Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cheese Soup

My mother made this soup to serve as an appetizer tomorrow. I sampled it, and it is delicious!

1/2 stick butter
5-6 green onions
2 stalks celery
2 Tbsp. flour
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 lb. velveeta
8 oz. Cracker Barrel Sharp cheese, grated
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper to taste
3 soup cans of milk

Saute onions and celery in butter. Add flour and broth. Simmer 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat soup, velveeta, and cheese over low heat. Add onions and celery mixture. Slowly add milk. Season to taste. Serve when heated through.

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

Olivia just made these pies for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast. We sampled the filling as she was assembling the pies, and they are going to be delicious! Enjoy!

2 graham cracker pie crusts
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. caramel topping, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. pecans, chopped
1 cup cold milk
2 small pkg. vanilla instant pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 8oz. cool whip, divided

Pour 1/4 cup caramel topping into each pie crust; sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans in each pie crust.
Beat milk, dry pudding mixes, pumpkin, and spices until blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cup cool whip. spread into the 2 pie crusts.

Refrigerate 1 hour. Spread remaining cool whip on each pie crust. Sprinkle remaining pecans on each pie and then drizzle with the caramel topping, using a fork.

Refrigerate until time to serve.

Note: We mixed all of the cool whip into the pudding mix, not leaving any to spread on top. Then we just sprinkled with pecans and drizzled with the caramel topping. This keeps you from having to chill one hour before completing the pies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today's Christmas Tip

Today's Christmas tip is to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays! I do celebrate Thanksgiving, it just doesn't require as much advance planning and work as Christmas does. We decorate for fall at the beginning of September, so our "Thanksgiving" decorations are actually displayed and enjoyed longer than our Christmas ones. Since I get a head start on Christmas preparations, I am able to enjoy the week of Thanksgiving. We have school on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, and then on Tuesday afternoon travel to my parents' house. I usually spend Wednesday helping my mother cook for our family Thanksgiving meal (the girls help too), and on Thursday my brothers and their families and my grandmothers join us for a yummy Thanksgiving lunch. Later Thursday afternoon, my family heads home.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree! What a fun day that is! I buy the children one or two new ornaments each year, wrap them, and let them open them before we begin decorating the tree. I look for ornaments with a special meaning for each interest they have had that year, a color or theme that they like, or something with their name or inital on it. I always write the year on the back of the ornament with a Sharpie if possible. 14 years ago my original intention was to give the children ornaments each year, and when they left our home to begin a home of their own, I would give them a box of their ornaments from years past. I have changed my mind. If they all take their ornaments, my tree will be bare! So, when they begin decorating their own tree, I plan to continue buying them a couple of ornaments each year for their very own tree. They will just have to fill in with colored balls for a few years!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is our Thanksgiving dinner with Jimmy's family. Jimmy, his sister, his brother's wife, and I help Granmomma prepare the meal. We also spend time on this day putting up Granmomma's Christmas decorations, including putting up and decorating her tree. The grandchildren enjoy this immensely. Granmomma and Pop sit in their recliners and watch the transformation.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Funny Leah!

Tonight at the supper table we were all sitting around talking about nothing in particular. Out of the blue Leah said, "You have to be careful not to step on a rusty nail because it could pork your skin, and then you would have to go to the hospital and get a flu shot!"
We all just laughed and laughed! Leah uses the word "pork" for "poke" all the time. As in, "This tag is porking me!" or "Those rocks are porking my feet!"
Funny Leah!

Friday, November 21, 2008

12 Miles and Christmas Decorations

Olivia, Julie, and I ran 12 miles today. The temperature was a "slightly cool" 39 degrees! It was freezing! Hopefully it won't be any colder for the actual race (2 weeks from tomorrow). Our time was 1 hour, 59 minutes. I am hoping to complete the half marathon in under 2 hours, 15 minutes....we'll see!

As soon as we got home from running, we began putting out our Christmas decorations. We have everything done except for the tree. We buy our tree on Friday after Thanksgiving. Leah and Sam were so excited by all of the pretty Christmas things. Sam just chattered away and carried around a nutcracker the whole time.

I am getting behind on my Christmas card schedule (GASP!) It will be too cold to take an outdoor picture tomorrow. I am not sure when the weather will cooperate--hopefully in time for me to get the cards ordered within the next week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bible Study

I normally read one chapter a day from my Bible, copy a verse or two into my binder, and write my thoughts or plans for applying the Scripture to my daily life. However, as I began reading James last week, I realized that the first chapter alone would take me several days to study. Chapter one of James contains so many wonderful verses!

Here are the verses I studied today:
Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)

It is not enough to just read my Bible each morning (or night) and check that off of my "To-Do" list. I also must not dismiss a verse or passage thinking that it does not apply to ME or MY LIFE. That would be deceiving myself. All of God's Word applies to me, and all of God's Word demands my full attention when reading and studying it. I must really pay attention to what I am reading, and I must make an effort to apply the teachings in my life that very day.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)

I must continue spending time reading and studying my Bible on a regular basis all of my life. I must hide God's Word in my heart (memorizing Scripture) so that I will not forget what I have heard. I will be blessed if I:

1. study the Bible intently
2. continue to study the Bible
3. not forget what I have read (Scripture memory)
4. put into practice on a daily basis what I have read.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shopping for Siblings

My children like to give gifts to each other on special occassions, and Christmas is no exception. They enjoy making gifts for each other, but they like a "store bought" present to give also. Instead of taking five children into Walmart, Toys R Us, or the Dollar Store to buy presents for their four siblings, keep everyone's gifts hidden, pay 5 separate times, and get the sacks into the car without anyone's surprise being spoiled, I let the children shop in "Mama's Store".
After I am through Christmas shopping for the children, I let them take turns coming into the storage room and viewing the other children's gifts. I charge each child $20, and they "buy" a gift for each of their four siblings. This way I know that the children are buying and receiving items that (1) the child really wants (2) are educational and/or long lasting (3) are practical and needed. This method of shopping has been really successful for our family. In case you are wondering, yes, the children get way more for their money this way. I am not expecting full reinbursement for the costs of the gifts, I only want them to spend their own money on each other.

Today's Christmas Tips

1. Begin wrapping the gifts you have purchased. Try to wrap three presents a day. Stack them where you were storing them and add bows when you are ready to put them under the tree.

2. It's time to work on your Christmas cards. If you are using boxed cards you need to begin signing them (hopefully you bought them last year after Christmas when they were 75% off!). If you are sending photo cards, plan what your children will wear and take the picture. It usually takes us more than one session to get the "perfect" photo. I plan to take the first pictures this Saturday. The next time you are near the post office, buy your Christmas stamps.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Co-op Planning

I spent Saturday with a wonderful group of girls planning our spring semester homeschool co op. Thankfully, two of the ladies were super organized (my kind of girls!), and had prepared handouts to make the planning session run smoothly. We all brought yummy brunch food and snacks to share and enjoy. We are using the unit study curriculum, KONOS. The character trait is cooperation, and the unit is States and Regions of the U.S. plus the Civil War. The entire unit is 16 weeks. We will follow a schedule of weekly co-ops on Fridays for 4 weeks followed by a one week break.
The children are broken down into 5 age groups. Two to three teachers (moms) will teach each group, staying with the same group for 4 weeks. I have children in 4 of the different groups! I am really excited about this co-op. We haven't co-opped in over a year, and this is the most organized group I have worked with. We are going to have so much fun! I am sure I will be posting weekly about our experiences when we begin in January.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today's Christmas Tip

Today's tip is about organizing your gifts as you wrap them. If you are like me, you have more than one Christmas celebration, with gifts going to more than one family gathering, plus the ones you will be opening in your own home. I have two different ideas:

1. Choose 3 (or however many different gatherings you have) different rolls of wrapping paper. Wrap all of the gifts for people that you will be opening presents with in one location with the same paper. For example, I would wrap my side of the family's gifts in green and white polka dot paper; Jimmy's side of the family's gifts in red and green "Merry Christmas" paper, and the gifts that are exchanged between my family and me on Christmas morning would be wrapped in candy cane striped paper. The presents are easily sorted this way. You can keep all of the gifts under the tree, and just easily gather all of the ones you need for a particular family event. When I use this method, I also choose a 4th roll of paper to wrap the gifts that go to people outside our home, but not to family gatherings (Sunday school teachers, piano teachers, the children's friends, etc.)

2. Wrap the gifts in whatever paper you choose, but designate a place to store the presents, sorting them by destination. When I do it this way I put my family's gifts on our guest bed, Jimmy's family's gifts on the guest bedroom floor, and the gifts for others on a table in my storage room. Our family gifts go under the tree.

Some years I wrap each of our family member's gifts in the same paper, using a different roll of paper for each person.

Happy Wrapping!


I am finally doing this tag. My friend, Liesa, tagged me. Here are my instructions:


1. What is the key to understanding our roles as wives?
2. Where are peace and joy found?
3. If your husband does not love you, does that negate your responsibility or prevent you from fulfilling your role?
4. What is the gift that God gives that will help you in your pursuit of becoming a help meet?

This is from Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl, which is my all time favorite marriage book. I highly recommend it! Mrs. Pearl is extremely blunt, but if you apply the book's general principles to your marriage the results are wonderful.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today's Christmas Tip

As you are buying gifts, keep a list of the quantity and type of batteries that you will need. After you purchase all of the batteries, you can go ahead and put the batteries in the gift, and while you are at it, cut off all of those annoying plastic ties.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Under Construction!

As you can see, I have a new Christmas layout! I wanted to go ahead and put it on so we can all enjoy it for a few weeks.

I have some tweaking to do to get the blog looking like I want it too. I plan to do this late tonight. Check back tomorrow for a new holiday look!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just a Few Pictures

Last Saturday Jimmy, Julie and Clay ran a 5K at the Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival. The rest of us stayed home.
Julie and Clay at the race
This Saturday night we met the Johnsey family for supper, and then we all walked downtown to observe the 8000 luminaries. We made a stop at the coffee shop to warm up with coffee, hot caramel apple cider, and hot chocolate.
Joey and Clay
Leah. Olivia, Julie, and Lana Kate
Today Jimmy took some pictures outside of Leah and Sam. The leaves on the trees are so beautiful this time of year.
Sam posing

Sam climbing the rock wall

Sweet Leah

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

Every few days, I am going to try to share what we are doing here at our house to prepare for the Christmas season. This week I have bought my Christmas stamps and shirts for the children for our Christmas card photo. I will post our Christmas card photo right after I send them out (I like to mail them Nov. 30 or Dec. 1). It usually takes us more than one session to get the perfect (or acceptable!) photo to use for our card! Also, I have updated my address list, and it is ready to print on mailing labels.

The first week or so in November is really the best time to finish your online shopping. That way you can ensure that your packages will arrive in time for the holidays. I am still waiting to order from American Girl. The past couple of years they have offered free shipping during part of November. I am giving them another week or two, then I guess I will have to go ahead and order....and pay shipping. I noticed that one item that my girls want is already on backorder until April!!

Remember, as you shop to designate a location for your gifts so you can find them when it is time to wrap. Also, keep a list of what you buy and who it is for. I redid my Christmas notebook recently. It was previously in a spiral bound notebook, and I made a binder with laminated dividers to use as my Christmas Binder. I put the old spiral notebook in the inside pocket of the new binder. I used Christmas paper, and it looks really festive!

Menu Monday

I know that it is THURSDAY, but I have just been so busy this week. I am glad to see supper ideas on any day of the week....I hope you are too!

Hash Brown Potato Soup, salad with crunchies
Smothered Chicken, brown rice, strawberry salad (see Vicki's blog for these recipes)
Chicken Manicotti, salad
7 Can Soup, cornbread, salad
spaghetti, salad

Yes, we have had salad every night this week. I bought a huge (2 lb. I think) box of organic spring mix on sale for $5.99. I love it because it is already in bite sized pieces and is washed. We still have enough salad greens to last us until Sunday! On Monday I browned 8 oz. of walnuts and 1 package of ramen noodles in 1/2 stick of butter. We are using those "crunchies" and/or chow mein noodles on top of our salad each night. I made the dressing from Vicki's blog (I halved it), and I have sliced strawberries or tomatoes each night to add to the salad. Leah likes her salad with ranch dressing, crumbled tortilla chips, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Time for School!

It is 8:48 a.m. Breakfast is hot and ready, my Bible lesson for the day is ready, our schoolwork is all planned and ready........and I am ready! But where are my children??? They are all in the yard trying to rescue a poor cat (not our cat)! We heard a huge commotion of barking dogs a little while ago, and when the children investigated, they found our three outside dogs barking their heads off at the cat they had treed. The petrified cat tries to come down the tree, only to be pounced on by Lucky, our rather large black dog. So back up the tree the cat goes.....and the barking resumes. The kids are out there with ham and leashes, trying to entice the dogs to come inside (great!--they are so clean!!), so they can get the cat down and to safety. I am sure they would like for this cat to become our pet, but I am also sure that if the cat ever gets out of the tree safely, he will bolt from our property, never to return!
I am off to check on their progress.....breakfast is getting cold.