Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Walk In The Woods

Weather cooperated with us today and I was able to take the girls outside for some fresh air and a walk in the woods. I've been wanting to get a picture like this for awhile now and wanted to time it with the girls walking under that fallen tree that arched across the path. Youngest started to pull away from her sisters and walked back to me with arms outstretched, saying, "Up, up!" When I tried to put her back down by the arched tree, no go. Her legs clamped around me and her little hands clenched my sweater in her fists. I like this picture, though.

Our time outside was cut short, when Youngest fell face-first into a pile of branches. All I could see was that one sturdy branch and I saw it connect with the top of her forehead. As quickly as it happened, she was just as quickly in my arms, wailing and crying. Thankfully, it was just a scratch about 2 inches long, broken skin but no blood. Whew.. Her guardian angel was looking out for her today. I carried her back into the house and she clung to me, wanting more comfort and then I mentioned "hot chocolate" and she released me, running to the fridge where she knows the makings of hot chocolate live. Hot chocolate and warm banana bread fresh from the oven cures all!

We will spend more time outside this weekend, if it isn't too cold. I'd like to gather greens and branches for garlands and maybe a wreath or two. Hope you all have a lovely weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the stores.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rolling With The Punches

This Live Oak tree in Florida is over 200 years old. It was astonishing to walk up to this tree and admire the arching branches, humongous in size, and seemingly graceful in the way the limbs reach to the ground. This tree is protected and has become a tourist attraction. I can only imagine what this tree has seen, and the fact that it has survived over 200 years of hurricanes, disease, overzealous lumberjacks, termites and rot is no small feat. They built a deck around the base of the tree, to keep people from trampling the roots, but you are also welcome to climb and sit and pose for pictures on it's branches. It was an amazing tree to see and nearly impossible to capture the size of it on camera.

This tree has got me thinking about just how fragile life can be, but also how determination can win out in the end. We wake up daily to a new day, not knowing what life has in store for us. We can make plans and map out our days, but the reality is, anything could happen. Good or bad, the unexpected shapes our lives. It could be as small as running out of ketchup and milk and making an unplanned stop at the grocery store, then while there, bumping into an old friend which leads to an invite to dinner. Or as big as someone announcing an engagement which will then change the lives of two people and their families.

It's how you deal with the unexpected that shows what kind of person you are. I know some that can roll with the punches and it never fazes them. Then others that are very resistant to change and buckle at the slightest upset. I like to think I am somewhere in between, leaning more to the flexible side. I like stability in my life and tend to avoid confrontation or crazy over scheduling. I think I deal with the unexpected with a cool head and manage to turn it into: "since we're here...might as well!" On a smaller scale, it's like taking bananas that have gone over-ripe and making banana bread out of them. On a larger scale, it is losing a job that forces you to re-evaluate your priorities, figuring out what is absolutely necessary and what is simply, a luxury.

I made bread the other night, which gave Hubby an excuse to propose to me again when he put my wedding ring back on my finger. In all sincerity, he asked me if I would marry him, for richer or poorer, with emphasis on the poorer part. I replied, yes. I didn't marry him for money, I married him for love. And I do love him. For richer or poorer. A rejection letter came in today for a job Hubby interviewed for and we're rolling with the punches on this job searching. Tomorrow is another day. We're rolling.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Birthday Boy

Today is my husband's birthday.
I don't know what I would do without that man.
He means the world to me and our children.
Without him, they would not exist.
He is a loving father, though sometimes stern;
a single look from him quiets the girls quicker than when I holler and plead for them to behave.
I love that the girls only need to bat their eyes and smile, then he melts and dissolves.
He is a man in a house full of women, and he loves it.
He does a perfect imitation of a gorilla, and the girls love it when he becomes gorilla daddy.
Oldest calls him her furball.
He beams when he has all three of his girls in his arms.
I beam too.
He has a lovely shiny head and when he puts on his shades, combined with his goatee and his size,
he looks quite mean.
I have seen other men look him up and down and hold the door open for him.
I have seen small children cower when he comes near.
But I know that deep down, he is a pussy cat.
He's my pussy cat.
Shh, don't tell anyone.
I came home one day, to find he pierced his ear by himself.
A gold hoop now dangles from his pirate ear.
He loves music and there is not a moment when the radio isn't on.
We blew a fuse in the van that shut the radio off and poor man was miserable for the rest of the drive.
A fuse was quickly bought and replaced.
Peace was restored.
The music played on, no fat lady singing here.
He makes me laugh just to hear my high-pitched squeal.
He likes my high-pitched squeal.
He lets me warm my cold toes on him at night;
then I get to hear him squeal!
The man has a great palate, and I am always testing him, asking if he can taste what spices I used.
He is usually right 95% of the time.
I like to mix things up just to confuse him, but he is too smart for me!
When I take off my wedding ring to knead bread or make meatloaf, he puts it back on my finger--
proposing to me every time.
I always say "yes".
He wears the same aftershave since I've met him.
I don't like the way it smells when he puts it on,
so he puts it on at the last minute, before he heads out the door.
Just for me.
But I love the way he smells after he's been marinating in said aftershave at the end of the day.
He loves me;
just the way I am.
And I love him;
just the way he is.
Happy Birthday, baby.

Friday, November 23, 2007


We went to the city for Thanksgiving with Hubby's family. We decided to leave Wednesday and make a few stops along the way before arriving at the In-Law's for the night. Stopped to see my mom, had lunch, went to the super-duper used bookstore, then on to see some friends and drop off their extra luggage storage rack we borrowed for our trip to Florida. I like when we can get multiple things done all on one shot, saving both gas and time, not to mention money, too.

It was good to see everybody and Thanksgiving dinner was great! My mother-in-law got smart this year and ordered a pre-cooked turkey with all the trimmings from the local food store. They went to pick it up on Thanksgiving morning and it included just about everything you would need, even a pie of your choice. All she had to do was heat the turkey in the oven for about 2 hours and heat everything else up in the microwave. She didn't need to slave over a hot stove in a hot kitchen and instead, spent time with her 6 grandchildren. The dinner was really good, surprisingly, with the exception of the stuffing. I asked if they would do it again and was it worth the price (I don't know what they paid) and they both said yes.

We set up the Christmas tree today and stayed home, far away from crazy shoppers. I used to be one of those people that got up at 5 am to go in and get some things for cheap. But these last few years, I've not wanted to participate in that anymore. It's gotten crazy and the stores encourage it! One of the sales papers (I can look!) had advertised their sale hours to be from 4 (!!!) am until 11 am and "once it's gone, it's gone!" So unless you get there before 11, you get it for the sale price, unless, of course, it's gone! Another ad said they would start giving out tickets to people in line starting at 3 am and they didn't open until 5 am. The TV news showed people camping out in front of the stores last night and it was COLD up here.. the temps were in the 30's not counting the wind chill and it was crazy windy with trees falling over and everything.

Anyway, we stayed home, cut out paper snowflakes and set up our tree.It was a nice relaxing day, eating leftover turkey club sandwiches and pie for dinner.

This is a square folded into sixths.. folded in half then folded 1/3 and again 1/3. Snip away and then unfolded it looks like this:

Hubby, Oldest and I all had fun cutting out snowflakes. Middle wasn't interested in the slightest and Youngest was smartly put down for a nap by me. Here is our collection of snowflakes:

Do be prepared to sweep or vacuum when you're done with the snowflake making... You'll have quite a papery mess on the floor!
I hope you all are having a lovely time and enjoying all the leftovers! Have a good weekend!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bagels, Anyone?

My first try with making bagels was a delicious success! The recipe I used came from my old cookbook: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, dated 1981. Mom gave it to me when I was just a kid and starting to show an interest in cooking without her help. It is looking tattered now, and favorite recipes are marked with a smiley face and recipes I've tried that I didn't like get the frown face with a tongue sticking out. It's been a good cookbook to me over the years, and I have bought or received others, but this one remains my go-to book.

I never had a bagel until I went away to the deaf school when I was 13. In the cafeteria, they had a little bread corner with a conveyor toaster and I'd see these funny looking, donut shaped rolls. I didn't know what they were, so like any normal kid, I didn't bother with them and stuck to the plain white bread. One of my roommates would toast a bagel for breakfast everyday and when dinner was kind of gross, the bagel was her fall-back meal. She'd slather this white stuff all over it and eat it with gusto! I didn't like mayo at the time, and I thought the white stuff was a cousin of the mayo. My curiosity got the best of me and I toasted my first bagel and used butter and jam. Yummy! I learned the "white stuff" was called cream cheese and I ventured in trying just a thin layer of cream cheese on my buttered bagel. Hm, not bad. I have since progressed to toasted flavored bagels with a thick layer of cream cheese, no butter.

The bagels I made are very similar to the Lender's frozen bagels. Same size and texture. I didn't make the holes big enough so when you let the dough rise, it choked out the holes. Next time I'll know to make the holes bigger. Hubby is telling me to make more and freeze them for later. I calculated the cost of making them VS buying them and it comes out about the same, only by making them, I know exactly what is going into my bagels. I made 12 and the next time, I'll probably double it and make 24, some for now, some to freeze.

Have you tried anything new in the kitchen lately?

**Here's the Bagel Recipe if you want to try making your own...

4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached flour)
2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
3 tbsps sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

In a mixer bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Combine warm water, the 3 tbsps sugar and salt. Pout over flour mixture. Beat at low speed of electric mixer 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. Stir in as much remaining flour as you can mix in with a spoon.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Cut into 12 portions; shape each into a smooth ball. Punch a hole into the center of each and pull gently to make a 2 inch hole. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover; let rise 20 minutes. Broil 5 inches from heat 3 to 4 minutes, turning once (tops should not brown). Heat 1 gallon of water and the 1 tbsp of sugar to boiling; reduce heat. Cook 4 or 5 bagels at a time for 7 minutes, turning once; drain. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 375 oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 12.

*You can add different herbs to make a herbed bagel by adding 2 tsps dried marjoram; or 1 tsp dried dillweed; or 1 tsp dried tarragon; or 1/2 tsp garlic powder to the flour/yeast mixture.

*You can make onion bagels by cooking 1/2 cup finely chopped onion in 3 tbsps of butter until tender, but not brown. Brush onion mixture over tops of bagels after first 15 minutes of baking.

*Poppy seed or Sesame seed bagels by brushing tops of bagels before baking with beaten egg and then sprinkling with poppy seed or toasted sesame seed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blank Menu

Day in and day out:

"What's for breakfast?

What's for lunch?

I'm hungry, mom, what's for dinner?

Can we have dessert?

Can I have a cookie/fruit snack/muffin?"

I am starting to feel a little burned out, trying to come up with a variety of meals that everyone will eat. Oldest is generally pretty good about eating everything on her plate. Middle needs lots of encouragement and she will turn her nose at most meat dishes with the exception of hot dogs and meatloaf. Youngest is going through a stage that Oldest and Middle both went through, but it is nerve-wracking to a mother-- eating very little, much like a bird. Today, though, for lunch I made homemade chicken noodle soup which happens to be one of Youngest's favorite meals and she just plowed through her bowl!

Now it is dinner-time again and I haven't a clue what to make. Seems like the past few days, the meal ideas have been slow to come and I stand in front of the open fridge staring, or in front of the pantry waiting for inspiration to strike. Sometimes an idea will come only to be shot down because I lack one of the main ingredients to make it and there is no suitable substitute. I could make a casserole with ground beef, cream of celery soup and tator tots-- absolutely simple and yummy, but no ground beef. How about bruschetta chicken with chopped pieces of chicken, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and stuffing? Not enough chicken in the freezer. agh! I know! I'll make a shepard's pie with mashed potatoes and corn and ground be-- oh wait, no ground beef.

I go to Hubby and ask him if there is anything he'd like to eat? I'm hoping for a solid answer and I'll happily go into the kitchen to whip it up, and his answer sounds like this: "Whatever you want to make, baby." Agh! If I didn't have to worry about feeding the kids, I'd tell Hubby he is on his own tonight and I'd settle for a bowl of cereal.

I've had a lot of inspiration in the baking department these past few days, though, and I've made pumpkin muffins, oatmeal raisin cookies, grandma's white bread, cinnamon rolls, brown sugar chewies, and I am getting ready to tackle trying bagels for the first time. I've got such a craving for bagels and cream cheese that if I had some made already, that's what we'd be having for dinner right now! At least I know what we will be having for breakfast tomorrow morning. I'll let you know how my attempt at bagel-making turns out.

I'm off to go stare inside the fridge for another 10 minutes. Any yummy tried-and-true meal ideas that you always make? Kid pleaser and doesn't call for a gazillion ingredients? Care to share? Pretty please?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

2 Birds With One Stone?

While I was working for the consignment shop, I managed to lose 5 pounds. Mostly because I was too busy to eat and because the store space was huge and I had to walk a mile just to get to the break room! I've been afraid to get on the scale for awhile now, because I am quite positive I gained it back and more. sigh...

Wouldn't one of these contraptions be nifty to have around the house? Instead of mindlessly riding on an exercise bike while watching TV, or having to get off a normal bike to walk it up the hill, you can ride one of these around the yard and cut the grass at the same time! I'm told it really works. It actually cuts the grass while you ride the bike. Not long after I took this picture, I kid you not, the lawn service people showed up, moved the bike to the driveway and spent the next 30 minutes cutting the grass. So much for exercise!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dream Kitchen

While in Florida, we went to the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) and it was a little disappointing. It was an expensive entry fee per person (Thanks Dad for paying the entry fees) and for that price, I expected a lot more than what there was. There was an interesting exhibit with a timeline of Florida from the period of early Indians leading up to current times, we enjoyed that part and around the corner, in the 50's era, I found my dream kitchen! I gasped when I saw it! I swooned! My heart palpitated and beat faster! I called for Hubby to "come see, come see!" We both sighed together as we drooled over the display. Good thing there was a fence blocking it off because I would have tried to stuff as much as I could in the diaper bag! I would have grabbed the dishes in the dishwasher and stuffed them in my bag, picked up the chairs and strap them on Hubby's back, unplug the fridge and drag it away to the van... Oh! This was the most perfect kitchen! Very similar to how we want to re-do our kitchen, to update it with a vintage feel, to find vintage items and install modern wiring and to actually USE vintage items. I have about half of the stuff you see in the picture:

I have several sets of 50s dinette, Formica top tables and chairs- 2 red ones, a pink one, and a grey and black one. I have lots (lots and lots!) of vintage Pyrex and Fire King bowls, ovenware and dishes. I hoard vintage tablecloths, towels and aprons! Oh! Just looking at the picture makes me salivate all over again! This kitchen was decorated in the typical Florida style of that period, so there are more coral colors than I would like- the coral floor and the walls are pink and the curtains are tropical palm trees. But the style- Oh!! I may faint!

What's your dream kitchen?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mountain Views

Today was a beautiful day in the mountains. It's been cold, rainy and chilly since we came back from vacation and we've had the wood stove going almost daily. Yesterday, the temperatures went up to 60 and we spent some time outdoors and didn't need to fire up the wood stove. Today, we had more of the milder weather and it actually warmed up to the high 60s! We took the girls outside for a photo session and yard work and I managed to sneak away for some pictures around the property.

This is the mountain we can see from our living room window when the trees are bare. When the trees are in full bloom, we can't see the mountain unless we walk to the driveway or walk to the upper part of our property and we can look over our house to the mountain. A beautiful sight and one we are thankful to be able to have.

I love the way this woodpile looks. The warm colors of the freshly cut wood, the cool greys of the bark and the colors of the fallen leaves. I posed the girls on the logs for a photo session and I can't show them because then it would give away the surprise to certain people that read this blog. The woodpile is a work in progress: they have been cut, but not split.

This is on the western part of our property. There is an easement through our land so neighbors can get through, but they never use this road. The easement was put in place when there was some sort of feud between neighbors and these neighbors asked the previous owners if they could put a road through so they wouldn't have to go on the shared driveway with the other neighbors. They have since moved and the new people use the main drive and this one is left alone, mostly. I wish I could remove the easement, but I'm not sure how to go about doing so. This photo makes me think of that poem.. you know the one.

I love this view of the trees. It's so peaceful to see and to see nothing but trees, trees and trees. It's very calming walking along the road and being surrounded by trees, tall and strong. Need to keep my eyes on the road and not so much in the trees because there are plenty of deer droppings and I have to caution the girls not to step in them!

This just fills my soul! This poor tree fell over and died, but it left a beautiful arch for us to walk under. Just tall enough for a truck to drive under. If I can, I will leave it and let it fall on it's own. I will enjoy it for as long as it is there. If I was a kid, I would beg mom for an old sheet and drape it over and get some rope to make a tent and play under it for days and days. I'm tempted to do it for my girls now, but I am not ready to let them play alone so far from the house where I can't see or hear them. If it is still there 2 or 3 years from now, then I'll put the idea in their heads on making a fort and offer them some old sheets and rope. I'll put a chair nearby so I can watch them play but not intrude on their fun, and do some crocheting or reading.

We're happy here, among the trees, living on a mountain with views of another mountain, driving on winding roads and the neighbors out of sight. I hope you are happy where you are, too.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

How To Make Roast Beef Au Jus

Here's a most yummy-licious crock pot recipe for Roast Beef Au Jus. I've been making this for years and it is a winner every time! It makes about 16 sandwiches so you can make it for a big crowd, or if you're like me, eat some now and freeze some for later. Start it in the morning, cook it all day and eat it for dinner!

What you'll need:

Crock Pot
4 to 5 lb of beef rump roast
1 oz package of dry onion soup mix (like Lipton's or store brand works fine too)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried parsley
3 beef bouillon cubes
3 cups water
12 oz can of beer (not light.. regular or dark preferred)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sandwich Rolls

I bought 2 beef rump roasts (above) that equal out to about 4 1/2 pounds.

Trim off the fat and discard. You don't want the broth to be all fatty, so cut off the thick fat on the sides of the roast, don't worry about the little bit in the middle of the meat.

Place meat in a large crock pot and set on high.

Add the package of dry onion soup mix. I used to be picky and only buy the name brand and I have since wisened up and fattened up my wallet as well. The store brand tastes just as good!

Add the 2 teaspoons of sugar,

and the teaspoon of dried parsley.

Unwrap the bouillon cubes and add to the pot. You could substitute the cubes with 2 cans of beef broth if you wanted, but I've always used the cubes. Just a matter of preference.

Add the minced garlic. I buy my garlic already minced in jars, because I never seem to use up the garlic cloves fast enough before they sprout on me. So I buy the jarred garlic and it works out fine.

Add the beer. I always used the light beer and then one day I sent Hubby to the store to buy beer so I could make this and he came back with the regular beer. The flavor was much better and I've experimented with dark beers, too. Regular beer seems to taste the best to me. That's the only time we buy beer, to cook with!

Add the water. Put the crock pot cover on and let it cook for 6 to 8 hours. 2 pieces of meat will cook faster than 1 large piece of meat.. so just keep an eye on it. Your house will smell like a good restaurant while this is cooking and if any visitors stop by, they'll be inviting themselves for dinner.

When you can stick your fork in the meat and twist it easily, it's ready!

Take it out in chunks and start breaking it up into smaller pieces...

When it is cool enough to handle, I just use my fingers to break it up. Pick out any fatty pieces or strips of tendon and veins and feed the scraps to the cats or dogs. Your cat will sit on your lap and purr for hours and your dog will fetch your slippers!

Toss the shredded beef back into the crock and let it cook another half hour to get hot again. Sample repeatedly. Quality control is important here!

Serve on rolls and a bowl of the drippings to dip the sandwich in. SO good!

Whenever I make this, we eat a little for dinner and then I take the leftovers and freeze in batches. I can make 4 meals out of this-- one to eat now and 3 to save for later. They freeze well, and don't forget to add some of the drippings to the meat when you freeze it. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thrifty Thursday

While we were in Florida, I was amazed at the sight of so many thrift shops. It makes sense, though, all the old people that move down there and then head off to the great beyond, while their earthly belongings head off to the thrift shops. I kid you not, in a 10 mile stretch of road, there were more than 10 thrift shops, ranging from the huge nationally known stores to the smaller, more personal shops to the strictly children's items only stores. We asked my Sister to be our guide at which were the better shops and we spent a day thrifting. If I lived there, I'd be making the rounds daily and keeping some for me and selling the rest on eBay. Prices were reasonable and if we had a bigger car, we would have bought a lot more!

There was a thrift shop 2 blocks away from my Dad's place. We never stopped there until the morning we were to head to South Carolina. The minute I walked in, I was sorry we didn't go in earlier! Hubby was going to wait in the car with the kids and I knew he'd be waiting a long time, so I went back out to grab him and the girls. I found this great blanket (below) in there and it is just my style! It says it is a twin size but it's so over sized that I think I could make it fit on our bed. If it doesn't, I'll grudgingly put it on one of the girl's bed. It's not a patchwork quilt, only looks like one, but it is quilted and heavy!

I also picked up these vintage sheets (below) from the same shop. They had a great linens section and everything was sorted by size and usage, IE: twin fitted on one shelf and twin flat on another. They were all folded and then taped and it was easy to spot the vintage flower sheets I love so much. There is nothing worse than going to a shop and all the linens are in a mess and I have to dig through to find something and then figure out what size it is, too. I was very impressed with this shop and I wish there was one like it closer to me!

At other shops, we picked up some various items to re-sell on eBay. I don't know if I can part with the green dogwood melamine plates, though. They're so cute! We grew up on melamine plates and I remember eating off a ceramic plate for the first time and the scrape of a knife on the plate sent chills up my hand. Much the way fingernails on a chalkboard would do it for you hearing people, the feel of a knife scraping on a plate gets to me. I also found a great old set of 10 books titled "Science Experiences for Young Children". Each book devotes experiments to wheels, colors, air, pets and so on. Only $1.95! I can see us using them for home schooling lessons!

Like I said, if we had a bigger car, we would have come home with wayyyyy more stuff. I'm happy living here in the mountains, but man! I sure wish we had as many thrift shops up here as there were down there. I would turn it into a living, making daily visits to all the shops and then selling my finds on eBay. I know there are people out there that do it for a living, and I am trying to do it, too. If I can't open up my own place, this would be the next best thing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Zoo Adventures

While in Florida, we went to the Zoo with the family. The girls had never been to a zoo before and Hubby and I were looking forward to the girl's reactions to all the animals there. It was a very nice zoo and they had decorated for Halloween. There was to be a trick-or-treat event at the Zoo on Halloween, but we didn't go to that and we went the day before.

We saw a Speke's Gazelle (below) and he was a crowd pleaser, strutting around near the overlook and giving us a very good view of his markings and horns. There were several others resting in the shade in the distance, but this fellow was the only one willing to come close.

The girls were asking to see the Giraffes because someone had mentioned them and also, you could feed them if you bought some leaves from the staff. After viewing the other animals and repeatedly hearing, "I wanna see the giraffes!" We finally reached the Giraffe's pen. I think there were 5 of them, but we were so focused on the two that were stretching their necks and grabbing the small branches of leaves with their tongues that we didn't notice the other ones. I think all the kids fed the giraffes and after lots of picture-taking, I didn't manage to snap a single one with the giraffe's tongue wrapped around the branch. Oh well, I got a good close-up of his (her?) face.

Being Florida, they had an exhibit with a jaguar. Beautiful creature and as soon as we came along, he got up to sleep behind some bushes, but not before I snapped this picture of him (below). They also had a black panther which Hubby was enamored with and reminded him of our black cat, BC. You could tell Hubby missed his cat while we were gone.

Little lizards were everywhere!! I remember living in Louisiana and catching lizards all the time. I have been living up north for so long that I forgot what it was like to have lizards around all the time. I snapped this one at the Zoo and I'm sure the penned animals were envious of his slithering freedom.

I will have to find out if there are any Zoos nearby where we live. Plenty of farms and small mom and pop type of places, but a real, bona-fide Zoo? The closest one I can think of is all the way in DC and that is too long of a drive just to go to the Zoo. We all had a great time and all the kids conked out in the car on the way back from the zoo. The next time we go back to Florida, I think another trip to the Zoo is in order, to see the rest of the animals that we didn't get to see.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I got to see the house that my sister lives in. I got to see the pool they swim in. I got to see the citrus trees they have in their yard and got my first, good look at a grapefruit tree! It was heavy with fruit and I was more than a little disappointed that they weren't ready to pick and eat. Or so I thought. Sister grabbed one, cut it in half and behold! they're ready! We all gleefully picked grapefruit, even the girls were getting in on the fun and we filled up a small laundry basket with grapefruit. I was so excited with knowing I was going to take some home with us, and then Sister told me to take it all. All of it!? No, no, no. I don't need that many! "Make marmalade with it!" she said. Really? I can take it all? O-K. So I am drowning in grapefruit! Happy happy happy!

I looked up my canning cookbook on how to make grapefruit marmalade and it only takes 2 grapefruits to make 3 pints. So I'll probably make 3 or 4 batches. Then I saw a recipe for canning grapefruit sections! Oh yum! I will most definitely be doing that! I remember my mom and dad buying big jars of grapefruit sections and it never lasted long in our house. I know what I'll be doing these next few days...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Home Again!

Sometimes you need to leave home to appreciate what home is. We had a wonderful time visiting family in Florida and South Carolina and I'm so glad we went! 8 days away from home is a long time though, and by the 5th day, the girls were asking when we were going home. It's good to be home again, sleeping in our own beds and playing with our own toys. The last 30 miles to home seemed like it took forever to drive and we were all bouncing out of our seats by the time we pulled into our driveway.

We left at 8:30 Sunday night, putting the girls to bed in their car seats in the van. Our intention was to drive until we got sleepy, then pull over at a rest stop and snooze a little bit. We hoped to get to Florida by lunch time. Hubby started the first leg of the trip and Youngest and Middle promptly went to sleep. Two hours into the drive, Oldest was still awake! Oldest drifted in and out of sleep, but she was awake for most of the trip, which really surprised us! Hubby drove until 2 am while I napped a little, then we switched. I wanted to drive at least 150 miles, but I started to nod off a little and pulled over into a rest area somewhere in South Carolina. As soon as I pulled in, shut off the engine and tried to get comfortable in the driver's seat, all the girls woke up, Hubby perked up and I was wide awake. So I pulled back out of the rest area and kept on driving. We arrived in Florida at 9:00!!! Way ahead of schedule! We weren't expected until lunch time, so we pulled over for breakfast and then rolled into town around 10:30.

The actual drive down was pretty good and we feel encouraged to try and make the trip down at least twice a year. It had been 2 years since I saw my family and that is way too long when there are little children in the picture. Oldest was great with the baby and Youngest got along great with my Sister's oldest girl. I had such a feeling of satisfaction to see my Dad with all of his grandchildren on his lap. The smile on his face was so perfect and the look of love in his eyes was all I needed to see to know that we HAVE to get together more often. The older girls warmed up to Grandpa and Grammy but by the time we left, Youngest was still a little wary of them, she usually takes awhile to warm up to people.

While there, we went to the Zoo, celebrated Halloween, went thrifting, went to the Museum, took pictures and got to see where they lived. It all seemed to go by too fast, and soon it was time to leave. There was so much more we didn't do, go to the beach, visit St. Augustine, see local sights, but I know now that we will be back, and those things can be done later. The most important thing was we spent time with family, our girls got to know their cousins and we had fun. I'll be posting pictures later on this week and I'll leave you with a few from Halloween here...

Snow White, an Asian Princess and a bow-tied Mouse, trick-or-treating at a Family Fall Festival event in Florida.

I have a thing for turtles and I couldn't resist snapping this pumpkin at the Zoo.

The Zoo got into the Halloween spirit by dressing up the elephant statues in ghostly costumes, too!