Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project in the Workshop

Between all the birthday celebrations and life in general, Jason has been working any spare moment he can grab on a cabinet for Amber (Colt's girlfriend) for her station at the salon. Every creative hairdresser needs a nice cabinet to keep her organized, right?

She sent him a picture of the basic idea of a cabinet she wanted. After getting measurements for a perfect fit for the spot she needed, he went to work.

He brought the cabinet out of the workshop so I could get some photos. Here’s a little sneak preview:

That's the stack of drawers to the side of it.

Amber picked out the knobs at Hobby Lobby. I love the little rustic distressed flare to them! I think they will look great on the black cabinet (which will be distressed with a little robin's egg blue).

I can’t wait to see it completed and displayed at the salon. And I know Amber will be glad when it's done! :) I’ll be sure and share the completed project before it goes to its new home!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day! :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Government Can :)

No words necessary. :)

**Source** (Comedian and Homeschooling Dad) Tim Hawkins - Youtube

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Luke!

February 25th. Yesterday. That’s the day our Luke turned 4!

 How can he already be 4? It’s so hard to believe that this June will be 2 years since we were in China! Gosh, how time flies! And he’s growing up right before our very eyes!

I so wanted to post on my blog yesterday morning on the actual day of his birthday, but our plans were shifted to Plan B. I’m learning to chill out a little when these things happen because there’s nothing at all I can do about it. It’s hard for a type A personality!

Pop (my daddy) had it all worked out with a friend through his work for Luke to explore his 18-wheeler on Friday evening. However, the man didn’t make it back in town in time. So it was moved to Saturday morning, which turned in to Saturday at noon. With plans for a birthday dinner and party at 3:30, this made me nervous. But it all worked out!

Luke loves 18-wheelers! And Mr. J had the nicest cleanest Peterbilt tanker 18-wheeler around!

 Luke was so excited. He had been talking and talking about getting to do this for a long time. Then when it finally was time and he got there, he was suddenly shy.  He had to have his Joy there with him!

After that, we came home and decorated (very quickly and simply) for the birthday party.

It was just family. He still gets overwhelmed with kids, so we decided to keep it low key. He sure didn’t need a lot of gifts either. He’s definitely not toy poor. So Pop, Grandmama, Colt, and Amber came out for dinner and the party.

We wrapped a few small inexpensive gifts just for the fun of opening.

And Colt and Amber gave him the Chuck and friends racetrack.

Then we brought out the big gift he had been anticipating (from us and the grandparents)…..

It didn’t take him long to figure out how to handle his new motorized John Deere tractor.

He still needs a little practice on reverse though.  :)

He has plans for that cart too. He’s already talking about all the sticks and tools he’ll haul in there and help Daddy and Pop.

In fact, it was hard getting him back in. It was dark (and cold) outside. Only the lure of birthday cake awaiting him did the trick.

Oh, and he was pretty tickled with himself for mastering the art of driving a John Deere.  As you can see, we were clapping for him.

And I'm so glad I had my camera clicking because I caught this priceless moment.  He was literally strutting into the house, and turned around with this proud look:

Can you guess what kind of cake?

He was very specific about the kind of cake he wanted. An 18-wheeler cake. Not just any 18-wheeler cake either. He wanted it to be a blue tractor and a yellow trailer.

 He loved his cake and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then we had to play a little “pin the wheel on the 18-wheeler” (drawn by his daddy).

After the party was over and everyone was gone, the kids did what kids do best after opening fits – they played with the boxes. One huge box in particular…..

Luke called it Honduras. Guess he listens in on school more than we think. I suppose not every 4 year old names their box Honduras.  So when he goes to play in it, he says he's going to Honduras.  :)

At the end of the day, he was exhausted and I had to capture the sleeping emperor.  I just love sleeping babies and kiddos!

And here it is Sunday afternoon. First thing after coming home from church today, Luke wanted to drive his John Deere.

And so he did.

He helped his daddy carry some tools to mend the fence.  He got it delivered before I got to my camera.  :)

Then, he gave free rides to a couple of Joy’s old dolls.

And he collected sticks to haul.

He rode until the battery bit the dust. It’s now recharging for another adventure.

As I was typing this post, Luke found another use for his box - he made an 18-wheeler out of it.  He's driving in the cab, and the box is his trailer.

He suggested that his sister be his cargo:

I thought I'd share some random tidbits that sum up Luke at 4 years old:

- Adores his sister.
- Loves to build things.
- Loves to do demolition on the things he builds.
- Likes to show off and use his big vocabulary.
- Acts silly when he gets nervous around folks.
- Loves 18-wheelers…..toy ones and the real things.
- Adds “tones” to his words – very expressive.
- Is afraid of most dogs.
- Bosses the cat.
- Tries to boss his sister.
- Loves Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine.
- Loves Cat in the Hat, Blues Clues & Super Why.
- Doesn’t take a nap anymore (unless he’s in the car).
- Loves green beans.
- Doesn’t like much Chinese food.
- Loves any type of construction equipment.
- Can’t stand the tags in the back of his shirts.
- Picked up on the sarcastic remark, “Oh burn”.
- Loves riding in the car. Perfectly content there.
- Plays on the iPad like nobody's business.
- Doesn’t like having his hair washed.
- Says “Joy” about 999 times a day.
- Very good about sharing. Will share his last crumb.
- Loves to help me cook.
- Likes putting together puzzles.
- Is either ornery or gives a cheesy smile for pics.
- Loves books.
- Likes for his daddy to get in the floor and play with him.
- Carries a tune really well.
- Makes up words to familiar tunes.
- Adores babies and is gentle with them.
- Not particularly sociable.
- If he is sociable, it’s usually with girls or older kids.
- Is a master pouter when the need arises.
- Can work up a pretty believable fake cry.
- Loves trains and train tracks.
- Likes “doing school” and asks for more.
- Loves sweet tea.
- Likes going barefoot.
- Has “Jack Black” eyebrows.
- Prefers his pajamas over clothes any ole day.
- Holds the doors for “the ladies” as his daddy taught him.
- Likes to ham it up when his big brother is around.
- Gives the best hugs and kisses.
- Has a BIG imagination.
- Little booger likes to play practical jokes, especially on Joy.
- Likes to jump out and scare us.
- Teams up with his sister and locks me out of the car and "makes me dance". 
- Does the "Indian yell" when he wins a game.
- Loves music.
- Sings or hums constantly.
- He’s loud.
- Loves to pray.
- Has a southern drawl.
- Has his entire family wrapped around his little finger.

Our little guy is such a gift and a blessing. It’s hard to even imagine life before him, or without him. Our lives are all the richer (and livelier) since he became part of our family!

Happy Birthday Luke! We love you… the moon and back!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Faithful Friday - "Choosing to See"

I recently read Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman. Mary Beth is the wife of Christian recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman. What a wonderful thought provoking, soul-stirring, emotional and inspirational book it was!

For those of you that aren’t familiar with this family, they were suddenly thrust into the nightmare of living life after the tragedy of losing their five year old daughter, Maria, through an accident in their driveway that also involved their precious 17 year old son, Will.

Mary Beth is very candid and honest about her feelings.  She unveils the emotions and thoughts as only a mother experiences.  She relays how God gets them through the hard times. This family has allowed God to use what was meant for evil and what could have destroyed their family to be used for good and for God’s glory. They chose to see what God can and will do.

My heart just felt ripped in two as I read the events that occurred that day and the days that followed. I can’t imagine living through what they experienced. In addition to losing a child, helping their son through the guilt he experienced, they were also faced with the fact that Maria’s two sisters were in the backyard with Maria and witnessed the accident.

There were so many similiaries between Mary Beth and myself.....age, time we were married, personality, family, etc..  Especially dear to my heart was their adoption experiences. You see not only did they have three children by birth, Emily, Caleb and Will, but their three youngest daughters were adopted from China: Shaohannah, Stevey Joy, and Maria. Stevey Joy and Maria were virtually twins (both five years old). Mary Beth tells the story of how each one came to join their family.  And what a beautiful family they are!

In this book, Mary Beth tells of her struggles to allow God to write her life’s story. She addresses the questions like “Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? How can I survive these hard times?

Mary Beth learns that her family can do hard through God’s help. She shows that even in hard times, there is hope if you choose to see.

I wanted to share this song, Cinderella, by Steven Curtis Chapman, which most of you have probably already heard many times. This song always makes me tear up anyway every time I hear it on the radio, but especially knowing the Chapman family’s loss of sweet and spunky Maria. Steven wrote this song after being on “bath and bedtime duty” for the three youngest Chapman girls. He was experiencing a very busy night and was in a rush to get the girls to bed, wanting them to hurry through their baths, say their prayers, and get tucked in. Through the rush of it all, the girls aren’t cooperating and get out of bath and put on their dress up clothes and say they’re going to a ball. He says “No, you’re not; you’re going to bed.” He manages to get them rallied again, baths completed, and tucked in bed. Then God spoke to his heart. He spoke one word, “Emily”. That’s his oldest daughter…his grown daughter. God reminded him how quickly time passes and to cherish each moment. That’s the story behind this song. What a beautiful one it is. It was also little Maria’s favorite song by her daddy.

This book and this song serves as a reminder for me to stop and enjoy the simple moments. One day my house will be quiet. The kid will be grown. I won’t be so busy one day, but I will wish for those busy days again. I want to cherish these times.

I hope it does the same for you.

And it would also be wonderful if we could all remember the Chapman family in our prayers! They are healing, but every day is a struggle! I pray God will use their entire family in a mighty way and I know God has BIG plans for their Will Franklin and I can’t wait to see what that is. And I know Maria will be smiling down on her big brother, whom she adored, when that plan unfolds.


Thanks for stopping by today for Faithful Friday. We would love for you to join in as well. Just stop by Joy's blog and leave a comment letting her know you are participating, so we can stop by!

Be blessed!
~ Tammy ~

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tasty (Pinterest) Recipes

Don't you just love Pinterest? I sure do. Who would have thought pinning could be so much fun? And I can actually say that Jason likes it as well since he's been benefiting from the tasty recipes I've pinned. :)

Just this week, we've already enjoyed three recipes that I pinned on Pinterest. I wanted to share them because you really should try them! It's very obvious from the three recipes I chose this week that we love Mexican and Italian dishes!

Ok. I asked Jason which one was his very favorite and he really couldn’t decide. He really liked every one of them. As for me, it was hard, but my very favorite (because I love Mexican food so much) was the Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole. Oh was so delicious! I felt like I was eating a dish from a restaurant! We had already dived into it before I thought to get a pic, but I made everyone wait a sec so I could take a picture before anymore left the dish!

Loved it! Here’s that recipe:

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything; recipe from Allrecipes

2 cups diced or shredded chicken breast meat (or for extra lazy days use a rotisserie chicken)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4.5 oz) can diced green chili peppers, drained
1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas (I used flour ones instead)
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 (8 oz) container sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and spray with vegetable cooking spray. Sauté chicken with cumin and coriander until chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the cilantro, black beans, and green chili peppers.

Spread half of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of an 11x7 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place 4 tortillas over the sauce, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas, and sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the sour cream.

Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the cheese, and make another layer of tortillas. Layer the remaining chicken mixture over the tortillas.

Cover dish with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.

Remove the cover, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and dot with sour cream. Continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese melts.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pic from Pinterest  

And talk about easy. Here’s one that was so easy, it almost made me feel like I was cheating when Jason kept going on and on about how much he liked it. It’s the Crockpot Ravioli, and it is oh so good too. I put it on Sunday morning before leaving for church and we had it for lunch after church with a salad. And I didn’t get a picture of it, but here’s the pin from Pinterest.

And here’s that (oh-so-hard) recipe!

Crockpot Ravioli
Source: Crystal and Co.

25 oz. bag frozen ravioli (I used cheese)
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Dump ravioli in crockpot.
Pour jar of sauce over.

Stir ravioli to evenly coat with the sauce.

Cover and cook about 3 hours on high (possibly 2 ½ hours) or on low for longer.

About 20 minutes before serving, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Put lid back on to met (for about 20 minutes).


pic from Pinterest

And also just as good was this Taco Bake. I’m not a big fan of hamburger meat but I chopped my meat really fine and this was really tasty! My mom and dad came over for dinner for this one and they loved it too. Jason took it for lunch a couple of days as well. I did remember to get a picture of this one before we tore into it.

Here’s that recipe:

Taco Bake
Source: Two Maids a Milking

1 lb. hamburger meat
1 pkg taco seasoning
8 oz. sour cream
1 pkg. (8) crescent rolls
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes (optional)
1 cup shredded cheese
Dorito chips

Brown hamburger meat. Drain. Add taco seasoning, tomato sauce, tiny bit of water, and diced tomatoes. Simmer.

In a 9 x 13 dish, press out crescent rolls and roll to form a crust.

Layer the hamburger mixture, sour cream, and cheese.

Crush about ¾ bag of Doritos and put on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Pic from Pinterest

And all of this and we’re trying to shed a few pounds around here. :) Jason says if a man can lose weight eating like this, he’s really doing something. But…..we were good. We measured out our food, which gave us leftovers for the next night or lunch.

And let me just say here that I’m so thankful for this little creation Jason made me awhile back. It’s the spice/bread rack creation that he came up with....his own design.

Hubby designed and built the spice/bread rack.

Before this little creation, my spices were all inside the pantry on a shelf and it was so hard to find things. Now, I feel like a chef when I use my spices. They’re so easy to access. And see that little shelf on the very top? That holds my bread! He really thought through a functional and practical design!  :) Oh,and I had to use a new spice on the first recipe listed above that I had never used……..coriander!

If you’re on Pinterest, I’d love for you to follow me (the link is on my sidebar).  If you’re not on Pinterest and want to be, drop me an email and I’ll send you an invite, so you can start pinning too!

**NOTE** Rumor has it that one day in the future we could very possibly lose our google friend connect follower gadget. Non-bloggers are already losing their’s by this month’s end. So in an effort to not lose access to my followers (which I prefer to call faithful readers), I’ve added the Linky Follower button on my sidebar, just beneath the google one. I’d be honored if you come follow me there too! (I'm going to follow people on both from now on as a safeguard)!

Thanks for stopping by today! :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sewing 101

Since I announced to the blogging world that Joy had her first sewing lesson last week, I figured I would follow up with how it went (with her permission of course).

I would call it a success because even though the end result can’t be worn by anyone, we both learned to thread our machine and how to basically operate it and how to (sort of) sew a straight line.

We have both been practicing. The problem with the pants that Joy attempted, that were supposed to be for my niece, was in the cutting out of the pattern. So let’s just say that we both learned a little there. And yes, I’ll admit that I laughed at my daughter. But only because it is so like something what I would have done. And then there was also the time she was sewing the pant leg to the behind of the pants. We all had a laugh on that one.  :)

But.....let me just say that she is very good natured and laughed with us!  :)

Ms. Karen is coming out again next week for another sewing session with Joy (and since I’m here I get to learn too). I’m so proud that she is determined to learn and because she is learning, it has motivated me as well! I’m very proud of you, Joy!

Thanks for stopping by! I enjoy your comments!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Homemade Dishwasing Detergent (& Shaving the Grocery Budget)

Last night we mixed up a batch of homemade dishwashing detergent from a recipe we found (from where else but Pinterest).  :)

I’d seen a couple of different recipes floating around there, but since I had the ingredients here left over from our batch of laundry detergent that we made, we opted for that one. And since we ran completely out of dishwashing detergent this weekend and didn’t want to buy more, it was time!

And talk about simple. It truly was! You only need two ingredients: Borax and Super Washing Soda.

The recipe reads:

Mix one part Borax and one part Washing Soda.

We used:

2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda

We put these together in our Pampered Chef mixing bowl and mixed them well, making sure to dissolve any clumps (the borax is bad about clumping). After it was mixed thoroughly, we just poured it into our quart mason jar.  It was exactly enough to fill that jar.

And of course, I had to spruce it up a little.  :)

Use 1 Tablespoon of the mixture per load. We also used a little vinegar in our rinsing gadget part of our dishwasher which helps to make those dishes sparkle.

I’ve already used it once and the dishes came beautifully clean and those glasses did sparkle.

And let’s see, I figured it up. It looks like this jar of dishwashing detergent will last us about 64 loads. Since we normally only turn on our dishwasher once a day, that will last us for a little over 2 months. Not bad considering we are still using the ingredients that were left over from making the laundry detergent. And we still have more left!

As I said before, I had already shopped around for the best price on dishwashing detergent and the best deal I found was at Walmart - a box of Sun dishwashing detergent for 97 cents. This usually lasted me for 2 weeks. So the way I have it figured, this has saved me around $1.00 a week on groceries just on dishwashing detergent. Every little bit helps, right?

There are a few things we found at Dollar Tree that save us a little money as well. We found it worth it to stop by there to pick up these few items since they are a dollar each.

Flour tortillas
13 gal drawstring garbage bags (pack of 8, but that lasts us a week).
Wheat bread
Palmolive soap (3 bar pack)

Have you noticed the prices of flour tortillas lately? Ouch. Well it seems like they are on our grocery list (which is every other week) and Dollar Tree’s price sure beats the price I’ve seen anywhere else!

I’m always on the lookout trying to shave dollars off our grocery list to stay within budget. We are seriously considering a Costco or Sam’s membership. I use quite a bit of shredded cheese in recipes so I really need to find that at a better price. I think we’re going to try to visit to see if it would be worthwhile for us.

So what about you? Have you found ways or places to shop to trim your grocery budget? I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great week!  :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Early Bird

It’s a beautiful morning here in the south, after a dreary rainy day yesterday.

This morning Jason had to get up and out earlier than usual. On a morning as early as it is, with kids still snug in bed, I was tempted to return to bed under my warm quilt. Instead, I decided I wanted to do a rare thing (for me) and watch the sun rise.

I really must get in the habit of rising this early every morning. With homeschooling and a hubby that doesn’t have to normally get up that early, it really is a rare thing since I don't have to. But, what a peaceful and cozy morning it has been. (Kids are still sleeping….I really must wake them). But when I wake a certain 3 year old boy, peaceful is no longer a word in our vocabulary.  (Actually, I'm not sure the words boy and peaceful are words that could be used in the same sentence. But I wouldn't want it any other way).  :)

One of the first things I did after making Jason’s coffee and pouring my morning diet dew, was to plug in my tart warmer. Oh the aroma in my house this morning…….spiced pumpkin pie.


And because I love the cozy glow of lamplight, I turned on all my lamps. 

Okay, I really like this early morning thing. It’s so serene. I wonder if it is possible to make a consistent early bird of a night owl?

And today is a much anticipated day because our friend, Karen, is coming over to give Joy her first sewing lesson! 

Time to wake the kids! Let the fun begin!  :)