet available to almost everyone a family blog is a great way to keep extended family in touch. Maybe a family could share a private blog. it would be an easy way to share pictures and info quickly while keeping the phone bills down.

I have seen blogs that grandparents have set up just for their grandchildren to visit. Why not print out each post and put them into a notebook that the child can look at whenever they would like. You are able to share photos and videos (even the silly ones) as well which is something that extended family often misses out on.

A blog that children contribute to would also be a great tool for homeschooling. It could be used to share work that the children are doing in school that grandparents seldom get to be part of.

I think this would be a wonderful way to keep in touch. A private blog can take the place of traditional Round Robin letters that many families use. For more WFMW tips go to Rocks In My Dryer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Busy Day

It has been a busy, busy day. I got up at 6 am, didn't sleep well last night after the horrible news day. My heart is breaking for the families of those students. God bless them.

After breakfast I started working on 4 dozen cupcakes I needed for our homeschool group end of the year social and talent show. I made French Vanilla with homemade buttercreme icing. I'm with Paula Dean on this one, nothing like real butter.

After the cupcakes I made a Chicken Queso casserole to take. I had to be there by 11 to set up tables and make sure the electric keyboard was set up. We had a great lunch and social followed by a talent show put on by the kids. My son played piano, a Beatles tune. We had displays of the artwork and projects the kids had worked on this year. They are such great kids, it is a privilage to be involved with them.

After clean up a few of us sat around and visited for awhile. I've got some great friends and it is wonderful to have the time to just relax, no planning next weeks activities, just shooting the breeze.

I had to go by and sign our tax return and get it in the mail, make it home in time to get supper ready . Randy surprised me by having cleaned up my mess I left from this morning, thanks honey!

We actually had time to sit down in our backyard and enjoy the view for a few minutes. School meetings over for the year, taxes filed, a great day to be outside after all the rain and cold.

I got a great shot of the Bluebirds that have a nest in our birdhouse and a shot of a Groundhog that has a burrow down our street. I'll share those in other posts.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What I Saw...

I'm proud of this shot. I'm getting better at using the macro focus.

A Good Read or Listen

If you have never read any books by Kenneth Davis I would highly recommend them to you.

The Don't Know Much About series is well written and most importantly far from boring. I'm an huge fan and include his books in my permanent collection. This is my 3rd time through the book but my first listen. It makes interesting listening while doing housework or other busy work.

If you had asked me back in high school if I would voluntarily crack a book about geography I would have laughed in your face. Davis treats the subject with wit and an enthusiasm that is very apparent to the reader, thus inspiring you about the subject all while being enormously informative. Good for adults and older teens (As always parents might want to preview)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Frugal Fridays

I picked up this great little soap saver at Big Lots for only 50 cents. It is made to hold a full bar of soap, but I just use all my soap slivers. I have done this before with a piece of old stocking and with a mesh veggie bag but I like this better because as you can see in the picture it gives a really good lather and it comes with a drawstring so you can hang it to dry. I think this would be good to use at an outside water spigot for clean up after gardening.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Let's Be Serious

Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer has a great post today about quotes. If you go over be sure to read the comments because there are some great quotes in there.

The post got me to thinking about one of my favorite quotes:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Gandhi

At first reading it might sound extremely negative to some. I don't consider it negative as much as an admonishment to be conscious of what face I put on Christianity.

Another favorite quote of mine says it more eloquently than I could.

“Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” Mother Teresa

Thursday, April 12, 2007

OK...I did not change a thing.

All of my links are back where they belong.

I think my blog may be haunted!

Better call Ghostbusters. I know this isn't nearly as fun without the awesome Ghostbuster theme playing. It was time to take it off, sorry. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What I Saw...

They aren't eggs anymore, but they don't look like birds either. Actually they look kind of creepy. Sort of like something I would scream and run away from if I saw it on my kitchen floor.

Works for Me Wednesday.

I'm organizationally challenged and it has been a issue for me all my life. Over the years I've learned a few tips that have helped me.

I think most Moms spent a great amount of their time in the kitchen. As a result it needs to be as organized as possible. I struggled with getting everything in the right place until I came across the idea of centers. Everything in my kitchen is organized around centers where different tasks are performed. The first thing I did was to make a list of major kitchen chores and map out my kitchen on paper. I determined the best work flow, (work triangle) for the space I had and arranged my centers all within that area.

Any items used at a work center was stored within reach of that center. Dishes are stored right next to the dishwasher, so are glasses and cups. So because that is where the cups are, the coffee pot is between that area and the sink. My mixing bowls and baking pans are next to the stove, so is my mixer, measuring cups, measuring spoons and baking supplies. Very basic stuff for the naturally organized, but it took me awhile to catch on.

This idea works great for any room in the house. There are two things essential to making this work:

1. Evaluate everything you have in your space and box up or discard any duplicates or extras. Remove anything and everything that doesn't belong. My husband used to think it was a good idea to store brake fluid and power steering fluid in my pantry because it was near the backdoor. Needless to say they are gone.

2. Store only things you use regularly in your work area. There is no need to store something you rarely use in prime storage space. But remember, to keep things organized, they must be easy to access and use. Use high shelves and storage that is away from the area only for things that are seldom used.

Check our Rocks in my Dryer for more tips.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where in the World...

I like Geography. I'm not nearly as good at it as I would like to be. National Geographic has conducted a survey that is very eye opening as to how little we know about our world. "Young Americans answer about half (54 percent) of all the survey questions correctly. But by and large, majorities of young adults fail at a range of questions testing their basic geographic literacy. Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map—though U.S. troops have been there since 2003. 6 in 10 young Americans don't speak a foreign language fluently. 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It's the largest country in Africa.) 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is Muslim. (It's Hindu—by a landslide.) Half of young Americans can't find New York on a map. These results suggest that young people in the United States—the most recent graduates of our educational system—are unprepared for an increasingly global future. Far too many lack even the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or understanding the relationships among people and places that provide critical context for world events." They have launched a campaign called My Wonderful World . You can test how much you really know about geography. There are links to teaching resources to help in teaching and learning for ourselves more about our planet. Wonderfully interesting stuff.

Patience pays

I've had these silhouettes of my kids displayed on a shelf for years, just waiting until I could find the perfect frames to put them in. I finally did! I got both these frames at the thrift store for $2 each! I didn't go to the expense of getting a mat cut for them. I took black acid free paper, scrapbooking actually, and placed the pics on top of it with pieces of archival tape. When they were put in the frames you can hardly tell that they aren't framed. I am really wanting the warm weather back and am feeling the need for spring cleaning and rearranging. I picked up some silk African Violets at the wholesale florist, put them in regular terra cota pots and sat them in my dining room window; then I hung my new pictures. It cheered me up and brought a little spring in, even if it is still pretty cool outside. Now I just need the sun to shine.

Monday, April 09, 2007


If anyone can tell me how to get my links and archives back up here on the side the way they should be I would sure appreciate it. I have tried changing templates and my page elements look right but everything is at the bottom of the page. It is very frustrating.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What I Saw.....

Well, they didn't exactly look like this! I used the setting on my camera for fireworks and this is how it turned out. Car lights in Chattanooga, Tn. on I-40

Cold Cold Easter Weekend

We woke up early Saturday, 5:30 am, to head out to Alabama for our annual family Easter gathering. This is what we woke up to....

Cold temps and snow on the ground! Not Spring like at all. Such a contrast to the past few weeks and not promising for a day outdoors hunting eggs.
We had a 5 1/2 hour trip down to Prattville Alabama to my brother and sister in law's home. Miles and miles of Interstate driving.
By the time we reached Clanton, Alabama the sun was shining and there were beautiful Azaleas blooming at the rest stop there. The wind was blowing and it was still cold.

We arrived at the party where around 50 or so family members were gathered along with a dozen or so friends. We had a great time eating and visiting. We had the chance to see my Mother and sister as well as members of Randy's family that we had not seen for awhile.

Our nephew Alan, who is in the military and has been in Iraq at least 3 times, was there with his lovely wife Teresa. They are the cutest couple and expecting their first child together this coming September. They are being transferred to England for the next three years where he will probably return to Iraq. We pray he will be safe.

Our other nephew, Sam, was there with his girlfriend. Sam is working on getting his PHD in Microbiology. It is so great to see so many of our nieces and nephews doing so well and so happy.

We headed back home that afternoon after the party and arrived back home around midnight. It was quite a drive and a busy fun filled day.

But I'll admit I was glad to get back home. Tennessee is home now. I love Alabama and I love the people. but I guess I am officially a Tennessean now.

This is Rising Fawn, Georgia. We pass through there on the way to Alabama. I love the name. I assume that the mountain there is called Rising Fawn as well. Even though it was cold it was a beautiful day for a drive.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Frugal Fridays

I want to share a soup recipe that I use as an appetizer. I've found by serving an appetizer with meals has advantages. For one it helps me to control my hunger and not over eat at meals which is always a good thing if you are trying to lose weight, also there isn't the need for as large servings of the main dish if we start with an appetizer. My kids were always more receptive to new foods or veggies if served as an appetizer so it is a good way to get more vegetables into kids.

A very easy soup that I make takes only minutes to prepare and can cook while you finish the last minute dinner preparations. I start with enough chicken or beef stock for about a 1 1/2 cup serving per person. I grate a carrot, chop some onion and add to the stock and bring to a boil. I throw in what ever leftover veggies I have that will go well together, if I have fresh spinach I might use that. Any veggies you like, maybe some leftover noodles if you have them, whatever you think would be good. I might add a couple of sliced mushrooms if I have them. Season with some garlic, salt and pepper. I let it cook on medium for about 10-15 minutes and serve up with a few sprinkles of grated cheese.

Fast, easy and inexpensive if you use mostly leftovers.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What I Saw ....

Little wooden chairs at Soco Crafts in Maggie Valley

I love Mountains

We crossed over Newfound Gap today into North Carolina on a business trip. There was still frost on the top, about 5000 ft elevation. The wind was blowing and it was cold up there. We even saw a few icicles on the sides of the road. I love it. When I stand and look out over the mountains I can feel my whole body relax. For some weird reason it just centers me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What I Saw ...

Iris from my neighbor's yard

These Women ROCK!

These girls rocked the house last night and won the National Women's Basketball Championship! We saw them play a few weeks ago and they are awesome! Their coach, Pat Summitt, is a person I greatly admire. She is a great motivator and a real inspiration to young women everywhere.

She requires a great deal from her players on the court and off. She expects every player to attend all their classes AND sit in the first 3 rows. They behave themselves and act responsibly. The averaged GPA of the team is 3.2. I don't think I've ever heard any of the girls getting in any trouble. You can tell the team has enormous respect and affection for her. The University of Tennessee has even named its basketball court at the Thompson-Boling Arena, "The Summitt," What I enjoy is going to a game and looking around at all the little girls in there in their orange and white. Pat is always so nice to the little girls that come up for her autograph. They just beam at her. She spends time meeting with local youth and does motivational speaking. You can ask almost any little girl in Knoxville and they will say they want to be a Lady Vol.

In a day and age where the media is teaching our young girls that being some sort of sex object is where it is at, where we have people like Paris Hilton in every magazine, Pat Summitt is showing them there is something better in life to shoot for. She teaches them to work hard to reach whatever their goals are. Some of the players go on to play on pro teams. Most of them go on to other careers and ventures so being a professional athlete isn't what she is all about. She is about building character. Pat Summitt ROCKS!

Works For Me Wednesday

OK. I'm not too good with car tips. I've warned you. Here are the few tips that I can think of we do. We have an Astro van that has a good deal of space between the front seats. We keep one of those plastic milk crates between the seats. It fits tightly enough it won't slide. I mostly use it to keep smaller items in, the kind of things that come sliding out of nowhere under your foot when you least need it to. I also keep my traveling essentials there: Baby Wipes, Tissues, Small First Aid kit which includes Tylenol, cough drops and antacid, a pencil bag with pens, pencils, post it notes, tape and a pair of scissors , a few snacks like dried fruit or granola bars and bottled water, a few small lunch size paper bags and plastic zip lock bags. The zip lock bags are essential and a life saver if you have a child prone to carsickness. I also keep 3 or 4 medium size boxes in the trunk area. These come in handy to keep shopping bags in when grocery shopping. Cans and bottles can't roll out of the bags and around in the back of the van. Pretty basic stuff. For more tips check out Rocks in My Dryer.

What I Saw ...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I've been making quite a few changes to the blog. I finally figured out how to make my own header. That is my backyard btw. I am wondering if the changes are slowing down the blog for others. If you don't mind leaving a comment, especially if you are having trouble loading the page, I would really appreciate it. Thanks. Edit: I changed the header to a smaller version of the same pic. It should load a little faster. I am interested in knowing if the music slows the loading down too much.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What I Saw ...

Plum good

I bought a bag of plums at Sam's Club last week . They turned out to be more ripe than I thought. I realized that they were going to go bad and as part of my new effort to find a ways to avoid waste in our food budget I realized that I needed to do something with them. I decided to cook them into a sauce. I don't have any Sure-Jel on hand so I couldn't make jelly. I used : 2 1/2 c. sliced plums, 1 Tab lemon juice, 1/2 cup water ( I think grape or apple juice would be good) and 3/4 cup sugar. I brought them to a boil, lowered heat to medium and cooked until the fruit was cooked through and the liquid thickened. I ended up with a great sauce that we used over French toast. It thickened after it was refrigerated and works great on toast. I can't wait to try it on some hot buttered biscuits. Oh, and if your not from the South, you might not get the title. Plum is used sometimes as a adjective that means really or completely. It's not bad grammar, I promise.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

What I Saw ...

Sunday Musings

I've decided that one really bad financial habit of mine it being too wasteful with the food we bring into our home. After my previous post about the book, Your Money or Your Life, I decided it was time to reevaluate my part of the financial accountability in our home and realized that I have been slipping big time on taking care of our meals economically. We run a business in our home and our busy season is starting so I've been slacking off on cooking. I'm really good at the shopping just not always at the actual preparation. So my current goal is to see is I can cut down the waste in our meals and find more creative ways to use what we have on hand.