Friday, September 30, 2011

Wyatt's Cemetery

Our last stop letterboxing today was at Wyatt's Cemetery in Mansfield.  I have been wanting to collect this box for quite some time because I found it intriguing-a cemetery that was located in the parking lot of a shopping center.  Of course, it was originally a cemetery, but when developers came in, they had to develop around the cemetery.  It has a neat history!

I took some pictures of the location, but was unable to locate the letterbox.  It appeared to be landscaped regularly, and I am sure the gardener removed it at some point.  I wish I would have visited this location when I first found out about it.

Valentine Surprise

On our way out of Town Park in Mansfield, my youngest was looking for places he thought would be good hiding spots.  He found a great tree, and happened to notice a letterbox that we didn't have a clue for!  It was a box called Valentine.  Inside it was a hitchhiker and a parasite-my first parasite!  We stamped in, and collected the hitchhiker and parasite to take with us before leaving the park.

Here are the 3 stamps and logbooks:
When I got home, I discovered that Valentine was a mystery box, and so I had overlooked it when searching for Mansfield boxes.  The parasite was called The Purple Parasite, and the hitchhiker was called Nancy Drew and the Mystery Letterbox Hitchhiker.

Greek Goddess Hecate and the Gristmill in Mansfield


The next two letterboxes we found today at Town Park in Mansfield were Greek Goddess Hecate and The Gristmill in Mansfield.  They were very close to each other, and we actually stamped in both boxes at the same time.  It was a little confusing, and I probably won't do that again.

Here is my youngest retrieving Greek Goddess Hecate.
And here is my oldest about to stamp in to The Gristmill In Mansfield.

The Couple


The second letterbox we looked for at Town Park in Mansfield today was The Couple.  We walked along to the end of the sidewalk and came to field that opened up to an overpass.  Ironically, we passed a couple making out under the bridge on our way to find "The Couple."  Here is my youngest opening the box.


Today I took the boys letterboxing for a few hours since the weather was in the 70's and my hubby needed quiet to get some homework done.  We spent most of the day at Town Park in Mansfield.  I had never been to this park before, but really enjoyed it.  There were wide, paved walking trails along with playgrounds, basketball courts, and volleyball courts.  Our first find of the day was a series called Fireworks.

There were 2 boxes in the series; the first being a Roman Candle.  Here is the stamp and logbook.
The next in the series was Fireworks.  It's hiding spot was behind this tree.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Weight of the World

Today I had one of those days when I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.  Within 24 hours I received bad news from 3 separate friends/family members.  And I wasn't able to do anything about either of their situations.  I felt helpless-in the sense that all I could do was to offer prayer.  I wanted to step in and somehow fix things, but it just wasn't possible.

God showed me Philippians 4:6 to stand on:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I'm thanking God that He is greater than each of these situations, and praying that in each case He be glorified, and that some good comes out of it. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Home Game

Tonight my youngest son played in his first home football game of the season.  He plays cornerback.  They won tonight's game 14-7.  Go Warriors!  A good friend came to watch, too, which made it even more special!

Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys

I've talked about every aspect of the game, except for the game itself!

First was the coin toss, and Washington won that!

Then the game began...
And we saw a bunch of plays...(can you tell I really don't know anything about football?)
It was such a close game for the whole time-which is my favorite type of game-I love the back and forth of who is in the lead.  At half time the score was tied 6-6, each team had made 2 field goals.  It remained close the whole game, but in the last 2 minutes, Dallas scored bringing them ahead by 2.  The final score was 18-16.  It was disappointing, but we still had a great time.

Opening Ceremony

Last night's football game had a really neat opening ceremony!  First, there was a group of dancers that came onto the field and performed.
After that, the Cowgirls cheerleaders did a performance on the field and they had some fireworks, and also large fires that shot up into the air.  We were very high up and on the other side of the field from the flame, but we could still feel the heat coming off of the fire.  It was such a neat display!

Family Night

We try to have what we call "family night" once a week.  Normally we watch a movie and eat junk food in the living room, but occasionally we do other stuff.  My hubby was able to locate some tickets to the Redskins versus Cowboys game at a great price, so this week, family night had an exciting twist to it!  The Redskins are my hubby's favorite team, and my boys have followed suit.  I am not much of a football fan-I don't really understand the rules-but I have always loved to attend sporting events, regardless of the sport.

Here are the boys ready for the game to begin, wearing their Redskins gear.
And here is my hubby in his gear, complete with a hog nose.
And, yes, true to form we had junk food-perfect for both family night and a football game!

Cowboy Stadium

Not only did I get to attend my very first NFL game, this was my first time to see the new Cowboy stadium I have heard so much about.  Yes, it is HUGE-just like everyone has told me.  Once we got to our seats, I took a look at the big video screen I had been hearing about.  Enormous is no exaggeration!  It covered nearly all of the length of the field.  Look at the size of the screen!
The seating just seemed to go on and seats 80,000 on a typical game night, but can expand to hold 111,000.  Wow!
The other thing you hear about a lot in reference to the stadium is the retractable roof.  It was open for last night's game, but I never felt like I was outside, until towards the end of the game when some bugs came in.  The retractable roof only opens over the field itself.
It really was a very nice facility, and I can see what all the talk is about.

Pre-Game Dessert

Yesterday was an exciting day for me-I got to attend my very first NFL game!  We found out that you can park for free in the TGIFriday's parking lot if you made a purchase before the game, so we had dinner there.  There were lots of fans in jerseys inside ready for the game.  Dessert came out and had such a great presentation that I just had to take a picture.  It was an oreo icecream dessert.  Yum!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Dormant Garden Awakens

I've mentioned the Texas heat and drought we have had this summer.  I think the worst of the heat has finally gone away-we have been enjoying days in the 80's and 90's.  We've even had some rain.  My garden, which was only producing jalapenos and chili peppers, has now decided that since the weather is cooperating, it is time to produce again.  We have lots of okra coming up, and cantaloupe, too! We had planned to plow the garden under in the next few weeks, but it looks like it will be delayed now-yay!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bastrop Follow Up

It's so good to have my hubby back from Bastrop!  He is exhausted, but he enjoyed his time helping in relief efforts by cooking all week long.  He told me to story of a man whose home burned to the ground.  The only salvageable item from his home was a Precious Moments plate that had the words "Praise God Anyhow".  Wow!

The fire is now completely out, and rebuilding will begin slowly.  38,000 acres and 1700 homes have burned.  The people of Bastrop will need continued prayer and help over the next few weeks and months.  I found this link to pictures of burned homes and relief efforts:  Michael Gardner Photography

Here is another picture from the Response and Relief Network which my hubby worked with.

Men vs. Women Paintball

My hubby and I attended a Men vs Women Paintball tournament today.  I wasn't thinking clearly when I left the house (allergies still getting to me?), and I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  Weather-wise, that would have been fine, but I forgot about playing in the woods, and with my poison ivy allergy I decided it wasn't worth it, so I only ended up playing one game: we (the women) defended the fort against the guys.  We won-but it was simple because we had cover, and they didn't.  I really enjoyed the day!

Friday, September 23, 2011


A couple girls from the college called me today and asked me to take them to explore downtown.  We went in to some boutiques, the court house, a historic hotel, the visitors center museum, and then to eat.  We had lots of fun!


Midlothian "Panther Pride"

SPOILER ALERT:  If you are a letterboxer, you may not want to continue reading since I am revealing what I saw today.  My last stop on today's letterboxing adventure was in Midlothian to find Midlothian Panther Pride.  It was located at the Hawkins Springs Historic Site.  I had tried to get this box at least three times before, but each time it was closed.  I didn't really expect it to be open today, but was pleasantly surprised, when the gates were open!  I walked down the ramp until I reached the location in the clue.  The planter had tied a thin rope to the letterbox, and to retrieve the box, I had to pull it up over the ledge.  Such a creative idea-I've never seen anything like it!  Here it is pulled over the edge while I was stamping in.
 And here is the image of the stamp in my logbook:
I walked to the end of the ramp to read the sign:
This was another location I never would have known about or visited were it not for letterboxing.  I can't wait until I have time to go again.

Circle Tour 2010-DFW, TX

SPOILER ALERT:  If you are a letterboxer, you may not want to read any further!  My next stop on today's letterboxing adventure was a bush in the median in the Greenwood Hills Subdivision to locate "Circle Tour 2010-DFW, TX".  I have found some boxes by this planter before-Wag Time.  Wag Time tends to use ziploc bags wrapped in duct tape, hanging in bushes for her plants.  After getting the bag, I headed back to my car to stamp in.  Here are the contents of the bag:

Wag Time almost always used lined-paper logbooks, which is typically frowned upon in the letterboxing world.  You can see where someone else stamped in at the top.  The bag, covered in camo duct tape is placed on top of the logbook.  And last of all the stamp of Texas is on the right.  It is a mirror-image so when you stamp in your logbook, it will show up correctly.

I enjoy finding Wag Times boxes because they are located in places I never would have otherwise visited.  The boxes themselves are always nice, but rarely exceptional.  I was glad to have located this one rather quickly.  When I was done stamping in, I dropped off another Hitchhiker here-the New Jersey Hitchhiker.  Now I have passed on all my hitchhikers.  

Googly Eyes

Due to the extreme heat, I haven't gone letterboxing for most of the summer.  Letterboxing is one of my favorite hobbies.  The atlasquest website explains letterboxing as "Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime combining artistic ability with "treasure-hunts" in parks, forests, and cities around the world. Participants seek out hidden letterboxes by cracking codes and following clues. The prize: an image from a miniature piece of art known as a rubber stamp—usually a unique, hand-carved creation.  Letterboxers stamp their discoveries in a personal journal, then use their own rubber stamp, called a signature stamp, to stamp into the letterbox's logbook."

Today I had to go to Irving, and since it is only in the 70's I figured I would grab a couple boxes while there.  If you are a letterboxer reading, I am warning you-here is your SPOILER ALERT! You might want to stop reading because I am about to reveal what I saw!

My first stop was at a craft and art supply store called "Googly Eyes".  The letterbox of the same name, was located inside the store-to the best of my knowledge, this was my first indoor letterbox.  Since it was indoors, it was free from the elements, and the planter could be a bit more creative with the box itself.  I really like the book-box alot!  
And the inside:
The blue googly eyes are the imprint of the stamp.  I dropped off a Hitchhiker I had picked up inside the box while I was here.  This was one of the better boxes I have found.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spaghetti with a Garlic Bread Recipe

Tonight I wanted something quick for dinner since I'm not feeling great.  I knew we had a half jar of spaghetti sauce, so I decided on spaghetti.  I added a jar of tomato sauce, garlic, onion, green pepper, olive oil, and some Italian seasoning along with ground beef to the jarred spaghetti sauce to stretch it enough for sauce.  

Then I decided wanted garlic bread.  Normally I just spread butter on bread and top it with garlic powder and maybe Parmesan if I'm feeling particularly inventive, and pop it in the oven.  Today I wanted something a little better than the norm, but didn't feel like going to the store.  I found a recipe for Homemade Garlic Bread online, and decided to whip it up.  I didn't have any fresh parsley, so I used dried, but it turned out just fine.  I also just had sandwich bread, which wouldn't have been my first choice, but I survived!  I will definitely keep this recipe for future use!

Here is a picture I took, and the recipe from the blog.
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf fresh bread (ciabatta, french, baguette, sourdough), cut lengthwise
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (plus more to sprinkle on top if desired)


Preheat your oven broiler on the Low setting.
In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the bread to make a paste/spread (you can also use a food processor if you’d prefer).  Using a flat knife or spoon, spread the butter mixture evenly over the non-crusted portion of the bread. Sprinkle with additional grated parmesan if desired.
Set both sides of the bread, spread-side up, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and place in the center of the oven under the broiler until the butter is melted and the top starts to becomes golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Take care to pay attention to the bread so it does not burn — it can cook quickly under the broiler.
Once golden, remove from the broiler and set on a cutting board. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes in order to handle. Using a serrated bread knife, cut the bread into portions and serve.

Seasonal Allergies

I can sum up this post and my week with this one picture:
Allergy season is in full swing.  I have slowly developed seasonal allergies over the past few years, but this year by far has affected me the most.  I am looking for "home remedies" for allergies since I'm not too fond of putting the chemicals from the medications into my system for my liver to deal with. I have read about, and then was also suggested by a friend use of a neti pot, which is something I have heard of, but not really familiar with.  If the allergies continue, I may be in the market for one sometime soon!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


My youngest played his second football game of the year tonight.  Go #85!  They lost by 14, but he played hard, so I am proud!  He is a bit blurry in this picture-he is wearing white on top and green on bottom, and is the player furthest to the bottom right on the field.


Beautiful, isn't it?  A friends husband passed away, and she gave me this beautiful rose because she "had too many" after the funeral.  It is gracing my office this week.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chorizo Mac & Cheese

As promised yesterday, I am writing about what I made last night for tonight's dinner:  Chorizo Mac & Cheese.  I got the recipe from  The recipe was not written in a simple copy and paste format, so I am typing it nearly word-for-word below.  I'll tell you about the changes I made after the recipe.

8 ounces of chorizo
6 ounces of ziti, penne, or pasta of your choice
1 large stalk celery, diced
1/2 large sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
4 ounce can whole green chilies, drained and diced
1 or 2 good sized garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 good sized scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar
4 ounces smoked Gouda

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Remove from the casings from the chorizo and saute in a hot pan just until it is barely cooked through – it will cook a bit more in the oven. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain fat from pan, reserving a couple tablespoons to sweat the vegetables in the next step.  Cook 6 ounces of ziti, penne, or pasta of your choice, in boiling salted water. Drain about 2 minutes sooner than the package directions state, because this too will cook further in the oven.  After draining, put the pasta in a 3 quart casserole dish. You can throw the chorizo in there at this point too. Put the veg in the saute pan, with the reserved drippings from the chorizo and cook over lowish heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the sweated vegetables to the pasta and chorizo along with the scallions.  Mix all of this up.  Melt butter in the same pan you used for the sausage and veggies – the bits you see in there are because I don’t even bother to wipe out the pan. To the melted butter, add flour.  Stir the butter and flour over low heat for about 2 minutes and gradually add milk, stirring all the while, until it gets bubbly and thickened. Season with salt.  Add your cheeses.    Stir over low heat, until the cheese is melted.  Whisk in cumin and smoked paprika.  Carefully pour the cheese sauce into the casserole.  And stir to combine.Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until it looks all browned a bubbly. Let cool about 5 minutes.

And now for all of my changes!  When it came time to cook the pasta, I decided the 6 ounces of pasta simply wouldn't be enough, so I doubled the entire recipe, minus the chorizo, since it had already been cooked.  I used macaroni.  I got distracted cooking the rest of the meal while the macaroni was cooking, and ended up cooking the pasta longer than suggested, but I think it should be fine.

I was a bit leery when it came to adding celery-it tends to add too much crunch for my taste to an otherwise non-crunchy meal.  So I threw that in the frying pan first by itself, along with a small amount of water to help soften it up a bit.

In place of the red pepper and scallions, I decided to use up the leftover veggies we had from pizza night-mushroom, green pepper, and onion.  I chopped them up finely.  I didn't drain the green chilis.  And then I just used regular salt.

When it came time to add the cheese, we had a big bag of Mexican blend shredded cheese, so I used it.  Then, because of the way the recipe was written, I overlooked the cumin and paprika until the casserole was already put together in the pan.  So I just sprinkled it on top.  Once it was done, I just covered it with foil and popped it in the fridge.  Super simple!

The results:  I am disappointed.  When I tasted it, I had memories of past Tex-Mex pasta dishes.  I love Tex Mex, and I love pasta, but the two just don't seem to go together.  I also over-cooked the pasta, which made it even more disappointing. The celery was still crunchy-apparently I didn't cook it long enough.  This is not a dish I will try again.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Planning Ahead

A friend of mine frequently prepares dinner the night before, and then calls her son when she is leaving work and has him put it in the oven so it is ready when she gets home.  Since my hubby will be in Bastrop assisting with disaster relief this week and I will be cooking dinner, I thought this sounded like a good idea to get me through the week.  Or at least Monday-we'll see how it goes!

Tonight I made chorizo mac & cheese.  We had bought some chorizo for breakfast tacos back in January when we hosted a youth group at our house while in town for a service project.  The portion we didn't use has been in the freezer ever since, and so I figured I should use some of it.  I searched the foodgawker site for chorizo recipes, and came across this recipe.  I figured it would be a good candidate for the whole make-the-night-before idea since it is cooked on the stove, and then baked.  All I would have to do is skip the baking step tonight.  I'll let you know how it turns out, and tell you about the changes I made to the recipe tomorrow.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


As has been the case the past few weekends, I made cookies again.  This weekend I made snickerdoodles.  A friend of mine makes them frequently, and so I had asked her for the recipe since they always taste so good.  They turned out great, and I will definitely add them to my list to make again!
Sharon's Snickerdoodles
1 c Crisco
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cinnamon
4 tbsp sugar

Cream together Crisco, sugar, and eggs.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Add vanilla.  Chill dough for a few minutes.  Mix cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl.  Roll dough in small balls, and dip in cinnamon/sugar mix.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

The Sausage Capital of Texas

Yesterday on our way to Bastrop, my hubby and I passed through the town of Elgin-the Sausage Capital of Texas.  We decided that we would stop and eat there on our way back out of town.  We buy Elgin sausages at the grocery store, and have always loved them, but never tasted them fresh from the place they are made at the Southside Market.

We shared the 4 Meat Combo, which included Beef Ribs, Pork Ribs, brisket, and, of course, their famous sausage.  It also came with cole slaw, potato salad, beans, and bbq fixings.  It was all good, but the sausage was the best!  If we are ever traveling through Elgin again, I will try to make sure it is at meal time-and I'll probably skip the other meats and just get the sausage.

Surveying Bastrop

Yesterday we drove down to Bastrop to survey the area-no, not the fires-the kitchen my hubby would be using to prepare meals in.  We dropped off some canned goods and Bibles, too.

The best part of the trip:  it began to rain!  A nice soaking rain!  I checked news reports this morning, and it is showing the fires are now 80% contained!  Praying it gets all under control soon!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baby Shower

I got to attend a Baby Shower today-it was so much fun!

Neat idea for decorating:

Gift opening time: