Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Heated Jacket

Many women have a vast array of shoes.  Not me-as long as I have a basic brown and a basic black pair I am good.  But what I do have lots of (and could still use more of!) is jackets, coats, and cardigans.  I am very cold natured, and so I use them year-round.  Air conditioning is usually too cold for me, but a jacket or cardigan makes me happy year round.

Last night my hubby and I were watching hulu, a change from our typical netflix with no commercials. I have never been drawn to watch commercials, but last night a commercial came on that immediately grabbed my attention.  It was for a coat made by Columbia.  But this was not just any coat-it was an electric coat.  How cool is that!  I don't personally need one-we live in Texas where it doesn't usually get too much below freezing-and when it does we just stay home.  But, if I was planning a trip up north in winter, it might just make its way to my wish list.  I had to find out more about this coat!  I found a review online from engadget, and it seems truly legit!  The review almost sold me on the jacket-other than my obvious lack of need for it.  Here is a picture from their review.

I checked out the Columbia website, and was kind of surprised at their prices.  Coats in my opinion are normally over-priced.  But the coat I was drawn to the most (Women's Whirlibird Interchange Jacket-in compass blue plaid) was only $200-not as bad as I initially thought it would be.  Maybe I will add this to my wish list after all!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Do What's Right

I get a daily devotional from Our Daily Bread in my email.  It is written by a variety of authors, so each day I enjoy getting different perspectives.  Today's devotional is titled "Just Do What's Right" by Joe Stowell, and it really spoke to me. Here is a (rather large) excerpt from today's devotional:

On a trip out of the country, I happened to meet an attorney who was from my hometown in New Jersey. We were surprised at how much we had in common. In the course of the conversation, he asked, “Did you say your name was Stillwell?” I said, “No, it’s Stowell.” He then mentioned that he had a client named Stillwell. “Is it Art Stillwell?” I asked, and, to my surprise, he said yes. Art Stillwell attended my church and was an influential businessman in the community.
The attorney admitted that he had no client quite like Art. He explained that most of his clients want him to do whatever it takes to get them out of their problems, but Art was different. Whenever he asked Art what to do in any given situation, Art always replied, “Just do what’s right!” Obviously it had made an impression on the attorney.

This is such a great reminder to me that while it may be easier to do certain things, I should always do what is right in God's eyes.  The scripture reference was from Philippians 2:15:  That you may become . . . children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spicy Beans

For Thanksgiving we had both turkey and ham.  With the leftover ham and the ham bone, I decided to make a pot of beans tonight.  I've been following the Pioneer Woman blog for a while now, and she has a recipe for Spicy Beans that I thought I would give a try instead of my typical pot of beans (which usually has tomatoes of some sort).  It included simple instructions, which I actually followed pretty closely.  I did soak my beans overnight, which she doesn't do.  The beans were so good!  I was glad for a little change of pace in the taste of the beans, too.  Next time I will probably  only use one jalapeno since I'm a wimp when it comes to heat.  Horrible picture-it doesn't do the beans justice.  Just head on over the the Pioneer Woman blog for better pictures.  And whatever you do, don't judge this recipe on my terrible photography skills. :)
Here is the recipe from the blog:


  • 4 cups Dry Pinto Beans
  • 1 whole Ham Hock
  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • 2 whole Red Bell Peppers, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 whole Jalapenos, Sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Black Pepper, More To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Rinse beans under cold water, sorting out any rocks/particles.
Place beans in a stock pot with the ham hock and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the water level is fine. Add more water as needed.
Then throw in diced onion, red bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno. Cover and continue cooking for another hour or two, remembering to check the water level.
Add salt, chili powder (if desired) and pepper, then cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until beans are lovely and tender. Serve with cornbread as a meal, or spoon on top of nachos, tacos, etc.

Christmas Time at Church

Every church has their own style of decorating for Christmas.  This will be our first Christmas at this church, and when I saw everything decorated, it put a big smile on my face.  I LOVE the creativity!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Box Maintenance

Today my boys and I went to do some Letterbox maintenance.  This is an important part of letterboxing that I don't hear about too often.  If you simply plant a letterbox, and never return to it to check on it, you have basically left litter behind.  It is important also to keep your letterbox in good condition.  Not everyone will care for your letterbox the same way you do by sealing your ziplocs and box properly.  If it then rains, it can ruin the logbook.  Sometimes the ziplocs will have acquired holes and need to be replaced, and after a long time, the logbook will need to be replaced as well.

Unfortunately with the cold wind blowing, my ears started aching, and I didn't want to stay out in that weather and make myself sick.  So, we could only do maintenance on one box today.  I really enjoyed seeing the leaves Fall colors while we were out.

I always like to see the signature stamps that letterboxers have designed and stamped into logbooks. 

We saw an enormous tree that had fallen while we were out, too.  I couldn't believe how huge the hollow trunk was!
I was glad to find this particular letterbox still in excellent condition.

The Whale

My boys and I planted The Whale letterbox today.
 We picked a rest stop along the interstate.  The first clue is to find the last picnic table.

From there, locate the utility pole...

And then find the 2 short poles.
The letterbox is not too far from this spot.

Preparing a Letterbox

With my free time this weekend due to the Thanksgiving holiday, I had time to prepare a couple letterboxes.  First I carved the stamp by starting off with finding the right size.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of this carve in process.  I do have pictures of another carve in process you can check out here, though.
Next I need to get ready to paint the box.  Some people use camo duct tape, but paint seems much simpler.  This particular paint is made to stick well to plastic.
Here are my containers.  I don't go for the expensive kind, although I am sure most letterboxers would shake their head in disagreement with that decision. 
Lay them upside down, and spray with paint... 
...and then let them dry. 
I buy small non-lined notebooks at dollar stores.   I don't make my own, which (again) I am sure many letterboxers probably don't like.  But I don't see the point in spending that much time on paper that will just sit outside in the elements.
I do buy good Ziploc brand freezer bags.  These are pint size, and seem to work really well.  The cheap ones won't last long, and will have to be replaced frequently.
Here is the bag all put together, and ready to be placed in the letterbox. 
Now it is ready to plant.

My First Workout On The Gazelle

I woke up this morning before the sun came up, but decided that I wanted to run rather than use the Gazelle.  I tend to be a creature of habit, and don't really care for trying new things so I figured I would put off trying out the Gazelle for a few days.  I rolled over and went back to sleep (the joys of being on Thanksgiving break!) and woke up about an hour later and noticed the sun peaking through the mini-blinds.  It was time!

As I stood up, though, I noticed some minimal pain in my right foot, and I decided that maybe the Gazelle would be better for me in terms of not making that pain any worse.  So I pulled on my shoes, turned on Monk, and started my stop watch.  I was amazed at how quickly 20 minutes passed because I had the distraction of the tv.
I was also impressed with the way I could feel the machine working my muscles.  While I wasn't trying to use my arms to push the handles, I could feel them being pushed-an awesome benefit since when I normally run, my arms obviously don't get a workout at all.  I also felt my upper legs and butt getting worked-and while I am used to that when running, it felt like they were worked more than while running.  I am really excited about having the Gazelle, and think it will be a big help to me!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Gazelle

Over the last 3 months I have gotten very sidetracked in my pursuit to get in shape.  I got allergies which made me feel too sick to run, and then eczema, which gave me the same feeling.  Once I recovered from that, a friend of mine was mugged outside her apartment, and that incident made me re-think the way I run-outside, by myself, at 4:30 in the morning.  I decided I needed to join a gym, and made my decision about which gym to join.  But before I could do that, a friend of mine that was moving was getting rid of his Gazelle, so I brought it home, and set it up in my living room today.  Tomorrow morning I begin my pursuit to get in shape again!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Corn Pudding

It's Thanksgiving, and we had a small gathering of family at our house, and served a very traditional meal.  The day included the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, naps, and football games, along with lots of time spent in the kitchen.  I am sure our day was spent much the same way as many others.

One thing we serve every year whenever we cook for Thanksgiving is Corn Pudding.  It is my grandma's recipe, a dish she serves every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it just doesn't seem right to go through the holidays without eating it at least once.  My apologies for the picture-it didn't cross my mind to take a picture until after we already ate.  Don't let looks deceive you-this stuff is amazing!

Here is Grandma's recipe for Corn Pudding:
1 can corn, drained, plus 1 tbsp juice
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 c milk

Melt butter in baking dish, add flour and corn; stir and mix well.  Beat eggs, add sugar and milk.  Add to corn mixture.  Stir well and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Bake at 350° until center is firm-about one hour.

Thanksgiving Reflection

Over the past few weeks, there has been much to read on thankfulness in preparation for the Thanksgiving season.  The blog I have enjoyed the most was written by Jimmy White, a pastor I worked for a few years ago. Dr J's Blog titled "A Sane Question From An Insane Man"

Here is an excerpt:

  • Thank God for the children who ran away from home and returned, but don’t forget to thank God for the ones who didn’t.
  • Thank God for the people whom God has healed of debilitating and death dealing diseases, but thank also God for the many who have never been diagnoses with such diseases.
  • Thank God for marriages that have fallen apart and been put back together again, but don’t forget to thank God for the marriages that have stood the test of time and continue triumphantly and happily.
  • Thank God for families who have suffered from horrible car wrecks and walked away with little or no permanent injuries, but don’t forget to thank God for sparing most of us from such tragedies.
  • Thank God for people who have miraculous provisions to feed them when their pantry was empty, but let us never fail to be constantly thankful who have never known the panic of having nothing to eat.
  • Thank God for missionaries who span the globe carrying the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, but do not fail to express gratitude to the pastors everywhere who stay at home and feed the flock week after week.
  • Thank God for the times when people have found employment when they had no job at all, but we must equally thank God for the jobs that was never lost at all.
  • Thank God for orphans who have found a home, but we should also thank God that our children have never known what it would be like to have no home to call their own.
  • Thank God for drug addicts that have been set free by Divine deliverance, but never fail to thank God for those who have never been made captive of illegal drugs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pie Social

Tonight instead of having a normal Wednesday night service at church, we had a Pie Social since it was the night before Thanksgiving.  I'm not sure how many pies there were to choose from-those in the picture were just the beginning.  I enjoyed tasting many different flavors.
I sat next to our pastor's mom, and she told a few stories about her early years.  She said her dad owned a service station, and she worked there.  It was considered unladylike for a woman to work at a filling station in those days, but it sure helped business!  She also told about living in a one room cabin in the mountains with no electricity or running water.  She was a a wonderful story-teller.  It was a great evening, and I ate way too much!

Thanksgiving Brunch

Today we had Thanksgiving Brunch at work. I posted some pictures of the decorations above and below. One of my co-workers brought everyone their own jar of homemade pumpkin butter. Yum! I tried apple dumplings for the first time, which were fantastic! I got that recipe, and will probably post about that later. The best part-we got to leave work early for the day! Hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ball Canning Jars

Canning jars are very trendy right now for decorating purposes.  While I'm not sure I would decorate with them in my house, I do like the look.  We are having Thanksgiving Brunch at work tomorrow, and they decorated today to prepare for it.  They used Ball Canning Jars, and it looks really nice.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring

This week as I was browsing Pinterest, I discovered a recipe for a Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring.  It looked really good, so I pinned the recipe, but honestly, never thought I would get around to making it.  I don't generally make breakfast other than toast or cereal.  I am usually rushed in the morning, and taking the time to cook just takes too long.  But when we were at the grocery store yesterday, I grabbed 2 cans of biscuits.  So this morning I set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual, and got up in time to make breakfast.

The recipe was really simple.  It took about 5 minutes of prep work, and then baked for 20 minutes.  It turned out so good!  My youngest asked if I could make it again Thanksgiving morning, and my oldest agreed, too.

Here it is right out of the oven.
I was really nervous about this step...
Beautiful!  I was impressed with how great it looked compared to the time it took.
We didn't waste any time digging in...
I followed the recipe pretty closely.  Since we buy the brown sugar in pre-measured packets, I used 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 cup.  I also used the optional walnuts.  Here is the recipe from the All Things Delicious blog:

2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits OR 1 tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 C. syrup
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. chopped pecans, opt.
1/4 C. chopped almonds, opt.
Spray a fluted pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired). Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture on top. Lay the biscuits on the bottom of the pan, overlapping edges (closely together) to form a ring. Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for 1 minute in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter and enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


For about a year, we lived about as close as you can get to Louisiana, while still being called Texas residents.  It was about a 5 minute drive to the border.  During that time, I developed a love for all things creole.  Red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya.  Yum!  And when the weather starts cooling off a bit, I really get in the mood for it-it's almost too hot to eat in the summer.

I had pulled some chicken out of the freezer this afternoon, and was trying to figure out what to make with it.  I had seriously considered chicken pot pie, but knowing we will almost certainly have leftover turkey after this coming Thursday, turkey pot pie will more than likely cross our table, and I don't want to be burnt out on it before the fact!  Then my hubby suggested jambalaya.  We were going to have to go to the grocery store anyhow to pick up vegetables, so we could just pick up some shrimp, ham, and andouille sausage while we were there.

Yum!  It was a good call-my hubby makes the best food!

The Bracelet That Wasn't Meant To Be? Round 2

Remember that bracelet I tried to make last week, that just refused to be made?  You know-the one with safety pins and beads?  Well, I made my way to Hobby Lobby and bought clear elastic, more pearls, and some silvery beads (on sale!) this week.  Tonight our family watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid (cute movie, by the way) and I (as I always do) was looking for something to do with my hands while I watched.  That bracelet-I was going to conquer it, and tonight was my night!

I used a clip board to hold the elastic still, so no beads would de-string themselves when I pulled too hard, or wasn't watching.  I didn't get rid of the pearls between the individual safety pins-nope-I was doing it right!  I added beads to each safety pin one by one, and took extra care to ensure the safety pins were placed on the elastic in the right order.  I did everything right!  I tied the ends, and it was so cute!  Yes, you read that correctly- "was".  It was cute.  I loved it.  Past tense.

About the time I tried it on to admire it, I heard a noise.  It sounded like beads falling to the floor.  Grrr!  Apparently my quadruple knot that I tied in the elastic was not tight enough.  This stuff must not care to be tied.  I have decided that this bracelet was just not meant to be.  It was a cute idea, but not for me!  Meanwhile, I do have a bunch of beads to use for some kind of project-just not sure what yet!  As for the elastic-I like it a lot-it strung the beads well without the necessity of the needle.  Perhaps there is just some kind of trick for tying the ends that I need to figure out before I try to use it again.

Hmmm....apparently there is!  As I was cleaning up all the pieces,  I noticed that on the back of the packaging the elastic came in, there was a huge list of instructions explaining how to tie the elastic.  The last step:  GLUE!  Seriously?!?!  I have so much to learn!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

We have a lot of oatmeal, and while I like oatmeal, I don't generally eat it for breakfast, and neither does the rest of my family.  The next best thing to do with it-make oatmeal cookies!  I don't believe in putting raisins in cookies, either.  Yuck!  That just ruins the cookie.  So I found this recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies on foodgawker.com that sounded great.  I planned to make them this morning, but got distracted organizing some things.  Then tonight, we were in the middle of another minor home improvement project, and I remembered that I had left the butter and egg on the counter to soften and get to room temperature, so I gave my youngest son the instructions, and he baked them for me.  I have to say, he did a great job, too!  We will make these again.

Here is the recipe, as posted on the howsweeteats website:

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
makes 15-20 cookies
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
optional: 1- 2 tablespoons milk, if dough is crumbly
Preheat oven to 375.
Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combined, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon with the mixer on medium speed. Beat in oats. Mix until dough comes together. Add in 1 tablespoon milk if the dough is crumbly. If dough is still crumbly, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Fold in chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove dough from fridge and roll into big 1 1/2 inch balls. Set on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Lightly press down on dough to flatten it. Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going Away Dinner

Tonight we said goodbye to the Executive Pastor at our church.  He hired my hubby as the Youth Pastor back in the spring, and we have built a great relationship over that time.  We had a come and go dinner at Mooyah's Burgers and Shakes to wish him the best.  We are really going to miss him and his leadership.  I'm sad for us, but happy for him in his next step as God moves him on.  Best of luck! (I stole this picture from his facebook.)

...As They Went

I attended a chapel service yesterday that was on being thankful.  I got the most out of the part leading up to the thankfulness, though.  The scripture reference came from Luke 17, with the story of the lepers who were healed.  The lepers were secluded from society so that the leprosy would not spread to everyone.  As Jesus passed by the town, ten lepers who had heard of Jesus' ability to heal, called to Him to heal them.  Jesus responded this way in verse 14:  "When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed."

These lepers were afflicted with this illness, for perhaps years, with what at the time was an incurable disease.  Jesus didn't heal them instantaneously-he told them to go see the priest-the very place they needed to go to have their healing confirmed so they could be re-integrated into society.  With full knowledge that they were still sick-the physical evidence ever so present-they still turned and went on their way to the priest.  I'm sure they thought it seemed a silly, perhaps stupid, instruction.  Why would they go see someone to confirm their healing, if they were so obviously still afflicted?  But they knew Jesus was a miracle working healer; they followed His instructions, and as a result, they were healed "as they went".  They put into action the instructions from spiritual leadership, however off-base they seemed, and as a result they were healed.  What a great reminder to not question God, or the way He chooses to bring us from one level to the next.  Simply trust Him.  Have faith in Him-whether or not it makes sense.